Tuesday, June 7, 2011

May 1939: More Fun Comics #44

Cover by Creig Flessel

'Wing Brady' (by Tom Hickey): Wing starts a new story this month. When an important marshall visits the camp of the French Foreign Legion, Wing is tasked with showing his daughter around town. Some Arabs kidnap her to hold her for ransom, and Wing is taken as well and thrown in a cell. This is lighter on action than usual, with much of the strip taken up by Wing wining and dining the girl. Against my better judgement I rather liked it, as the dialogue is quite engaging, and it's a nice departure from the formula.
'Detective Sergeant Carey and the Clue of the Lipstick' (by Joe Denohee): When the DA's daughter is kidnapped by crooks who want her to convince her father to drop a case against a big crime lord, Sergeant Carey must beat them all up to save her. The story's blandness is not helped by the use of my favourite old trope - the hero is saved by calling for back-up!  One of these days a detective is going to resolve a situation all on his lonesome, and I'll be stunned when it happens.

'Biff Bronson' (by Joseph Sulman): Biff and Dan stumble across some crooks hiding out. Biff is one hardcore dude, as he picks them off one by one, strangling them from behind. It turns out that the crooks have a stolen treasure map, and when Biff returns it to its rightful owner he is invited on the expedition to dig up the treasure. It's a generic set-up with bland characters, but if Biff keeps up the stone cold ninja commando dispatching of bad guys I might enjoy it.

'Cave-In' (by Terry Keane): Some miners are trapped in a cave-in. The miners are rescued. Move along, there's nothing to see here.

'Gary Hawkes' (by Rob Jenney): Gary was shot down in the enemy nation of Vulcania last issue, and now he and his pal have to make their way to the border as they are chased by soldiers and the like. It's a bit more exciting than the usual Gary Hawkes strip, but it glosses over too much of the action without ever building any tension. The situation should feel desperate, but it never sells the idea that Gary is in danger.

'The Magic Crystal of History' (by Homer Fleming): This month, the crystal shows Bobby and Binks the story of Cardinal Richelieu and his rise to power in France. As usual it's all very bland and textbook, as Fleming is incapable of finding an angle to make the story engaging.  If your comic book story is told mostly n captions, then it's probably not best served being a comic.

'Johnnie Law' (by Will Ely): This one starts off intriguingly, as a mad scientists is drugging people and sending them out to commit crimes. He sends out a suicide bomber to get revenge on Johnnie Law, and the last panel seems to show him blowing up. I love me a good cliffhanger, so this is well in excess of the average quality of a Johnnie Law story.

And now it gets even better, because I just found out that this is the final appearance of this strip.  Alas poor Johnnie Law, blown up by a brainwashed suicide bomber.  We hardly knew ye, and wish we never had.

'Cal 'n' Alec' (by Fred Schwab): Cal 'n' Alec are still in the ghost town, where they try to cook a rabbit and fix up an old car. This is going utterly nowhere.

'The Flying Fox' (by Terry Gilkison): On an island off Central America, some crooks masquerade as Rex Darrell while killing natives to get their treasure. The real Darrell stops them in yet another very boring adventure.

'Marg'ry Daw' (by Creators Unknown): I'm not quite sure what's going on here. Marg'ry and her dad are talking to a man who is about to tell them about a talking frog before he is shot dead. They are then taken in by a rich guy, who possesses said talking frog in his treasure vault. It gives out some cryptic clues, one of which seems to indicate that Marg'ry's father is marked for death. None of this really follows logically, but it is intriguingly weird.

'Lieut Bob Neale of Sub 662' (by B. Hirsch and Russ Lehmann): When a ship crashes into a plane, Bob goes underwater to rescue the crew. It's pretty straightforward stuff.

'Radio Squad' (by Siegel and Shuster): Sandy and Larry get mixed up with an invisible crook who is stealing jewels. I was waiting for a twist here, but it never comes; the culprit really is a crook who can turn himself invisible.  But the set-up is well-executed, and I can hardly complain about the story making too much sense.  He's beaten by dousing him in paint, in what is probably the best strip in this issue (which is admittedly saying very little).

'The Buccaneer' (by Bernard Baily): Captain Dennis and his crew are still the guests of Dr.Killmen, in Castle Terror (honestly, they must be idiots). They find that Killmen is keeping a prince captive there, but they're all captured and left behind as the castle is set to explode. I don't know about you, but if I owned a place called Castle Terror I'd never blow it up. This is made enjoyable by the sheer unashamed villainy of Dr. Killmen.

Looking back at that review, I can see that it's pretty negative.  That's because More Fun Comics is probably the worst of the title being put out by National at this time.  It really only has Wing Brady from the ever-reliable Tom Hickey, and Radio Squad, which is my least favourite of Siegel and Shuster's strips.  Everything else is mediocre to terrible, and a chore to get through.

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