February, 1966

You could always count on the Mort Weisenger-edited Superman family comics of the late ‘50s and ’60s for intriguing (if often silly, and usually misleading) covers. These books have a quaint, childlike charm. The stories were clearly geared for kids–not only are they told in the most straightforward manner possible, but the characters all function with a child’s level of emotional sophistication. This would lead to virtually every character doing something mean-spirited and spiteful (and often needlessly complicated) along the way. And yet, you somehow never completely lost sympathy for them. Like most of the DC editors of the time, Mort would come up with the cover image first, and then have his writers tailor a story around it. This meant he almost always had a good cover on the magazine, but it also meant that the writers were often shoehorning cover images that didn’t fit into the stories they were writing. Why the writers didn’t build the stories completely around the cover image, I’ll never know. 

This is one of my favorite Mort covers from that era, executed by Wayne Boring (with Lois and Lana’s faces, as was the style of the time, redrawn by Kurt Schaffenberger). How could you pass that cover up? You couldn’t. But you were in for a surprise once you delved into the story. Not only does the cover image not show up until the very last page, but it’s revealed as a hoax in the very next panel (an FBI agent is posing as Clark, and is testing Lois to see if she’s shock-proof enough to risk a dangerous undercover assignment. Told you these stories could be needlessly complicated.)

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