web stats

CSBG Archive

Comic Book Legends Revealed #311

Welcome to the three hundredth and eleventh in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. This week, we discuss how DC took issue with a classic hero seeming “too gay,” whether John Byrne determined that James Rhodes would be black and whether comics actually cut down the amount of staples they used during World War II!

Click here for an archive of the previous three hundred and ten.

Let’s begin!

COMIC LEGEND: DC felt that Joe Shuster was making Superman look “too gay” in the comic strips.


As I have discussed a number of times in the past, DC, especially when Whitney Ellsworth took control of editing Superman, became very controlling over how Superman was to be handled, and the way that they delivered these ideas to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster tended to be more on the rough side than anything else.

Last week, I discussed the court documents that came out in the recent dispute between the Siegel estate and DC Comics over the copyright to Superman that showed DC’s opinions about Lois Lane.

This week, let’s finish looking at these documents by also viewing their opinions about how Shuster (or his studio) were depicting Superman, as well.

In a January 1940 letter to Jerry Siegel, Ellsworth took apart a series of then-new strips Siegel and Shuster had just sent in.

After first criticizing the first few strips for various nit-picks, like “the guy on the flagpole looks too much like Edgar Bergen’s famous dummy, Charlie McCarthy”…

and “the guards don’t seem intense enough”….

Ellsworth spotlights the fourth strip…

Now for the fourth strip. In the first panel, Superman’s physique is a bit on the lah-de-dah side. I like particularly his nice fat bottom. His pose in the second picture is reminscent of certain FLIT ads done by a cartoonist who signs himself “Dr. Seuss.”

Besides the rather lame problems he had with Superman appearing “too gay,” it is interesting to see Ellsworth draw a comparison to the work of a then-not-so-well-known Dr. Seuss. Here’s an example of a Flit ad from that time period.

As you can see, Ellsworth is taking issue with what he feels to be odd layouts and character poses, which he felt work for Seuss, but not so much for a straightforward character such as Superman.

Within a year, Shuster (and/or his studio) were following DC’s orders pretty well, as Superman had a more conventional superhero physique and poses.

You can read the full letter here at the Uncivil Society (thanks to the Uncivil Society for hosting the documents!)

There’s a lot of fun reading there in the various documents, including the bit where Ellsworth complains about then-new Superman artist Wayne Boring (who later, of course, became THE Superman artist for awhile).

Commenter Power-2 most-the-Peoples noted that Jeff Trexler wrote an article on this subject for Newsarama when the documents were made public, so thanks to Jeff Trexler and thanks to Power-2 most-the-Peoples for noting it!

Check out the latest Baseball Legends Revealed to learn about the teenage girl who struck out Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig back-to-back! Also, discovers whether Ted Williams lost the 1947 MVP because a crotchety Boston sportswriter left him off of his ballot completely, plus…what Hall of Fame Basketball coach was ejected from a Major League Baseball game despite never actually ever playing a baseball game in the Majors?

COMIC LEGEND: John Byrne came up with the idea of making James Rhodes black.

STATUS: I’m Going With False

Reader H.R. Guerra made a suggestion in the official “Comic Book Legends Revealed Suggestions Thread,” asking:

I’ve heard recently that it was John Byrne who decided to make Jim Rhodes african american. He did pencil his first appearance but I haven’t seen this referenced anywhere else by the the credited creators of the character.

Byrne actually just did layouts for that first appearance of Rhodes, which was just one page in Iron Man #118.

I asked Bob Layton about it, and he said that no, Rhodes was always going to be black.

And really, if you look at the above page, it is not like Rhodes was clearly going to be a major character from that scene, so unless they already had plans for the character (and Rhodes becomes a major supporting character from #120 on, so I’m sure they did), why would a fill-in artist make suggestions to the writers about the ethnicity of Tony Stark’s helicopter pilot? And if he WAS a planned character (which I’m sure he was), then the odds are (and Bob Layton confirms as much) that David Michelinie and Layton (the co-writers of the title) knew what ethnicity Rhodes was going to be.

So I believe Layton’s take on it (not that I have actually seen Byrne make any claim to the contrary).

Thanks to Guerra for the suggestion (you all should go to the Comic Book Legends Revealed Suggestions Thread and make suggestions, too!) and thanks to Bob Layton for the answer!

Check out the latest Hockey Legends Revealed to look at the strange history of how a professional wrestling promoter saved the Montreal Canadiens, learn the bizarre story of how out of hand military hockey got during World War II and discover whether angry Edmonton fans really burned Chris Pronger’s furniture.

COMIC LEGEND: During World War II, some comics had just one staple in them due to war rationing!


Travis Pelkie asked:

About 10 years ago, I met at a family reunion/party thing a relative who was a comics dealer, and concentrated more on old comics. He mentioned that a lot of the Golden Age books/books from the ’40s only had one staple due to the war rationing. Is this something you ever covered, and is this accurate, or what? It seems plausible, certainly, but in my readings on comics, I’d never come across anything concrete about it.

That’s pretty much exactly what happened.

Two staples did the job for most comic book companies in the late 1930s/early 1940s.

Here’s an early issue of Action Comics where you can clearly see the two staples…

As the war went on, though, companies DID cut back on staples.

To wit, here’s Green Hornet Comics #10 from Harvey Comics in 1943. It had two staples.

Green Hornet Comics #11 had one.

Green Hornet returned to two staples with #20 (oddly enough, in 1944, so still during the war).

Reader Scott Harris had some copies of Boy Comics, by Lev Gleason, and yes, you can see from these late 1943 issues that Boy Comics also just used one staple…

So yes, while staple rationing was not particularly common, especially not at the major companies like National and Timely, it DID occur. More common was paper rationing, where even the big companies had to cut down.

To wit, in Summer 1943, both National and Timely cut back from 68 to 60 pages, and then in the Summer of 1944 they cut from 60 pages to 52.

Thanks for the question, Travis! And thanks for the Boy Comics head’s up, Scott!

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for this week’s covers! And thanks to Brandon Hanvey for the Comic Book Legends Revealed logo!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is cronb01@aol.com. And my Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/brian_cronin, so you can ask me legends there, as well!

Follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter and on Facebook (also, feel free to share Comic Book Legends Revealed on our Facebook page!). If we hit 3,000 likes on Facebook or 3,000 followers on Twitter, you’ll have the option to get a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends the week after we hit 3,000 likes or 3,000 followers! So go like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to get that extra Comic Book Legends Revealed! Not only will you get updates when new blog posts show up on both Twitter and Facebook, but you’ll get original content from me, as well!

Also, be sure to check out my website, Legends Revealed, where I look into legends about the worlds of entertainment and sports, which you can find here, at legendsrevealed.com.

Here’s my book of Comic Book Legends (130 legends – half of them are re-worked classic legends I’ve featured on the blog and half of them are legends never published on the blog!).

The cover is by artist Mickey Duzyj. He did a great job on it…(click to enlarge)…

If you’d like to order it, you can use the following code if you’d like to send me a bit of a referral fee…

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

See you all next week!


Heh. “Superman’s physique is a bit on the lah-de-dah side. I like particularly his nice fat bottom.”

I got a good laugh out of this, for some reason. Ellsworth seems like he had some issues with which he was struggling.

I believe he later described Superman as “positively bootylicious”.

Someone needs to start up a site called “ellsworthdickery.com.” That person won’t even have to take things out of context to make Ellsworth look bad. Is there going to be a legend next week about how he made anti-Semitic comments about the way Jimmy Olsen was drawn? Because, seriously, that wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.

That is a pretty gay looking Superman. Maybe the result of pink kryptonite?

I can verify some Golden Age comics that came out during the war did in fact have only one staple; I have a few issues of Boy Comics with only one, right in the middle. Needless to say, this makes these books quite unstable compared to books with two staples; it’s very easy to lose centerfolds and covers and just generally have a book fly apart in your hands.

Thanks, Scott!

Man, love item #3 this week.

Forget about walking to school through the snow, uphill both ways. Growing up when that comics had only ONE staple each? You REALLY knew tough times if you’re able to say that!

Man, this column is awesome!

“Unlike today, when three staples is the norm…”

Huh? Whose norm? I just picked up an issue I had handy (Superman #708), and it has two staples, as do all recent DCs that I can remember.

IIRC, Byrne has said on his forums that he asked Layton and Micheline could he make Rhodes black, and they said “yes”.

Huh? Whose norm? I just picked up an issue I had handy (Superman #708), and it has two staples, as do all recent DCs that I can remember.

Ha! It’s funny, Allen, I had an issue of Archie nearby and it had three staples. I figured Archie would be cheaper than DC or Marvel, but you’re right, while Archie has three staples, DC and Marvel use two (and pretty much everyone else – looking through a pile of recent comics, Dark Horse, Image, Boom and IDW all have two). Weird. I’ll fix that.

The link to Ellsworth’s letter is part of the link to the larger version of the last Superman strip – no letter.

Aha, it seems like an errant bit of code. It’s fixed now, thanks!

Tom Fitzpatrick

April 29, 2011 at 10:53 am

Another TP question answered here.
What would we ever do without TP? ;-)

How about a comic book legends looking at the different versions of the Blue Beetle?

I’d be interested to know who owns which versions of the character (Dan Garret I, Dan Garrett II, Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes).

I know Dynamite are currently using him as ‘Big Blue’ in Project Superpowers – why are they allowed to use the character but not the name?

Also, who has ownership of supporting characters like Sparky?

I know it’ll be cool to dogpile on Ellsworth when viewed from modern PC sensibilities, but I must admit, he kind of had a point, even if he wasn’t exactly tactful about it. Superman definitely does have a juicy bubble-butt in that pic, and he does seem to be running and jumping in a effeminate way.

“why are they allowed to use the character but not the name?”
I think the key distinction here is that DC owns and is maintaining the trademark on the Blue Beetle name, while at the same time most or all stories featuring the original version of the character have lapsed out of copyright (at the time, American copyright required a renewal after 28 years, and a lot of comics companies would have been gone or seen no value in it).

It seems like Dynamite is very careful about not making waves even with characters who are in the public domain, Paul. They’re also using Lev Gleason Publications’ Daredevil but just call him ‘Devil or something like that, whereas Erik Larsen’s Next Issue Project just went ahead and called him Daredevil. But yeah, Blue Beetle is an interesting case because the character has gone through so many hands (Fox, Holyoke, Charlton, AC, DC), much like Phantom Lady.

If one looks closely those were probably Joe Shuster’s layouts with Wayne Boring finishing the art. I had the Kitchen Sink/DC set of the daily strips. So if anyone was to blame with making Superman look a bit “la-ta-dah” it was Boring. If you look at the panel where Clark flies off the flagpole, look how Clarks’s hands are positioned. They are in classic Boring “flight” mode.

I didn’t realize there was a Hockey legends revealed!

Whoa whoa. I want to learn more about Crimebuster and his fez-wearing monkey.

I’m a full-on, hardcore liberal type, but Ellsworth’s description of Superman as a bit “lah-di-dah” is completely hilarious, and totally on the money. Those hips! That bottom! I draw comics for a living, and if I delivered a tough guy character who looked quite so, uh, frou-frou, I would be certainly told to change it.

why did Byrne only do layouts for that one page of Iron Man and not the whole issue?

Hey, Boy Comics! As it happens, those are two of the issues I own with only one staple, #12 and #13. For those interested, the story in #12 has nothing at all to do with that torture cover, but it does have a great story about a group of war profiteers who take over a small Southern town and imprison the region’s farm boys in order to churn out goods for the black market. Crimebuster goes under cover to infiltrate the proceedings and some very un-PC mayhem ensues.

Crimebuster was published by Lev Gleason, the same guy who was doing Crime Does Not Pay; Boy Comics was ostensibly the kids version, but Crimebuster’s adventures usually featured activity you would never see in any issue of Action or Captain Marvel. Gruesome, graphic murders occur on panel all the time, such as the story in #37 where a backwoods dad pimps out his daughter, then murders the johns and dumps them in a giant pit in his front yard. The early issues have some of the strangest tales I’ve ever read in comics, including the legendary debut of He-She in #9 — a villain who is half man and half woman, split right down the middle, and whose big trick is to fool people into thinking he’s a woman by turning sideways so they only see the girl half, only to spin around and deck them with his one strong man-arm — and one of my top ten comics of all time, #19, where a guy inherits a million bucks on the stipulation that he has to be a double amputee, so he has a shady doctor saw both of his legs off (the fight scenes in this issue are even more incredible than you might imagine from that description).

