Reed Crandall, Power Man & the Monster of Madness Mystery, at Auction

Posted in: Comics, Heritage Sponsored, Vintage Paper | Tagged: fiction house, golden age, reed crandall, will eisner

Rip Regan, Power Man was an early Fiction House hero, Fight Comics #12 also features the earliest known comic book work by Reed Crandall.

Rip Regan, Power Man was one of the early superhero characters to appear from Fiction House, and his debut in Fight Comics #3 also features a classic cover by the legendary Will Eisner. Eisner’s cover for the issue is unusual for the title, and some have speculated it was originally meant for Planet Comics. This might be the case, but as the Rip Regan, Power Man saga progressed in Fight Comics, another possible connection emerged with issue #12 — which happens to be the earliest known comic book work of legendary artist Reed Crandall.  There is a very nice raw Fight Comics #12 (Fiction House, 1941) Condition: VG up for auction in the 2023 October 19 The Fiction House Comics & Comic Art Showcase Auction #40235 at Heritage Auctions.

Fight Comics #12 (Fiction House, 1941)
Fight Comics #12 (Fiction House, 1941)

Power Man was a costumed superhero created by writer Herman Bolstein and artist John Celardo. The character appeared in Fight Comics issues #3-14, running for a little over a year during 1940-1941. In Fight Comics #3, Rip Regan is given a “Power Suit” by a scientist named Dr. Austin. The suit is made of a chemically treated metal that is lighter than air, but stronger than any metal on Earth. The suit also gives Regan super strength after a few episodes. In Fight Comics #12, a Power Man cover feature appears with a highly similar concept to Eisner’s Fight Comics #3 cover. The issue #12 cover is by Reed Crandall, and the interior story is by Bolstein and Witmer Williams. The plot of the story is that a mad scientist’s experiments creates a rampaging giant in South America. Whether Eisner’s cover inspired the later story or the plot concept existed from the beginning of the Power Man series is unknown, but there certainly seems to be a thematic connection.  The giant is green on the cover for no particular reason it seems, and is otherwise very similar to the giant in the interior story.

Herman Bolstein wrote a small handful of comics for Fiction House and Quality Comics via Iger Studio 1940-1942.  John Celardo had an extensive career in comics 1940-early 1980s with work for Fiction House, Quality Comics, Gold Key, DC Comics, and others.  The brief Power Man saga is an underappreciated gem with some great covers, and there’s a Fight Comics #12 (Fiction House, 1941) Condition: VG featuring an iconic Reed Crandall cover plus several other issues of Fight Comics up for auction in the 2022 October 13 The Fiction House Showcase Auction #40199 at Heritage Auctions.  New to collecting Fiction House or want to learn more?  Bleeding Cool is doing an ongoing deep dive into the history behind Fiction House in the run-up to this auction. If you’ve never bid at Heritage Auctions before, you can get further information, you can check out their FAQ on the bidding process and related matters.

Fight Comics #12 (Fiction House, 1941)
Fight Comics #12 (Fiction House, 1941)
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