Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 1939: Feature Comics #24

Cover by Ed Cronin

'Charlie Chan' (by Alfred Andriola): After the terrible first installment of this strip, 'Charlie Chan' redeems itself with a pretty decent story. Charlie is on a cruise ship trying to catch the infamous jewel thief Grissac, and there is no shortage of potential culprits. Normally I dislike it when a Golden Age comic introduces too many characters at once, but here I was able to follow things and keep track of everybody.  Perhaps I'm just happy because I picked out all the clues and pegged who Grissac was early on, but I quite enjoyed this.

'Rance Keane, the Knight of the West' (by Will Arthur): Rance Keane goes to see an old friend, who has returned from "The East" to run his father's ranch. But Rance figures out that it's an impostor, who has the real guy tied up in a shack. It's the standard "guy tries to steal other guy's ranch" routine, but it's well told, and the impostor angle isn't one that's been played much in the westerns so far.

'Jane Arden' (by Monte Barrett and Russell E. Ross): Crikey mick, everywhere I turn it's jewel thieves. Jane is hired to catch a jewel thief, and to do so she goes undercover as a crook to make contact with a notorious fence. This is a solid spy story.

'Big Top' (by Ed Wheelan): Hal wants to marry Myra, but the movie studio that he works for has a clause in his contract that he can't get married. The rest of the story is just them talking to the other circus folk about it, which isn't the most exciting thing in the world.

'The Clock Strikes' (by George E. Brenner): The Clock investigates a crook who has sold bad stocks, then murdered his customer after he complained to the police. This is one of those irritating stories where the good guy makes his plan and pulls it off with no difficulty whatsoever.  There's no dramatic tension at all.

'Gallant Knight' (by Vernon Henkel): Sir Neville's adventures take a fantastic turn, as he is kidnapped by a sexy witch in the forest and taken to toil in the mines of the Shadow World. By the end he has led a revolt and escaped. It could have been great, but it was lacking in that weird dream-like quality that the best Golden Age fantasy stuff has.  This is the last we see of 'Gallant Knight', so I assume he dies at some point during the Crusades.

'Slim and Tubby' (by John J. Welch): The ranch has boxing champ Davey Noyes as a guest, but after putting on a rowdy party he gets into a fight with local cowboy Benton. This is set-up for them to have a proper match in the next issue, but it didn't make me care who wins.

'Devil's Head' (by Robert M. Hyatt): In this prose story two brothers go sailing in a storm. Jed is burly and tough, while Derry is slighter and more sensitive. Jed is constantly at Derry for being a coward, but when their ship crashes Derry gives his life to save his brother and shows him what true courage is. This is actually really well done, and I did not see that end coming.

'Ned Brant' (by Bob Zuppke): Ned and his pals arrive at a gold mine, where his father and a couple of government agents meet them. It turns out that crooks are stealing gold from the mine, and Ned takes them down with his elite football skills. I'm developing an instant hatred for all of these sportsman adventurers.

'Reynolds of the Mounted' (by Art Pinajian): The criminal Jules Reynard escapes to wreak havoc, and Reynolds goes after him. The end is great, as Reynard fires his gun at Reynolds's plane, while Reynolds just flies the burning plane right into the guy. Hardcore.

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