The Surprising History Behind All-New Comics #4, Up for Auction

The Heritage blurb for Harvey's All-New Comics #4 from 1943 says "WWII/Nazi/bondage cover by Al Avison," but that's understating the case.  That cover is more like "space creature Nazis with a human woman captive while an astronaut adventurer comes to the rescue."  The vast majority of the time, a weird cover like this would have nothing to do with the interior of the comic book, and you'd chalk it up to just something unusual that was done to try to capture attention on the newsstands, but such is not the case here.  It would appear that Al Avison was given an assignment to draw a cover based on the interior story "Poison In the Universe" by an unknown scripter and drawn by Sam Glanzman.  That story is seemingly even more surprising than the cover that represents it, but is also based on some real WWII-era history.  All of which serves to make this comic book historically interesting, and there's an All-New Comics #4 (Harvey Publications, 1943) CGC Apparent VG+ 4.5 Slight/Moderate (B-2) Off-white pages up for auction in 2022 June 26-27 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122226 at Heritage Auctions.

All-New Comics #4 (Harvey Publications, 1943)
All-New Comics #4 (Harvey Publications, 1943)

In the story, "Poison In the Universe," the United States, Japan, and Earth are represented by separate planets whose names make this obvious.  The hero of our story runs a freight ship from the planet Ammer that supplies Iron to the planet Jaan.  The Ammer ship captain begins to notice that the leaders of Jaan are using the iron to make weapons of war rather than making things to help the planet's people.  The captain warns other men of Ammer about this, but they brush him off and tell him it's probably fine. But soon, the leaders of Jaan see transmissions from Earth which show Hitler making a speech about conquering the entire planet.  Seemingly inspired by this, Jaan makes plans to attack Ammer.

This story seems to be inspired by events from early in WWII.  In early 1939, Chinese Americans working at the Port of Portland and the Port of Astoria organized protests against shipping scrap iron and steel to Japan.  Despite protests, the situation continued through the next year, as an isolationist Congress was unwilling to disrupt trade relations with Japan at this time.  Finally, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was given the authority to control defense-related exports, which he used to halt the export of iron and steel to Japan beginning in October 1940.

Most of the rest of All-New Comics #4 is also very WWII-focused, and overall the issue is an interesting artifact of its moment in time.  There's an All-New Comics #4 (Harvey Publications, 1943) CGC Apparent VG+ 4.5 Slight/Moderate (B-2) Off-white pages up for auction in 2022 June 26-27 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122226 at Heritage Auctions.

 

All-New Comics #4 (Harvey Publications, 1943) CGC Apparent VG+ 4.5 Slight/Moderate (B-2) Off-white pages. WWII/Nazi/bondage cover by Al Avison. Bob Powell art. CGC notes, "Restoration includes: pieces added to cover, tear seals to cover and centerfold reinforced." Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $194; VG 4.0 value = $388.

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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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