ComicMix Six – Missing Golden Agers!
The Golden Age of Comics usually refers to the first period of massive super-hero output, roughly 1938 to around 1950, give or take. Super-heroes lost their following, and desperate publishers rushed to replace capes with westerns, romance, and horror – or all three, if they could figure out how to do it. Sometimes, decisions were made hastily and work was stopped mid-production, more often they printed off their inventory and moved on… sometimes to oblivion.
But there was an interesting phenomenon in which the “lead” super-heroes featured in or above the logo failed to appear on their very final covers. Here’s the ComicMix Six top golden age missing heroes covers. If we missed yours, please write in and let us know!
Number One: The Marvel Family
This is the most blatant example of the inadvertent trend. The Marvel Family – Captain, Mary and Junior (who were more like siblings than The Three Bears) are not only missing, but there’s white silhouettes where they were supposed to be! Again, this was the last issue, so they never reappeared on the cover of that series. And before long, The Marvel Family would fade to limbo due to poor sales and the weight of an unending lawsuit from DC Comics. An unfortunate ending to a proud family.
Number Two: Green Lantern
Okay, this really sucks. Try and tind Green Lantern on this cover, the last of his solo-series of the 1940s. You can’t, except for in the logo, which doesn’t count. He’s not on the cover. But his dog is. Just…his…dog. No wonder Alan Scott didn’t walk the dog over to the Justice Society. But if you think that sucks, here’s comes the real embarrassment.
Number Three: All-American Comics
Wow, it sucks to be Green Lantern. Not only did he not make it to the final cover of his own comic, but Alan Scott didn’t make it to the final cover of the monthly anthology comic that was his birthplace! Yep, Johnny Thunder – who had taken over the cover position a few months earlier – is there preparing the way for next month’s name-change to All-American Western. The numbering was kept consistent, but the format change really didn’t work. In about two years, the title became All-American Men of War, again continuing the numbering until the Post Office figured out the scam and make DC start over.
Number Four: The Spirit
Okay, this was a reprint comic, reprinting stories that had appeared in the newspapers. But it counts. Will Eisner’s classic creation isn’t on the cover of his final issue (outside of the standard logo-area head shot), but, hey, in this case, who cares? A killer cover. Literally.
Number Five: Captain America
All right. I lied. The name of this title was Captain America’s Weird Tales, the second such issue although the numbering remained consistent from the classic series. Cap was on the cover of the previous issue – fighting the Red Skull no less – but here, in “his” final issue, he’s nowhere to be seen. Not just on the cover; he’s not inside the book, either. C’mon! This is Captain America we’re talking about!
Number Six: Star-Spangled Comics
Robin the Boy Wonder had been lead feature in this title for years, often sharing his adventures with Batman. Good stuff; DC just finished reprinting all those stories in their Robin Archives series. But super-heroes were doing so badly (comparatively speaking) that the western/revolutionary war hero Tomahawk pushed him off the cover. And Tomahawk was about to get his own title as well! How greedy can you get? Picking on a little kid like that!
This is probably a silly question, but why would the Post Office care about a comic's numbering (re: All-American Comics)? Did it have something to do with subscriptions? And is this still an issue today, now that series seem to change numbering almost as often as creators?
Good question. Time for a mini-history lesson.The only way magazine publishers could afford to sell subscriptions was by acquiring second-class mailing privileges. But filing the paperwork required paying a filing fee and, because the rules and regulations were written in some obscure dialect of Esperanto Pig-Latin, chances were pretty good that you'd have to refile a zillion times until you found a post office clerk who didn't care or was made to care (that'll get me a nasty letter from the postal workers union). So for the smaller and/or cheaper publishers, it made a lot of sense to try to roll your second class permit over to another magazine by keeping the numbering the same. EC Comics and Charlton turned this into a science, but just about everybody did it……until the post office caught on. An order went out that said keeping the numbering and part of the title consistent wasn't enough if the magazine in question was substantially different from the one that got the original permit. So numbering had to be rolled back to the first altered issue — All-American Men of War #127 became the de facto first and second issues, and the SECOND second issue was numbered #2.Why the SECOND second issue? Because the post office screwed up. Or DC did. Or both. There was an All-American Men of War #128, which should have been the de facto #2. So, in fact, there were 118 issues of All-American Men of War even though the last issue was numbered 117. And the title no longer could be regarded as the linear descendant of All-American Comics.Yes, Raphael, I keep this crap in my brain for a living. Just don't get me started on "news holes."
News holes, Mike? And hey, my brain's fulla useless crapola, too…