Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Six Silver Age Superman Covers by Neal Adams that make you say…wha-huh?

Julius Schwartz and many other great DC Comics editors had a knack for commissioning covers so wacky that you had to buy them.  Here are 6 covers by Neal Adams that definitely grab your attention.

Action Comics 402 cover by Neal Adams

Action Comics #402, July 1971.  As I came into comics, I was also watching Western TV shows and movies.  As silly as it sounds, from those pop culture outlets, I was enamored with TV-fake American Indian culture, and whenever they popped up on a comics cover, I was all over that.  When a group of Indians were able to subdue Superman with magic and burn him at the stake, well, that was a must buy!  A silly story inside, but beautifully illustrated by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.  Indians also appeared in Green Lantern / Green Arrow, in a story also drawn by Neal Adams.  I was also a big fan of Super Chief and got excited for about 5 minutes when he briefly appeared in 52.

Action Comics 400 cover by Neal Adams

Action Comics #400, May 1971.  Any cover with Superman having a son, like those World’s Finest super-sons stories, were instantly on my buy list.  How could I pass up this cover, with Superman having a super-freak son that turns into a beast?  Put this into the “apes sell covers” philosophy the DC editors had.

Action Comics 399 cover by Neal Adams

Action Comics #399, June 1971.  Death and mystery were also two good hooks on a cover.  The idea that there were previous Supermen who died makes Kal-El’s whole existence come into question.  Do you remember the Matrix Reloaded, when the Architect told Neo there had been multiple versions of Neo in the past, all making the wrong choices?  Yeah, when I saw that, I thought of this cover.  Were the Wachowski brothers Superman fans?

Action Comics 395 cover by Neal Adams

Action Comics #395, December 1970.  OK, I lied.  This cover isn’t by Adams, it was drawn by Carmine Infantino, but it’s so wacky I had to include it.  A Girl Mightier Than Superman?  How could any member of the lesser sex :-) be stronger than DC’s greatest superhero?  I always wondered why they didn’t have Wonder Woman on the cover, she seemed the natural choice to have a challenge Superman in strength.  A Kryptonian looking woman would have been another choice.  But this lady looks kind of like a grown-up Girl Scout in a Roman Halloween costume.

Action Comics 374 cover by Neal Adams

Action Comics #374, March 1969.  Neal Adams could draw the emotions of shame and guilt better than anyone.  On this one, Superman has a secret…he’s really Public Enemy #1.  A rubber mask is all it took to impersonate a new man—everyone knew that in the 1960s because they saw it every week on Mission Impossible!  Any twist with Superman becoming a criminal was a good way to hook in the kids, too.  He was assuming this identity due to a bad case of amnesia.

Action Comics 371 cover by Neal Adams

Action Comics #371, January 1969.  This cover looks unmistakably Neal Adams to me, but it was penciled by Curt Swan and inked by Adams.  Superman is confused about his identity once again, but this time he assumes the role of the President of the the United States!  Something about the way Superman was drawn here reminds me of Lyndon Johnson.  Frightening to think of LBJ with super powers!  For another 1960s story, check out Dial B for Blog’s excellent article on Superman’s Mission for President Kennedy!  Nuff Said.

1 comment:

  1. The cover to Action #395 wasn't really "drawn" by Carmine Infantino. The figure work is clearly Curt Swan's. Infantino provided the layout - probably a rough pencil sketch, which Swan would have used as a guide. The inks were by Dick Giordano.


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