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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Adventure Comics # 61, April, 1941

The previous issue of ADVENTURE COMICS saw the last appearance of the veteran BARRY O'NEILL series, it being a rather generic story not very much like the series had been up until that point. Last issue also saw the final appearance of the original version of SANDMAN as the star character of the title. This early 1941 issue sees the debut of STARMAN who, as seen below, immediately replaced SANDMAN as the featured character in the regular "Big Six" ad.

Over the years since, the STARMAN continuity has gotten almost as convoluted as that of HAWKMAN. In the beginning here, though, it was somple. Astronomer Ted Knight...Yeah, yeah. Same as the MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW actor who later narrated various DC cartoons. Heard it before. Moving on. Astronomer Ted Knight invents a "gravity rod" which enables him to defy gravity for himself or others and also to use energy to fight crime. Not only is his costume sleek and cool but, best of all, he's drawn by Jack Burnley, a sports cartoonist who was miles ahead of most Golden Age cartoonists in terms of his talent. Burnley had also been a ghost on SUPERMAN and BATMAN in both the comics and the newspapers but STARMAN was his baby and THE best art yet in ADVENTURE. Here's that first tale. 

GCD notes that there is some controversy regarding who wrote the story. Gardner Fox is usually credited as co-creating the character with Burnley but apparently Burnley remembered him coming in later on.

What's this? Another one of those ads for a comic book NOT published by DC!
GCD also notes that, although Whitney Ellsworth is still listed as Editor of the title, the actual editing was being done by this point by Jack Schiff and Mort Weisinger, two young men who would play a large role in DC for years to come.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Adventure Comics # 60, March, 1941

Creig Flessel returns to the cover spot with this pulpish looking cover featuring Sandman but the Hour Man still heads up the stories inside. 

Another new title, WORLD'S BEST COMICS essentially highlights solo stories from all of the major characters not being featured in the similar ALL-STAR COMICS.
Howard Purcell has quickly developed his storytelling skills on the MARK LANSING feature so here's a complete example of his work. 

 Although a  million miles removed from its original "look," artist Chad Grothkopf has definitely steered FEDERAL MEN in a unique direction and given it an all-new style as seen in this page.
 Sci-fi was all the rage in the back-up strips by this point.

Here's a new comedy filler from Henry Boltinoff. Boltinoff would continue 1, 2 and half-page fillers in DC comics for close to the next forty years, his most memorable perhaps being SUPER TURTLE and the CAP'S HOBBY HINTS series of the early sixties.

 ...and they're off. The JSA begins its long and influential run as the first superhero group.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Adventure Comics # 59, February, 1941

A nicely designed Bernard Baily cover, even colored very well.

Hey look below! It's Flash Gordon! Well, isn't it?

Seen below is the illustration from this issue's text story.  Only reason I post it is because the fact that the artist drew the rifle on the wall pointed right at the guy's head seems bizarrely odd.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Adventure Comics # 58, January, 1941

 I love the car--both of them actually--but note the absence of any real background including the road!
 A nice splash for BARRY O'NEILL

 And a colorful one at least for Mark Lansing!
 FEDERAL MEN, for the first time, does not list Jerry Siegel as its writer!
 But that's okay as Siegel gets unprecedentedly singled out as the writer of THE SPECTRE in this ad for MORE FUN COMICS.
 This issue sees the debut of PAUL KIRK, MANHUNTER. The experts will tell you that this is NOT the same Paul Kirk, manhunter, who would later appear in his own series by Simon and Kirby. I say it is. It's as much the same Manhunter as it's the same Sandman once he starts hanging around with Sandy and wearing the purple and yellow costume! Just because you drastically change the format, doesn't mean its a brand new character.

 Here we go with ALL-STAR COMICS # 3. In only a slight variation from the previous issues, this issue sees the major DC heroes (other than Superman and Batman) gathering to tell their own stories of their latest solo adventures. Future issues would tie the individual stories together with a framing sequence featuring them all fighting a menace. After that, their would be pairs of heroes in each story/chapter and then, eventually, the whole darn team would tackle menaces. A little at a time, the first supergroup was born! And the ADVENTURE COMICS duo of the Sandman and The Hour Man were there right from the start.