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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 01/14/2007

Welcome, faithful readers (and those of you joining us for the first time) to the 88th installment of Cover Stories, the weekly column in which I, Jon B. Knutson, present a group of covers with a common theme!

This week's theme is, I'm pretty certain, revisiting a previous theme, "Other Superpeople," featuring those one-off super-characters who seemed to pop up in the Superman comics on a regular basis!

All four covers in this week's column are Action Comics covers, starting with issue 165!

Action Comics 165

Yes, it's The Man Who Conquered Superman, and as you can see, he's wearing the requisite shorts that pretty much all of DC's spacemen were wearing in the sci-fi comics! Oh, yeah, also the fishbowl helmet, too!

Win Mortimer did the art chores on this cover.

Inside this issue, we begin with the inside front cover, featuring the Buzzy PSA "Be Yourself - Your Best Self!" by Jack Schiff. Then we're off to "The Man Who Conquered Superman!" by Bill Finger, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye. This story was reprinted in Superman Annual #4, retitled as "The Alien Who Conquered Superman", but neither title is quite honest... because Krag the Mercurian, the title character, was actually a robot built by Superman (presumably another one of those elaborate hoaxes the Man of Steel would perpetuate to capture some criminals that he could've easily done with his super-powers, but that apparently gets boring).

Also in this issue: Tommy Tomorrow in "The Bank of the Future" by Curt Swan and John Fischetti, a Captain Tootsie ad, Congo Bill in "Blind Man's Bluff" by Jack Miller and Ed Smalle, a Varsity Vic filler by Henry Boltinoff, the Vigilante in "The Second Vigilante" by Bob Brown (if this had been the cover feature, it could've been an "Evil Twins" cover!), a Shorty filler by Boltinoff, and a Jerry Jitterbug filler, also by Boltinoff.

Action Comics 175

Just ten issues later, in Action 175, the Man of Steel's up against more super-people... or rather, he's up against five of them on this cover by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. Inside, "5 Against Superman" had art by Boring and Kaye... and unfortunately, this story hasn't been reprinted, and since I've never read the story, and I don't recognize the large-brained villain addressing Superman on the cover, I'll have to make an assumption (I'm sure that one of you, if you're familiar with this issue, will correct me if I'm wrong) that the villain either took ordinary crooks and gave them temporary superpowers, or they're robots of some kind.

Also in this issue: Superman in the PSA "UNICEF Spells Help for the Children of the World!" by Jack Schiff and Win Mortimer, Congo Bill in "Killer's Bodyguard" by Ed Smalle, a Little Pete filler by Boltinoff, Tommy Tomorrow in "The Statue from Space" by Jim Mooney, a Varsity Vic filler by Boltinoff, the Vigilante in "The Sailor on Horseback" by Bob Brown, and a Shorty filler by Boltinoff.

Action Comics 196

Here's a different super-person from Action Comics 196, Mental-Man! In this issue, Lois Lane creates a new comic strip character for the Daily Planet, since the circulation is down. Her strip is a hit, and Mental-Man is immensely popular... but then, he appears for real in Metropolis!

Now, I have to make a confession. When I first pulled my scan of this cover for use in this week's column, I thought I'd read this story... but checking now, I discover that I'm familiar with the expanded version of this story, when it was retold in Action Comics #272 (reprinted in Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 1)! In that story, it's revealed that Mental-Man is really Superman's JLA pal Aquaman in disguise... but I don't know if he was revealed to be Mental-Man in the original tale.

Anyway, this cover was by Win Mortimer, and the cover story was by Bill Finger and Wayne Boring. Also in this issue was Congo Bill in "The Jungle Circus" by Ed Smalle, Tommy Tomorrow in "The World Series of Tomorrow" by Jim Mooney, and the Vigilante in "Vigilante - Foreign Correspondent" by Howard Sherman.

Action Comics 209

Yes, at least annually, Superman met up with another super-person... and this time around, in Action 209, the other super-person couldn't even be bothered to come up with a proper costume... although he was able to come up with a giant-sized light bulb (maybe that's the one super-power he has that Superman doesn't have? Nah, Superman was constantly building stuff out of scrap materials).

This cover was by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye, who also did the art on the cover story. Also in this issue was a Bebe filler by Henry Boltinoff, Tommy Tomorrow in "The Space Hall of Fame" by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney, a Shorty filler by Boltinoff, a Jerry Jitterbug filler by Boltinoff, and Congo Bill in "The Amazing Desert Ship" by Ed Smalle.

Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," in which I'll present another installment of "Comics They Never Made", 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

<< 01/07/2007 | 01/14/2007 | 01/21/2007 >>

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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