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Cover Stories by Jon B. Knutson
Jon Knutson presents comic book covers with a common theme
and relates any information and comments about them.

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COVER STORIES for 06/12/2005

Welcome to this fifth edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!

This week, the theme is "Altered Egos," and we're looking at a few comics covers featuring familiar characters assuming new identities!

This was a fairly common theme in comics stories, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, although a few comics (as you'll see) used this theme in the 70s and beyond, too. For whatever reason, the hero of the book decides that in order to accomplish their current mission (be it to help out someone or capture a crook), they need to establish an all-new identity, complete with costume, which is usually never heard from again!

Adventure 223

Here's an interesting switcheroo... as Superboy assumes the new identity of Hercules Junior, complete with blonde hair! Surely, there's a logical explanation for this new identity, and courtesy of the Grand Comics Database (, we see that he adopts this new identity to help a sea captain famous for helping others.

Because, you know, it wouldn't have been possible to do that as Superboy. Nope. Needed a new identity to do that. And, of course, where else would one find someone calling themselves "Hercules Junior"? Why, on an iceberg in the ocean! (What, you thought Greece?)

This cover was drawn by Curt Swan, with inks by Stan Kaye. Other stories in this issue of Adventure included the two-page PSA "It's Fun to Belong," featuring teen comics stars Bink and Allergy, by Jack Shiff and Win Mortimer, an Aquaman story entitled "The Sunken City of Gold," by Jack Miller and Ramona Fradon (which was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #223), Varsity Vic in the two-page "Oh Gosh, Rain," a text feature on "The ABC's of Archery" by Jack Miller (as Jack Marston), Little Pete in "Hello Aunt Alice!" by Henry Boltinoff, and Green Arrow in "the Decoy Archer" with art by George Papp.

Adventure 334

Moving ahead now to a later issue of Adventure, we find the Legion of Super-Heroes facing the mystery of "The Unknown Legionnaire!" Now, before we get into the details of the story (such as it is), let me first point out how silly it is for Superboy to think that the statue of the Unknown Legionnare would actually have the real face on it, with a lead mask over it! I mean, good grief, who makes these statues, anyway? Did the sculptor have an obsession with creating nude statues, and then clothing them?

This cover was by Curt Swan with George Klein inks, and the story is a flashback in which the LSH tries to discover who this statue is of... and it's on Proty's planet, to boot! (If you don't know who Proty is, he's the protoplasmic "pet" of Chameleon Boy, who could also change his shape. Proty was the only 30th Century member of the Legion of Super-Pets, who also counted Krypto, Streaky, Comet, and Beppo from among their members, the super-dog, super-cat, super-monkey, and super-horse, respectively). This story was by Edmond Hamilton with John Forte pencils. And if you want to find out who the Unknown Legionnaire was, but can't afford the original, this story was reprinted in Best of DC Digest 64, as well as Legion Archives Vol. 4!

The issue also features a reprint of "The One-Man Baseball Team" by Otto Binder and Curt Swan which originally appeared in Superboy 57.

Batman 107

Now, let's go back in time a bit, and take a look at Owlman, who appeared on Batman 107's cover! Obviously, most of the details are already provided for you here... a strange experiment causes Dick Grayson to become an adult, and he assumes a new identity... Owlman!

I wonder if this story was remembered when the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 was introduced in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, in which Batman's doppelganger from E-3 was Owlman?

I do note that Dick Grayson's still in short pants, poor guy!

This cover was pencilled and inked by Sheldon Moldoff, who also pencilled the lead story, "The Boy Who Adopted Batman". DC's books did sometimes cover-feature a back-up story, rather than the lead. The issue also featured the PSA "Careers in Nursing" featuring Buzzy by Jack Schiff and Ruben Moreira, a filler featuring Warden Willis by Henry Boltinoff, "Robin Falls in Love" by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff (reprinted in Batman #185), the text filler "Foiling the Getaways," a Casey the Cop filler by Boltinoff, and finally, "The Grown-Up Boy Wonder" by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff, reprinted in Batman Annual #5.

And, to wrap up today's column, here's a pair of 1970 Captain America covers!

Captain America 179 Captain America 180

Here, we've got a pair of altered egos! Just a bit of backstory: Captain America was battling the Secret Empire for a number of issues, and just before these stories occurred, the epic concluded with the head of the Empire being discovered by Cap, just before he committed suicide. It's not explicit in the story, but one gets the idea that the head of the Empire was the vice-president of the United States (this was the Watergate era, after all!). Steve Rogers decides to give up his Captain America identity, and in 179, Steve battles the Golden Archer, aka Hawkeye, who convinces him to take on a different identity! And in 180, he does, becoming the Nomad, "The Man Without a Country!"

The cape didn't last long... Steve tripped on it, and that was enough for him to lose it. And of course, he did become Cap again.

179's cover was by Ron Wilson (better known for pencilling Marvel Two-In-One) with inks by Frank Giacoia. The story, "Slings and Arrows," was written by Steve Englehart with pencils by Sal Buscema, and inks by Vinnie Colletta. 180's cover was by Gil Kane, with the rest of the credits the same as 179, with the story, "The Coming of the Nomad!"

Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at for other musings and ramblings by me!

Jon B. Knutson

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09/09/2007Installment 122: Reader Challenge - a reader gave me four comic book covers, and challenged me to come up with the theme!
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