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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 08/28/2005

Welcome to this 16th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!

This week, we're looking at five covers all showing some kind of sports! But of course, the easy way out would be to use five covers from, say "Strange Sports Stories" or even "Championship Sports." Way too easy!

Action Comics 118

Let's begin with this pleasant Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye cover from Action Comics. Yes, there's no competition going on in this cover, but ice sailing is still a sport (well, I haven't ever seen it on ESPN, but I never watch ESPN anyway).

Sometimes, when I'm feeling old and curmudgeonly, I find myself wishing that comics could return to simpler times like these, when the Man of Steel had enough free time he could help out a couple of boys in their recreational pursuits like this. But then I snap back to reality and realize those days are long gone!

Anyway... this cover has nothing to do with the stories in this issue, which feature Superman in "The Execution of Clark Kent" by Ira Yarbrough, a Daffy & Doddle filler by Lit-Win (surely a pseudonym?), Congo Bill by Ed Smalle in "A Modern Noah's Ark," Zatara in "Hermit for a Day" by Joe Samachson and W.F. White, a Hayfoot Harry filler by Al Schwartz and Stan Kay, and the Vigilante in "The Blue-Ribbon Bandits" by George Roussos.

Action Comics 220 Action Comics 304

Nope, your eyes aren't deceiving you... these two covers, some 84 issues apart, are pretty much the same! Back in the day, editors like Whit Ellsworth and Mort Weisinger figured that there was about a 4-6 year turnaround in readership, and they'd often recycle old stories... and as you can see above, often the recycled stories would both be cover featured!

Heck, I even remember going to one comics show where I bought two issues of Lois Lane - only two, mind you - and the earliest one had a story that was recycled for the later one, and both were penciled by Kurt Schaffenberger!

In both of these stories, Superman is invited to participate in an Interplanetary Olympics, but he fails to win a single event, embarrassing Lois Lane, who always seems to come along for these kind of adventures. It's not until after he's lost every event he was in that we learn that he threw the games in order to foil a villainous plot (this was a standard ploy back in the comics of that era... any time Superman is acting completely contrary to his usual stuff, it's usually some kind of hoax to put the kibosh on criminal capers).

Action Comics #220's cover was by Al Plastino. "The Interplanetary Olympics" was also drawn and inked by Plastino. This issue also featured Congo Bill by Howard Sherman, and Tommy Tomorrow in "The Flying Dutchman of Space" by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney.

Action Comics #304's cover was drawn by Curt Swan, with inks by Shelly Moldoff. This version was written by Leo Dorfman, penciled by Swan, and inked by George Klein. This version of the story was reprinted in Superman #284! The issue also featured a Shorty filler by Henry Boltinoff, and Supergirl in "The Maid of Menace!", the story that introduced her arch-foe the Black Flame, written by Dorfman with art by Jim Mooney. This story was reprinted in DC Special #3.

Flash 221

Ah, Flash #211... this was one of those covers I saw in house ads of the time, but I've never managed to latch on to a copy of the issue! Dick Giordano is credited with this cover, so I thank him for drawing those very sexy legs on Kolossal Kate! I guess that women's roller derby must've been popular at the time... or at least, it was prior to this issue being prepared (comics are, after all, notorious for jumping on bandwagons when a trend is dying or dead).

The story, "Flashing Wheels," is written by Cary Bates, with art by Irv Novick and inks by Giordano. Kid Flash also appears in a solo-story, "Is This Poison Legal?" by Steve Skeates, Dick Dillin, and Giordano. And as a bonus, this 48-page issue also features the Golden Age Flash in "The Rival Flash," reprinted from Flash Comics #104 (I'm guessing this story features the Rival character that's popped up in the current JSA series).

Master Comics 46

Finally, to wrap up this week's column, here's a great Mac Raboy Master Comics cover, featuring Captain Marvel, Jr.! Raboy was definitely one of the greats, and he really shown on Junior's stories.

Within this issue, Capt. Marvel Jr. was featured in the Otto Binder story "The Angry Crowd Giant." Also in this issue were Hopalong Cassidy in "The Ruse that Flashed Back" with art by Harry Parkhurst, Bulletman in "The Clinging Vine" by Otto and Jack Binder, Balbo, Boy Magician in "The Day the War Ended" with art by Bert Whitman, a Hoodoo Hannigan text story by Joseph J. Millard, and winding out the issue was Minute Man in "One Minute With Minute Man" written by Otto Binder with art by Phil Bard. Quite a package, eh?

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... or you can write me directly at !

Jon B. Knutson

<< 08/21/2005 | 08/28/2005 | 09/04/2005 >>

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Recent Installments:
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09/16/2007Installment 123: Comics Never Made - Drive-In Movie Classics and Fantastic Film Classics
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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08/19/2007Installment 119: 1-10 - Captain Marvel Adventures!
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