Monday, September 5, 2011

November 1939: Blue Ribbon Comics #3

Cover by Charles Biro

'Rang a Tang the Wonder Dog' (by Will Harr and Jack Binder): With this story the creators have figured out how to make a wonder dog work in comics. Rang-a-Tang and Hy Speed go up against some bank robbers who have kidnapped Hy's girlfriend. The plot is inconsequential to the main attraction, which is the absurd competence of Rang-a-Tang. Not only does he grab some dynamite and throw it in the robbers' boat, not only does he parachute out of a plane, he also leaps up from the ground through a second storey window. More ridiculous dog antics like this, please.

'Mystery Thriller of the Month featuring Stuart Logan' (by Creators Unknown): Stuart Logan is a society detective, which basically means he wears a top hat instead of a fedora. This murder mystery gleefully provides a butler, a jealous lover and someone just written into the victim's will as the prime suspects. It's not that great otherwise, but using the three greatest cliches of golden age detective stories is a good move.  It's the only appearance of Stuart Logan.

'The Silver Fox' (by Maurice Gutwirth): The Silver Fox investigates a murder that was committed by the victim's business partner. It's average, but at least it plays fair.  This is the final Silver Fox story.

'Scoop Cody, Ace Reporter'(by Creators Unknown): Scoop takes on a jewel thief with a penchant for chewing gum. 'The Marvel' shows up as well, completely out of nowhere and in a way that expects the reader knows exactly who he is. Amateur stuff, but I had to laugh at this line from Cody: "I 'm suspicious of Counts."  As is becoming a theme for this issue, this is the last Scoop Cody story.  Now I'll never know who the Marvel was!

'Corporal Collins, Infantryman' (possibly by Abner Sundell and Charles Biro): Collins steals an enemy plane and flies behind enemy lines, in what is basically an excuse for him to kill Nazis for a few pages.  It's terrible as a story, but sometimes you just want to see a lot of Nazis get killed, you know?

Collins' gimmick is that he carries a curved piece of metal, with which he can catch bullets and redirect them back at the one who fired them.  It's utterly implausible in a way that I enjoy.

'Frame-Up' (by Phil Sturm): An FBI agent is kidnapped by crooks, who frame him as a drunk, but he tracks them down and kills them all. It's much duller than it sounds.

'Devils of the Deep' (by George Nagle and Edd Ashe): When the pirate gang leader Red Dugan must take vengeance on a rival, he gets a doctor to create for him a hideous monster with crab claws. With the monster under his command he orders it to kill his enemies, which it does by fighting through a giant octopus and dynamiting their ships. This is pretty crazy stuff, and while I wouldn't exactly call it good it is fun to read.  I'm kind of bummed that this is the last appearance of the strip, because I want to see what else Red does with his crazy monster.

'Secret Assignments: The Lost Ship' (by Maurice Gutwirth): Jack Strong puts a stop to some crooks who are destroying his uncle's ships. Also, he fights a shark. Despite the shark, this is not good.  It's also (surprise!) the final installment.

'Bob Phantom, the Scourge of the Underworld' (by Irving Novick): Bob Phantom systematically picks off a gang of crooks. I think he's supposed to be mysterious, and to strike fear into the hearts of men, but seriously.  His super-hero name is Bob.  Bob's next appearance is in Top-Notch Comics.

'Crime on the Run' (by Jack Cole): Some bank robbers get involved in a few shootouts and are eventually caught. This has one of the few instances so far of some black men who are drawn like genuine human beings. It's too bad one of them is a murderous criminal, but it's hard to fault it when it's based on a true story.  This series is finished with this chapter.

Looking back over this comic and the many cancelled strips, it seems we are left with only Rang-a-Tang and Corporal Collins as our regular features.  It's certainly a different set-up than anything else I'm reading.  All in all I think I prefer following the strips that run a decent length of time.

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