Complete Mystery 1 Complete Mystery 2 Complete Mystery 3 Complete Mystery 4 True Complete Mystery 5

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Complete Mystery #1-4 (August 1948 - February 1949), True Complete Mystery #5-8 (April 1949 - October 1949).

By the summer of 1947, Martin Goodman had been publishing only two types of comic books, superhero comics and humor comics. Humor comics were further subdivided into funny-animal comics and Archie-inspired teen humor comics. As mid 1947 approached, a new genre appeared on the Timely schedule: Crime comics.

Goodman had deep experience in the crime publication niche. He'd been publishing true-crime magazines since 1939 and crime pulps from as far back.Syd Shores
Seeing the enormous success Lev Gleason gained from changing Silver Streak Comics to Crime does not Pay in 1942 prompted him to jump into the nascent crime comic market and he released two books simultaneously, Justice Comics and Official True Crime Cases, both cover dated Fall/47 and both with great covers by Timely staff art director Syd Shores  1948 saw Official True Crime Cases change title to All True Crime and 4 additional crime comics debut:Crimefighters (Apr/48), Lawbreakers Always Lose (Spring/48), Crime Exposed (June/48) [actually a one-shot] and finally, Complete Mystery #1 (Aug/48).

Complete Mystery 4

Timely was also at this time experimenting with book-length comic stories. We had previously seen extra long stories in the classic Human Torch/Sub-Mariner battles as well as in titles like Young Allies where a story was broken up into 5 or so chapters all linked to the main story. The debut issue of Justice Comics ran a whopping 46 pages and the just launched esoteric Ideal - A Classical Comic also sported book-length tales. Now Timely released Complete Mystery #1, a title that would cap the first wave of Timely/Atlas crime books, each issue a book-length story followed by a short 1 to 4 page filler.

What's special though about Complete Mystery is not the story length, but the creators. With issue #2 Stan Lee takes over the scripting chores and scripts issues 2,3 and 4. The artists are absolute vintage Timely circa 1948.

Issue #2 introduces a familiar face to the series, the editor-in-chief of the company, Stan Lee. The cover is penciled by Timely's art director Syd Shores. Shores spent the majority of the 1940's as Timely's primary Captain America artist. His history on the character began when he inked the cover to issue #1. He then assisted on miscellaneous issues during the initial Simon and Kirby 10 issue run before becoming Al Avison's inker when S&K departed for National. When Avison moved on, Shores took over the feature completely and held it, save for time in the service, for most of the golden-age run, although a score of other artists continued to also drawing Cap's scattered adventures in several titles. 

Issue #3 once again pairs a veteran creator duo. Stan Lee scripts the 25 page "Fear in the Night" and the artwork is by Carl Burgos, now on staff after returning to Timely after the war and well after leaving Lloyd Jacquet's Funnies Inc.shop. The cover is unknown to me but like issue #1, hints of Gene Colan. It is much too fluid to be the staid and stiffer Carl Burgos. Marty Nodell is another candidate as he did a lot of still uncredited work in 1948/49.Complete Mystery 1

Issue #4 Stan Lee and Carl Burgos are reunited again on an 18 pager this time, "Squealers Die Fast". The story is a bit overwritten and too drawn out.  It's becoming obvious that the 4, 5 or 6  page story format is the preferable size. With this story put to bed, already clipped to18 pages from 25 pages the past 3 issues, the shorter size will become the dominant standard.

The issue concludes with Timely's "second" anti-Wertham editorial.  This editorial directly addressed the raging debate about comic books in the pages of the aforementioned Saturday Review and pointedly mentions Dr.Wertham by name. The editorial quotes a letter from the July 24th issue by David Pace Wigransky, a 14 year old comics reader, who intelligently and logically refutes Wertham, explaining that finding a juvenile delinquent as a comic reader proves nothing as the vast millions of America’s youth who read comics are “not” juvenile delinquents. The editorial ends with a claim that Marvel Comics are “good comics” and again touts Dr. Thompson’s endorsement on the first page of every comic they published, strategically countering like a chess game, pitting one psychiatrist against another.
Starting with issue #5 (Apr/49), the title of this book changes to True Complete Mystery and will continue another 4 issues up through #8 (Oct/49). 3 issues will sport photo covers, #'s 6,7,8. The highlights of these issues are two John  Buscema penciled stories each in issues #5 and #6. Allen Bellman has an "Are You a Detective?" likewise in #5 and #6. Two more editorials also make there appearance in issues #5 and #6. With the crime comics taking so much heat industry-wide, Stan Lee is working overtime trying to convince the readers that Marvel is beyond reproach.
The book-length format is thrown out and the title becomes a standard crime format of 4 stories each in #5,6 and 3 stories each in #7,8.

from Dr. Michael J. Vassallo http://timely-atlas-comics.blogspot.com/

True Complete Mystery 6