Monday, October 3, 2011

December 1939: Detective Comics #35

Cover by Bob Kane

'The Batman' (by Bill Finger and Bob Kane): Batman gets caught up in machinations involving a sacred ruby idol of the Hindu god "Kila" (I assume this is supposed to be Kali). The idol is seemingly wanted by Hindu priests, crooked gangsters, and a Chinese crime lord named Sin Fang. Batman's raid on Sin Fang's hideout is quite amusing, as they very politely play cat and mouse games with each other, Sin Fang pretending that every deathtrap is an accident, and Batman going along with each ruse. As usual there are some unpleasant undertones when non-Caucasian villains are used, but this was quite fast-paced and enjoyable.

Gun Watch: Batman is holding a smoking gun on the title page, but never uses one during the story.

'Spy' (by Jerry Siegel and Maurice Kashuba): Bart infiltrates a submarine from the fake country of Luxor, which is blowing up cruise ships from the equally fake Boralia. The story ends in unsatisfying fashion when Bart is saved by a Boralian spy who comes into the story with no prior warning. The most notable thing here is that the strip has a new artist, Maurice Kashuba. His work has a similar tone to that of the previous artist, Mart Bailey, but his use of shadows gives it a more foreboding atmosphere.

'Buck Marshall, Range Detective' (by Homer Fleming): Buck stages a fake robbery on a stage coach before the "hooded gang" can get there, then spends the rest of the strip exposing their identities as respectable men of the community. This is quite good for a Golden Age western.

'Steve Malone, District Attorney in The Kidnapping Racket' (by Gardner Fox and Don Lynch): Steve investigates a gang that is involved in kidnapping, as well as a retailing protection racket. He hires private detectives to start up their own racket and infiltrate the crooks, and his plan goes off without a hitch. It's a solid "I love it when a plan comes together" type story, so long as you can stomach the good guys winning with no trouble at all.

'Mystery With Music' (by Richard Lawlor): In this prose story, a thief turns out the lights in a cabaret nightclub, steals a necklace, and tries to hide it in a musician's trombone case. It's pretty lifeless.

'Speed Saunders Ace Investigator and the Voodoo Vengeance' (by Fred Guardineer): Speed Saunders goes after the Snake Master, chief of a Cuban voodoo tribe, and killer of the dancer Rhumba Rita. There's not much of interest in this story, besides a hilarious panel of Speed Saunders shooting a snake's head off.

'Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise' (by Sven Elven): Cosmo's old enemy Gaston Dupre fakes his death to escape from prison and Cosmo tracks him down. I quite liked this one, it had a nice sense of tension during the series of deathtraps that Cosmo must navigate.

'Bruce Nelson' (by Tom Hickey): Continuing from last issue, Bruce has escaped with the White Goddess, and her native captors are in hot pursuit. Most of the strip is a chase through the jungle, followed by a dose of exposition as the White Goddess explains her story. It's livened up by some very good art, and a couple of large action shots that are quite impressive.

'Slam Bradley' (by Jerry Siegel and Mart Bailey): Slam and Shorty enlist in the French Foreign Legion to track down two murderers. This is another in a long line of cracking, humorous adventure stories. It's almost brought low at the end, when Slam is saved by a commander who just happens to be his biggest fan. But it works because it's played for laughs, and the rest of the strip is enough fun that it doesn't matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment