Sunday, November 14, 2010

Number 842

The Wizard of MLJ

According to that source of inexhaustible knowledge, the Junior Woodchucks Guidebook of the Internet, Wikipedia, the Wizard was one of the earliest superheroes created after Superman. He first appeared in this episode from Top Notch Comics #1, 1939.

I don't have much to say about the Wizard except in this early appearance he fits in with so many other comic book magicians, all based on Mandrake of the newspaper comic strips. Later the Wizard got more fantastic powers, but I don't think the writers really settled on one thing the Wizard did, so his powers changed. He did end up in a mask, wearing a costume, and co-starring in a comic titled Shield-Wizard Comics. He shared the book with the patriotic hero, the Shield. The Wizard hung around until 1944 in his original version.

I like the art for this story, credited to Ed Ashe, Jr. According to biographical information, Ashe's father was a famous illustrator, later a fine artist. You can see that Ashe Jr. has had some training, since his artwork is generally head and shoulders above the usual crude fare of the 1939-1940 era of comic books.

I also like the Wizard's big car. You wonder how he could drive an automobile as big as a railroad car on the roads of the era, without crowding out everything else. Even though he could go 300 mph he'd eventually have to stop for fuel, and there could be traffic cops lined up behind him to give him speeding tickets. "Excuse me, sir, did you know you were going 275 miles an hour over the speed limit?" "Where are the license plates for this car?" "Is this vehicle registered?" Oboy, the Wizard would need to be a wizard to beat all that when he was standing in front of the judge.

Oh, wait a minute. It says on page 7 he painted the car with a chemical of his own invention, which makes it the "same color as the atmosphere," rendering it invisible. That's even scarier. Get this guy off the road, please!


Mykal said...

Ed Ashe, Jr.!! I've never heard of him, but I sure love his stuff. As you say, what great detail when placed next to the standard background-less style of the day. Another rich, unknown vein of gold struck by Pap.

With regard to your observation about his massive auto: maybe the guy had a special permit to drive that monster around? Since he had a super brain, I'm sure he had that wrinkle worked out.

Pappy said...

Super brain or not, he'd be going up against the Department of Motor Vehicles, trying to get that behemoth registered. I prefer to think he just skipped that step.