no "Asylum" in Arkham
There's nothing that I love to read more than
comics. Now don't get me wrong, books are great,
but nothing makes a good read more enjoyable than beautifully
rendered illustrations to help tell a story. One of
the downsides to reading comics is the amount of material
that comes out each week, making it extremely difficult
to stay on top of all of the great books that hit the
shelves. I try to read as much as I can, but there are
more times than I'd like where some books escape
my attention. Luckily for me, I work with two of the
BIGGEST fan boys in comics, Steve Borock and Paul Litch,
who are always the first to ask what I haven't
read, and staying on top of what I shouldn't miss.
This month, for example, a trade paperback collecting
all six issues of a chilling mini-series put out by
D.C. Comics was the one that almost got away. Coming
highly recommended from both Steve and Paul and now
this month coming from me, D.C. Comics' Arkham
Asylum: Living Hell is a story that will have any
reader shocked at finding the feeling of unsettlement
Author Dan Slott, along with Ryan Sook's sinister
pencils, create a nightmarish tale of the most famous,
yet most feared prison in comics, Arkham Asylum. Living
Hell is a story of one man's descent into
the depths of not only the holding grounds for Batman's
most dangerous foes, but into madness. It begins with
billionaire Warren White, a.k.a. "Great White
Shark," who is convicted of embezzlement and sentenced
to a long term prison sentence. Trying to find a way
around the law, he pleads insanity, only to find himself
sentenced to a fate worse than prison, for the judge
hands him a one-way pass to Arkham Asylum, a place some
call worse than death itself.
A white-collar criminal now finds himself in the most
dangerous place in the world. Surrounded by deranged
killers like the Joker, Two-Face, Killer Croc, and Scarecrow,
his sentence has now become his own personal hell with
only one way to survive — insanity.
Ryan Sook's original character renditions and
his disturbing visions of Arkham create a chilling atmosphere,
and Dan Slott's unique character development and
storytelling takes the reader through one of D.C.'s
darkest psychological thrillers. Six issues complete
this storyline, all with covers by Eric Powell, best
known for his Dark Horse series The Goon. All
of Eric's covers for the series come reprinted
in the back of the trade paperback which come as an
added bonus for any fan. I highly recommend this series
to anyone looking for a darker take on the villains
of Gotham City, or an in-depth look into the lunacy
behind the walls of Arkham Asylum.
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or thirty years ago, Holyoke Comics were generally so
little known that they were still affordable curiosities
from the Golden Age. Then along came the Gerber
Photo-Journal in the late 1980's, along with increased
information in the Overstreet Price Guide,
and Holyoke rapidly became less than affordable.
That doesn't mean you should ignore Holyoke, however.
You'll have a hard time gathering (or even finding)
all 80 collectible issues the little-known company produced
in the 1940's, but you can get a representative example.
By the way, that count of 80 issues doesn't include
the Holyoke issues of Blue Beetle (#12-30),
because that title already has been covered in the essay
on Fox Comics last August. Blue Beetle never
really became a Holyoke-type title, anyway, even though
Holyoke was its publishing "babysitter" until Victor
Fox resumed publishing comics following a layoff of
more than two years during 1942-44.
Holyoke count does include 33 issues of Catman,
two of Captain Fearless, 23 of Captain Aero,
12 of Suspense, six of Terrific and
four of Power. The 33-issue run of Sparkling
Stars, however, isn't worth bothering with if you
are just looking for typically collectible superhero
comics of the World War II era.
Catman and Captain Aero were a numbering
nightmare for collectors for many years, so let's talk
about them later. First, we'll cover Suspense
#1-12 (1943-1946), Terrific #1-6 (1944) and
Power #1-4 (1944). They are all among the priciest
short-run titles of the Golden Age, thanks to great
covers by Alex Schomburg and L. B. Cole. For years,
collectors didn't realize that Timely, Nedor and Harvey
did not have a monopoly on Schomburg, and that Cole
did some nice impressionistic work in the 1940's as
well as for Star in the 1950's.
Suspense really wasn't much of a comic book
— the closest thing to heroes were the The Grey
Mask in #1-12 and Mr. Nobody in #5-12. The title was
primarily filled out by violent crime stories. But,
oh, those covers! They're all in the Gerber Photo-Journal,
of course, and that's what made them skyrocket in value.
Ditto for Terrific, which carried archery heroes
Boomerang and Diana in #2-5, Mr. Nobody in #1 and The
Reckoner in #6. Schomburg's iconic bondage/torture/hooded
menace covers for the scarce Suspense #3 and
Terrific #5 have made those issues the Holy
Grail for many cover collectors, but almost every issue
has a nifty cover. Power #1-2 have no costume
heroes, but #3-4 have the little known and long forgotten
Black Raider, Dr. Mephisto and Miss Espionage. Again,
the attraction is the covers, nicely done by L. B. Cole
and far surpassing in quality of anything inside.
Unless your funds are unlimited, you'll be hard pressed
to afford more than an issue or two of each, even in
low-grade. Captain Fearless #1-2, featuring
five-page Miss Victory stories and a batch of otherwise
nondescript heroes, are perhaps just as scarce but often
the other hand, you should be able to find at least
a few low-grade issues of Catman and Captain
Aero without mortgaging your house. The ones with
the best covers and/or the finest condition, of course,
go only to the high rollers.
The most difficult problem collectors once faced with
Catman and Captain Aero was a truly
bizarre numbering system, in which the indicia and cover
seldom matched. The late Howard Keltner finally figured
it all out, as follows:
Catman #1 (May 1941) is listed as Vol. 1 #6
in the indicia, followed by Vol. 1 #7, 8, 9 (Sept. 1941,
the real #4) and then Vol. 2 #10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15
(May 1942, the real #10). Issues #11-15 followed, then
Vol. 3 #6 for what was really #16 (Dec. 1942). Then
we had Vol. 3 #7 and 8 (the real #17 and 18). Then,
for no discernable reason, #19 is listed as Vol. 2 #6
followed by Vol. 2 #7, 8, 9 and 10 (really #23, March
1944). Then followed Vol. 3 #13 (the real #24), followed
by Vol. 2 #12 (the real #25), followed by Vol. 3 #1
(the real #26) and Vol. 3 #2 (again listed as #26).
Those two issues are dated Sept. and Nov. 1944. Issues
#27-32 (April 1945 through Aug. 1946) are listed by
the same number on both cover and indicia. All in all,
there were 33 issues of Catman.
The Catman and Kitten were together in every issue beginning
with Kitten's debut in the real #5 (Vol. 2 #10, Dec.
1941). The Catman appeared in all 33 issues. There were
lots of other heroes, including The Rag Man, The Hood,
Volton, Blackout, Phantom Falcon, The Reckoner and the
Golden Archer, but none of them are especially interesting
no matter who drew them.
Captain Aero's numbering system makes no sense
either. Captain Aero #1 (Dec. 1941) is listed
as Vol. 1 #7, followed by Vol. 1 #8, 9, 10, 11 and 12
(the real #6). Then it's Vol. 2 #1, 2, 3 and 4 (the
real #10, Jan. 1943), followed by Vol. 3 #9 (the real
#11), then Vol. 3 #10, 11, 12, 13 (the real #15, June
1944). Issue #16 was Vol. 4 #2 and issue #17 was Vol.
4 #3 (Oct. 1944). The title skipped #18-20, then continued
for its final six issues as #21-26 (Dec. 1944 through
The constants in every issue were Captain Aero, a good
airwar hero who appeared throughout the run, along with
the patriotic Flagman and Rusty, who appeared through
the 17th issue (the nonsensically listed Vol. 4 #3).
Miss Victory appeared in short stories in every issue
beginning with the sixth issue (Vol. 1 #12, June 1942).
The Red Cross appeared in most issues starting with
the real #8 (Vol. 2 #2). There were numerous other war
and adventure stories.
Most of the covers are by either Schomburg or Cole.
In dealing with Catman and Captain Aero,
your best bet is to examine each issue, since they vary
widely in quality, and decide if the price is worth
the cover and/or contents. I would not buy them sight
unseen unless you just like odd, old comics, or you
have unlimited funds. If you don't have to spend too
much, they are fun examples of patriotic Golden Age
of New Internet Comic Book Company: Pedigree Comics,
This week, in conjunction with the start of the summer
convention season, comic collector Doug Schmell, also
known as "Captain Tripps" on the CGC Registry
and CGC message boards, is proud to announce the opening
of his internet comic book company, PEDIGREE COMICS,
This unique Web site, which has hundreds of listings
of CGC-only graded comic books and comic magazines,
specializes in the buying and selling of ultra high-grade
Silver and Bronze age Marvels. While many of the books
for sale on Pedigree Comics are consignments from renowned
high-grade Marvel collectors, there are a number of
comics and magazines from Doug's own personal collection,
a collection that is now over 30 years in the making!
Most of the books listed on the site are from nationally
recognized pedigree collections, many being the highest
graded copies CGC has graded to date. From the Pacific
Coast Collection to the Northland Collection, from White
Mountains to Green Rivers, almost every Silver age pedigree
Even though he is still paying record prices for books
for his collection and Web site, Doug is also currently
accepting consignments of CGC-certified, high-grade
Marvels at a commission of only 8%, the lowest in the
Doug wishes to share and extend his passion for CGC
and Marvel comics with everyone through this Web site.
If you are a buyer or a seller, a dealer or a collector,
or just someone who loves comic books, there is something
for everyone to be found on Pedigree Comics.
PEDIGREE COMICS can be reached at www.pedigreecomics.com,
firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone: (212)
568-4267 or (646) 345-6886. Happy Hunting!!
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