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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Adventure Comics # 74, May, 1942

Starman still holds the top spot but, as beautiful as it was, the more exciting Simon and Kirby style was quickly taking over. 

What happened to Minute Man Martin? Now we have Thorndyke, previously the comic relief kid, as a silly, costumed sidekick!

 Here we go with another Henry Boltinoff character who would pop up often over the years.

 A nice full page splash on this issue's STEVE CONRAD strip.
 Help! Seriously--PRIZE COMICS?? WHY?

 Here we have the classic--well, I always thought it was kinda stupid actually--blue, full-face mask.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Adventure Comics # 73, April, 1942

We ran this cover, its original art and a recently recolored version by Mort Todd a while back. Now let's see what's on the inside. As you can see, MANHUNTER in his new Simon and Kirby outfit (I swear, it's the SAME guy!) At this point, he doesn't have the blue face mask he'll have later. In fact, I'm not sure they had decided what his mask was supposed to look like as you'll see below. 

Seriously---yet another PRIZE COMICS ad in DC Comics. Surely someone knows what this cross-promotion was all about.

After the neat, clean art of the previous issues on the PAUL KIRK, MANHUNTER strip, this messy but vibrant art must have come as a shock to regular readers. Note that the character here is called "Rick Nelson" and not "Paul Kirk" but that would soon enough change back. From panel to panel, the mask seems drawn differently or left out all together, sometimes leaving the colorist to color all or part of the character's face red even if there was no visible indication of a mask at all.

After his recent absence, Minute-Man Martin returns to share this adventure of HOURMAN. Speaking of sidekicks, after the last panel of this strip, seen below, was a plug for Mr. America's new sidekick in ACTION COMICS, Fatman! Fatman resembles the (in)famous Ma Hunkel version of Red Tornado.

CLANCY THE COP was yet another Henry Boltinoff character that would continue in single-pagers for the next three decades or so. 

With MANHUNTER, Simon and Kirby now have two major strips in ADVENTURE. FEDERAL MEN's Steve Carson has been missing all together since issue 70 and Steve Conrad's days were numbered.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Adventure Comics # 72, March, 1942

The cover makes at least a brief note of the big change this issue when it says "New Sandman!" See below for what's new about him. 

This will be the final tale of PAUL KIRK, MANHUNTER. Well, this version anyway. As noted previously, the upcoming costumed version is not considered to be the same character in spite of the fact that, except for next issue, he is also called Paul Kirk and his costumed identity is MANHUNTER. Pardon me if I DO consider it to be a variation on the same character. Sad to lose the wonderfully smooth art of Ed Moore, though. Moore would go on to do some crime comics for Timely and later Atlas before drifting into newspaper strips as an art assistant.

Oddly colored but the change in art and writing style is jarring as Joe Simon and Jack Kirby move from Timely and CAPTAIN AMERICA to take over THE SANDMAN and turn it into one of the most kinetic and exciting strips then being published by any company. Our hero is still Wesley Dodds but he is light years away from the noirish caped playboy with the gas mask and the hat.