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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 07/01/2007

Welcome, faithful readers (and those of you joining us for the first time) to the 112th installment of Cover Stories, the weekly column in which I, Jon B. Knutson, present a group of covers with a common theme!

As promised, this week's theme is "Power Failure!", and it's an all-Superman column!

Action 113

Here's the first one... Action Comics 113. What happens to Superman's super-strength when he becomes "Just an Ordinary Guy?" Well, I'd imagine it'd be gone, wouldn't it?

You've got to chuckle at the expressions on the lookers-on, don't you? This cover was rendered by Wayne Boring, possibly assisted by Al Plastino. Inside, "Just an Ordinary Guy" was by Al Schwartz and Win Mortimer. Also in this issue were Zatara in "The Man Who Was Always Late!" by Joe Samachson and W.F. White, Congo Bill in "Skullduggery in the Subway!", a Willy filler by Phil Berube, Hayfoot Henry in "The Too-Fragrant Vagrant" by Al Schwartz and Stan Kaye, and Vigilante in "Gold Rush-1947!" by Bill Finger and George Roussos.

Adventure 141

Of course, Superman didn't always lose his powers as an adult... he'd lose them when he was Superboy, too, as you can see from the cover of Adventure Comics 141! "Seeing the impossible"??? As you can see in this column, Superman losing his powers was far from impossible!

Good thing that the rope that Superboy was connected to was so close to this jewel robbery, eh? And apparently his strength wasn't that diminished, judging from the effect his punches have on the robbers!

"When Superboy Lost His Power!" was by Don Cameron and John Sikela. Also in this issue, "The Case of the Insect Zoo" by Otto Binder and George Papp, Aquaman in "Return of the Sea Sleuth" by Binder and John Daly, and Johnny Quick in "The Candid Camera Crimes" by Binder and Charles Sultan.

Superman 164

Here's Superman 164, with one of the more famous "power failure" covers... and noting the red sun in the background, that's the explanation for this power-failure, isn't it? This is a classic tale, which introduces the planet later renamed Lexor! Luthor's plan is pretty bizarre... he claims that the only reason Superman defeats him is because the Man of Steel has an unfair advantage with his powers, and challenges him to defeat him without powers! Superman, being of a fair mind, decides to take him up on the challenge, and builds a ship to take them to a red-sun world, where they duke it out, as you can see above. Luthor takes advantage of Superman's weakened state, but Supes escapes briefly, and Lex and Superman discover a city which has fallen on hard times, thanks to the citizens losing the scientific know-how to repair the technology that exists, but has broken down.

Lex starts making repairs, and is hailed as a hero. By the time Superman's discovered the city, Lex is able to convince them Superman's a villain! They end up facing off in a battle again, using the tech available, but Luthor lets Superman win, so that when they're flying back to Earth, Superman can divert giant iceberg of sorts in space to Lexor, where it'll melt and solve their drought problem.

The cover for this issue was by Curt Swan and George Klein. Inside, the two-part story "The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman" (part 1), "The Super-Duel!" (part 2) was by Edmond Hamilton, Swan and Klein. This tale was reprinted in Superman #239, Superman From the Thirties to the Eighties (and, I believe, the earlier edition, Superman From the Thirties to the Seventies). Also in this issue, "The Fugitive from the Phantom Zone!" was by Jerry Siegel and Al Plastino, and was reprinted in Superman #232.

Superman 223

As you can see, Superman losing his powers is a regular plot device... here in Superman 223, Superman's recruited to join the Galactons, but he fails their test when his powers are reduced. Of course, it all turns out to be a hoax by the Man of Steel, because the Galactons are really evil (despite how hot they look in their Space Harem costumes), and if he had his full powers available, they'd use them for their evil purposes!

At least, I think that's what this story was about... it has been a while since I read it last!

The cover for this issue was by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson (aka "Swanderson"). Inside, "Half a Hero!" was by Cary Bates, Swan, and George Roussos. Also in this issue, a Shorty filler by Henry Boltinoff, and the filler "What Do These Covers Have In Common?" which could be considered a precursor to this very column, as it featured four comic book covers that each featured 2 Supermen!

And before I wrap things up, let me remind you again about my Reader Challenge! Can you think of other covers that fit a theme I've presented here, or do you have a theme of your own that you can come up with four or five covers for? If so, send me an email at with your list, the theme, and whatever comments you want to include with your choices, and I'll run 'em in a future installment of Cover Stories, duly crediting you, naturally!

What will you get for your troubles, other than the glory of seeing your name credited in here? It'll be a surprise... in fact, as I write this, it'll be a surprise to me! One of these weeks, I just may have to figure out what it'll be!

This is an open-ended challenge to you readers... at least, it's open until I get tired of reminding you guys about it!

Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," when it'll be time for some more "Comics They Never Made," 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

<< 06/24/2007 | 07/01/2007 | 07/08/2007 >>

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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