The Rare and Possibly Inspiring Sure-Fire Comics #4, Up for Auction

Ace Periodicals entered the comics field in early 1940 with the title Sure-Fire Comics, which featured the character Flash Lightning by Robert Turner and Harry Lucey.  A superhero with a broad range of lightning-powered abilities, Flash Lightning's origin takes some fairly obvious inspiration from Fawcett's Captain Marvel.  But it is arguably even more similar to the origin of Dr. Fate, and Sure Fire Comics #1 pre-dated Dr. Fate's first-told origin in More Fun Comics #67 by over a year.  Robert Morgan was an American studying in Egypt who encountered an ancient Egyptian figure known as "The Old Man of the Pyramids", who taught him ancient arts and sciences, and gave him "the Amulet of Annihilation, the weapon of the forces of right."  The first four issues of Sure-Fire Comics are all pretty tough to get, but there's a Sure-Fire Comics 3 (#4) (Ace, 1940) CGC PR 0.5 Light tan to off-white pages up for auction in the up for auction in the 2022 July 31-August 1 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122231 at Heritage Auctions.

Separated at Birth? Sure-Fire Comics #4 by Jim Mooney vs Hulk #5 by Jack Kirby.
Separated at Birth? Sure-Fire Comics #4 by Jim Mooney vs Hulk #5 by Jack Kirby.

As a huge Jack Kirby fan, his cover for Hulk #5 immediately popped into my head when I was looking at the Sure-Fire Comics #4 cover from over 20 years prior.  While I wouldn't be surprised if there are any number of similar scenes out there in comic books, the grasping of the hose/pipe in the outstretched fist makes it a slightly closer call.  Still, perhaps a "separated at birth" scenario is less likely than a "shares the same ancestor" scenario, but it's interesting nonetheless.  GCD tentatively credits Jim Mooney with the Sure-Fire Comics cover.

Sure-Fire Comics was renamed Lightning Comics with issue #4, although there's a slight complication there.  Ace inadvertently numbered Sure-Fire Comics #4 as issue #3. That led to Lightning Comics starting with #4 and lasting two additional issues through until issue #6. Lightning Comics was then rebooted with a new #1 later in 1941. While Flash Lightning's adventures were far more standard superhero fare than Dr. Fate's, the saga made references to Egyptian themes from the obvious "lightning pyramid" symbol on his chest, to the Mummy supervillain that was introduced in issue #5. DC Comics may have objected to the "Flash" in the character name "Flash Lightning", and the character's name was shortened to simply "Lightning" with issue #6.  The series was rebooted with a new #1 in 1941, where he was renamed "Lash" Lightning and the character also appeared in Ace's Four Favorites title.

While at CGC .5 this copy is indisputably a low grade, it also appears to be the only CGC graded copy available at public auction since 2005.  There's a Sure-Fire Comics 3 (#4) (Ace, 1940) CGC PR 0.5 Light tan to off-white pages up for auction in the 2022 July 31-August 1 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122231 at Heritage Auctions. 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.  It's a particularly good week to take a look with lots of rare Ace Magazines comics, Champ and Champion Comics, Lev Gleason comics, and much more.

Sure-Fire Comics 3 (#4) (Ace, 1940)
Sure-Fire Comics 3 (#4) (Ace, 1940)
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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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