Sunday, February 13, 2011

January 1938: Detective Comics #12

Cover by Creig Flessel
'Speed Saunders' (by Creig Flessel): Speed is ambushed by Indians on his way through Mexico, and convinced to help them against crooks who are tapping their oil pipelines.  At this point it's getting pretty obvious that there's no unifying theme to Speed's adventures, because he couldn't get further away from his gig as a harbour policeman than the Mexico desert.  And for a guy who makes his living on the water, Speed makes a hell of a cowboy.

'Larry Steele' (by Will Ely): For some reason, we get a double dose of  Larry Steele this issue.  The first installment continues from last issue, in which Larry was captured by mobsters.  Of course he escapes, then guns down a whole room full of them (and let me tell you, nobody can wreck a room-full of villains like a Golden Age hero).  In the second story he's called in to investigate the strange behaviour of a wealthy man's daughter.  While trailing the men who are harassing her, his car gets riddled with bullets and he crashes into a tree.  And come to think of it, he got shot and put in hospital in the first story, so it's a bad time all around for Larry Steele.

'Bruce Nelson' (by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson and Tom Hickey): This strip has come up with the goods again, with another surprisingly involving instalment.  Nelson is called in to investigate a plane that has been blown up, only to discover that someone has been extorting millionaires and killing them if a large sum of money isn't paid.  Nelson suspects a man named Ward, but knows he's too smart to get in court.  Ward is the obvious suspect, but there's enough doubt thrown on the matter by the end that I don't know what's going to happen in the next issue.

'Counterfeit' (by Vin Sullivan): This prose story starts with an intriguing premise: counterfeiters have swiped the plates from the US mint and replaced them with fakes, meaning that while the crooks can print legit money, the US government can only print counterfeits.  Sullivan goes to the trouble of setting up the mystery of how they stole the plates, then never bothers to resolve it, or even give a good explanation for how the FBI tracks the crooks down.

'The Adams Case' (by Russell Cole): This is a mystery story featuring the usual nonsense about inheritances.  As usual, I find Cole's mysteries very hard to follow.  They do make sense when I take the time to go back over them carefully, but something about his work makes it hard for my brain to latch on to.

'Spy' (by Siegel and Shuster): Bart and Sally are still in Paris.  They are given a mission to eliminate an international assassin, but the weird thing is that they express discomfort at the idea of having to kill him.  They're spies aren't they?  Aren't they trained for that sort of thing?  It seems a weird bit of super-hero morality to apply to this genre.

'Cosmo' (by Sven Elven): Cosmo has to deal with some shenanigans involving a newspaper editor seizing on an argument between his publisher and a politician to put the paper out of business.  (Money from a rival publisher is involved.)  Boring as ever.

'Slam Bradley' (by Siegel and Shuster): Slam and Shorty go undercover as lumberjacks to investigate a suspicious drop in productivity.  Sure enough, the foreman is trying to drive the price down so a rival can buy the company cheaply.  It's another humourless and lacklustre episode, and it doesn't even open with Slam punching someone on the first page.

Hey, there's no 'Buck Marshall' this month!  Gods be praised!

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