Sunday, September 18, 2011

November 1939: Marvel Mystery Comics #3

'The Human Torch' (by Carl Burgos): The Torch has to stop agents from Mars from stealing the formula for a new type of TNT. But when he discovers that the Martians need the explosive to save their planet, he lets them take it. Like most Marvel stories this is dynamic and action-packed, and it also has a very lengthy chase sequence in the middle. But the Torch has become a fairly bland character. He was much more interesting as a hunted outcast than a respected hero.

'The Angel' (by Paul Gustavson): The Angel must rescue a girl from a voodoo cult. The Angel is also a pretty bland character, but he has the advantage of being a pure human wrecking machine. Sometimes in my comics I just want to see a guy punch some people who deserve it, and the Angel does a lot of that here. He also has a pretty good costume by the standards of the time.

'Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner' (by Bill Everett): With Namor still lurking in the New York harbour, the police decide to lure him into a trap with a pretty girl. Enter lady cop Betty Dean, who actually succeeds in getting Namor's attention. But while he is dragging her out to sea, he stumbles across a naval battle between the US and Germany, and just starts wrecking the German fleet. Betty tries to convince Namor to help the Allies on a more permanent basis, and we'll see his answer next issue.

Namor is still an interesting guy, and his motivations haven't changed much in the last 70 years; he's still a sucker for a pretty girl. Even so, I hope this isn't the last we've seen of him as a villain, because I was hoping for a lot more stories of Namor vs. humanity.

'The Masked Raider' (by Al Anders): A gang of crooks tries to scare off some ranchers whose land has valuable gold and oil deposits. The Masked Raider stops them in exactly the sort of story I was sick of back in December, when I started this project.

'American Ace' (by Paul J. Lauretta): Perry Wade rescues a woman during a bombing raid, then flies her to her sister and grandfather's farm. When he tries to leave himself, he is shot down and badly hurt, and must be nursed back to health.  At times this feels like it wants to be a serious war comic, but it's full of fake countries and situations that undercut the tone.  This is the last American Ace story, and I'm going to imagine him a happy ending where he marries the woman he rescued and has a peaceful life on the farm.  You know, once the whole World War 2 thing blows over.

'Siegfried Suicide' (by David C. Cooke): The only American soldier in a company single-handedly takes out a bunker, allowing his allies to win an important ally. The end quite sickeningly states that he's better than all of the others, because he's American. Dreadful.

'Adventures of Ka-Zar the Great' (by Ben Thompson): Ka-Zar stops a white hunter from capturing animals, and fights off a vengeful leopard. It's not particularly interesting.  There's some foreshadowing for the return of the guy who killed Ka-Zar's parents, but he's another generic white hunter type, so it's not like the story will be significantly different.

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