Wednesday, December 7, 2011

March 1940: Adventure Comics #49

Cover by Sheldon Moldoff

'Tick-Tock Tyler the Hour-Man' (by Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily): At first glance this is a reasonably solid story of Hour-Man rescuing a kidnapped scientist, but closer scrutiny reveals that is has all sorts of holes. The most egregious is that the Hour-Man knows the kidnappers are in the hills, without anything alerting him to that fact. There's also a scene where he finds some cold pills, supposedly a clue dropped by the scientist, but that never ties back into anything. The crooks want the scientist to create a "formula", but we never learn what it's supposed to do. Luckily there's a scene where Hour-Man throws a bear off a cliff to distract me from the poor story-telling.

'Barry O'Neill' (by Ed Winiarski): This one starts promisingly, as Barry hatches a plan to entice Fang Gow to work for France as a means to have him killed. That plan really amounts to nothing, and the story becomes about Fang Gow's attempt to kill Barry with a bomb, and Barry tracking Fang Gow to his lair. It's a shame that an interesting idea was thrown away at the start of such a mediocre story.

'Federal Men' (by Jerry Siegel and Chad Grothkopf): A wealthy businessman is being investigated for tax evasion, and a "criminologist" offers to help him out by murdering the former employee who has all of the info on his shady dealings. I was intrigued by this criminologist, and his claims to have studied crime so much that he knew how to outsmart the FBI. This being a Jerry Siegel story, the FBI can't be outsmarted, and track him down with little trouble. It's not like he was even particularly clever in his plan. They guy didn't even stop to check that his murder victim was dead!

'The Sandman' (by Gardner Fox and Chad Grothkopf): The Sandman must rescue a doctor who has been kidnapped for his cure for the common cold. This story is decent enough, but I can't help feeling that the premise is small potatoes. Sure, such a cure really would be worth a ton of money, but it's hardly the remedy for cancer, is it?

'Socko Strong' (by Albert Sulman and Joseph Sulman): Socko helps track down a financier who is wanted for embezzlement. The financier disguises himself by shaving off his beard, and the whole story reads like an excuse to build up to the "close shave" pun in the final panel.

'A Sleepy Capture' (by Frank Thomas): In this prose story, a lion escapes from the circus, and a man saves the local orphanage by knocking it out with chloroform. The sheer dramatic absurdity of a lion loose in an orphanage amuses me, so I rather liked this one.

'Steve Conrad, Adventurer' (by Jack Lehti): In India, Steve Conrad protects some plantation owners from a native tribe. To be honest, it wouldn't matter how good this strip is otherwise, because Steve's sidekick Chang is just shockingly racist in every single panel. It's also pretty hard to summon up a lot of sympathy for a bunch of upper-crust English plantation owners.

'Rusty and His Pals' (by Bill Finger and Bob Kane): Rusty and his friends find a treasure map, are told the story of the sacred Idol of Takal, and decide to set off in a ship to find it. It's a solid set-up that gives us at least three groups going after the treasure, and you can never have too many sides in a treasure hunt story.

'Anchors Aweigh!' (by Bart Tumey): Don and Red track down a spy, who captures them and forces them to run through a snake pit. The villain does have an appealing sadistic streak, but the story isn't otherwise remarkable.

'Cotton Carver at the Polar Zone' (by Gardner Fox and Jack Lehti): Last issue, Cotton and Deela reached the surface. In this story they are menaced by Red Mike and his band of Arctic traders. It's disappointingly banal; I really was hoping for something more interesting from Cotton's return home.

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