Monday, January 17, 2011

June 1937: Detective Comics #5

Cover by Creig Flessel
'Slam Bradley' (by Siegel and Shuster): This issue gets off to a cracking start, with the best 'Slam Bradley' strip yet.  It opens with him just cold punching his former schoolyard bully, and from there he has to go undercover as a school teacher.  Among other amusing tidbits, we learn that he was actually called Slam Bradley in the 6th grade, so that could very well be his real name.  He's probably the worst schoolteacher ever, as the only solution he has to any problem is to punch it or yell at it.  But this is really fun stuff,  and I'm enjoying the running gag where Slam gets the girl at the end of the strip, while his sidekick Shorty is rather less well rewarded.  Next month we are told that Bradley is facing off against Mexican bandits, which promises to be great.

'Buck Marshall' (by Homer Fleming): Buck foils a robbery this month, which is at least a break from the incessant string of cattle rustlers.  But the mystery is kind of ruined as soon as a guy named Kane shows up.  His name is Kane, of course he's the culprit!

'Claws of the Red Dragon' (by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson and Tom Hickey): Bruce Nelson has finally found the kidnapped girl Sigrid, so at least there's some plot progression.  But it's still very generic compared to how it began.

'Winged Death' (by Fredric Wells): This is a text story about a detective investigating airplane sabotage.  I swear it took me longer to read this thing than the rest of the issue combined.

I haven't mentioned these before, but Russell Cole (aka Alger) has a short and supposedly humorous detective strip in each issue.  I honestly can't figure out the point of this one at all, or even how the mystery is solved.  I feel that way about a lot of Alger's work, where I either don't get the joke or don't understand the ending.  Is it a lack of context due to the many decades since this was published, or a deficiency on the part of the creator (or possibly myself)?  Who knows.

'Spy' (by Siegel and Shuster): 'Spy' takes an interesting turn this month.  Bart Regan's fiancee Sally is still stalking him on his missions, trying to get him to confess that he still loves her.  At this point I want to advise Bart to get the hell out of there, because that is one seriously fixated woman.  By the end she's become a spy herself, so we're getting a format change, with two leads who are romantically involved in a sort of antagonistic fashion.  It could be good.

'Cosmo' (by Sven Elven): Cosmo disguises himself as a Portuguese sailor to foil dope smugglers as boringly as possible.

'Larry Steele' (by Will Ely): This is a new strip about a detective who is investigating missing celebrities.  It just sort of ends mid-stream with no real conclusion or cliffhanger, so I guess it continues next month.  But it's not as though the creator has provided me with a compelling urge to read it.

'Speed Saunders' (by Creig Flessel): After getting fired last issue, Speed Saunders now seems to be working as a private detective (although he still specialises in water-based crimes, just like Night-Boat).  This month he foils gold robbers who are hiding the gold inside dead fish.

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