Wednesday, January 26, 2011

July-August 1937: More Fun Comics #23, New Adventure Comics #18, Detective Comics #7

Cover by Vin Sullivan
There's a new strip this issue: 'Marty McCann, Champion of the Navy', by Ed Cronin.  It's about a member of the US Navy who gets into an argument with the number one contender for the boxing world heavyweight title, and ends up beating him in a match.  It's mostly page upon page of two guys beating the hell out of each other, but not bad for all that.  At the very least it's a break from cowboys and detectives and such.

In other news, it turns out that in 'Doctor Occult' (by Siegel and Shuster) the title character was not dead, just drugged.  So his claim as the first ever resurrected comics character has been retracted.  He beats the Lord of Life this issue, and it must be said that Siegel and Shuster aren't the sort of creators who drag out their stories too much.

Cover by Creig Flessel
There's more from the Junior Federal Men Club this month.  In a remarkable display of gender equality, apparently girls can join as "auxiliary members".  But what do I know, maybe this really was progressive for the 1930s.

'Federal Men' (by Siegel and Shuster) is once again quite sedate, although there was a glimmer of interest when a man was strapped to a torpedo and fired from a moving train.  But where are the giant robots and atomic tanks and burning skyscrapers I once loved so much?

'Steve Conrad' (by Creig Flessel) continues to surprise me, having moved from being one of the most forgettable strips to one of the most memorable.  Steve has a fistfight with the Devachan this month, and the large, impactful panels seem like they've been influenced by Siegel and Shuster's work on 'Slam Bradley'.  I hope there are other creators taking notice as well.

Cover by Creig Flessel
'Slam Bradley' (by Siegel and Shuster): Speaking of which, this month Slam Bradley and Shorty go undercover as life guards to investigate the disappearances of people swimming in the ocean.  The actual plot is kind of a dud, because it's a whodunnit where the culprit doesn't even appear until he's exposed.  It makes up for it by being super-funny and entertaining.  It even opens with Slam having the time of his life, stopping a man from drowning by punching him in the jaw.  And next issue: hillbillies!  It's going to be awesome.

'Cosmo' (by Sven Elven): Once again, I'm amused that everyone on the planet is a close personal friend of Cosmo.  This time he investigates the murder of a pianist, and like the 'Slam Bradley' strip above the mystery is a total cheat.  Unlike Slam Bradley, there's nothing else of merit here.

'Claws of the Red Dragon' (by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson): Bruce Nelson finally meets the mastermind of the kidnapping scheme, Lu Gong, who has got to be the chattiest bitch in villain history.  I swear there's a panel where his word balloon takes up a quarter of the page.  Next month is the conclusion to the strip, and I have to give Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson some props, because all of his strips have ended in a relatively satisfying manner so far.  Many others just keep chugging along with no end in sight, but he finishes his stories when their natural time is up.

'Rifles on the River' (by Guy Monroe): This is a prose story about some soldiers fighting bandits who steal an armoured train.

'Gumshoe Gus' (by Bill Patrick): I don't know what has happened to Bill Patrick. I used to really like his strip 'Don Coyote', which really was one of the better humour strips in these comics at the time, but 'Gumshoe Gus' isn't all that funny.  Perhaps it's the focus on a single character, as a lot of what made 'Don Coyote' work was the interplay between the three main cast members.

'Spy' (by Siegel and Shuster): Bart and Sally capture a plane manufacturer who shot down a zeppelin to stop it from hurting his business.  There's a little more tension to their relationship this month, but it's far from the focus I hoped it would be.  Also, this was almost certainly inspired by the Hindenburg disaster, as that had happened just a few months before this issue went on sale.

'Buck Marshall' (by Homer Fleming): Buck arrests a guy who killed the local ranger for not letting his cattle graze more.  Or something.  I confess to being very uninterested in cattle ranch politics.

'Larry Steele' (by Will Ely): Larry keeps driving back to New York, only for his pursuers to push a car down a hill on top of him.  He tracks them down with the help of the FBI, and I quite literally fight to stay awake.

'Speed Saunders' (by Gardner Fox and Creig Flessel): Speed Saunders tracks down a cowboy who got kicked out of the rodeo, and was shooting the performers for revenge.  It's a long way from the waterfront for Speed, which could be a boon, except that it makes him just like every other generic detective out there.  I think he should stick with his gimmick for the most part.

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