First appearances of famous comic book heroes/villains are highly sought after in the comic book world. Who wouldn’t love an Action Comics #1 or a Detective Comics #27? But what about Action Comics #2? Or Detective Comics #26? Are anyone seeking these titles out?
To me, it’s fascinating to look at very famous comic titles before or after they’ve debuted a very famous character. They may not look like even the same title. It’s weird to see an issue of Detective Comics with Slam Bradley or the Crimson Avenger on the front and not Batman. You feel like you’re in the Fringe universe. Let’s check out some of these fun comic covers and you can see how strange and foreign they look to you.
Action Comics #2 – Action Comics is probably one of the most iconic titles of all time. Who doesn’t know that Superman debuted in issue #1 of Action Comics (left) in 1938? Well, interestingly enough, Action Comics was originally meant to be an anthology adventure comic with several other adventure characters. So even though Action Comics is now strictly a Superman title, back then, Supes was just one of the featured characters. Therefore, issue #2 (right) didn’t feature Superman on the cover at all. Issue #3 didn’t feature Superman either. As a matter of fact, Superman wouldn’t make another Action Comics cover appearance until issue #7 (SIX MONTHS later).
Detective Comics #26 and #28 - Detective Comics is as intimately associated with Batman as Action Comics is with Superman. However, Batman didn’t debut until issue #27 (middle), so there were 26 issues of Detective without Batman on the cover or in the book. As you can see, in the issues before (#26, left) and after (#28, right) Batman you get standard covers of police officers and gangsters that you would normally appear on crime comics of this time. While Batman would return to the cover for issue #29, he would be absent again for issue #30.
All-Star Comics #3 and #8 – All-Star Comics is a very famous Golden Age title. It features the first appearance of The Justice Society of America in issue #3 (middle) which is the first team-up of super-heroes into a single team in history. In issue #2 (left), you can see they still feature the heroes on the cover, but not collected together as one team as designated by issue #3′s giant round table with the team name embossed on the top. All-Star Comics #8 (right) is an interesting issue also. You wouldn’t know it by the cover, but that issue is the first appearance of Wonder Woman in an 8 page insert that was used to test the interest of Wonder Woman as a hero. Wonder Woman would join the Justice Society in issue #11…as their secretary (but she would make the cover!). She would prove popular enough to headline her own book, Sensation Comics, a year later.
Showcase #3 and #5 – The debut of The Flash in Showcase #4 (middle) was one of the defining moments of the Silver Age. Showcase was a tryout book by DC to determine who would get their own series. As you can see, the issue before The Flash debuted (#4, middle) featured a story about deep sea divers called The Frogmen (#3, left). And even though The Flash was a huge hit, he wouldn’t appear in Showcase #5 which featured Manhunters (#5, right). The Flash would reappear on the cover for Showcase #8. The Hal Jordan Green Lantern would debut in Showcase #22.