COVER STORIES for 08/19/2007
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #119
Welcome, faithful readers (and those of you joining us for the first time) to the 119th installment of Cover Stories, the weekly column in which I, Jon B. Knutson, present a group of covers with a common theme (unless I'm doing an installment of one of the sub-series of Cover Stories)!
And speaking of the sub-series, it's time for...
Yes, 1-10 has returned to the rotation here at Cover Stories, and to celebrate, it's a 1-10 of Captain Marvel Adventures!
Take a look at these first three issues of Captain Marvel Adventures (which was, to be complete, spun off of the good Captain's successful feature in Whiz Comics). These covers almost look more like Big Little Book covers, or maybe even advertisements, than comic book covers, don't they?
Issue one's cover is interesting to me because of the complete lack of Captain Marvel's right arm! I don't know if this art was created for the cover, or if it was traced from an interior panel or blown up, but the lack of a right arm just doesn't make sense... Okay, so it could be completely hidden by his torso, but it seems like we should at least see an elbow or a fist in there!
C.C. Beck did the cover for this issue... but the remainder of the issue was all Simon and Kirby studio work! Yes, S&K were famous even then, and Fawcett hired them to produce the first issue of Captain Marvel Adventures (and apparently in a very short period of time) in an attempt to make sure the book would sell well. Honestly, though, I don't think it worked that well for either side, because the S&K style didn't suit the Big Red Cheese (especially when they tried to alter their style to mimic it more closely).
The stories in this first issue were mostly untitled. The first story featured Cap versus Sivana and a robot, and was by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, and Dick Briefer. The second was by the same team. There's no credits for the single-page Captain Marvel Pencil Puzzle Page, but the third story was also by Simon, Kirby and Briefer. "The Vampire" followed, by the same team, and the back cover featured Jack Kirby by Kirby.
The entire issue was reprinted in Flashback (Special Editions Reprints) #10, and more recently in the Shazam Archives, Vol. 2.
Issue 2's cover is bizarre... not only for the green replacing the gold trim on Cap's costume, but also for having Billy Batson (complete with the "BB" initials on his shirt) smacking a Nazi soldier! Who does Billy think he is, Robin? Heck, it doesn't even look like he could've reached the Nazi's chin unless the guy bent over first!
Beck did the art for issue 2. Inside, the first untitled story featured art by George Tuska, and Sivana is the villain. Then there's a one-page activity, followed by another untitled story with art by Tuska, a text feature (with art by Tuska) about the Captain Marvel movie serial, another untitled story with Tuska art (written by Rod Reed), and then "The Arson Fiend," also by Reed and Tuska.
This issue was reprinted in Flashback (Special Editions Reprints) #15, and in Shazam Archives Vol. 3 (which also reprinted Captain Marvel Adventures 3).
Billy's gone from the cover of issue 3, with Cap back in there for a cover that at least looks a little more like a comic book cover... and we see Cap's right hand, letting us know that he hasn't lost an arm! I wonder if someone knew, somehow, that I'd be griping about that today, over half a century later?
Beck did issue 3's cover. Inside, all the untitled stories featured art by Tuska (including a Sivana tale), plus there's a feature on Einstein, and a text story, "Return of the Mogul Diamond" by Carl Formes. I don't have any reprint information on this issue other than Shazam Archives Vol. 3
Now, with issue 4's cover, we're really looking like a comic book cover, complete with a logo that jumps out at you! A variation on this logo would be used at least for Captain Marvel Junior, and probably was at least a later influence on the Silver Age Flash's logo.
Once again, it's Beck art on the cover, and George Tuska on the interior Captain Marvel stories (which are still mostly untitled). The first tale features Sivana and the Three Lieutenant Marvels, plus there's a text story, "Code of Glory" by Dick Raleigh, the second Cap tale is called "The Tunnel of Invasion," then there's a fact page called "Strange but True," another untitled tale, and the final tale is called "The Lawless Legion."
Issue 5 shows we're definitely in the midst of WWII, with Cap breaking a wing off of a Nazi fighter (and to be honest, doesn't that wing look ridiculously long?).
Beck did the cover here, too... as well as the frontispiece of the issue (with inks by Pete Costanza). The issue leads off with "Captain Marvel's Double Trouble", featuring Sivana, with art likely by Beck. Same goes with "The King of the Crater", at least so far as credits go! This is followed by a text story, "You Can't Kill a Ghost," by Joseph Millard, then "Captain Marvel Solves the Swamp Mystery" (no credits available), a non-Cap feature, "Captain Kid" by Al Liederman, and then it's "Sivana's Strange Chemical Potion" with art by Beck.
I really like the cover of Captain Marvel Adventures 6, with not only the spelling out of what Shazam stands for, but also featuring the gods and heroes that represent each of the initials! The Captain Marvel pose, on the other hand, looks more like a Bulletman pose than a Cap pose, at least to my eye.
The cover was by Beck, possibly inked by Costanza. Inside, "The City Under the City" featured art by Costanza, "The Cardiff Giant" is uncredited, there's a Millard text story, "Death's Baby Hands," then "The Skyscraper Phantom" with Beck art, Captain Kid by Liederman, and the issue wraps up with "Unsoo the Unseen," likely written by Otto Binder.
This issue should be in Shazam Archives Vol. 5 (and maybe issue 7 as well), but it hasn't been published yet!
Issue 7's cover is very evocative, with that big shadow, isn't it? Nice rendering of the broken door, too! This was another Beck/Costanza effort.
Following the contents page, "The Ghost of the White Room" had Beck art, "The Science of Dr. Sarr" is uncredited, there's a Captain Kid feature by Liederman, "The Pirates of Port Peril" has Beck art, Mallard contributed "G-Man Versus German," a text story, and "The Slayer on Skis" was written by Alfred Bester. This entire issue was reprinted in Flashback (Special Reprint Editions) #35.
Another war cover graces issue 8, with Cap leading a mixed band of armed forces fighting men! And Cap doesn't even look the grimmest here! I think the soldier to the left of him, with his eyes in shadow, looks like someone nobody wants to mess with! This cover is Beck/Costanza again.
Inside, "Macro the Giant" is by Binder and Beck, "The Adventure With the P.A.L." has Ed Dobrotka art, there's Captain Kid by Liederman, the text story "Kill the Witness" by Millard, "The Curse of Ibac" is uncredited, and "The Amazing Case of the Clue in Music" had Beck art.
Issue 9's cover breaks the mold big time here, featuring panels promoting various tales in the book. Note that Ibac, here, is the first of Cap's most famous rogues gallery members to grace the cover of this title... even beating out Sivana! It's Beck/Costanza yet again!
Inside, "In the Realm of the Subconscious" was by Beck, "The Return of Ibac" is uncredited, "Death Rides the Skies" is the uncredited text story, "Nippo from Nagasaki" has Costanza art, there's a one-page filler, "Famous Blitzkriegs of the Past," and "Captain Marvel Saves the King" was by Binder and Dobrotka.
Sivana doesn't even make it onto issue 10's cover... but then, as you can see, Billy Batson's initials have also left his short! I'm guessing the story inside tells us who the two girls are that Billy's protecting from the Japanese soldiers on the cover (although I'd imagine this scene doesn't quite appear this way inside). Also note how similar the word "Shazam!" is lettered here to the way it was lettered for the logo of DC's revival of the good Captain in the 1970s!
This cover is all Beck! Inside, Binder and Beck contribute "At the Circus," there's the uncredited "The Radio Racketeers," Captain Kid by Al Liederman in "The swamp Smugglers," a text story "Coffins Are for Corpses," "The Warrior of Wai" is uncredited, there's another "Famous Blitzkriegs of the Past" feature, and then "The Strange Orders From Washington" has Costanza art.
Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," when the theme will be "Sports," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog, "Jon's Random Acts of Geekery," at http://waffyjon.blogspot.com for other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !