Thursday, April 14, 2011

January 1939: Adventure Comics #35

'Barry O'Neill' (by Leo O'Mealia) is trying to rescue his friend Inspector Legrand, who has been made into Fang Gow's servant by mind-control drugs. I'm impressed by this serial's willingness to make Fang Gow into a serious threat; yes, he's an egregious stereotype and a Fu Manchu knock-off, but the guy gets shit done, which is more than most of these golden age villains can say. The cliffhanger sees a sword-wielding Legrand menacing Barry, who is armed only with a hypodermic needle, and it's very well done.

'Cotton Carver' (by Geoff Newman) is a new series about an explorer.  Nothing new there.  In this adventure, Carver crashes his plane in Antarctica and discovers an underground valley in which live the remnants of the ancient Mayan empire.  The guy has been there for five minutes and he's leading a revolt against a despotic king, mowing down soldiers with his six-shooters.  This strip's a little more imaginative than the usual fare, and I'm hoping it continues that way.  Carver also mentions a "Doc Jones" who he knows from university, and I am more than willing to declare that this is Indiana Jones. It fits too well, despite being five decades before that character was created.

In 'Federal Men' (by Siegel and Shuster) Steve Carson is still an amnesiac criminal, and has been made the head of a gang of crooks. His first act is to confiscate their guns, and he turns them into "gentleman crooks", leading them in a series of bank robberies. It's to be continued next month, and I'm really looking forward to it.  This story has been a welcome change of pace.

It's probably coincidence, but 'Junior Federal Men Club', a series of articles supposedly written by Steve Carson himself, is running a reprint of an old column this month. Because, of course, Steve is now a crook, and isn't available to write a new one.  Well played.

'Dale Daring' (by Will Ely) and her boyfriend Don are trapped on an island with ivory smugglers. This story continues next month, but I can't say that it has much promise.

'Don Coyote' (by Stockton) was left buried up to his neck last issue, and about to be bitten by a cobra. He's rescued by a knight named Sir Goof, and the two are pursued by Arabs. I'm afraid that all of the jokes fall flat here; Stockton and I do not share a similar sense of humour.

'Tom Brent' (by Jim Chambers) and his girlfriend are out boating when they're picked up by a slave ship. Which Brent promptly takes apart in the space of about five pages. There's very little of interest in this one.

'Captain Desmo' (by Ed Winiarski) captures the bandit leader he's been chasing and clears the name of his friend, Colonel McAllister. It's as straightforward a conclusion as you can get, and pretty boring as a result.

'Cal 'n' Alec' (by Stockton) have escaped from their captor into the desert, where they find a ghost town and get themselves locked into a jail cell.  It really does feel as though Stockton is writing this as a straight adventure serial, but the art makes it hard to approach it that way.

'Alpine Adventure' (by Terry Keane) is a prose story in which a mountain climber is almost killed in a fall, but is saved when his rope miraculously snakes around a ledge. Whatever.

'Tod Hunter, Jungle Master' (by Jim Chambers) is fighting a gorilla for reasons I can't remember, and he gets dumped on his head and gets amnesia. Then he wanders around for the rest of the story doing not much of anything, and gets captured by some natives. I'm usually a sucker for a good amnesia story, but this is exactly how not to do it.

In 'The Golden Dragon', Ian and his friends infiltrate the temple and rescue Doris from being fed to a dragon. Much to my surprise, the villain Torgadoff is done away with, as Ian kicks him over a railing and into the dragon's maw. The story continues next month, as I guess they have to escape the rest of the bad guys present, but i wonder just what's left to do at this point.

'Rusty and His Pals' (by Bob Kane) are relentlessly pursued by counterfeiter Ichabod Slade. They run into a cave and hit a dead end, but an old man pops out of a secret door to save them. Cliched? Yes, but I want to know who this dude is, so I guess the story's done its job.

In 'Anchors Aweigh' Red and Don are captured by El Diablo and sentenced to be shot by firing squad. That's about it. At least El Diablo showed up this time, in all of his bag-headed glory.


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