Thursday, November 17, 2011

February 1940: Daring Mystery Comics #3

Cover by Alex Schomburg

'Dale of the F.B.I.' (by Phil Sturm): Dale, as you may have guessed, is an ace FBI investigator. He's only ever called Dale, so who knows if it's his first or last name; he's just Dale. In this story he takes on a gang of crooks whose leader has just escaped from jail. It's pretty tedious stuff, except for one bit where Dale snatches a girl hostage away from them while surfing on the wing of a plane, then shoots the gang's leader through the heart. It's a rad maneuver in an otherwise terrible story.  It's also probably the absolute zenith of Dale's career, as we never see him again.  I picture him sitting in the FBI office, constantly reminding his colleagues about it.  "Hey, remember that time I rode the plane wing!  Wasn't that super?  Hey, who wants a coffee?"

'Breeze Barton in the Miracle City' (by Jack Binder): In the far-flung future of 1945! World War 2 is still raging, and Breeze Barton is an American pilot. He is shot down in the desert, and stumbles through "The Spot", a portal to another dimension where time has no meaning. There's a city there full of creatures from all through time, as nothing ages there. There are also the Demon People, who want to destroy Earth for no readily apparent reason, and Breeze gets caught up in a war between the Miracle City and the Demon People. There are some fun concepts here to go along with a pacy adventure story. It still don't know why they bothered to set it in 1945, though.

'The Purple Mask' (by Will Harr and Maurice Gutwirth): In the last issue, Dennis Burton appeared as the slightly creepy Laughing Mask.  In this issue, he has changed his identity to the ultra-generic Purple Mask.  The Purple Mask takes on a gang of crooks who are searching for a wealthy man's treasure that is hidden in an underground vault. I'm a sucker for underground vaults filled with traps and treasure, but beyond that there's very little to recommend in this story. The Purple Mask has zero personality, and the villains are no better.

'The Phantom Reporter' (by Robert O. Erisman and Sam Cooper): I cannot keep track of these early Marvel heroes.  I was sure the Phantom Reporter had appeared already, but this is actually his first appearance.  There's a rash of murders on the East Side, and the Phantom Reporter sets about putting a stop to them. Pretty much everybody is in on this murder plot: two newspaper publishers, the chief of police, and even the commissioner of parks. The Phantom Reporter has got to be pissed about it, because he punches one of the murderers so hard that he dies. Otherwise this is an average story. I do like that the Phantom Reporter maintains identities as both a cub reporter and a playboy; it's like he's got both of the most cliched super hero professions covered.

'Powdersmoke Showdown' (by James P. Olsen): Yes, Jimmy Olsen wrote this prose story. It's about two former partners who have a shoot-out over a widow woman. Only the guy who wins isn't interested in the woman; he only wants to get his socks back from the man he shot. It's a bizarre tone shift.

'Trojak the Tiger Man' (by Joe Simon): Trojak battles a gigantic prehistoric monster, and rescues a girl from a Nazi encampment. Both stories are solid, though there is little to connect them.

'Marvex - the Super-Robot' (by Creators Unknown): Marvex is a robot created in the Fifth Dimension, but he refuses to be a slave and so he escapes to Earth. On Earth he meets a girl named Clara, gets caught up in the theft of some important plans, and puts a stop to the crooks by completely wrecking them. And then we see the weirdest exchange of the whole story. After Marvex returns the plans to a grateful Clara, he tells her that they can never be more than friends, because he is Marvel the Super-Robot. The last line of the strip reads "The Super-Robot quickly disrobes, showing his metal body." I was all set to dismiss this as a story of no particular interest, but those last couple of panels are brilliant.

'Captain Strong of the Foreign Legion' (possibly by Jack Alderman): An Arab tribe is plundering caravans, and the Foreign Legion must stop them. This is a good eight pages of Arabs and Legionaries straight-up killing each other, which is great if that's what you're into. The action scenes are quite well done, which is a good thing when your whole story is an action sequence. Still, there's no story to speak of, and Captain Strong never appears again.

1 comment:

  1. "Oh, Marvex - is that your hard drive or are you glad to see me?"