COVER STORIES for 09/09/2007
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #122
Welcome, faithful readers (and those of you joining us for the first time) to the 122nd 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 column is a special one, as it features the one-and-only response to my Reader Challenge! Yes, the gauntlet was thrown down, and Andrew Horn was the only one to pick it up (which isn't to slight any of the rest of you readers... it's not easy coming up with themes and covers that fit them sometimes).
Andrew threw in his own twist on the Reader Challenge... he gave me four comic book covers, and challenged me to come up with the theme! The four books he chose were:
Silver Streak #8
So, let's look at these four covers, and see if I can identify his theme, shall we? And just because I like to, we'll take them in alphabetical order... beginning with...
Yes, despite the cover indicating this is "Ghost Rider No. 1," it's really Magazine Enterprises' A-1 #27. And while the Grand Comics Database doesn't have any details on this book, I can plainly see on the cover Dick Ayers' signature. I also seem to recall reading that Ayers really enjoyed working on this feature at ME, too.
Gee, that guy looks familiar, doesn't he? Like the Phantom Rider at Marvel? Well, if that's the only name you know him as, you must be a lot younger than I am, as he was originally called Ghost Rider at Marvel in the 1960s or so, when Marvel basically stole the character from ME, from what I've heard and read!
Some nice perspective on the cover of Silver Streak #8, isn't there? With the Claw reaching up out of the street, and his arch-nemesis, Daredevil, swinging over the scene, boomerang in hand... hey, wait a minute! Where the heck is that rope tied to, anyway?
This cover was by Jack Cole, who of course later went on to create Plastic Man at Quality Comics. This Lev Gleason title featured "The Claw Vs. Daredevil" (Part 2) by Cole (continuing from the previous issue); Sport Shorts by D.B. Icove; Pirate Prince by Cole; Can You Solve These? (I'm guessing a puzzle page); Silver Streak by Cole; Gully Gulliver in "Cactus Gulch" by Icove; Cloud Curtis by Otto Binder and Jack Binder; Secret Agent X-101 by Dick Dawson; Lance Hale by Fred Guardineer; the Silver Ranger and his Horse, Lucifer, a text feature with illustrations by Jack Binder; Presto Martin by Bob Wood; Laffs, a gag filler; Dan Dearborn by Walter Galli; Dickie Dean by Cole; and Rusty by Bob Wood, another humor filler.
Thrilling Comics #1 certainly tried to make sure it lived up to its name on the cover, didn't it? I mean, not only is the super-heroic Doc Strange (here referred to as "Dr. Strange") there without a shirt on, but there's also a huge tiger, and a skeleton in a cloak brandishing a knife!
I can only guess that if the artist drew pretty girls any better than he apparently did, the blonde would've been even more prominently displayed there. And that artist's name was Alexander Kostuk. The Better Comics title featured Dr. Strange in the 37-page lead story, "The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Strange," by Richard Hughes and Kostuk. By issue 10, he'd be known as "Doc Strange."
Also in this issue, the McCoys, a humor strip, by Ray Gill; "Don Tyler's Triumph," a text story by Robert Wallace; Nickie Norton (a secret service agent) by Hughes and Kostuk; and Texas Rangers featuring "Lt. George W. Baylor," a biographical piece.
And finally, there's Wow Comics No. 7. The two guys in red, Mr. Scarlet and Pinky, were supposed to be the stars of this title, but as you can see, the Commando Yank and the Phantom Eagle were pushing their way onto the covers here! Of course, all four of 'em would be knocked off the covers by Mary Marvel not too far in the future.
Mr. Scarlet and Pinky were pretty much Fawcett's knockoff of Batman and Robin, while Commando Yank is someone I'm not familiar with. The Phantom Eagle was a teenage boy who disguised himself in order to fly daring aerial missions.
And no, I have no idea where Commando Yank or the Phantom Eagle are standing, given there's a fleet of battleships approaching them at fast speed! Charles Sultan is the likely artist for this cover.
Inside, Mr. Scarlet faced off against "The Mask of the Circus"; followed by "Commando Yank Lashes the Nazis" (I don't know if this means he whipped them or tied them up); the text story "Barking Six-Guns" by Carl Formes; the Phantom Eagle; Spooks by Dave Berg; Mr. Scarlet in "The Black Sphinx."
And yes, that's the same Dave Berg who later worked at Mad Magazine.
So, have any of you picked up on Andrew's theme here? First we had A-1 #27 with the Ghost Rider, then Silver Streak #8 with Daredevil, Thrilling Comics #1 with Doctor Strange, and then finally Wow Comics #7, with the Phantom Eagle. That's right, faithful readers, these are all characters whose names were later used at Marvel Comics! The original Ghost Rider's name was usurped by motorcycle-riding Johnny Blaze, the original Daredevil's name was stolen by Matt Murdock, Doctor Strange's name was taken by Stephen Strange, and the Phantom Eagle's name was taken by... um... heh. I seem to not be remembering the Phantom Eagle's name at Marvel! Ah, wait, he was Karl Kauffman!
Thanks, Andrew, for a fun theme! And if any of you want to try your hand at coming up with covers for a theme (whether it's a theme I've come up with previously, or one I haven't), feel free to do so, and send 'em in! Andrew's going to be receiving a fabulous Cover Stories Prize Pack consisting of all sorts of real cool stuff that I haven't decided on as I'm writing this, but now I'm committed to it being real cool stuff!
Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," when the theme will be ... well, something, I'm sure (I seem to have mixed up my column running order somewhere along the line)... and in the meantime, you can check out my blog 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 !