Opera & Captain Battle's Wild Silver Streak Comics Stories, at Auction

Captain Battle debuted in Lev Gleason Publications' Silver Streak Comics #10, the creation of Carl Formes and Jack Binder.  Binder is well known as the founder of a major comics production studio active throughout the Golden Age and somewhat beyond, as well as being the older brother of Earl and Otto Binder.  On the other hand, Formes is far from a household name — at least today.  There was a time, however, when three generations of men named Carl Formes were world renown in the entertainment business.  The last of these, who co-created Captain Battle with Binder and did some important comics work through the 1940s had been world-famous himself — as an opera singer.  How did the grandson of the man who was considered in his day the world's greatest basso profundo become a writer on Silver Streak Comics?  It's a remarkable entertainment field second act, and there's the first appearance of Binder's and Formes's Captain Battle in Silver Streak Comics #10, as well as lot of other issues of Silver Streak Comics up for auction in the 2022 August 14-15 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122233 at Heritage Auctions.

Carl Formes (1918), Captain Battle in Silver Streak #10 (Lev Gleason #10, 1941).
Carl Formes (1918), Captain Battle in Silver Streak #10 (Lev Gleason #10, 1941).

The man named Carl Formes who came to write comic books was born in Buffalo, New York around 1886 and died in 1954 at the age of 68.  Both his mother and father were professional stage actors, and his father achieved some notoriety as a director and actor during the silent film era (the earlier generations were referred to as "Carl" and "Karl" somewhat interchangeably in America). By one account, he had graduated from the University of Minnesota and was working as an engineer at a steel foundry when his exceptional singing abilities were discovered by the wife of the conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Newspaper accounts of his rising acclaim circa 1918-1919 consistently refer to him as the grandson of the famous and highly accomplished Carl Formes (1815-1889). and the son of stage and moving picture director Carl Formes (1841-1939), who sometimes went by the name Carl Formes, Jr. as an actor. In the interest of completeness, it should be noted that there is a lack of clarity or definitive records regarding the relationship between the first and second generations mentioned here.  By some accounts, Carl Formes, Jr. may have been Carl senior's nephew.

Per obituaries, Formes retired from the stage around the time that his father died, and began his career as a writer. He's listed as a magazine writer in the 1940 census, and the timeline suggests that he started working with Binder and Harry A. Chesler's studio perhaps around November 1939.  Formes's work ran the gamut of comic book stories, but given the science fiction elements in Captain Battle, he was still able to rely on the engineering background from his earlier days.  Jack Binder Studio creator Arnold Hicks named a science fiction supervillain after Formes in the Marvel/Timely release Mystic Comics #3.

Captain Battle appears to have been an interesting amalgam of Formes's experiences and artistic influences. He was the youngest combatant in World War I and lost his left eye fighting in that war.  He subsequently gave his life over to "the scientific perfection of inventions which he uses to overcome evil and aggressive influences.  His arch nemesis is the Black Dragon, a sorcerer hellbent on destroying democracy and civilization itself.

Formes's Captain Battle stories were a wild amalgam of horror, science fiction, and wartime superheroics. A wild moment in Golden Age history, you can get the debut of Captain Battle in Silver Streak Comics #10, as well as lot of other issues of Silver Streak Comics up for auction in the 2022 August 14-15 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122233 at Heritage Auctions.

Silver Streak Comics #15 (Lev Gleason, 1941)
Silver Streak Comics #15 (Lev Gleason, 1941)

Silver Streak Comics #10 (Lev Gleason, 1941) Condition: FR. First "Daredevil vs. Claw" story. Bob Wood robot cover. Wood, Jack Cole, and Fred Guardineer art. The cover is detached and the spine is split. Overstreet 2022 GD 2.0 value = $239.

Silver Streak Comics #11 (Lev Gleason, 1941) Condition: GD. First appearance of Mercury. Daredevil and Claw conclude their multi-issue battle. Don Rico story, cover, and art. Dick Briefer story and art. The spine is mostly split, there is tape repair and reinforcement to the spine, the book has been restapled, and the centerfold is detached. Overstreet 2022 GD 2.0 value = $187.

Silver Streak Comics #12 (Lev Gleason, 1941) Condition: VG. Daredevil cover by Don Rico. Art by Rico and Fred Guardineer. Overstreet 2022 VG 4.0 value = $336.

Silver Streak Comics #14 (Lev Gleason, 1941) Condition: FR. Jack Binder drew the "Captain Battle vs. The Nazi Skull Men" cover. Dick Briefer and Don Rico art. Daredevil appearance. Overstreet 2022 GD 2.0 value = $258.

Silver Streak Comics #15 (Lev Gleason, 1941) Condition: VG. Jack Binder skull cover and art. Dick Briefer and Don Rico art. This copy has a spine roll. Overstreet 2022 VG 4.0 value = $580.

 

 

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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