Tuesday, July 26, 2011

August 1939: Movie Comics #6

'The Real Glory' (by Jo Swerling and probably Jack Adler): This movie adaptation is about a fort in the Philippines that is under attack by a local warlord. It's probably better written than most of the comics of the time, but (as I have said over and over when reviewing this series) it's hobbled by its format. Every bit of energy or excitement is leeched out of it by stiff, stilted art.

'Rescue on a Bicycle' (by John Wentworth): This prose story is about a child movie star who gets kidnapped by a gang of crooks and taken to a theatre, where he's rescued by an usher. This is okay I suppose, but I'm struck by the implausibility of a three-year-old kid keeping quiet while being snuck out behind some crooks. I have a three-year-old of my own, and it's not happening.

'In Old Monterey' (by Gerald Geraghty and probably Jack Adler): This movie adaptation is about Sgt Gene Autry, who is sent to find out why a bunch of ranchers are refusing to sell their land to the US army to use as testing grounds. (Ranchers! My favourite!) It turns out that a crooked mining company is stirring up unrest against the military so that it won't lose its mines. This is hyper-compressed. I don't think a single bit of the story is told with sequential art. It's a terrible comic.

There is an interesting idea in here, as the usual "oppressed ranchers being forced off their land" idea is flipped around on its head.  Perhaps the movie follows through on it better.

'Movietown' (by Harry Lampert): Horace Hope is finally exposed as a fake, and not really the great Hungarian director Vom Hunger. But his film about Christopher Columbus (with added hot dogs) is about to debut, and cannot be stopped now. What will happen?!? I'll never know, because this is the final issue of Movie Comics. I did want to know where this was all leading, because it had an appealing absurdity to it all, but if that's the price I have to pay for Movie Comics to be cancelled, I'll take it.

'The Phantom Creeps' (by George Plympton and probably Jack Adler): This has got to be a weird movie. It tells the story of Professor Zorka, who has invented A) a huge mechanical man; B) an invisibility belt; and C) a ray that can paralyse an army. A bunch of foreign government want these secrets, but Zorka (like any respectable scientist) decides to take over the world. Shenanigans ensue, until eventually some "hero" blows up the professor's castle and laboratory. I did enjoy this, but only because it's crazy, not because it's good. There are about five movies crammed into the space of one here.  (Which makes sense to me now, because this is actually a twelve part serial condensed into eight pages of comic.)

'The Underpup' (by Grover Jones and probably Jack Adler): I really should hate this. It's a movie adaptation in which a poor girl wins a competition to go to summer camp with a bunch of rich girls. Lots of shenanigans ensue, with the usual rich vs. poor snobbery, a kid with parents about to divorce, and various other cliches. But I found it kind of charming, and now I must hate myself instead for my lack of good taste.

'Sun and Sand' (by Ed Wheelan): While Gerald has joined the French Foreign Legion, his fiancee Jeanne has come to Algiers and caught the eye of a ruthless Arab chieftain. This strip started well, but it's quickly lapsed into mediocrity. It's another story that will never see a conclusion.  Assumption time!  Jeanne is kidnapped by the Arab chieftain and sold into slavery, while Gerald dies in action never knowing the fate of his fiancee.  I can't help but imagine bad ends for all of these golden age characters.

'The Oregon Trail' (by George Plympton and probably Jack Adler): In the final part of this serial, Jeff Scott finally deals with Morgan, who has been destroying wagon trains to keep settlers off the land he wants. It's all crammed in very tightly at the end, with no sense of pay-off. (And a random appearance by Custer.)

'Mutiny on the Black Hawk' (by Michael Simmons and probably Jack Adler): This adaptation starts out as a story of a man trying to free some islanders taken as slaves and get them back to their home, but it ends up with him defending a US fort against a Mexican army. This story has no idea what it wants to be.

'A Chump at Oxford' (by Charley Rogers and probably Jack Adler): This is an adaptation of Laurel and Hardy movie. Those guys are funny, but this is pretty good evidence that performance can make or break a gag, because I didn't find this comic remotely funny at all. But I'd bet good money that the movie is really amusing.

And that's the end of Movie Comics. The first DC comic to ever be cancelled, and deservedly so, it was a terrible idea with terrible execution.

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