Comic Book Cats, number 170: Adventure Comics #322

Comic Book Cats, number 170: Adventure Comics #322, penciled by John Forte, inked by Sheldon Moldoff, written by Edmond Hamilton and lettered by Milton Snapinn, Joe Letterese & Vivian Berg, published by DC Comics in July 1964.

While the Legion of Super-Heroes investigate the Time Trapper and his Iron Curtain of Time, the Legion of Super-Pets are left to guard the team’s clubhouse. The shape-changing Proty II hopes to gain admission to the Super-Pets. The various members, including Streaky the Supercat, assign Proty a series of tests before allowing him to join.

John Forte was born in 1918. His earliest credited work was in All Winners Comics #5 for Timely / Marvel Comics in 1942. Forte worked for a number of different publishers during the Golden Age.  He was also drew covers and illustrations for science fiction pulp magazines in the 1940s.

Forte was assigned the “Tales of the Bizarro World” feature in Adventure Comics by editor Mort Weisinger starting with issue #286 (July 1961). When it was replaced with “Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes” with issue #300 (Sept 1962) Forte stayed on to draw that feature, becoming the first regular Legion artist. Forte drew the first appearances of Matter-Eater Lad, Light Lass, Element Lad, Dream Girl and the Legion of Substitute Heroes. Tragically, Forte was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1963. His final Legion story appeared in Adventure Comics #339 (Dec 1965) and he passed away in May 1966 at the much too young age of 47.

Forte’s art has regrettably been described as “dull,” “flat” and “clunky.” Nevertheless, I have always found his Legion work to be detailed, imaginative and stylistically pleasing. Forte’s background made him well-suited to depicting the colorful sci-fi / space opera elements of fellow pulp veteran Edmond Hamilton’s scripts.

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