Sunday, January 9, 2011

April-May 1937: More Fun Comics #20, New Adventure Comics #15, Detective Comics #4

Cover by Vin Sullivan

More Fun Comics #20 is yet another issue of that series for which I couldn't find a scan.  Taking a look at its contents, it looks like I missed very little.  There's the last installment of 'Pelion and Ossa', a funny animal strip about a bear and a penguin by Pete DeAngelo.  Something called 'Bobby and Scotty' reappears for the first time since issue #9, but I don't remember it at all.  And I won't need to, because it never shows up again.  'Lieutenant Leeds' is a strip by Alex Lovy that seems to be a one-off.  It's almost a relief that I get to skip these issues, but on the other hand it makes it nigh-impossible to get into a good rhythm with the strips.  It's no coincidence that I'm enjoying New Adventure Comics and Detective Comics more than this series.

Cover by Creig Flessel
'Jungle Fever' by Ed Winiarski debuted in the last issue, but I hadn't paid enough attention to talk about it.  In part two the main characters Red and Curly go to an island to find a plantation (for reasons I couldn't figure out).  Along the way they help put down a mutiny, but there are forces on the island that aren't friendly to them.  Standard island adventure strip stuff for the time.

'Steve Conrad' (by Creig Flessel) has been another fairly boring island adventure strip, but this one features the main villain, the Devachan of Dolorosa Isle, on a one-man murder mission through Steve Conrad's ship. He even goes so far as to lash a corpse to the wheel with a knife still in it.  It's the first time that this strip has been remotely memorable.

Apparently we've seen the last of 'Slim and Tex' by Alex Lovy, a strip about two cowboys who worked on a ranch and got up to hi-jinks.  At the beginning it was about their rivalry for the affections of the lady owner of the ranch, but by the end it was tied up in a plot about a rich girl visiting the ranch, and the goons trying to kidnap her.  And damn it, I need to bring these comics to work with me, because I can never remember whether they ended on a cliffhanger or not.

I don't know what this says about me, but now that 'Captain Quick' (by Sven Elven) has shifted his mission from the rescue of his lady love to straight-up raiding Spanish galleons for booty I'm much more interested in it.

To be honest, I felt much more engaged by all of the strips in this issue.  Perhaps I was just in a charitable mood, or perhaps I'm getting more used to the way these stories are told.  These comics are vastly different to the majority of the others I've read (mostly from the 1960s to the present), and in the beginning I felt like I was doing a lot of work to keep up.  Now they feel a lot more natural to read, and we'll see if that helps my enthusiasm level in the future.  There wasn't even a 'Federal Men' strip this month, so it's very unusual that I found myself so engaged.

Cover by Creig Flessel
'Speed Saunders' (by Creig Flessel): Speed investigates a murder involving rival sugar cane plantations.  It seems that even the creators have recognised the limitations of the water police set-up, because this strip has little to do with it, and Saunders is even fired from his job during the story.  That's probably because this strip was created by E.C. Stoner, but last issue Creig Flessel took over.  I'm interested to see if he sticks with it and changes the format.

'Cosmo' (by Sven Elven): Cosmo tackles jewel thieves in Bombay.  I really can't muster any enthusiasm for this strip.

'Buck Marshall, Range Detective' (by Homer Fleming): Buck takes on rustlers.  Again.  Fleming is either terribly unimaginative, or he's taking the piss.  There just has to be more to he can deal with, you know?  Some Injuns, maybe?

'Claws of the Red Dragon' (by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson): The plot thickens as various murder mysteries pile on top of each other. I'm hoping the strip really holds my hand as it goes along, because I'll never keep track of it myself.

'The Evil Oak' (by Gardner Fox): This prose story is a murder mystery where the culprit has his hideout inside a tree.  I've read a few of Fox's sword and sorcery yarns, and he tells a decent story.  This was good by the standards set so far.

'Mr. Chang' (by Ed Winiarski): Mr. Chang is back, and I've noticed that his speech patterns are now much more in the vein of other Asian characters of the time.  It's a shame, because I liked seeing a Chinese guy portrayed as speaking perfect English.  He's still shown to be very clever and respected, but the dialogue grates on me.

'Slam Bradley' (by Siegel and Shuster): "Only a maniac or Slam Bradley would have attempted it!"  The latest 'Slam Bradley' strip kicks off with that awesome line, and I'm very pleased to see that Joe Shuster is back on the art.  It's still the best strip I'm reading, but it doesn't quite have the magic of that first installment.  Slam's character has softened quite a bit, but I was enjoying it more when he was being a jerk to everyone under the sun.  I'm thinking that a large part of the success of this strip is the inclusion of humorous elements.  The other action strips are played straight, but Slam'sSiegel and Shuster doing a lot of that sort of stuff.

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