Crimebuster was actually one of the most popular characters of the Golden Age even though he’s almost entirely forgotten today; Boy Comics was published all the way up to 1955, making Crimebuster one of the only superheroes besides Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to survive and thrive beyond the 40’s and into the age of the Comics Code Authority. He was essentially a more realistic, younger Batman: his parents were murdered by a Nazi agent and so he vowed revenge. But his costume is literally just the high school hockey uniform and cloak he happened to be wearing when he got the news of their deaths and he has no real abilities or powers other than being athletic and smart and owning a trained monkey.

Unlike Batman, therefore, he often got his ass kicked while trying to solve his cases, just like you would expect a kid in a hockey uniform to do, my favorite instance being when he tracked down a killer and heroically commanded him to give up; the villain responded by pulling out a gun and shooting him in the gut. Yep, that’s… about right. And then there’s the classic scene in #60 when all the supporting characters get together and hold an intervention to finally tell Crimebuster what they’ve been afraid to say all along — that he looks really stupid dressed up in a superhero costume all the time like some mentally damaged freak. By the end of the issue he had ditched the cape and trunks for some sensible slacks, which he wore for the rest of the series.

Anyway, Crimebuster is one of my favorite characters of all time, so I could go on, but since you asked, there’s a brief rundown. His series lasted for 13 years and 117 issues; the last few code issues changed abruptly into a boys adventure series using his real name of Chuck Chandler because the code didn’t allow them to use the word “Crime” in the title any more. All written by the great Charles Biro.

The problem with Superman’s poses in those strips isn’t that he looks “gay” or “effeminate.” The problem is simply that they’re poorly drawn in a way that reflects a lack of proper knowledge of human anatomy. The positioning of the arms and legs relative to one another is just wrong. no one, gay or straight, runs or jumps with their limbs positioned like that. The improvements in the later strip most likely have less to do with Shuster (or his ghost artist) following Ellsworth’s directions as it had to do with an improvement in the knowledge/skill level of the artists.

Power-2 most-the-Peoples

April 29, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Glad to be of service,this is what makes the net so great!!!!!!!!

Whitney Ellsworth was a kind of a jerk, don’t you think?

You can insult Shuster all you want, but factually speaking books like Identity Crisis, Grounded, and All Star Superman would be several dozen times better if Superman still ran and flew like that.

The problem with those Shuster panels is that they did not have a fez-wearing monkey in them.

In regards to Blue Beetle and Phantom Lady

It’s my understanding that since DC bought all of the IP from Quality, Charlton, Fawcett and recently Red Circle and Milestone, all of those copyrights are considered active so long as Time-Warner(or any successor company) remains in business. DC also owns the trademarks on the character preventing other publishers from using the names.

The copyrights for Fox’s original Blue Beetle(Dan Garret) and the Fox version of Phantom Lady(Blue costume) entered the public domain XX number of years after Fox ceased operating. It’s also questionable as to whether Fox ever really held the rights to Phantom Lady. Phantom Lady was later published by Ajax which was acquired by Charlton and those copyrights transferred to DC.

This is why you never see the Fox versions of the characters published by DC, they simply don’t acknowledge the PD versions. DC is very protective of the rights they do own, which is why Dynamite called their character Big Blue and AC calls their Phantom Lady character the Blue Bulleteer.

Hey, Brian.

Thanks for replying to Rhodey question. I didn’t sent where Byrne claimed it was his idea, though. He often says it, like here:

“They did not notice when I drew Rhodey as a black guy.”


(Thanks to Hanzo the Razor for finding that quote for me)

Not for nothing, but that sounds like it is possible to reconcile both versions, right? Byrne drew the guy as black without asking, but they were intending to have him be black either way (since Layton was doing finishes, if Byrne had drawn him white, Layton could have easily changed him to make him black).

Yes, I suppose it is possible. Did Layton said he specified to Byrne the ethnicity of the character?

I’m appalled by the depictions of people suffering from jaundice in –” comics.

Rationing had an even bigger effect on comics in Britain during the war. Among the best selling children’s comics of the time were the Dandy and the Beano. Introduced in 1937 and 1938, these weekly comics (28 pages each) set the template for children’s comics in Britain for the next few decades – 1/2 or 1 page funny strips with characters with a gimmick (e.g. Lord Snooty – the rich kid who lived in a castle but chummed around with ordinary ‘poor’ kids, and Pansy Potter the strong man’s daughter who was, well, super strong) plus a few serial adventure stories, sometimes fully illustrated, sometimes text strips with spot illustrations. In 1939, they were joined by Magic comic. which followed the same format but was aimed at even younger children. Soon after the war in Europe broke out in1939, the Beano and Dandy went bi-weekly, alternating between the 2, and Magic comic was cancelled despite being a relatively successful launch. What’s more, the comics actually advocated sharing the copies with other children and then recycling them to help the war effort, meaning that surviving copies are very scarce and pretty beaten up. Finally, as the war progressed, the page count dropped down to a measly 10 pages. The comics finally resumed weekly publication and higher page counts in 1949!

It also interesting to note that the comics also did their bit in terms of anti-Nazi / fascist propaganda (the characters would routinely humiliate Hitler / the Nazi military on a weekly basis and for years they ran (vaguely racist) strips called ‘Musso the Wop – he’s a big a de flop’ and ‘Addie and Hermie, the Nasty Nazis’) to the point that apparently the editors of the comics were on a list to be targeted for arrest should Germany successfully invade Britain.

It’s hilarious how Superman got compared to a Dr. Seuss character! But I must admit the art changes were for the better. (And hey, Flit! I remember that from my childhood! Do they even make that stuff anymore?)

The Wartime Rationing of staples reminds me of the story CBR regular blogger Greg Hatcher recently told about how he needed some stuff stapled urgently so he went to his local Staples outlet and- they were out of staples. The irony.

Never heard of Crimebuster (not THAT one anyway). Thanks a lot to Scott Harris for the info. Yeah that sounds really weird for a “kid hero” comic!!

Regarding the Whitney Ellsworth editorial comments: these editorial demands are exactly why you have an editor and his staff. These changes did need to be made, similar changes are made every day still, and Superman is better because of the input of a third party. These comments are nothing compared to what the fans write in about toughening up the character. In this situation, in all of WHitney’s comments he was spot on, and that’s why DC is a publishing giant and Fawcett is not.

Paul Penna wrote:
“How about a comic book legends looking at the different versions of the Blue Beetle?”

I can actually recommend a book on that I read last year, which at 125 oversized pages goes into the convoluted history of the character in much more detail than Brian could have here:

The Blue Beetle Companion: His Many Lives from 1939 to Today.
By Christopher Irving; TwoMorrows Publications, 2007.

Re British comics in the war, many papers simply didn’t survive. The most famous example is The Magnet, in which Frank Richards’ stories of Greyfriars School had been running for over thirty years. The final issue, in May 1940, contained the opening story of a new series, and ended with the words “Though Harry Wharton and Co did not know it, they were in for a rather exciting term.”

Woo hoo! I got my legend looked at! And this weekend I’m up in Boston for the Boston Comic Con!!!

Comics Rule!!!!

I’m a little punchy and tired, you might notice.

And yes, that Blue Beetle book that Mike Blake recommends is very good and interesting.

Tired. Must sleep.

I’d be curious to read that Blue Beetle book. I wonder if it talks at all about the various homages to the Blue Beetle, like Nite Owl or Roy Thomas’s Scarlet Scarab (Marvel) and Silver Scarab (DC). (And considering that BB was a Green Hornet knockoff to begin with, fair enough.)

The Blue Beetle Companion is a good book. Just keep in mind that one version is omitted: the Electric Company version. In the letter pages of a recent back issue (also by Twomorrows), editor Michael Eury admitted he was previously unfamiliar with that version, but I bet a lot of kids who grew up in the 1970s remember him.

You could have just shown the first Superman panel; it looks a little suspect on it’s own.

One last comment regarding Boy Comics, which I realize has very little to do with the actual legends here. Regarding the monkey with the fez, that’s Crimebuster’s sidekick Squeeks. You know, since Crimbuster is a kid himself, he can’t really have another kid as his sidekick, so the next best thing? A trained monkey. And Squeeks was actually more popular in some ways that Crimebuster himself. In 1951, for instance, Lev Gleason put out a series of trading cards featuring his characters; Crimebuster shared one card with Squeeks, but Squeeks also got a card of his own, giving him twice as many cards in the small set as the main character. Some sidekick.

In fact, Squeeks became so popular that he got his own solo spinoff series, which ran for five issues in ’53-54, while Crimebuster had to be content with the lead in Boy Comics for his whole existence. Instead of a superhero or crime comic, though, Squeeks was actually a funny animal comic, which must have caused at least a little cognitive dissonance for readers.

Here’s Squeeks showing some of the endless fun kids can have smoking cigarettes:


Gleason also pushed this popularity in the early days of the series by holding multiple contests where the winners were actually sent live monkeys as first prize. if you check out the first appearance of Crimebuster, in Boy Comics #3, you’ll see the cover has a big blurb on it advertising the fact that you could “WIN A REAL LIVE MONKEY!” And they gave out 25 of them! I dunno, maybe Gleason got a wholesale deal on monkeys, but I’m guessing there were 25 very irritated sets of parents out there who got a big shock when they opened their mail after the contest ended.


Lastly, Squeeks was apparently popular enough that Gleason felt the need to publish an in-house ad decrying the fact that other publishers were flooding the market with knock-off Squeeks imitators. Now, I’m not aware of any other monkey sidekicks, but according to Gleason’s ad, there were tons of them, and he wanted to make sure that kids didn’t get confused by imitators.

Matt D, I guess you were just born in the wrong decade, because if this were 1944 you would literally be buried in real and fictional monkeys.

Wow, a particularly fun and interesting installment this week! Anyway, I agree with kalorama – it’s not so much that Supes looks “gay” as the anatomy and poses are kind of contorted. All together, it reminds me a bit of Frank Robbins on a bad day. But I can’t help thinking Mark Andrew has a point about All Star Superman being so much better if drawn in this style.
As for those ‘drastic’ page cutbacks in the 1940s: even going down from 68 to 52 pages you’ve still got a hefty comic in your hands, all for a dime…
And I don’t have an opinion either way on who came up with Rhodey, etc., but it just made me remember that this was about the time I started reading Iron Man regularly, and it was also when one of my favorite, if not absolutely favorite, TV shows was Magnum PI, which was sort of a televised version of Michelinie’s Iron Man.

By the way, Scott, thanks for that rundown of Boy Comics – besides having heard of Crimebuster, I did not know any of that. It also makes me hanker for a nice reprint edition of the entire series – I’d even settle for a b&w Essentials format. Hats off to any publisher who takes on that task – all of those Lev Gleason comics are now in the public domain anyway, aren’t they?

hey buttler, as I recall, the Blue Beetle book does cover pretty much all of the topics you brought up (maybe not the Green Hornet bit, tho).

Actually, Blue Beetle also had a radio show. Blue Beetle!

You can insult Shuster all you want, but factually speaking books like Identity Crisis, Grounded, and All Star Superman would be several dozen times better if Superman still ran and flew like that.

“factually” my arse – that’s pure opinion

Edo Bosnar wrote:
“I don’t have an opinion either way on who came up with Rhodey, etc., but it just made me remember that this was about the time I started reading Iron Man regularly, and it was also when one of my favorite, if not absolutely favorite, TV shows was Magnum PI, which was sort of a televised version of Michelinie’s Iron Man.

Hey, good catch: you don’t specifically mention it, but just like Tony Stark, Magnum had a black helicopter pilot.

Edo Bosnar, AC Comics did a b&w reprint of some Crimebuster stories a few years ago. It was titled GOLDEN AGE GREATS #5: CRIMEBUSTER VS. IRON JAW. There copies on the AC Comics website for $11.95.

Yes, as Rich says, there have been a couple of reprints here and there. Most of them focus on Crimebuster’s battles with his archenemy, Iron Jaw, who was the only real supervillain Crimebuster fought. He was also probably the most vicious and violent supervillain of the Golden Age from any publisher — witness just as one example issue #10, where two teenage good samaritans come to his aid and he murders them by biting them to death with his Iron Jaw (which is his preferred method of killing people — eating them to death with his metal prosthesis). Because of this, superhero collectors consider the Iron Jaw issues to be the pinnacle of the series (specifically his early appearances; he originally died in #15 before eventually being revived as a watered down version in #60).

Personally, I think the series became vastly more interesting once Iron Jaw died, because it allowed Biro to dump the superhero cliches and formulas and write stories with regular, human antagonists. The best issues (which for me are in the #32-60 range) are often extended examinations of human depravity in the best crime noir tradition with basically no connection to superhero books at all. In fact, during this era, many of these stories don’t even include Crimebuster, the ostensible star of the series, until the last couple of pages; he only shows up right at the end to catch the bad guy after 15 or 20 pages of build up.

All of which is my long winded way of saying that for me personally, reprints like Crimebuster vs. Iron Jaw fall flat because they don’t capture the aspects of the character and series that I like best. But your mileage may vary.

The series is in the public domain, though, so who knows, someone might eventually publish more. AC Comics actually tried to revive the character in the mid 90’s, bringing him and Daredevil (as Reddevil) back in some issues of Fem Force before eventually publishing a single new solo issue, Crimebuster #0. I haven’t been able to track these down just yet so I have no idea of the quality, but it’s kind of funny that it’s much easier to find issues from the 40’s and 50’s than it is from the 90’s.

Thanks Rich, I’ll certainly check that out.

Paul O'Brien

May 1, 2011 at 4:32 am

Ellsworth’s comments don’t seem unreasonable to me, even if his choice of words hasn’t always aged well. He’s the editor – surely it’s his job to give that sort of feedback?

[…] Comic Book Legends Revealed #311 (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) Tweet […]

I have a Jumbo Comics #85 (great cover too!) that was made with only 1 staple. Holds up just fine! ;)

@Scott: I, too, am grateful for the Crimebuster/Boy Comics info. There are a lot of them on the public-domain comic site digitalcomicmuseum.com ; they’re mostly fiche but I think I’ll have to check a few out anyway. Thanks.

@Chris Kaufman: “In this situation, in all of WHitney’s comments he was spot on, and that’s why DC is a publishing giant and Fawcett is not.”

Yes, Captain Marvel’s cancellation was based entirely on National’s superior editorial team.

I’ll say this: Crimebuster guy is pretty much on the lah-de-dah side

Think he’d like Image Comic’s Manly Men?

John Byrne – “In the plot, there was no reference to Rhodey’s race. It was my decision, as the first artist to draw him, to make him Black.”

– “Working primarily with established characters who were White — most of the X-Men, the FF, the Avengers, Superman, etc — I made it a point from very early on in my career to “cast” supporting players, especially authority figures, as minorities. Black, Asian, anything I felt I could successfully portray in the art. Not that the colorist was always on the same page. . . . . !! ”


I brought up the subject about James “Rhodey” Rhodes and who decided the character’s race on the John Byrne Forum and in one of the threads a fellow poster there provided an excerpt from the script that David Michielinie wrote that confirms Byrne’s recounting of events:


site internet photos valium pills – valium trip

Reading Man of Steel again recently, I can attest that John Byrne sure does make a point of casting all types of people in his comics.

Unnecessary Commentoid

October 15, 2015 at 7:08 pm

The “FLIT” ad reference isn’t because Ellsworth is comparing Shuster’s characters or layouts to Seuss’s wacky sensibilities. The real explanation is simpler than the theory in this column.

Ellsworth is saying that Superman in that panel looks more like a bug instead of a man, specifically, like the signature diving mosquito found in almost every one of the Seuss FLIT ads (Google “FLIT ad” for more examples to match the one above). Ellsworth did not see “creepy bug about to bite you” as a good look for Superman, and to be fair, the character does look a little like Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man in that awkward pose.

Leave a Comment



Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives