COVER STORIES for 06/04/2006
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #56
Welcome to the 56th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!
This week, I'm revisiting a topic that I previously covered back in the 22nd edition of this column... "A g-g-g-g-ghost!" And to surprise you even more, there's not a single Superman cover to be seen here!
We're starting off with this cover from Blue Ribbon Comics (MLJ) number 9, featuring Mister Justice!
"The Royal Wraith, as Mr. Justice was sometimes called, was Prince James of England, lured to his death by Scottish rebels in the year 1040. He murdered them back, but afterward, his destiny thwarted (according to an unseen voice), his spirit was trapped in the castle where all this took place. In 1940, the castle was dismantled and shipped to America, where it was to be re-assembled, but the ship carrying it was sunk by a Nazi submarine. James's spirit was thus released into the modern world. He then re-assumed corporeal form, took on the "Mr. Justice" moniker, and, love interest being de rigueur for a 1940s superhero, picked up with an American woman named Pat Clark. The story was written by MLJ regular Joe Blair and drawn by Sam Cooper, both of whom stayed with the character through most of his run."
Oh, did I mention that MLJ was the precursor of Archie Comics? Anyway, Mr. Justice himself lasted about as long as the rest of the MLJ Golden Age characters, from about 1941 to 1943, and then he pretty much vanished until the 1980s, when Archie revived their superheroes all-too-briefly under the Red Circle imprint, edited by Rich Buckler, where he made just a few appearances. He was apparently left out when DC licensed the Archie heroes for their !mpact line of comics, so far as I recall.
Anyway... the comic itself! This cover was penciled and inked by Sam Cooper, whose work I'm not familiar with (heck, outside of Irv Novick, most of the GA MLJ artists are ciphers to me!). Mr. Justice had the first slot in the book, in "The Origin of Mr. Justice" by Joe Blair and Cooper. Also in this issue was Rang-A-Tang, the Wonder Dog (MLJ's answer to Rin-Tin-Tin) in "Clue of the Missing Coffins" by Blair and Ed Smalle, The Fox in "The Dilemma of Slugs Morelli" by Blair and Irwin Hasen (ah, there's a name I'm familiar with!), Steve Stacey in "Introducing Steve Stacey" by H.A. Biern and Nick Zuraw, Corporal Collins in "Side-By-Side with Sergeant Boyle" by Abner Sundell and Charles Biro, Ty-Gor in "Circus of Fury" by Blair and Mort Meskin (ah, another recognizable name!), Doc Strong in "The Coliseum of Mars" by Blair and Meskin, Loop Logan in "The Suez Canal Mission: Part One" by Blair and Frank Volp, the text feature "Bound to Dance" by S. Omar Baker, and the Green Falcon in "Food Fight" by Harry Shorten and Ramona Patenaude.
Yep... a lot of features in these Golden Age books, weren't there?
Turning from a heroic ghost to the kind that usually populated comics, here's three covers from Adventures Into the Unknown by the American Comics Group!
This Ken Bald cover from issue 37 of the book features a ghostly Indian coming out of a fireplace... and why not? It's certainly no more bizarre than some of the other things on the covers of this title (do yourself a favor some time, and go to the Grand Comics Database and look at the covers of any ACG title... you'll get a kick out of them!).
The book itself featured the stories "Masquerade of Death" with art by Harry Lazarus, "The Eyes of Doom" by Charlie Sultan, "Daughter of the Pharaohs" by Pete Gattuso and Max Elkan, and "The Vampire's Bones" by Pete Riss.
Now, I know that the cover is based on the lead story... but I have no idea what the story is about. Actually, I feel that way about most ACG covers, and find myself wishing that someone would do trade paperbacks of some of this stuff (or at least that someone would sell these books cheap at a comics show!).
Here's the cover of Adventures of the Unknown 128, by Ogden Whitney. Yes, it's another ghostly Indian! Hmmm... a haunted housing development featuring Indian ghosts... do you think this might've inspired the movie "Poltergeist"?
Inside the book, you'd find "Ghost Dog" by Kurato Osaki and Pete Costanza, "Inside the Iceberg" by John Rosenberger (reprinted from Forbidden Worlds #47), "Born to be a Grocer" by Shane O'Shea and Costanza, "Idle Dreamer" by Al Williamson (reprinted from Forbidden Worlds, retitled from "When Duty Calls") and finally, "Haunted Housing Development" by Ace Aquila and Tom Hickey.
And then finally, here's issue 132, once again by Ogden Whitney... and it's got a Ghost Train on it! Yes, a Ghost Train! Why would a train have a ghost? God only knows...
Within the issue, the stories were "Why the Leprechauns Left Ireland" by Shane O'Shea and Whitney, "Good Magic" by Richard Hughes and Chic Stone, "Dream of Death" by Dick Beck and Pete Costanza, and "Haunted Journey" by Charles LaCoste and Costanza.
Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at http://waffyjon.blogspot.com for other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !