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The Great Captain Marvel/Donna Reed Christmas Mystery!

In "The World Outside," I examine comic books showing up in outside media, like TV shows, sports, novels and films.

This is a special edition of The World Outside, in that I am just plain ol' stuck with trying to figure out something about the Captain Marvel comic book that appeared in the Christmas episode of The Donna Reed Show.

The Donna Reed Show, of course, was an iconic American TV sitcom that starred film actress Donna Reed as housewife, Donna Stone. The sitcom told the adventures of Stone, her pediatrician husband and their two children (later, when the actress, Shelley Fabares, who played their oldest child left the show, they replaced her with an adopted daughter for a third child overall). The show ran for 8 seasons, totaling 275 episodes. It was still a hit when it went off the air, but Reed was just tired of the workload.

The show's first (and, I believe, its only) Christmas episode aired on Christmas Eve in 1958.

It involved Donna Stone being worried that the Christmas spirit was missing in the world (granted, at least part of that was due to the fact that no one seemed to appreciate the fruitcakes that she had been giving out as Christmas presents, so she was a bit biased), but she was then shocked when the custodian at her husband's hospital (played by Bustor Keaton) steps up to help her put on a special Christmas part for the children's ward at the hospital where Donna volunteers.

In any event, when Donna visits the kids there, one of the kids is reading a Captain Marvel comic book. My pal, the great Jennifer Contino (of Pulse fame), posted a screenshot of the episode on Facebook trying to see if people could identify the cover. I went out and even bought the darn episode to see if I could tell with a better quality shot.

Here is the best quality screen shot I could get...

That's pretty darn clear, right? And yet I can't seem to match it to any of the 150 issues of Captain Marvel Adventures. It is worth noting that Captain Marvel Adventures was canceled with #150, five years before the episode aired.

Sooo...anyone?

If you can identify the cover, please drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com and I'll run a follow-up column where we reveal the answer! It seems hard to believe it was a fake comic made for the show, right? No TV prop guy in 1958 would spend the time to create a fake comic, right? Not when you could just grab any comic book for a dime and just use that. And yet, it just doesn't seem to match any of the 150 covers for Captain Marvel Adventures, either. It is definitely a Captain Marvel cover, too, and not a Captain Marvel Jr. cover. That's plainly Captain Marvel on the cover.

Again, if you know the answer, please e-mail me. I'd prefer you not post it elsewhere if you know the answer, as that would spoil the surprise!

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