Timely and Atlas collectors are very familiar with Martin Goodman's long pattern of starting new comic book titles with a number other than #1. It's happened over and over. Here are some random examples of debut Timely/Atlas titles and issues:
ADVENTURES INTO TERROR #43
ALL TEEN #20
AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #3
AMAZING MYSTERIES #32
APACHE KID #53
BEST WESTERN #58
BLONDE PHANTOM #12
COMEDY COMICS #9
COMPLETE COMICS #2
COWGIRL ROMANCES #28
CRIME CAN'T WIN #41
CRIME MUST LOSE #4
JOURNEY INTO UNKNOWN WORLDS #36
JUSTICE COMICS #7
LOVE TALES #36
MARVEL TALES #93
OFFICIAL TRUE CRIME CASES #24
REAL EXPERIENCES #25
RENO BROWN #50
ROMANCE TALES #7
SPY CASES #26
STRANGE STORIES OF SUSPENSE #5
TRUE ADVENTURES #3
YOUNG MEN #4
Some of these are easy to track and are obviously just title changes that continue the numbering. For example:
MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #92 becomes MARVEL TALES #93.
AMAZING COMICS #1 becomes COMPLETE COMICS #2.
RUGGED ACTION #4 becomes STRANGE TALES OF THE UNUSUAL #5.
ALL SELECT #11 becomes BLONDE PHANTOM #12.
GIRL COMICS #12 becomes GIRL CONFESSIONS #13.
Fans and historians frequently also made guesses as to where some of the other new titles spun off from based on looking at what titles were running concurrently and then choosing the title with the closest number to the number of the new title's first issue, imagining the new title "spun off" from there. Often the jump is a real stretch of the imagination as there could be 6-9 months between the former number and the spun off number.
A second way some have tried to unravel this was to go by the company mentioned in the indicia. For his entire publishing career, Martin Goodman used scores of different company names as a way to shield himself against liability if he got into trouble with a particular title. So searching concurrently published titles and comparing company names was thought to be another clue to determining where a new, weirdly numbered title hailed from.
There is a third way of looking at this mystery, a way that takes the onus away from the comic books themselves and places it anywhere and everywhere around Martin Goodman's publishing empire.
The first clue of this came to me a few years ago. I collect Goodman's true-crime magazines enthusiastically. The reason is that I look for illustrations that comic book artists may have drawn while moonlighting over in different parts of the company, be it magazines or pulps. I've put together long, near complete runs of COMPLETE DETECTIVE CASES, AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES, NATIONAL DETECTIVE CASES and EXPOSE` DETECTIVE CASES in the process.
One of the strangest things I noticed after 20 years of collecting these was that not a single "volume one" issue of COMPLETE DETECTIVE CASES seemed to exist. The title appeared to start with Vol 2, #1 (Dec/39) and continued through 14 volumes into 1953.
|COMPLETE DETECTIVE CASES Vol 2, #1 (Dec/39)|
In 1951 and 1952, for a brief period, the format changed to an over sized "bedsheet" format before reverting back to a standard magazine size. This makes finding 1951 and 1952 issues extremely difficult as the larger sized issues didn't survive as well into the present day.
But where was COMPLETE DETECTIVE CASES volume 1? They were nowhere to be found. At some point I just chalked it up to an unsolvable mystery and forgot about it altogether. Then one day I was looking on my shelf of Goodman pulps and saw my copy of the lurid COMPLETE DETECTIVE Vol 1, #1 (May/38) [with a great Norman Saunders cover!] and a light bulb went off in my head.
|COMPLETE DETECTIVE Vol 1, #1 (May/38)|
I frantically checked out the COMPLETE DETECTIVE publishing history and saw that 6 total issues had been published before cancellation ( I had 3 of them). The very last issue was Vol 1, #6, cover dated Oct/39 Bingo! I had the answer before me all along! Volume 1, #6 (Oct/39) of the pulp had become Vol 2, #1 (Dec/39) of the magazine.
So what does this have to do with AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES? I'm going to explain. The name AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES conjures up a different image in the mind of different types of collectors.
The pulp enthusiast will recognize the name as one of the longest running true-crime magazines of the 1940's and 1950's, actually lasting into the early 1960's, published by Martin Goodman. AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES was the second such true crime magazine published by Goodman, coming on the heels of the aforementioned COMPLETE DETECTIVE CASES, with Vol 1, #1 cover dated June/40.
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES Vol 1, #1 (June/40)|
An interesting aside to both these titles is that the Art Director of both mags, as well as to a third title, NATIONAL DETECTIVE CASES Vol 1, #1 (May/41), for a span of about 13 months (cover date Nov/40 to Dec/41), was Joe Simon.
|NATIONAL DETECTIVE CASES Vol 1, #1 (May/41)|
|Joe Simon - Art Director|
The comic book enthusiast recognizes the name as one of the myriad crime comic titles that burst onto the newsstands during the "second wave" of the Timely/Atlas crime comic surge. Starting cover date Aug/50, six new crime comic titles debuted within a five month period. One of these was AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES, which started its run with #3 (Nov/50).
So I ask the same question I asked at the beginning of this post..... "Why did AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES start with #3?"
With the background reasons I gave above, the usual thought went to looking for a comic title close enough to "spin it off". The suspect has historically been SUSPENSE #2 (Feb/50) for the reason that it's the only crime comic with a #2 close by (and the title changed to horror with #3). But this is ridiculous. There's a 9 month interval between SUSPENSE #2 (Feb/50) and AMAZING DETECTIVE #3 (Nov/50). It's not impossible but it never smelled right to me.
|SUSPENSE #1 (Dec/49)|
|SUSPENSE #2 (Feb/50|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES Vol 10, #2 (July/50)|
For the first time, this very week, I realize that the magazine then went on a hiatus. The comic book AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES then starts with #3 (Nov/50) and runs through #14 (Sept/52), with the last 4 issues changing over to pre-code horror before cancellation.
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #3 (Nov/50)|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #4 (Jan/51)|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #5 (Mar/51)|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #6 (May/51)|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #7 (July/51)|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #8 (Sept/51)|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #9 (Nov/51)|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #10 (Jan/52)|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #11 (Mar/52) [horror]|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #12 (May/52) [horror]|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #13 (July/52) - [horror] Joe Maneely cover art|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES #14 (Sept/52) [horror]|
|AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES Vol 10, #3 (Winter/53)|
So the mystery of the Atlas AMAZING DETECTIVE CASES has been solved. It also opens up new avenues to track many other similar Atlas title numbering mysteries. But not today.