Thursday, January 22, 2009

Volume Three, Number Twenty-five

Historical Overview
of the
MLJ Magazines/Archie Comic Publications
Superhero Lines
Part Fourteen

With the exception of Fly Man #31-which had an Archie Series logo-in the very beginning, there was no mention of what imprint the Archie Comic Publications superhero line of the camp era of the mid-1960s was appearing under. The final two issues of The Shadow didn't have a logo on its cover either nor did the first issue of The Mighty Crusaders when it debuted with the cover-date of November, 1965. While there were a couple of references to Radio Comics in house ads in the next two issues of Fly Man (#s 32 and 33) it wasn't until issue number 35 that the comics leading world learned the name of Fly Man's publisher; Mighty Comics Group.

Appearing on the January, 1966 cover of Fly Man along with issue number two of The Mighty Crusaders (which had the same cover-date) the Mighty Comics Group logo bore more than a glancing resemblance to the logo used at the time by Marvel Comics Group. Indubitably done intentionally by the head honchos at Archie Comic Publications this more than passing resemblance in company logos on more than a couple of occasions resulted in less than observant comics buyers picking up an issue of Fly Man or The Mighty Crusaders mistaking it for a comic from "The House of Ideas".

While I am unaware of any legal action resulting from the deliberate act by Archie, Stan Lee was not impressed and while not mentioned the offender directly made mention of the incident in at least one MARVEL BULLPEN BULLETIN. Looking back at it now one wonders how someone could confuse say Fly Man #36's cover for a Marvel title but one has to remember those were much more innocent days for comics readers and we actually believed that the people who published our favourite form of reading entertainment wouldn't do anything to trick us. Lots of us fell for the android Captain Marvel, too, from MF believing it to be at first glance the return of the legendary Big Red Cheese. Like I said; those were more innocent days. You definitely had to be there to understand.
When The Shadow's comic finally vanished from the scene after issue number 8 (cover-dated September, 1965), two months later it was replaced on the schedule with The Mighty Crusaders featuring the Silver Age Shield, the Silver Age Comet, Fly Man, Fly Girl and The Black Hood. Lasting until issue number 7 (cover-dated October, 1966), which, besides publishing the adventures of the title's team the comic, the mag reprinted the second part of the Steel Sterling tale that originally appeared in the High Camp Super-Heroes paperback (see last installment of this column for more info) plus reintroduced almost all of the MLJ heroes who had not already appeared in the aptly titled tale "Too Many Super-Heroes" (issue number 4, Apri,l 1966).

Mighty Comics Group published only one other comic during this period (1966), an annual titled Super-Heroes Vs. Super-Villains which appeared in the summer of 1966 and reprinted stories that had appeared in Fly Man since issue #31, including the introduction of The Mighty Crusaders from that issue.

There was a lot of activity going on at The Mighty Comics Group but those weren't the only comics from Archie Comic Publications that had jumped on the superhero band wagon in 1966. But that's for next installment of E-Dispatches.

Meanwhile, if you are a fan of The Silver Age, you'll love comics of the 1970s and there's no better place for find out about that wonderful period of comics history than by visiting . See you next time.

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