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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 12/31/2006

Welcome, faithful readers (and those of you joining us for the first time) to the 73rd installment of Cover Stories, the weekly column in which I, Jon B. Knutson, present a group of covers with a common theme!

As you're probably aware by now, I completely spaced out that last week's column would be coming out around Christmas, so unlike last year, I didn't post a column of Christmas covers... and of course, New Year's Eve is coming up, and I used the few NYE covers last year... so this week's column is no more timely than last week... namely, "Merry Pranksters!"

And what better way to start than with a Superman cover featuring the Prankster?

Action Comics 57

Here's the cover of Action Comics 57, featuring a giant Jack-In-The-Box bearing the Prankster's face. One wonders why Lois appears ready to faint at the sight of it... or is it simply that she's embarrassed to be wearing a dress the same color as the box?

This cover was penciled and inked by John Sikela. Inside, "Crime's Comedy King" was by Jerry Siegel and John Sikela. You can find this story reprinted in Wanted: The World's Most Dangerous Villains #9 and Superman: The Action Comics Archives Vol. 4.

You know, I wouldn't mind seeing DC revive the Wanted title as an occasional 80-page giant, reprinting a collection of stories focusing on various villains... how about you?

Next in the book was "Supermen of the U.S. Army" by Cliff Young, a Chief Hot Foot filler by Henry Boltinoff, the Vigilante in "The Feud of Rimfire Ridge" by Mort Meskin and Charles Paris, a Jerry Jitterbug filler by Boltinoff, the Three Aces in "Veiled Desert Bandits" by Louis Cazeneuve, a Clancy the Cop filler by Boltinoff, Americommando by Joseph Greene and Bernard Baily, the text story "Naval Engagement," Congo Bill in "The Galloping Ghosts" by John Daly, a gag filler by Boltinoff, and Zatara in "Treasure Trove" by Joseph Sulman. Apparently, none of the rest of these stories have ever been reprinted.

How about a second Action Comics cover? Here's Action 315, solidly in the Silver Age:

Action Comics 315

Yep, Zigi and Zagi, the juvenile delinquents from Alpha Centauri, courtesy of this Curt Swan-drawn cover! I suppose, technically speaking, these two weren't quite "merry pranksters" per se... but they did keep Superman pretty busy, if I recall the story correctly... which I may not be, to be honest! I used to own a very beat-up copy of this issue, and I don't recall any specific plot elements from it, sadly.

Inside, "The Juvenile Delinquents from Space!" was by Leo Dorfman and Jim Mooney, and was reprinted in Limited Collector's Edition C-38. Also in this issue was Supergirl in "Supergirl's Mother!" by the same creative team. This issue also included a text page on the origin of Comet, the Super-Horse. Neither of those last two features rings a bell, either (sheesh, maybe I should've asked Santa to give me something to revive some of those brain cells that seem to be losing their ability to retain stuff like this).

How about a different slant on pranks, courtesy of those "Whacky" (as DC used to spell it all the time) Bizarros?

Adventure Comics 294

Yep, here's issue 294 of Adventure Comics, and the Bizarros are playing all kinds of bizarre pranks on their version of Halloween! Of course, here on earth, for Halloween we wear masks of monsters (well, okay, the last two Halloweens I dressed as Superman, but the last time I dressed up prior to that I was the Frankenstein Monster)... on the Bizarro World, they wear masks of John F. Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, and Jerry Lewis! Of course, you know that DC used to publish a Jerry Lewis comic book back then, so this worked as a sort of promotion for the other book.

And check out the prank they're pulling on Bizarro-Krypto... using their heat vision to turn the Cold Dogs into Hot Dogs! Those meanies!

Although, to be honest, they had shown Bizarro-Krypto thinking that Bizarro really loved him when he mistreated him, so why would he feel put off this time? Then again, consistency was never a big issue for those Bizarros, was it?

I'm sure other Bizarro pranks probably included fixing up houses so they were level, cleaning up yards, and turning coal into diamonds... in other words, the kind of stuff that Superman would do to help out (when he wasn't trying to teach Jimmy Olsen or Lois Lane a lesson, or perpetrating a ridiculous hoax)!

This was another great Curt Swan cover, inked by George Klein. Inside, Superboy was featured in "Dial M for Monster" by Jerry Siegel and Al Plastino, in which aliens from Xnor come to visit Earth as tourists and are very annoying (at least, that's what the Grand Comics Database says about it... this must be the Superbaby story?), the PSA "From Many Lands..." by Jack Schiff and Lou Cameron, a Tricksy filler by Henry Boltinoff, Tales of the Bizarro World featuring "Halloween Pranks of the Bizarro-Supermen" by Jerry Siegel and John Forte, a Professor Eureka filler by Boltinoff (reprinted from Action Comics #216), and a Little Pete filler by Boltinoff!

Here's a different kind of prank happening here, to the most unlikely of targets!

Detective Comics 385

Yes, it's the "note-on-the-back" gag, pulled on Batman! You can see how Robin and Batgirl are reacting to it (and a very nicely-rendered Batgirl, by the way, isn't it?). This cover was drawn by the master of moody Batman covers in the 1960s and 70s, Neal Adams.

Inside, "Die Small - Die Big!" was by Bob Kanigher and Bob Brown, with Joe Giella. This story was reprinted in Batman #257. Also in this issue, Batgirl in "Hunt for the Helpless Hostage!" by Mike Friedrich, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson, continued from issue 384.

I can't really tell you anything more about those stories, because I've never, ever owned a copy of this issue (blame Frank Miller... ever since "The Dark Knight Returns," back issue Batman titles have been very expensive!).

Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," in which I'll present another 1-10 (this time from one of my favorite titles of all time), 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

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