EiC: Hey, Marty, can you do a review for me?
Me: Sure Chief
EiC: Great, and don’t call me Chief
Me: Sure Chief
Now that isn’t exactly how the conversation went, but I imagine it would if I was Jimmy Olsen and Rik was Perry White. But I did open up an email thinking I was about to review a new comic book. Little did I know this 446 page PDF was waiting for me. Seemed daunting, reviewing a reference book. But then I started reading Secondary Superheroes of Golden Age Comics by Lou Mougin and could not put it down.
So the official blurb goes something like, “When Superman debuted in 1938, he ushered in a string of imitators—Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Captain America. But what about the many less well-known heroes who lined up to fight crooks, supervillains or Hitler—like the Shield, the Black Terror, Crimebuster, Cat-Man, Dynamic Man, the Blue Beetle, the Black Cat and even Frankenstein?
These and other four-colour fighters crowded the newsstands from the late 1930s through the early 1950s. Most have since been overlooked and not necessarily because they were victims of poor publication. This book gives the other superheroes of the Golden Age of comics their due.”
The original Cat-Man? The original Blue Beetle? I’ve heard of them and seen their more modern counterparts/reboots. But as I read more and more in Lou’s book, names like The Arrow, Amazing-Man, and Hooded Wasp jumped out at me. Lou has organized the book by comic publisher. Publishers that are no longer around and this offers such a great look at what comics were really like in the 1940s and ’50s. I am personally very fond of the Canadian characters created during the WECA era when American comics were not allowed into Canada during World War II so seeing some of these obscure characters from US publishers was a treat. The Target and the Targeteers from Novelty Comics gave me a particular chuckle. Along with a few covers and pages from the old comics, Lou’s text isn’t just a regurgitation of publishing history as he gives a bit of backstory, a quick synopsis of compelling stories and a bit of history on each publisher.
Lou Mougin is a comics writer, historian, and interviewer having worked at Marvel and a few other publishers and speaks in his introduction of waiting for a book like this to come along. A more definitive history of some of these long-forgotten characters. When such a book refused to show up, Lou wrote it himself. And I’m glad he did. Even though I read every page of my review copy, I’m grabbing a physical copy of this book to add to my reference library. Available on Amazon or directly from the publisher’s website HERE
Title: Secondary Superheroes of Golden Age Comics | Publisher: McFarland Publishing
Writer: Lou Mougin | Price: $75 – 446 pages