COVER STORIES for 07/29/2007
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #116
Welcome, faithful readers (and those of you joining us for the first time) to the 116th installment of Cover Stories, the weekly column in which I, Jon B. Knutson, present a group of covers with a common theme!
This week's theme is "A G-g-g-g-g-ghost!" and it's an all-Superman Family edition! It's funny, given that Superman's powers are at least pseudo-scientifically based, that ghosts would be so prevalent in stories featuring him and his various hangers-on, but they're there, nonetheless!
Let's start out with a trio of Adventure Comics covers, featuring Supergirl, shall we?
Here's Adventure 383, and in this instance, it seems that Supergirl is the ghost of the issue! And attending her funeral is (on the left, back row) Lucy Lane, Jimmy Olsen, (front row) Perry White, (right side, back row) Lois Lane, Lana Lang, and (front row) Clark Kent.
Now, I can't come up with any good reason why Clark would be showing up as Clark, and not Superman - especially given that Supergirl is publicly known to be Superman's cousin, but I'm guessing we can chalk it up to wanting Supergirl to be the center of attention.
Speaking of that cover, the art was done by Curt Swan and Neal Adams, who made a nice combo, didn't they? Inside, "Please Stop My Funeral" was by Robert Kanigher, Win Mortimer, and Murphy Anderson. Guest-stars in this story (other than those on the cover) were Batman, Robin, Comet the Super-Horse, Streaky the Super-Cat, Abraham Lincoln, Joan of Arc, and Isaac Newton!
Also in this issue was "Supergirl's Day of Danger" by E. Nelson Bridwell and Kurt Schaffenberger, whom I've long felt was the best of Supergirl's various artists (at least, as far as drawing Supergirl, anyway!).
I know I used to have this issue a long time ago, but to be honest, I can't remember a thing about either story!
In Adventure 395, Supergirl gets to face off with the ghost of a Kryptonian Thought-Beast, and as you can see, Supergirl manages to explain to the reader what a Thought-Beast does!
But let's put aside the ghost angle here... and go into something that's always puzzled me: Evolution works, so far as we know, by giving species abilities that enhance their ability to survive. What possible evolutionary advantage does having a screen on your head that projects what you're thinking give you? Unless all Kryptonian animals are so self-aware of their existence that just seeing that image makes them give up without a fight?
This cover was by Swan with Murphy Anderson inks. This duo, later known by the combined nickname "Swanderson," did a lot of great Superman covers and stories in the 1970s!
Leading off the issue was "The Rejected Supergirl!" by Kanigher, Mortimer, and Jack Abel. There's a lot of celebrity guest-stars here, too: Sophia Loren, Marie Curie, Florence Nightingale, Greta Garbo, Barbra Streisand, Coretta King, Dr. H.H. Hanson, and Binnie Baker!
OK, I don't know who the last two are, either... but I presume they're historically significant (or played a role in why Supergirl was being rejected).
"The Heroine in the Haunted House!" was by Kanigher and Schaffenberger, and also featured Phantom Zone villains Zod, Jax-Ur, Kru-El, and Roz-Em, and is continued in the next issue. I'm presuming the Thought-Beast was some kind of projection manifested by the Zoners (yes, this is another issue I used to have but don't recall).
In Adventure Comics 408, in one of her worst costumes ever (in my opinion), Supergirl encounters another ghost, but this one is of a little girl, who doesn't appear to be immediately menacing! This issue was in the midst of the Mike Sekowsky era of Supergirl, as you might've guessed from the cover art (inked by Dick Giordano, by the way).
As much as I loved Sekowsky on Justice League of America, I hated his Supergirl issues (I kind of dig his Wonder Woman issues, though).
"The Face at the Window" was Sekowsky written and penciled, with Henry Scarpelli inking. Also in this issue was "Invasion of the Mer-Men," with Giordano inking.
I think I don't remember the stories in this issue because I forced myself to forget 'em! I'm pretty sure this was part of the overall storyline when, after she was exposed to "gold kryptonite", Supergirl's powers started turning off at random, eventually forcing her to use Kandorian technology to replicate them until she was either cured or someone decided to forget the whole thing, because Gold K doesn't work like that!
The letters page for this issue has a letter from Bob Rozakis, by the way!
So, that's three Supergirl covers... how about a pair featuring her cousin?
Superman 91 features one of my favorite Superman covers, as Perry White's exclamation of "Great Caesar's Ghost" seems to have brought the long-dead conqueror's ghost to the present! This issue's story was also adapted by the George Reeves live-action Superman TV series (Adventures of Superman), and I'm guessing that, like in the episode, Caesar's Ghost is part of some kind of scam by criminal types.
This cover was by Al Plastino, who also did the pencils and inks for the lead-off story, "The Superman Stamp," written by Bill Woolfolk. Also in this issue, "The Lazy Man's Best Friend" written by Alvin Schwartz with art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye, the text feature "It's a Small World" by Ted M. Levine, and the cover story "Great Caesar's Ghost" by Woolfolk and Plastino.
Superman 214 features another favorite cover of mine, in which Superman sees the ghosts of long-dead super-foes Metallo (who later got better - or at least a second Metallo was created, I've never been certain what happened there) and Zha-Vam (who was a parody of sorts of Captain Marvel)!
This cover was all Neal Adams, while the cover story, "The Ghosts That Haunted Superman!", was by Cary Bates with Curt Swan and Jack Abel. Nador is the villain of this tale, and he also impersonates the Composite Superman too! This issue also features a reprint of "How Perry White Hired Clark Kent!" by Jerry Siegel and Plastino, which originally appeared in Superman 133!
And before I wrap things up, let me remind you again about my Reader Challenge! Can you think of other covers that fit a theme I've presented here, or do you have a theme of your own that you can come up with four or five covers for? If so, send me an email at with your list, the theme, and whatever comments you want to include with your choices, and I'll run 'em in a future installment of Cover Stories, duly crediting you, naturally!
What will you get for your troubles, other than the glory of seeing your name credited in here? It'll be a surprise... in fact, as I write this, it'll be a surprise to me! One of these weeks, I just may have to figure out what it'll be!
This is an open-ended challenge to you readers... at least, it's open until I get tired of reminding you guys about it!
Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," when the theme will be "Carnival!" and in the meantime, you can check out my blog, "Jon's Random Acts of Geekery," at http://waffyjon.blogspot.com for photos of classic toys, other comics covers, comic book advertisements, monster movie stills, and other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !