Monday, January 16, 2012

April 1940: Pep Comics #5

Cover by Irv Novick

'The Shield, G-Man Extraordinary' (by Harry Shorten and Irv Novick): The Mosconian plot continues, as enemy agents try to kill the Shield and also blow up the White House with tanks. There is a lot packed into this story. The Shield is extra-vicious; in one scene he uses a battery to create chlorine gas to poison a submarine full of Mosconians. "There wasn't a life lost, Shield, thanks to you!" Yeah right, tell it to the bad guys. They get their vengeance by sealing the Shield in a steel coffin and burying him under tons of rock, but two panels of straining is all it takes him to escape. The Wizard shows up yet again for a token cameo. I'm getting annoyed with these pointless crossovers, because the character never do anything together. But this is entertaining stuff, and Irv Novick is producing some powerful, dynamic art.

'The Comet' (by Jack Cole): The Comet, still wanted by the police, goes up against a crook named Stinger Lee. Lee has stolen a ray that creates darkness, and is using it to aid in his robberies. The Comet obliterates him with his eye-beams, as is his habit. This is poppy and energetic as usual.

'The Press Guardian' (by Abner Sundell and Mort Meskin): The Press Guardian deals with a senator who is protecting a notorious criminal. The story is mediocre, but I was amused when the Guardian turned to a group of teenagers to print a story in their amateur newspaper.  Sure, the legitimate newspapers had been shut down, but it's a humbling thing for a super-hero to do.

'Fu Chang, International Detective' (by Joe Blair and Lin Streeter): Fu Chang buys a farm, but his workers start being killed by a man-eating plant. The plant is the work of Yen Fat Sing, a criminal who is after some treasure buried on Chang's land. The plant made an effectively gruesome villain in a decent story.

'Sergeant Boyle' (by Abner Sundell and Charles Biro): Boyle gets a new commanding officer who tries to straighten him out. They must go behind enemy lines together, and their escape results in all manner of   hijinks. This is another strip that has gone from Nazi-killing propaganda to actual storytelling, which I greatly approve of.

'The Midshipman' (possibly by Bob Wood): Argh. There's a Navy/Army baseball game, and you'll never guess, but some crooked gamblers try to get Lee Sampson to throw the game! The hackneyed set-up was almost too much, but the ending saved it a little. Navy wins the game due to the crooks' interference, but Sampson's sense of fair play makes him demand that the Army batter gets another go. This decision costs Navy the game. It's stronger than most stories of this type.

'The Rocket and the Queen of Diamonds' (by Abner Sundell and Lin Streeter): Last issue the Rocket and the Queen were captured by Ape-Men. The Rocket defeats an attacking bat-serpent, and so becomes the Ape-Men's chief, but the old chief plots against him. This is decent pulp adventure, and the Rocket's devotion to the queen is quite endearing.

'Kayo Ward' (by Harry Shorten and Bob Wood): After being set upon by some rivals, Kayo develops amnesia. He must then fight his opponent Slick in a boxing match, even though he can't remember any of his skills. The story isn't resolved by the end, but the novel set-up has me interested.

'Bentley of Scotland Yard' (by Joe Blair and Sam Cooper): A foreign agent and his unexplained pet monster try to intercept a message that is vital to the British Empire. The monster certainly livens things up, but he has no real reason to be there. And he's the only interesting thing in this story.

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