Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Mysterious Suspense and The Question: The Planet Series Edition

As I understand it Steve Ditko illustrated (and at least plotted, if not scripted in the strictest sense of the word) six stories featuring The Question.

The first five stories were short back-up features in his Blue Beetle series 1967-68. The fifth instalment was a full-length feature which appeared in a new title, Mysterious Suspense #1, October 1968.

This was to be the only issue in the series. I don’t know why this issue was not called The Question rather than Mysterious Suspense. Maybe it was intended as an anthology title.

However, 10 years later, The Question once again appeared in an issue titled Mysterious Suspense, this time published by K.G. Murray as the first issue in its Planet Series of loosely connected one-off issues.

This first issue - numbered Series 1 No. 1 – reprints the complete contents of Charlton’s issue, including the opening pinup splash page by Rocke Mastroserio which introduces The Question fresh from back-up duties (hence the “Return of the Question” banner on the cover), but of course omitting the text-only feature “Martians Masters” (which is included in the facsimile Millennium Editions reprint from DC in 2000).

The Question also appeared in a few other comics over the next 15 years or so before being picked up by DC. Most noteworthy is an episode illustrated by Alex Toth which can be read – complete with annotations – on the Tothfans site.

I have seen two of Ditko’s Question back-ups from Blue Beetle reprinted in K.G. Murray’s Blue Beetle series. I expect the other three are also reprinted, but have yet to spot them. They may be in another Planet Series issues.

The complete contents of Mysterious Suspense Series 1 No. 1:

The Question: (untitled introductory splash page)
Rocke Mastroserio
(Mysterious Suspense #1, October 1968)

The Question: Part 1 The Question (and) Part 2 What Makes A Hero?
D.C. Glanzman/Steve Ditko
(Mysterious Suspense #1, October 1968)

Doctor Colby's Birds
Bill Molno/Rocke Mastroserio
(Unusual Tales #49, April-May 1965)

The Power and the Glory
Pete Morisi
(Haunted #3, January 1972)

Reprieve!
Pat Boyette/Mo Marcus
(Shadows from Beyond #50, October 1966)

Witness for the Defense
Fred Himes
(Haunted 3, January 1972)

Abandoned Ship
Pat Boyette
(Ghostly Tales 61, June 1967)

The Heart of the Dibiju
Fred Himes
(Haunted #2, November 1971)

They Got Away!
Enrique Nieto
(Beyond the Grave #6, June 1976)

Who's Fired?
(Haunted #4, February 1972)

He'll Go A Long Way
Mo Marcus
(Shadows from Beyond #50, October 1966)

The Ghost Mover
Steve Ditko/Rocke Mastroserio
(Ghostly Tales #60, March 1967)

There were at least another two issues of Mysterious Suspense published by K.G. Murray – Planet Series 2 No. 1 and Planet Series 3 No. 1. Neither of these issues contain Ditko’s other three Question features, but they do reprint a variety of Charlton comics, and I will detail them in due course.

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