Thursday, April 7, 2011

December 1938: Adventure Comics #34

Cover by Fred Guardineer

'Barry O'Neill' (by Leo O'Mealia): Barry is still faffing about in the tunnels beneath Fang Gow's headquarters, while Fang Gow sells Jean Le Grand to an Arabian oil sheik in exchange for a drug that can enslave people.  Again, this is a cut above the usual fare.

'Tom Brent' (by Jim Chambers): Brent is made captain of a ship delivering gold ingots, but the first mate leads a mutiny and tries to sell the gold for himself. Brent deals with him eventually, but I'm not certain if this story is finished or not. It could be, but the end was so abrupt that I feel like there should be more to it.

'Federal Men' (by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster): Steve Carson still thinks he's a criminal due to the bump he got on the head a few issues ago. It seemed like he had come to his senses last issue when he stopped a fellow crook from killing a cop, but it turns out that he just didn't want the gang to be chased as cop-killers (although I suspect he's faking his criminality at this point). They flee the scene, and we get another cameo from Sandy and Larry of 'Radio Squad' fame; Siegel and Shuster are the only guys building cross-title continuity at this point in time. Then the crooks vote on Steve to be their new leader, except for one who wants to shoot him instead. To be continued!  Again, this one was entertaining.  It's good to see this once-great strip getting back to some good stories.

'Dale Daring' (by Will Ely): This strip makes use of the worst plot twist ever. When Dale and her boyfriend Don go looking in caves for pirate treasure, they fall into a pit. When they awaken they have an adventure with centuries-old pirates only to find... it was all a dream!  Terrible.

'Cal 'n' Alec' (by Stockton): Cal and Alec are still being forced to work by a bully with a gun, but when they beat him up he lets them go.  Only they're in the middle of a desert where they'll probably die.  It all sounds pretty grim when you lay it out like that, but it's actually a lot of slapstick and attempted humour.  Not that I found it particularly funny.

'Captain Desmo' (by Ed Winiarski): Desmo is still trying to solve a murder and stop some arms smugglers in India. After a vigorous brawl he captures a prime suspect, who leads him to the real culprit. Or something along those lines.  I was totally zoning out while reading this, which speaks volumes about its ability to hold my interest (or my reading comprehension, take your pick).

'Don Coyote' (by Stockton): Don is left for dead in the desert, captured by Arabs, buried up to his neck in sand, and about to be bitten by a cobra.  Even by his standards he's having a bad day.

'Mutiny!' (by Jack Anthony): This is a prose story about, you guessed it, a mutiny.  There's not much else to it, although it does take place off the coast of Australia. It might be the first time my country has been mentioned in a story.

'Tod Hunter, Jungle Master' (by Jim Chambers): Tod is captured by the scientist Bates, quickly escapes, and is then menaced by a giant gorilla. In the cliffhanger he's about to fight it with a knife, which promises great things for next month's installment.

'The Golden Dragon' (by Tom Hickey): The bad guys try to feed Doris to their pet dragon.  The strip is something of a bloodbath as one of our heroes (Reilly) sword-fights his way through a whole load of goons, but I'm really just waiting for that dragon to do something.

'Rusty and his Pals' (by Bob Kane): This starts pretty grimly, as ridiculous Asian stereotype Long Sin, having bailed out in a longboat from his sinking ship, has his wounded crewmen thrown overboard to lighten the load. The rest of the story is about Rusty and his friends escaping from the counterfeiter Ichabod Slade on the island, but it's pretty lacklustre after such a  brutal opening.

'Anchors Aweigh' (by Fred Guardineer): Don and Marshall spend the majority of the story fleeing from natives in a sequence that has nothing to do with the main plot at all. El Diablo is barely mentioned here, and he certainly doesn't appear (unless he's Marshall, which he totally is!!!).  This strip needs to get back to its focus pretty quickly.

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