Monday, February 28, 2011

March-April 1938: New Adventure Comics #25, Detective Comics #15, New Book of Comics #2

Cover by Creig Flessel
'Federal Men' (by Siegel and Shuster) features Junior Federal Men Club nonsense again this month, but with a twist: it's the JFMC of the year 3000!  This story is absurd.  A bunch of kids find a bound volume of Adventure Comics in the library (yes, in the year 3000), and upon reading it they decide to form their own JFMC club.  Coincidentally, the only criminal in the world just happens to be in the museum with them.  The end of the story is a bit of a let down, but the set-up was so ridiculous that I kind of had to love it.

(You know, these comics read as very alien to me, a mere 70 years in the future from when they were published.  I can only imagine what they would read like to the kids of the year 3000.)

It appears as though we've seen the end of 'Monastery of the Blue God' (by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson and Munson Paddock).  The heroes never did get around to finding those gems, or even the eponymous monastery itself.  I'm wondering if this is a side-effect of Wheeler-Nicholson leaving his editorial position, that he's also dropping the writing of all of his strips.  I hope not, because he's one of the best writers of this early period.

Oh no!  'Chikko Chakko' (by Ellis Edwards) is finished!  Where will I get my dose of mildly offensive Mexican humour now?  (To be honest, I actually did enjoy this strip a lot.  Which may make me a racist.)

'A Tale of Two Cities' (by Merna Gamble) ends.  One day I have to read the book, because this comic adaptation was boring as hell.  Some stories are tailor-made for visual adaptation, but this isn't one of them.

'Captain Quick' (by Sven Elven) has also bit the dust.  It was never great, but there was a period in the middle where he was raiding Spanish ships like a pirate that caught my interest.  The strip ends with him in America fighting against Injuns, and one can only presume that he is successful given his all-around invincibility in earlier installments.

Cover by Creig Flessel
'Speed Saunders' (by Gardner Fox and Creig Flessel): Speed, along with his companions Doris and Dick Dane, gets caught up in a jewel theft on a cruise liner.  This is the beginning of a continued storyline, which is a shame, because in the current format I much prefer the one-off stories.

'Oscar the Gumshoe' (by Bob Kane): This is a gag strip about an inept detective.  It's notable only for its creator, one Bob Kane.  Keep an eye on this guy, he's going to be significant in the future.

'Buck Marshall' (by Homer Fleming): Buck investigates a stagecoach robbery. He's able to work out by looking at footprints that the main suspect, an Injun, wasn't the culprit, because apparently all Injuns walk with their toes curled in.  I have no idea if this is true or not, but it's the sort of blanket racial stereotype you get in these comics a lot.

'Larry Steele' (by Will Ely): Larry is kidnapped by goons, who plan to burn him alive in a rug warehouse, and collect insurance for the fake rugs at the same time.  Despite the whole situation being neatly wrapped up by the end, this is to be continued.  I have no idea how (or why).

'Bruce Nelson in Too Many Crooks' (by Tom Hickey): This continues the latest Bruce Nelson yarn, with Bruce having just shot Parsons and claimed the diamond for himself.  Bruce's supposed criminal turn plays out for a while, with him framing some other crooks for the murder, and making a deal with another would-be thief to fence the diamond in New York.  Of course the other shoe drops by the end of the strip, with Bruce having set the whole thing up to catch the diamond smuggling ring. We'll see how that turns out next month.

'Lightning Strikes Twice' (by Gardner Fox): This prose story is about a man who is struck by lightning, and presumed dead.  He is inexplicably alive, despite the description of his body as charred and blackened, and goes on a crazy rampage.

'Spy' (by Siegel and Shuster): Bart and Sally take on Mr. Death, who has been killing diplomats for their role in starting wars.  Alas, he's not as awesome as his name makes him sound, although he does have the patented crazy-face that Shuster draws.  Shuster draws about four facial expressions, and I love all of them.

'Bring 'em In Brannigan' (by Russell Cole): Some bankers are bringing a whole lot of money to a hotel room to make a transaction, but they never show up.  It turns out that they were shown to the wrong room and kidnapped, in an elaborate scheme to steal the money.

'Cosmo' (by Sven Elven): Cosmo actually has a bit of excitement this issue.  He's involved in a plane crash that was orchestrated by a failed businessman who wanted to steal the gold consignment on board.  There's some shooting, a bit of fist-fighting, and a villain getting thrown over the side of a cliff.  It's a step up from Cosmo's usual nonsense.

'Slam Bradley' (by Siegel and Shuster): Slam and Shorty are framed for murder in this story, and spend most of it fleeing from the cops.  This one is a step back in the right direction, with an infusion of cross-dressing humour when Shorty poses as a wealthy heiress to draw out the real murderer.  But Slam is still a shadow of his former self, as he gets knocked out by a bottle-wielding thug.  He doesn't even punch anyone, which is a crime.

The last page of the issue is an advert for Action Comics #1, which is coming next month.

Cover by Many Creators
I don't have a scan of this book, but it seems to reprint elements from More Fun Comics #15 and 16, and New Comics #11.  And no, I'm definitely not re-reading them.

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