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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 06/19/2005

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

This week, the theme is "Breaking the Fourth Wall," in which characters on the cover talk to the reader! Now, there are some famous covers that feature this theme, and some classic Golden Age ones, but I'm not featuring those this time (don't fear, one of these weeks, I'll revisit this theme and present those!).

Flash 193

Here's the first one of this week's batch, Flash 193. A pretty chilling cover, isn't it (sorry, couln't resist)? While most "Breaking the Fourth Wall" covers feature a hero talking to the reader, this time around it's Captain Cold's turn!

Julie Schwartz, editor on this title, was known far and wide for the innovative covers on his books... often the cover would be created first, and a story spun out of that! I don't know if that was the case with this one, though. This cover was pencilled and inked by Murphy Anderson.

The book-length story, "Captain Cold Blows His Cool," was written by John Broome, with pencils by Ross Andru and inks by Mike Esposito.

Flash 222

Jumping ahead another 29 issues or so, we find someone else is talking to the reader from the cover of The Flash, and it's still not Barry Allen! Surely, Hal Jordan's call to arms to the readers must've gotten even the most causual browser's attention at the newsstand!

This attention-getting cover was by Nick Cardy, and yes, the book was still edited by Julie Schwartz! The story, "The Heart That Attacked the World," was written by Cary Bates, with Irv Novick on pencils, and Frank McLaughlin and Dick Giordano on inks. Thanks to the Grand Comics Database ( I can tell you the story is about Sinestro and the Weather Wizard teaming up! This story was no doubt designed to get reader attention drawn to the fact that Hal was going to be appearing in back-up stories in Flash (since he was currently without a series).

Justice League 89

Finally, Barry gets a chance to talk to the readers... but it's not on the cover of his own book! Instead, it's here in Justice League of America! I didn't even need to look this one up to know it's a Neal Adams cover. And it's another Julie Schwartz-edited book! The story within is "the Most Dangerous Dreams of All," and is written by Mike Friedrich (and dedicated Harlan Ellison), with Dick Dillin pencils and Joe Giella Inks. Interestingly enough, Mike Friedrich himself cameos in this issue!

And finally, to show that this won't be an all-Schwartz column (not that it would be a bad thing), here's a Golden Age Breaking the Fourth Wall cover...

Smash 38

This is kind of a "two-fer," because both Gabby the Talking Monkey and the giant caveman are talking to the reader! Midnight, the star of the comic, remains silent.

Brief aside: Midnight is kind of an interesting character... even if you've never heard of him before, you probably noticed his resemblance to Will Eisner's "The Spirit"... and in fact, both characters were published at Quality Comics simultaneously. Now, I haven't read any Midnight stories (other than the more modern ones written by Roy Thomas in "Secret Origins" and "All-Star Squadron"), so I can't comment on how good or bad the original stories were, but my understanding is that Quality created Midnight so that in the event Eisner took the Spirit somewhere else, they'd still have a masked, blue-suited crimefighter around. Strangely, Eisner didn't sue or take other action against "Busy" Arnold! (See? Reading all those books about the history of comics does do you some good! He said to no one in particular)

Now, for the credits! The GCD credits Ruben Moreira with pencils and inks on this cover. None of the stories in this book had titles to them... so the Midnight story was by the genius behind "Plastic Man," Jack Cole. The book also featured Espionage Starring Black X by Alex Kotzky and Ruben Moreira, Archie O'Toole by Bernard Dibble, Bozo the Robot (who wasn't really a robot, but rather more of a suit of powered armor, because Bozo's inventor was tucked inside) by George Brenner, Wun Cloo by Cole, the Ray by Rudy Palais, Rookie Rankin by Clark Williams, the Marksman by Bob Powell and Alex Koda, and Yankee Eagle (not to be confused with the same strip in MILITARY COMICS) by Al Gabriele.

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

<< 06/12/2005 | 06/19/2005 | 06/26/2005 >>

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