Sunday, October 30, 2011

January 1940: Marvel Mystery Comics #5, Smash Comics #8

Cover by Alex Schomburg

'The Human Torch' (by Carl Burgos): The Torch goes to the rescue of a town caught in a blizzard, but the medical supplies he is carrying are stolen by two recently escaped crooks. This isn't particularly exciting, and about halfway through the criminals just have a plane out of nowhere. The Torch was much more fun to read as a menace than a hero.

'The Angel' (by Paul Gustavson): The Angel tackles a gang of bank robbers. I was amused by his initial plan, which involved overturning all the cars in the street while the gang was in the bank so that they would have no getaway vehicle, but otherwise it's a simple and uninteresting beat-em-up.

'Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner' (by Bill Everett): Namor returns to New York, where he's pursued by the authorities until a doctor jumps him with some chloroform. Thus subdued, he is held captive until his policewoman friend Betty Dean lets him go, and he tackles a gang of bank robbers who are tunneling underground. I really enjoyed the first half, with Namor fighting police and firemen, but the second half wasn't nearly as interesting. I definitely prefer Namor as an anti-hero.  His motivations change from issue to issue, so it's possible that he will return to villainy soon enough.

'The Masked Raider' (by Al Anders): The Masked Raider goes up against a guy who is murdering people with poisoned arrows and blaming it on the local Injun. I think he's trying to make the sheriff look bad so that he can become the next sheriff. To be honest the finer details escaped my concentration, but what i did catch was terribly boring.

'It's in the Cards' (by Ray Gill): In this prose story a drunken circus knife-thrower kills his assistant, then tries to convince the only witness to tell everyone that it was an accident. Dull.

'Electro, the Marvel of the Age' (by Steve Dahlman): The fake country of Molivia is attacked by the fake country of Torpis, and Electro goes to help. Besides the usual scenes of Electro smashing tanks and killing troops, there are some startling depictions of dead women and children. And the scene where the dictator of Torpis shoots himself rather than be captured has eerie similarities to the end of World War 2. But the crude art, which often has no connection to what's happening in the narrative captions, lets the whole thing down.

'Ferret, Mystery Detective' (by Stockbridge Winslow and Irwin Hasen): The Ferret solves a murder mystery involving counterfeiters. I don't know if this was the case last issue, but now he has an actual pet ferret that helps him fight crime. Other than that, this is totally uninteresting.

'Adventures of Ka-Zar' (by Ben Thompson): In the last issue, a whole mess of potential double-crosses and intrigues was set up, but in this issue it mostly comes down to a fight between Ka-Zar and DeKraft, the man who murdered his father. That confrontation is done well enough, but I thought a lot of the potential set up last time was squandered.

Cover possibly by Gill Fox

'Espionage starring the Black X' (by Will Eisner): Again with the war montage! Yes Will, you're brilliant at it, I know, but please get a new trick. In this story the Black X must infiltrate Germany and escape with an American reporter. It's a well told action story, with some humour thrown in when the reporter decides she really would like to carry on pretending to be the Black X's wife.  Madame Doom also returns, although she doesn't make much of an impression.

'Clip Chance at Cliffside' (by George Brenner): Two crooks kidnap one of Clip's ice hockey teammates, so that one of them can impersonate him and purposely lose the game. Clip figures out that it's an impostor and they win the game without him. It's the same old sports comic routine.

'Abdul the Arab' (by Vernon Henkel): Abdul tackles some oil thieves in a story that can best be categorised as existing. Yep, it's definitely there all right.

'Captain Cook of Scotland Yard' (by Stan Aschmeier): Cook investigates the destruction of a castle and the theft of some gold bullion. There's some solid detective work going on here, but in the end Cook only wins because he happens to stop at a certain farmhouse to seek shelter. I never like these kinds of circumstances in a mystery story.

'Hugh Hazzard and His Iron Man' (by George Brenner): Hugh and Bozo put a stop to "Batzi" spies who are trying to draw America into the war in Europe. Nice to see Hugh heroically fighting to stop America from helping the Allies!

'Chic Carter, Ace Reporter' (by Vernon Henkel): It's the old 'cursed jewel' routine, with a wealthy man being threatened to return the Star of Egypt before he is murdered. Chic investigates, and the culprit ends up being the very first person that is suspicious. This is as straightforward and boring as this type of story gets.

'Invisible Justice' (by Art Pinajian): The Invisible Hood goes up against a guy who is using his voodoo powers to hypnotise factory workers and make them cause fatal accidents. I think this is the first time we see a mastermind who makes his thugs dress in some kind of bizarre themed uniform. In this case it's medieval armour, as the crooks are all hiding out in an old castle. This is probably the best installment of this strip so far, as the Invisible Hood is actually captured and must work for his victory. It's still crippled by having an invisible protagonist, though.

'Flash Fulton' (by Paul Gustavson): Flash goes to the Amazon Jungle to rescue a white man from the natives. This one never gets past the usual cliches.

'The Winged Emeralds' (by Robert M. Hyatt): Some treasure hunters go to South America, where they use balloons to steal some sacred emeralds from a mine. I've reread this thing, and I still can't figure out how they did it.

'John Law, Scientective' (by Harry Francis Campbell): In this story, John Law finally works out the identity of the Avenger who has been targeting wealthy businessmen. Despite his one leap of logic (his belief that the Avenger is actually one of the people on the Avenger's hit list), his plan is bloody ingenious. He calls each of the thirteen businessmen and tells them he has a new phone number. Each number he gives out is unique. He then has a phony newspaper printed in which he taunts the Avenger, and when the Avenger calls him on one of the phone numbers he knows exactly who it is. John Law, truly you are the greatest scientective of them all!

'Wings Wendall of the Military Intelligence' (by Vernon Henkel): Wings Wendall goes up against a dirigible that is bombing strategic American sites. He shoots it down with incendiary bullets, in a story that defines the word mediocre.

No comments:

Post a Comment