Thursday, December 8, 2011

March 1940: Flash Comics #5, All-American Comics #14

 Cover by Jon L. Blummer

'The Flash' (by Gardner Fox and Everett Hibbard): The Flash takes on the Vandal, an art collector who is murdering artists to drive up the value of his collection. At the very least it's not a plot I've seen before in this blog, so it gets points for that. It's also light and peppy as usual, and makes inventive use of the Flash's powers (he spends a lot of the strip moving so fast that he is invisible, using his voice to confuse the crooks).

'King Standish' (by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert): The villainous Witch hatches a plan to bump off the King, but by the end of the strip it seems that the two have fallen for each other. It's quite sweet in a way, but I could do without the narrator constantly warning the Witch not to fall for her enemy.

'Hawkman' (by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff): The cult of Assassins is revived, and Hawkman must help a lady secret agent stop them from killing world leaders and taking their place. The setting moves from the USA to the Middle East, and I think that this sort of globe-hopping suits Hawkman very well. It's exotic, and there are some solid action sequences, but in the end there's little of substance to it.

'Johnny Thunderbolt' (by John B. Wentworth and Stan Aschmeier): Johnny, now a G-Man, foils a group of crooks who have stolen an entire bank vault. This story feels a lot more conventional than previous installments, and there's not a lot of humour involved either.

'Rod Rian of the Sky Police' (by Paul H. Jepsen): On the planet Mephis, Rod and his friends infiltrate the city of the Skeleton Men. Meanwhile on Earth, the head of the Sky Police has allied with Chan, ruler of half the planet, and they are raising an army to attack the pirates of Mephis. But watch out, because Chan doesn't have white skin!  That means he must be a treacherous baddie! This is all build-up, but it's hard to see what the diversion with the skeleton men has to do with the main plot. It's just lucky that it's got skeletons in it. Skeletons are rad.

'Cliff Cornwall' (by Sheldon Moldoff): Cliff Cornwall takes on the Snow King, a spy who operates only in Winter and has never been seen. His secret is that he uses sleep pills combined with a building's heating system to put all of his victims to sleep. It's a well-worn plot, but it's quite cleverly presented.

'Planet of the Metal Men' (by Evelyn Gaines): After marrying his fiancee Sally, Jack Raymond insists that they take their honeymoon on the nearby planetoid Vesta. Along with Sally's kid brother they rocket to the planet where they discover strange, metallic life-forms. To be continued! It's decent enough set-up, if you don't mind some completely bollocks science.

'You Can't Get Away With It!' (by Ed Wheelan): A judge's son is kidnapped, and threatened with death unless the judge lets gangster Tony Madera off the hook. The judge, with the help of his son's showgirl fiancee, rescues his son, and consents to their marriage. It's a decent enough story from Wheelan, though it's let down by the fact that we don't find out what happens to Madera.

'Whip' (by John B. Wentworth and Homer Fleming): A crooked judge is charging excessive fines for speeding, and using criminals as his personal servants. Huzzah for the Whip, who is sticking up for the rights of speeding motorists and hardened criminals everywhere!

Cover by Jon L. Blummer

'Red, White and Blue' (by Jerry Siegel and William Smith): My complaints are somehow beaming backwards in time, because we're getting a story without Red, who has been the main character of this strip for quite some time now. Whitey, Blooey and Doris go up against a gang of saboteurs and defeat them almost by accident, with a large helping hand from Blooey's pet parrot. Sadly, the whole point of this seems to be that they can't get along without Red. Even from a hospital bed he manages to take over the story somehow.

'Hop Harrigan' (by Jon L. Blummer): There's a story here about spies trying to sabotage Hop Air's first demonstration of its planes for the army, but of more interest is the custody battle between Hop's friend Prop Wash and his former guardian, Crass. It's pretty effective as a dramatic device, but in the end it falls down when the evidence that stops Crass's victory comes by pure coincidence. What luck that Hop's old school teacher just happened to stop by a certain farmhouse at exactly the right time! And that she has letters from Hop's father in her possession!

'Ben Webster' (by Edwin Alger): Having discovered a pool of magic mud, Ben and his friends set about selling it as a beauty treatment. Everything works out perfectly for them, and I'm struggling to see where the drama is going to come from.

'Adventures in the Unknown: The Infra-Red Destroyers' (by Carl H. Claudy and Stan Aschmeier): Ted and Alan struggle to convince Washington that the Earth is being invaded by invisible men from Venus. You have to appreciate a story that destroys both the White House and the Washington Monument.

'Scribbly' (by Sheldon Mayer): Scribbly's editor sends him to a dude ranch, where everyone has the idea that he's an expert rider. With the focus back on Scribbly's job this strip is starting to get funny again.

'Traitors' Treachery' (by George Shute): Passports and records are being stolen from the State Department, and Jimmy Stone goes undercover to stop the crooks. There's not much to this but set-up. 

'Popsicle Pete' (by Art Helfant): After collecting their reward money, the kids and Zeke buy suits, and Zeke's shoes squeak because there's a horn in one of them.  This is either some form of obscure 1940s humour that I don't get, or a poor attempt at comedy. I suspect the latter.

'Gary Concord, the Ultra-Man' (by Jon L. Blummer): Gary must foil a plot by his enemy Tor to take over the world with a lethal poison gas.  It's a solid enough action story, but wasn't this world at peace just a year ago?  It's been a mess ever since Gary took over from his dad.

1 comment:

  1. The initial concept of the Snow King sounds remarkable. Someone needs to do something with that...