The Wizard Foils a Russian Attack in Top-Notch Comics #5, at Auction
The Wizard is a pulp-style superhero character who first appeared in Top-Notch Comics #1, cover-dated December 1939. He was the earliest cover star of Top-Notch Comics series, the second title launched by MLJ Magazines, the publisher who would eventually become known for Archie. The Wizard was created by Will Harr and Edd Ashe, Jr. and is the decedent of a long line of men who have fought for America in wartime. He also has a brother in Naval Intelligence. The character possesses "the greatest brainpower on Earth" and uses it to develop a wide array of inventions and abilities to foil plots against the U.S. government, and his battle with such plots against America is a fascinating window into the dawn of the World War II era. There are a number of early Top-Notch Comics issues featuring the Wizard, Black Hood and others up for auction in the 2022 May 15-16 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122220 at Heritage Auctions.
The Wizard stories in the early issues of Top-Notch Comics are a glimpse at the fears of the country as World War approached. While actual countries were not named, their fictional stand-in names made it obvious. Famously, the debut issue saw the Wizard foiling a Japanese plot to attack Pearl Harbor — two years before that infamous event occurred in real history. Other early plots against the U.S. government that the Wizard faced included Russia attacking Alaska and Japan attempting to bomb the Panama Canal. The plot he uncovered in Top-Notch Comics #5 is particularly interesting from the historical perspective, as it has the Soviet Union (called "Mosconians" in the story) attacking "strategic military centers" in the United States, including the Capital Building with Congress in session, the Naval Academy at Annapolis, and West Point among others. The situation was so dire that fellow MLJ superhero the Shield also got involved to stop it.
As the Top-Notch Comics title progressed, the Wizard became more of a traditional type of superhero, trading his pulp-style suit for colorful tights and even adding a sidekick. But those early issues are particularly fascinating in the context of their time, and there are a number of early Top-Notch Comics issues featuring the Wizard, Black Hood and others up for auction in the 2022 May 15-16 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122220 at Heritage Auctions.