Pyroman vs the Snake Cult in Startling Comics #20, Up for Auction

Startling Comics #20 features a classic Standard/Better/Nedor WWII-era cover by Jack Binder and a Pyroman story by Ken Battefield to match.

While not among the early wave of the Standard/Better/Nedor superheroes, the electrically-charged superhero Pyroman made his debut in Startling Comics #18 and quickly took over Captain Future's share of the title's covers, alternating with Fighting Yank.  Jack Binder's Startling Comics #20 cover, featuring Pyroman taking on a Nazi snake cult, is one of his best covers of the run.  Artist Ken Battefield provided the artwork for the feature story that this cover represents, while Henry Kiefer debuts the character the Oracle in this issue as well.  A classic Standard/Better/Nedor WWII-era cover featuring a superhero deserving of more attention, there's a Startling Comics #20 (Better Publications, 1943) CGC GD/VG 3.0 Slightly brittle pages up for auction in the 2023 February 23 The Thrillingly Exciting Heroes of Nedor Comics Showcase Auction #40219 at Heritage Auctions.

Startling Comics #20 (Better Publications, 1943) featuring Pyroman.
Startling Comics #20 (Better Publications, 1943) featuring Pyroman.

Pyroman is an electrical engineering student named Dick Martin. A sabotaged piece of lab equipment shocked Martin with "negative volts." He was subsequently mistakenly convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair, but the voltage of the chair was stored in his body as if he was a human battery due to his previous accident, giving him electrical powers. The name "Pyroman" and the usage of the slogan "America's Blazing Battler" is something of a curiosity here, as both terms seem to imply fire-based powers. Interestingly, the villain in his debut saga was able to start fires remotely via a "super-sonic transmitter."

The Oracle is the alter ego of Bob Paxton, an engineer and technician with the Army Air Force.  On assignment to build an airfiled in British Guiana, Paxton inadvertently got a face full of German nerve gas, which somehow gave him the ability to see visions of the future.

Jack Binder, the cover artist for Startling Comics #20 and the creator of Pyroman, is the brother of legendary comic book and science fiction writer Otto Binder. Jack Binder's entry into the comic book business came via the Chesler Studio, and Binder had opened his own studio by the time of Startling Comics #20. Jack Binder would have an extensive career in comics 1937-1953, working for publishers including Fawcett, MLJ, Centaur, Standard/Better/Nedor, Lev Gleason and Street & Smith among others.

This copy of Startling Comics #20 has been graded CGC GD/VG 3.0 Slightly brittle pages. This issue is not an easy get with only 14 entries currently on the CGC census. A Golden Age comic book with a WWII-themed cover and an interior story to match, there's a copy of Startling Comics #20 up for auction in the 2023 February 23 The Thrillingly Exciting Heroes of Nedor Comics Showcase Auction #40219 at Heritage Auctions. If you're new to Heritage Auctions, check out their FAQ on the bidding process and related matters.

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Mark SeifertAbout 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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