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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 03/05/2006

Welcome to this 43rd edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!

This time around, the theme is "Exploitation!" Now, as a way of explaining this... there were two distinct periods in cinema history in which exploitation was common (don't worry, I'll get to the comics soon enough!). The first lasted pretty much through the 50s (although it really kind of started in the 30s and eked its way into the early 60s). In this era, exploitation movies tended to focus on drugs for the most part, in movies such as "Reefer Madness," although there were also plenty of other sub-genres, such as nudist movies, women's prison pictures, and the like (if you really want to get an idea of all the different kinds of weird movies they made, go to In the 60s and 70s, the second period came around... although for some filmmakers like Roger Corman, there was no break... the later period exploitation films were mostly "blaxploitation" fare like Shaft or Blacula.

But the movies weren't the only place to get your exploitation fix! Why, you could find a lot of weird stuff right in the comics themselves! (see, I told you I'd get back to them) You want half-dressed Amazon women enslaving men? Or maybe Vietnam-era student protesters? Or even women's prison stories? They're all right here, and in titles you might not have expected to find these in!

Captain America 62

Here you go... half-clad Amazon women! Well, maybe they're not technically Amazons (they do seem to have a male ruler, after all), but what else would you call these women who appear to be nearly 7 feet tall, all wearing identical short outfits, with those tie-up shoes of theirs?

This cover is courtesy of Captain America #62, with art by Syd Shores. Inside, the cover story was written by Otto Binder (gee, who didn't Otto write comics for?), with art by Al Avison and Syd Shores, and it was titled "The Kingdom of Terror." Cap also starred in the next tae, "The Dance of Death, by the same team. Then we had the text story, "Science Pays Off," and then (since this is a Golden Age Marvel/Timely book) the Human Torch starred in "The Case of Blank Benny" with art by Carmine Infantino, then another Cap story, "Melody of Horror," by Stan Lee, Syd Shores and Al Avison. The issue is wrapped up with Let's Play Detective, featuring "Gangster's Greed" by Al Bellman.

I'm guessing "Kingdom of Terror" was the cover story.

If that didn't get your appetite for Amazons enslaving men... here's another one!

Action Comics 235

Yep, it's the Man of Steel in Kryptonite chains, being auctioned off by an Amazon queen! Sure is different from eBay, isn't it? The cover for Action Comics 235 was by Curt Swan, with inks by Stan Kaye.

The cover story, "The Super-Prisoner of Amazon Island" was written by Otto Binder, with art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. This story was reprinted in Superman Annual #3 and Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #104.

As my cyber-buddy Craig (Ask Mr. Silver Age) Shutt pointed out in his CBG column (and in his book, "Baby Boomer Comics"), this kind of thing happened to Superman fairly often. In this case, Lois Lane's all-woman Super Society (women who'd been saved by Superman) are on a cruise when their boat sinks, stranding them on The Land Without Men. When Superman shows up to rescue them, he's made prisoner - but the Green K chains don't bother him there, and he sticks around to find out why - and while he's there, it's decided that whoever can give him a task he can't perform, he must marry! Obviously, he figured out a way to get out of that.

This issue also featured Tommy Tomorrow in "Joy Ride," by Binder and Jim Mooney, and Congo Bill in an untitled tale by Howard Sherman.

Getting away from Amazon women, but still in the realm of exploitation... here's Adventure Comics 394!

Adventure Comics 394

Yes, that's Supergirl starting a riot in a women's prison, believe it or not, on this Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson cover! But it wasn't the first story in the book... that was reserved for "The Mysterious Motr of Doov," a take-off on the Wizard of Oz, by Cary Bates, Win Mortimer and Jack Abel. Streaky stood in for Toto, in case you're curious.

"Heartbreak Prison" was the second story, written by Robert Kanigher, with art by Kurt Schaffenberger (whom I always thought drew the prettiest Supergirl, but I digress).

I know I used to have this issue, but I can't recall a thing about it! So, let's go on to the final exploitation cover of this column, Iron Man 45:

Iron Man 45

Yep, it's student protestors on this great Gil Kane cover (too bad there's that frame in there... but Kane made the most out of it, didn't he?). Mike Esposito had the honor of inking this cover.

Inside, "Beneath the Armor Beats a Heart" was by Gary Friedrich, George Tuska, and Vince Colletta.

Unfortunately, this is another one of those comics which I used to have, but don't recall what the plot was about, aside from Iron Man feeling frustrated because he couldn't use his armor's amazing abilities against the protestors!

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 email me with comments about this column at!

Jon B. Knutson

<< 02/26/2006 | 03/05/2006 | 03/12/2006 >>

Discuss this column with me in World Famous Comics' General Forum.

Recent Installments:
NEWESTInstallment 129: 1 - 10 - Cracked! (10/28/2007)
10/21/2007Installment 128: Clichés
10/14/2007Installment 127: Comics Never Made - Drive-In Movie Classics and Fantastic Film Classics
10/07/2007Installment 126: Circus Time
09/30/2007Installment 125: 1-10 - Challengers of the Unknown!
09/23/2007Installment 124: Ch-ch-ch-changes - And it's all Superman family titles!
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!
09/02/2007Installment 121: Cartoon Stuff
08/26/2007Installment 120: Sports
08/19/2007Installment 119: 1-10 - Captain Marvel Adventures!
08/12/2007Installment 118: Comics Never Made - Five comics that never were!
08/05/2007Installment 117: Carnival
07/22/2007Installment 116: A G-g-g-g-g-ghost!
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