Tuesday, August 30, 2011

October 1939: Smash Comics #5

Cover by Gill Fox

'Espionage starring Black Ace' (by Will Eisner): Eisner is delving back into his usual bag of tricks, opening with a montage of the war in Europe.  It's something he has done a lot, but it certainly is an effective way of laying out the stakes. The rest of the story sees the Black Ace going up against a foreign saboteur who is waging a campaign against the US armament program. It was going well until the end, where the USA becomes so well-armed and powerful that all the nations in Europe decide to make peace rather than risk war with America. It's exactly the sort of naive patriotic propaganda that I can't stand.

'Chic Carter, Ace Reporter' (by Vernon Henkel): Chic goes to war-torn country of Moravia and ends up helping rescue the Princess Maria from a kidnapping. There's a bit of sword-fighting, but the bulk of the action is glossed over in a single caption, and the rest is fairly dull.

'John Law, Scientective' (by Harry Francis Campbell): I've only just twigged to this, but there's an over-arching plot to this series. The villainous Avenger is seeking revenge against thirteen wealthy businessmen, and John Law must stop him. In this story the Avenger (who is never seen) tries to destroy a railway magnate by wrecking his trains with an anti-gravity device. The story is average, but at least I'm sort of intrigued to see what the Avenger is like when he finally appears.

'Wings Wendall of the Military Intelligence' (by Vernon Henkel): Wings must deal with a group of spies who try to photograph an experimental plane during combat maneuvers. It's fairly dull.

'Clip Chance at Cliffside' (by George Brenner): The crooks whose plot Clip foiled last issue are still hanging around. They kidnap him to try and fix another game, but he escapes and makes it to the game in time to score the winning touchdown. I swear that these football strips have exactly one plot. And it ain't a good one.

'Invisible Justice' (by Art Pinajian): Invisible Justice topples some racketeers who are being led by a respected doctor. The story isn't great, and I'm starting to think that the whole set-up here is flawed. An action story where the protagonist is always invisible isn't the easiest thing to pull off, and Pinajian isn't able to do it.

'Abdul the Arab' (by Vernon Henkel): Abdul's best friend is implicated in the murder of some tourists, and Abdul must find the real culprit. It's a decent premise with mediocre execution.

'The Cloudburst part II' (by A.L. Allen): G-Man Jim Mitchell last issue witnessed some horse smugglers being caught in a flash flood. In this story he rescues the leader and arrests him, and also saves him from a dog he beat in the last chapter. To be honest I was kind of zoned out here.

'Captain Cook of Scotland Yard' (by William A. Smith): Cook takes on a gang smuggling an explosive gas in powder form, hidden in a linen shipment. Like just about all the stories in this issue, this is another very boring one.

'Flash Fulton' (by Paul Gustavson): Flash Fulton exposes a mayor who wants to deliberately blow up his town's dam. I read the story twice, and I still can't figure out why the mayor wanted to do this.

'Hugh Hazzard and his Iron Man' (by Wayne Reid): A gang of foreign spies hatches a plan to destroy Hugh's robot with their death ray. It's more entertaining than most of the fare in this issue, but that's saying very little.

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