The Weird Plot Twist of Holyoke’s “New” Blue Beetle, Up for Auction



On March 6, 1942, the notorious Golden Age publisher of Blue Beetle and much more, Victor Fox was forced into bankruptcy by creditors.  Fascinatingly, one of those creditors, printer Holyoke Press took over the title, and with Fox’s Blue Beetle and other titles the publisher acquired under similar circumstances from Frank Z. Temerson, Holyoke decided to get into the comic book publishing business.  Holyoke published the series from Blue Beetle #12-30, and after a one-issue transition, Temerson’s staff led by Charles Quinlan, best known for his work on Cat-Man Comics took over Blue Beetle for Holyoke.  After issue #12, the Holyoke issues of the series take on a markedly different look and field.  Some of it weird, some of it rather amazing, and all of it is an underappreciated aspect of the character’s history.  With interest in the character on the rise ahead of the 2023 film, there’s several issues of the Holyoke Blue Beetle run up for auction in the 2022 June 5-6 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122223 from Heritage Auctions.

Blue Beetle #22 (Holyoke, 1943)
Blue Beetle #22 (Holyoke, 1943)

One of the early moves that Quinlan and company made was to give the character a sidekick.  Sparky debuted with issue #14 of the series, but was replaced by a different sidekick character, Spunky in issue #18. Notably, issue #17 is one of the rarest of the run, and the cover story there features a group of Nazi soldiers attacking a military facility in America.

That issue may have been a prelude to what was to come for the series.  Blue Beetle #20-22 are retitled “NEW Blue Beetle.” Issues #20 and #21 feature war covers that don’t have Blue Beetle on them at all, and Spunky has been dropped from the interior stories for a few issues.  Issue #22 reveals the plot twist:  Dan Garrett is quitting the police force to join the U.S. intelligence service.  After completing his training, Garrett is sent on missions, and the Blue Beetle begins to fight the war along with him.  This is the best part of the run, perhaps highlighted by #22, in which Blue Beetle steals Hitler’s mustache to demoralize the Nazis.

Both Temerson and Fox would eventually regain control over the respective titles, but the Holyoke Blue Beetle run #12-30 was quite a wild ride in the meantime.  Inconsistent, weird, and sometimes amazing, there’s several issues of the Holyoke Blue Beetle run up for auction in the 2022 June 5-6 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122223 from Heritage Auctions.

#14 (Holyoke, 1942) Condition: VG. A great early Blue Beetle issue which features the first appearance of Sparky (on cover and in a one-page feature), Blue Beetle’s sidekick. Al Ulmer cover. Centerfold detached. Overstreet 2021 VG 4.0 value = $174.

#15 (Holyoke, 1942) Condition: FR. Gerber “7” or “scarce.” Charles Quinlan and Joe Kubert art. Split and detached. Part of back cover missing. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $87.

#17 (Holyoke, 1942) Condition: GD/VG. This issue made our list of the ten rarest Holyoke comics and this is only the second copy we have encountered. Rodent chew on back cover. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $65; VG 4.0 value = $130.

#18 (Holyoke, 1943) Condition: VG-. (note: the Heritage description of this issue is an error) Blue Beetle’s second sidekick Spunky debuts.

#19 and 21 Group (Holyoke, 1943) Condition: Average GD-. Includes issues #19 (tape down length of spine) and 21 (This issue is a Gerber “white space” and has a scarcity rating of 8 – cover half split and fully detached, slightly brittle pages). Approximate Overstreet value for group = $125.

#Blue Beetle 22 and 25 Group (Holyoke, 1943) Condition: Average GD. Includes issues #22 (half split and cover fully detached) and 25 (cover detached). Approximate Overstreet value for group = $110.

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Posted in: Comics, Heritage Sponsored, Vintage Paper | Tagged: blue beetle, golden age, holyoke

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