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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 05/20/2007

Welcome, faithful readers (and those of you joining us for the first time) to the 105th 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 "What The--?" featuring covers that were just so eye-grabbing, if not absolutely puzzling, that you would feel compelled to buy the comic book just to see what the cover was about!

Let's start with a Superman title, shall we? (Yeah, I know, huge surprise)

Action Comics 89

This cover here, featuring Superman with the concentric multi-colored rings, is an eye-grabber if I've ever seen one! I can't imagine seeing this on the newsstands and not buying the book! It definitely had to have stood out.

The cover for Action Comics 89 was by Wayne Boring with inks by Stan Kaye. Sadly, we don't know who the colorist was on this cover... but they did a great job, didn't they?

Inside, "The King of Color" was the lead tale, with art by Ira Yarbrough. Also in this issue, we had Congo Bill in "The Elephant's Homecoming" by Edwin Smalle, Hayfoot Henry in "An Ill Wind Blows" by Al Schwartz and Stan Kaye, the Vigilante in "The Curse of the Khabod Q" by Mort Meskin, the text story "River Cruise" by Ted Udal, and Zatara in "Race Against Rogues" by W.F. White.

Moving on...

Captain America 153

When in doubt, put two heroes who should be friends about to fight each other on the cover, and you're going to attract attention! This Gil Kane cover, featuring what appears to be Captain America beating up a black man, with the Falcon leaping at him (and Redwing flying alongside) must've blown away the minds of comics readers who thought the two were fast friends (heck, both logos were on the cover, weren't they?).

Of course, if you've read this issue, you're well aware that the Captain America on this cover is not Steve Rogers! No, this was the replacement Captain America of the 1950s, who was anti-Communist, and apparently racist, too! This may have been the first issue of the multi-part storyline explaining who was Captain America in the 1950s comic books, as well as what happened to him.

The cover of Captain America 153 was by Sal Buscema (who's always been criminally underappreciated, in my opinion) with inks by John Verpoorten. Inside, "Captain America - Hero or Hoax?" was by Steve Englehart, Buscema and Jim Mooney.

Superman's Pal 117

I had to include this cover... with the "Planet of the Capes!" Yes, this would've been around the same time as the movie, Planet of the Apes, but rather than just sending Jimmy to a world where apes are the dominant life form, DC just added a letter, and gave it a Silver Age twist!

This is rather a silly story, however (wow, what a surprise, a silly Jimmy Olsen story). Jimmy is transported to an alternate Earth (one we never saw again, not even in Crisis on Infinite Earths) where the society is based on who does and doesn't wear a cape! Jimmy notices this right away, even recognizing whose cape is whose (even Legion of Super-Heroes capes, most of which aren't that distinctive). He finds that Jor-El was the survivor of Krypton here, and looking at Earth-1, he sees the capes, and decides to change society so that those people wearing capes of Earth-1's heroes are the upper crust!

Trust me, you really have to read it to appreciate the madness of the tale. This cover was penciled by Curt Swan, and inked by Neal Adams... they made a nice pairing, didn't they? I don't know if they were ever combined on a cover again after Jimmy Olsen 117.

"The Planet of the Capes" was by Otto Binder and Pete Costanza. Also in this issue was "The Son of Jimmy Olsen!" by Jerry Siegel and Kurt Schaffenberger, reprinted from Jimmy Olsen 56.

Wonder Woman 7

So... Wonder Woman for President, 1000 years in the future! This issue, despite the Winter cover dating, was obviously released during what I can assume was a then-current election.

Given the stars and stripes presented here, apparently the USA still exists 1000 years in the future... and just as apparently, the whole requirement for presidential candidates being native-born citizens has passed on, too... or perhaps in the future, Paradise Island is one of the States?

The cover for Wonder Woman 7 was by Harry G. Peter. This issue features a multi-part story: "The Adventure of the Life Vitamin" was part 1, and was by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter, as were the other parts, such as "America's Wonder Women of Tomorrow," which was part 2. Next up was "Wonder Women of History" featuring Joan of Arc by Alice Marble, Paul Reinman and Sam Burlockoff, followed by part 3, "The Secret Weapon." The issue is wrapped up with a text story featuring Hop Harrigan!

Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," in which I'll present some covers with the topic "Turned Evil!", and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at for photos of classic toys, other comics covers, comic book advertisements, monster movie stills, and other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !

Jon B. Knutson

<< 05/13/2007 | 05/20/2007 | 05/27/2007 >>

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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