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I Can’t Cover What I Am – Superhero Comics Transitioning Into a New Format

by  in Comic News Comment

In this feature, I spotlight comic book covers that follow a specific theme. Here is an archive of all the cover themes we’ve spotlighted so far.

Today, let’s take a look at covers of superhero comics that are transitioning from a superhero format to a new format.

Enjoy!

I already examined perhaps the most famous example of this phenomena in an old Snark Blocker piece that you can read here, where the Shield and Archie Andrews co-existed on the cover of Pep Comics for a number of months until Archie took over full-time.

Here now, let’s look at how More Fun Comics changed from a superhero title into a humor title!

For a number of years, More Fun Comics (which was the longest running title at DC at the time, predating Detective Comics, Adventure Comics and Action Comics) was, like mostly all DC titles, a superhero title (it originated as a humor title before transitioning to a traditional adventure/sport stories comic before becoming a superhero comic with the debut of the Spectre in More Fun Comics #52).

As of issue #93, the book contained stories starring Spectre, Johnny Quick, Doctor Fate, Aquaman and the character who usually got the cover of the comic, Green Arrow…


The next issue, though, saw a new feature debut (it did not even take anyone’s place in particular, DC just hacked off four pages of filler to make room for a new four-page feature) with the comedic detective duo, dim-witted twins Dover and Clover.

They were popular enough that they soon were featured on the cover, as well…


Around the same time, in Adventure Comics, which starred Sandman (and featured Starman, Hourman, Manhunter and Shining Knight), DC debuted the comedic character of Genius Jones…


More Fun Comics #101 was the last issue to feature just a superhero character…


Then Dover and Clover got a cover appearance…


and it was clear to DC that these new characters had some staying power.

And, amusingly enough, Green Arrow was none too pleased about getting squeezed out of his cover spot…


However, as that cover notes, DC had also just debuted a popular new character with the adventures of Superman when he was a boy, Superboy!

So the next few covers dealt with that “problem” – Dover and Clover were popular, but so was Superboy! So DC just put them BOTH on covers for awhile (with Superboy getting a solo cover for #105 and Dover and Clover getting #107)…



Then someone at DC must have had a brainstorm in early 1946. Why not just trade comics? So with Adventure Comics #103, Superboy and the superhero characters moved to Adventure Comics (displacing a bunch of superheroes like Sandman)…


and Genius Jones would come over to More Fun Comics!!




The move worked out very well for Adventure Comics, as that titled lasted well into the 1980s (and it kept Green Arrow and Aquaman in print by riding Superboy’s coattails while pretty much every other minor Golden Age character went defunct) but it did not work as well for More Fun Comics.

By #121, Dover and Clover and Genius Jones lost their cover spots to a new featured called Jimminy and the Magic Book…


Even this new spotlight feature couldn’t keep the book going much longer, and with #127, DC’s longest-running comic was canceled.
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While DC was trying to keep More Fun Comics afloat with a new featured character, Timely Comics was dealing with the same situation with their Captain America Comics, which used to be one of the highest-selling comics in the whole country!

But now 70-plus issues in, sales were down and Timely figured that they would try something different.

So after Captain America Comics #73…


the book became Captain America’s Weird Tales with #74…


#74 was the last issue featuring Captain America, with #75 just being a straight horror title…


The experiment did not work, and #75 was the last issue of the series.
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EC Comics had a similar situation with their Moon Girl character.

First she starred as a superhero…


then the book became a crime comic…


and finally, a romance comic!!


Check out this past installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed to learn the likely reason for both Captain America’s Weird Tales AND all the Moon Girl changes.
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A more successful transformation took place with Lev Gleason’s Daredevil Comics.

Daredevil Comics starred, well, Daredevil, a superhero with a really cool costume and a cool name (such a cool name that Stan Lee quickly nabbed it for the Marvel character of the same name in the mid-60s). Erik Larsen has recently made Daredevil a recurring character in the pages of Savage Dragon!…


After a number of solo adventures, Daredevil gained a group of teen sidekicks, the Little Wise Guys (who were, like Simon and Kirby’s ultra-popular Boy Commandos, knockoffs of the Dead End Kids)


The Little Wise Guys were soon popular enough that they began to get covers all to themselves…


And within a year or so they were the regular co-stars of the book, with #32 being the last issue to feature just Daredevil in the title…


as #33 debuted the Little Wise Guys sharing the title drawing…


Still, Daredevil appeared on the cover action shot with them most of the time, until #46 seemed to signify a change in the way things went…


as after appearing on #47 and #48’s cover, Daredevil was absent from #49…


and then appeared on only TWO covers until #67…


And #67 would be Daredevil’s LAST cover appearance in his own comic book!!!

#69 would also be the last time Daredevil appeared in the title drawing…


with #70 becoming just the Little Wise Guys…


with #97, their name became more prominent…




and in #113, their name became even MORE prominent…




The book lasted until #134.

I covered the Daredevil disappearance in an old installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed.
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Paul Tobin made a great suggestion of Atlas Comics’ (what Marvel was before they were called Marvel) Venus, which had about four different formats in her 19 issues after debuting in 1948.

When it started, it went for an almost Archie-esque humor style…


then it went for a romance comic format….


then science-fiction…


and ended with horror…


Pretty trippy!

Thanks for the suggestion, Paul!
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Our pal buttler gave a great suggestion of Harvey Comics’ Black Cat.

The book began as a superhero comic…


before becoming, of all things, a western comic for awhile!!! The name even changed to signify the change!


A very short while later it went back to being a superhero comic…


but soon it became a science fiction/horror comic…


even changing the name to signify it…


and soon, Black Cat was just the NAME of the comic. She was not a featured character…


until, abruptly, the book DID star her again, only back as a Western! I love that the mystery part is still in the title!


that did not last long, as it went back to being a horror/science fiction anthology…


only with an odd name change…


After a few issues, it returned to being a superhero comic for its last three issues before finally ending…


That was quite a run!

Thanks to buttler for the suggestion!
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Okay, that’s it for this time around! Can YOU think of any other good examples of a superhero comic book transitioning into a comic book about something else? And remember, it has to be an actual transition. I’m not talking about stuff like how Kid Eternity abruptly turned into a pirate comic called Buccaneers. There was no transition there, the book just changed. I mean books like the ones featured above, where the comic book company tried to gradually change the comics from one format to another. If so, let me know!

And feel free to suggest other recurring comic book cover themes over the years (outside, of course, of “covers where Superman acts like a dick,” as I think someone else has that covered pretty well…;)…)!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for the covers!