Monday, January 3, 2011

February-March 1937: New Adventure Comics #13, Detective Comics #2

Cover by Whitney Ellsworth
It seems as though 'Don Coyote' (by Bill Patrick) has abandoned the one-off joke format for a slightly more dramatic serialised story, in which Coyote and his friends flee England and the wrath of the king, only to wind up sold to a slave ship.  It's a little disappointing, because I liked the strip the way it was.

It looks as though this is the final installment of 'The Blood Pearls' (by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson and Munson Paddock).  This was one of the more memorable strips in the series, mostly due to the outright villainous nature of Baslyn, the main character.  All of the other serials focus on square-jawed heroes, but this one is about a guy who sells a Chinese woman into slavery to obtain the valuable blood pearls, and the karmic retribution that stalks him afterwards.  The distinctively distorted art and the unusual protagonist raised this serial to a level above those around it.

As in the last issue of More Fun Comics that I reviewed, this is the last we'll see of Tom Cooper's work.  That means an end for 'Jim Gale and Co.', 'Castaway Island', and 'Captain Spiniker'.  None of them were left on particularly pressing cliffhangers, and the only one I'll miss is 'Captain Spiniker'.  I'm more interested in finding out how they fill the space next issue, to be honest.

There's a mammoth twelve page story called 'Foe of the Borgias' (by Sven Elven) that is a fairly rudimentary swashbuckling yarn, but it's notable for the size and impact of the art.  With the extra pages, Elven is free to indulge in larger panels and splash pages, and it really shows off his work nicely and gives the story a bit of extra excitement.

In 'Federal Men' (by Siegel and Shuster), Steve Carson spends his time going up against dope traffickers.  It's pretty tame by the standards of this strip, but the blatant drug references surprised me.  I guess I'm more used to the comics of the Silver Age, where this kind of thing was glossed over or ignored except on very rare occasions.

Cover by Creig Flessel
'Slam Bradley' (by Siegel and Shuster): This strip is still very entertaining.  Slam isn't quite as much of a jerk as he was in his first outing, but the story does open with him beating the hell out of a steel worker just for fun.  When the steel worker is murdered Slam is implicated, and the story kicks off from there.  It doesn't quite pack the punch of the first Slam Bradley story, and it does recycle a couple of the gags, but it's still a rollicking good time.  I wish everything in these comics was as good.

'Buck Marshall' (by Homer Fleming): Buck investigates a bank hold-up.  Unsurprisingly, the bank owner is responsible.

'Gumshoe Gus' (by Bill Patrick): Gus investigates the disappearance of a millionaire's duck, only to find that it ran off to chase Donald Duck.  I guess Donald was a big pop culture icon at that point in time, but this is a very strange conclusion.

'Bret Lawton' (by Creators Unknown): Lawton is still investigating murders in a Peruvian mine.  It looks like he solved them as well, but the culprit isn't anyone I remember from the rest of the story.  This is the last we'll see of this strip.

'Bart Regan' (by Siegel and Shuster): Bart is still having problems with his ex-fiancee messing up his undercover work, and now she's marrying some other dude to make him jealous.  Who can understand women?

'Mr. Chang' (by Ed Winiarski): Mr. Chang is a Chinese detective who goes up against a narcotics ring.  It's notable for portraying Chang as heroic and able to speak perfect English, but his assistant doesn't fare so well, uttering sentences like "Servant velly glateful for words of praise flom masta!"  Not a word of that was altered by me, I'm afraid.

'Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise' (by Sven Elven): Cosmo is back, foiling counterfeiters with his powers of disguise.  It's still dull.

'Claws of the Red Dragon' (by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson and Tom Hickey): This was very good last issue, but this time it has lost a lot of its creepy atmosphere.  But it's much better as a detective story than the other strips in here, and that counts for something.

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