Thursday, September 25, 2008

Volume Three, Number Ten

Let's continue our historical look at the MLJ Magazines/Archie Comic Publications' superhero lines.
Part Two.
- - - - - - - - -
MLJ Magazines had a lot more success with its second title, "Top-Notch Comics". Debuting in December, 1939, "Top-Notch Comics" (called "Top-Notch Laugh" from no. 28 on) appeared until cover-date June, 1944, with the last issue being numbered 45. During its run Top-Notch introduced a number of now-classic MLJ heroes including "The Wizard", "The Firefly", "The Black Hood" and "Roy, the Super Boy" (the second costumed boy hero after DC/National's Robin). Top-Notch also featured the work of a number of talented artists including Bob Montana, Mort Meskin, Jack Cole and Bob Novick.

Top-Notch's most successful heroes were "The Wizard" and "The Black Hood". "Wizard" (who initially appeared in civilian clothes and possessed a super-brain that enabled him to perform numerous feats) debuted in "Top-Notch Comics" #1 and appeared in every issue except for #25. He also appeared in all thirteen issues of "Shield-Wizard Comics". From time to time he would also make guest appearances in other series including the origin of "The Boy Buddies" which appeared in "Special Comics" #1. While "The Wizard" is regarded as one of MLJ's big guns, he was at best a second stringer when compared to "The Black Hood".

Introduced in "Top-Notch Comics" #9, "The Black Hood" appeared for a total of thirty-five issues. He also appeared in all nine issues of "Jackpot", "Black Hood Comics" #s 9-19 (taking over the number of "Hangman Comics" and in turn had its numbering taken over by "Laugh Comics", a title that lasted until #400, April 1987) and "Pep Comics" #s 48-51 and 59-60, the last issue of which was cover-dated March, 1947. Not including guest appearances, "The Black Hood" appeared in a total of fifty-one stories, a number surpassed only by "The Shield" and "Steel Sterling". Where "The Black Hood" outdid them, though, was by having his own brief radio program and appearing in a series of stories in the pulp magazine "Hooded Detective".

To be sure "Top Notch Comics/Top-Notch Laugh" was a definite success for MLJ Magazines, but its success paled compared to that of the company's next title; "Pep Comics".


Be back tomorrow as we continue to look at MLJ Magazines and its title that not only launched the career of comics' first patriotic super-hero but introduced one of the most successful comics characters ever to appear. And while you are waiting for that installment feel free to check out what The Groovy Agent is writing about at . See you next time.

No comments: