Captain Marvel #54 (January 1978)

When I was a kid, George Tuska was THE Iron Man artist, so to have him draw an issue of Captain Marvel for me once Al Milgrom moved on was amazing. I was supposed to be a professional, so I tried to avoid fanboy squee. Which was easier than you might think, since squeeing hadn’t yet been invented.

Though most of the interior of the issue was drawn by George Tuska. the final page was drawn by Dave Cockrum.

As far as I can recall, no one ever wondered at the time why the entire issue hadn’t been drawn by Tuska. Well, actually, Tuska had drawn the complete issue, only you never got a chance to see it. Here’s the final page that was originally supposed to be published

Yes, that’s Wonder Man who’s knocked Captain Marvel to the ground. For some reason I can no longer remember, an editorial decision was made to eliminate that character’s participation from Captain Marvel’s story thread, and so a new page was quickly drawn by Dave Cockrum. As far as I know, the photocopy I own is all that remains of Tuska’s original page.

Why did Wonder Man attack Captain Marvel here, and what was his role going to be in the following issue? I no longer have any idea.

Why did Archie Goodwin, the editor at the time, decide that Wonder Man had to be excised from the plot after having originally approved (or so I assume) his appearance? I have no memories of that either.

So for those of you who ever wondered why the Cockrum page closed a Tuska issue, mystery solved. Unfortunately, since this was more than 30 years ago and I can’t fill in the blanks, another mystery opens …