Superman first arrived in 1938, but it wasn’t until 1945 that we found out that he was also… a super boy! Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of More Fun Comics #101 awaits!
Writer: Joe Samachson/Jerry Siegel(credited)/Don C. Cameron/Gardner Fox
Penciler: Maurice del Bourgo/Louis Caeneuve/Joe Shuster(credited)/Mort Meskin/Bernard Baily
Inker: Maurice del Bourgo/Louis Caeneuve/Joe Shuster/Mort Meskin/Bernard Baily
Colorist: Petra Goldberg
Letterer: Ira Schnapp
Editor: Roy Thomas
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $12,000.00
Previously in More Fun Comics: Not merely one of the first books from the companies that would eventually become DC Comics, More Fun Comics aka New Fun Comics aka New Fun: The Big Comic Magazines was the first American comic book to feature original material, all the way back in 1935! Though other comic books predated it, all were reprinted material, while More Fun debuted charactes like Doctor Occult (the previous creation of Superman creators Siegel & Shuster), The Spectre, Doctor Fate and Aquaman himself. By 1945, the comic industry was changing, and superheroes were beginning to decline, though you wouldn’t know if from the lineup of stars in these pages.
I’ve always found it to be a little bit entertaining that two of the regular ‘More Fun’ cast, Doctor Fate and The Spectre, have been recast in the modern DCU as juggernauts of unstoppable nigh-eternal cosmic magic. That wasn’t always the case, but… we’ll get to that in a minute. The undisputed big name and cover star is Green Arrow (who, in 1945, is pretty much a Batman-clone, right down to his Arrow-mobile and Arrow-plane) in an adventure against an evil crimlord who resembles Bat-foe Professor Milo, followed by Aquaman helping to rehome a group of aquatic zoo escapees, while Johnny Quick teaches an old miser the error of his ways. Then, in the midst of the usual stuff, something not-entirely-completely different!
The first telling of Kal-El’s journey to Earth was in his very first appearance, but that story is but a quick mention of him being rocketed from another world. Here we see Krypton in all it’s art-deco glory, including a Jor-El whose attire and bearing reminds me of Flash Gordon. Realizing that his home-world was doomed but unable to convince his hidebound peers fo that fact, Jor and his wife solemnly place their son in a prototype craft that would send him to safety. This version has wings, which helps to emphasize the Flash Gordon parallels, and lands on Earth.
The state is never identified, and in fact is kept intentionally vague by DC editorial for years, until Silver Age editor Mort Weisinger made it clear that it’s one of the Eastern States, with Delaware and Maryland appearing semi-canonically before being officially moved to Kansas with 1977’s ‘Superman: The Movie’. In any case, young Clark Kent hides his extraordinary powers from the people of Smallville until one of his friends is in an accident.
Though this story is credited to Siegel and Shuster, it was in fact written by Don Cameron at the behest of editor Jack Schiff, who reputedly wanted a sidekick for the Man of Steel. More knoledgable comic book minds than mine have also opined that the story’s art, while coming from Joe Shuster’s studio, doesn’t seem to be the work of Shuster himself, making it a little odd that that Jerry and Joe were credited with this. (Given that the decision to debut Superboy was a large part of Siegel & Shuster’s lawsuit against DC a few years later, it’s also unfortunate, in retrospect.) Superboy would quickly become the cover-featured star of this book, keeping that role when most of the New Fun cast migrated to Adventure Comics in ’46.
Of course, this issue isn’t just noteworthy for its FIRST appearances…
We also see that last Golden Age appearnace of The Spectre, who has gone from an immeasurably powerful force of nature to an invisible pal for one Percival Popp, dubbed the Super-Cop. With most of his powers nerfed, he acts more like Johnny Thunder’s Thunderbolt, helping Percy tracks down jewel smugglers and ending the issue with a wink towards the audience. It’s his LAST appearance for more than 20 years, with Jim Corrigan and his alter-ego disappearing from comics until 1966 (and steadfastly refusing to admit to the existence of the Popp era when he returns.) All in all, More Fun Comics #101 is an oddity from a collecting standpoint, as the most important story, historically, is a five-page filler in the middle, and the rest of the book is remarkably forgettable, leading to that strange limbo of “it’s expensive and important, but not really all that great” and 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. If nothing else, it’s a fascinating sign-post in DC’s late 40s history, which may or may not justify a twelve-thousand-dollar price tag.
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MORE FUN COMICS #101
A bunch of DC stalwarts, a big debut that's the shortest story in the book and a "whimper, not a bang" ending for The Spectre, combined with varied art quality makes for a mixed bag of a book