COVER STORIES for 08/06/2006
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #65
Welcome to the 65th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!
Once again, it's time to revisit a past cover theme... that theme being "Ch-ch-ch-changes," with all due apologies to David Bowie. Let's begin!
Now, here's an even more bizarre Superman Family transformation than normal... as everyone sees Superman as some kind of dragon, but Superman doesn't think anything's wrong! And it's courtesy of Action Comics 333, and cover artists Curt Swan and Shelly Moldoff.
The issue leads off with "Superman's Super Boo-Boos," and believe it or not, that's the cover story, by Leo Dorfman and Al Plastino. If you don't have a copy of this issue, and want to read a summary of it, you can check out Steve Chung's review of it from the Silver Age Reviews web archive at http://silverage.greatnow.com/reviews/Action_Comics_333a.htm -- because believe me, the story is way too complicated to summarize briefly!
Next up in the issue is "The Many Faces of Superman," a one-page filler of sorts showing Curt Swan's model sheets for Superman's face. This is followed by a PSA, "The Invisible Handicap," and the issue is rounded out with "The Duel Between Superwoman and Superboy," by Leo Dorfman and Jim Mooney. If I recall correctly, this was continued from the previous issue, and is an imaginary story in which Supergirl reached Earth before Superman did, and their relative ages are reversed. In this case, Superboy resents Superwoman's authority over him, with tragic results (as is usually the case with imaginary stories). Steve Chung also reviewed this story, and you can read up on it at http://silverage.greatnow.com/reviews/Action_Comics_333b.htm -- oh, and before I forget, there's also a "Cap's Hobby Center" by Henry Boltinoff!
As you can see from the cover to Adventure Comics 237, even the Kents weren't immune to strange transformations, as here they are, turned into Robots!!! Well, I suppose technically, they'd be cyborgs, but I'm not sure if the term was invented when this story was published. This cover was by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye.
"The Robot War of Smallville" was by Jerry Coleman and John Sikela. In the story, Superboy returns to Smallville after a trip and finds everyone has been turned into robots - or have they? According to the Overstreet Price Guide (well, at least some volumes), the Legion of Super-Heroes appeared in this story... but you know, they don't! This was followed by the PSA "Adventures in Science" by Jack Schiff and Ruben Moreira, an Ollie gag page by Henry Boltinoff, Aquaman in "The Secret of the Sea King" with art by Ramona Fradon, "Quick Quiz," an activity page, the text article "How to Become an Expert Pitcher" by Jack Miller, and Green Arrow in "The Home-Made Arrows" with art by George Papp, and finally, a Lem 'n' Lime gag page by Boltinoff!
Now, here's a transformation that should make you sit up and take notice! Rocky, the Challengers' muscle-man, has taken an experimental flight into space which has given him strange powers... like throwing bolts of flame from his hands! It's all right here, on the cover of Challengers of the Unknown number 3, with art by Jack Kirby! Looks and sounds a bit familiar, doesn't it?
But first, the lead story, "The Secret of the Sorcerer's Mirror," by Dave Wood, Kirby and Marvin Stein. In this story, the Challs deal with a theft of a Sorcerer's mirror and chart from a museum, and the usual bizarre stuff occurs. You can read about it in the reprint in Challengers of the Unknown 76.
But now, let's look at the second story... "The Menace of the Invincible Challenger," by the same creative team! Not only did Rocky gain the fire powers shown on the cover, he also gets powers of super-strength, invisibility, and giant growth...
Yep... he's a one-man Fantastic Four... except that this story was published in 1958, years away from the FF's first appearance! Many consider this a dry run of sorts for the FF... after all, the powers Rocky gets are analogous to the FF's powers (with giant growth substituting for stretching).
OK, let's go back to the Superman Family titles for one last transformation, okay?
Yep, it's Lois Lane 27, with "Lois Lane's Super-Brain!" - guest-starring Bizarro, with the backdrop of Las Vegas!
You know, this image of Lois on the cover certainly puts me in mind of the mom on "The Oblongs," which you may have seen on Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" late-night block. But I digress! This cover was another Curt Swan/Shelly Moldoff collaboration.
The story inside featured art by Kurt Schaffenberger, and was reprinted in Lois Lane 95, which is where I probably read the story - not that I recall any details (a sad state of affairs, that... where's that second volume of Showcase Presents the Superman Family when I need it?). This is followed by a Little Pete gag page by Henry Boltinoff, "The Battle of the Sisters" with art by Swan and Stan Kaye, and "The Last Days of Lois Lane" by Otto Binder and Schaffenberger, reprinted in Lois Lane 84.
Next week on "Cover Stories," I return to the circus for some covers with big cats, 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 !