Sunday, January 15, 2012

April 1940: Blue Ribbon Comics #4

Cover by Charles Biro

'Rang-a-Tang the Wonder Dog' (by Joe Blair and Ed Smalle): In the main story, Hy Speed and Rang tackle a group of spies who are after plans to a secret defense weapon for the Panama Canal. It's a solid action story, but I was disappointed that Rang doesn't really do anything out of the ordinary for a wonder dog. The most amusement I got was from the newly formed Rang-a-Tang Club, with this puzzling questionnaire:

Bowel Functions. Seriously, what do you write there?

'Hercules, Modern Champion of Justice' (by Joe Blair and Ed Wexler): This is the second strip called 'Hercules' to debut in the space of a month. The other, over in Mystic Comics #3, is about a guy raised in the wild who goes by the name of Hercules. This, on the other hand, is about the mythological Hercules, and sees him sent to Earth in modern times to right various wrongs. Predictably, a mobster named Lion tries to use him for his own ends, until Hercules wises up and kills the guy. The writing is fairly crude, but I do like the way the story parallels the first of Hercules' legendary labours (slaying the Nemean Lion), even down to him stealing Lion's clothes  after he kills him.

'Gypsy Johnson, Adventurer' (by John Bulthuis): Gypsy Johnson is a Texan soldier of fortune. In this story he has joined the French Foreign Legion, and must help his garrison break a siege and defeat the bandit chieftain Sheik Tamah. It's breakneck, action-packed stuff, but it's let down by some terribly amateurish art.

'The Fox' (by Joe Blair and Irwen Hasen): Paul Patton is a news photographer, sent to investigate the Night Riders, a gang that has been terrorising the countryside by whipping people to death. After suffering a brutal beating at their hands, Paul goes home and gives up. But upon hearing a dance band on the radio, Paul decides that he "isn't foxy enough", and this inspires him to take on the heroic identity of the Fox. Yes, really. He even sings the same song when he leaps into battle against the Night Riders later. It's one of the most absurd origins yet, which is good, because the rest of the story is totally unremarkable.

'Corporal Collins, Infantryman' (by Charles Biro): Collins must go to the rescue of a French fort that is under siege. A hefty dose of humour has been injected into this strip, and it's all the better for it. It's good to see it move on from being about nothing other than killing lots and lots of Nazis.

'Ty-Gor, Son of the Tiger' (by Joe Blair and Mort Meskin): A white boy is raised by tigers in the Malay jungle, and must avenge the death of his tiger father. Which he does while wearing his father's skin, which is all kinds of creepy. It's also a worry when your protagonist can't say anything other than his own name, shouted at the top of his lungs. Dude needs to learn some other words before I'm going to enjoy this strip.

'Doc Strong and the Isle of Right' (by Joe Blair and Sam Cooper): After 100 years of war (World War II, specifically!) the world is in ruins, and a Mongolian warlord named Gustave Ritter takes over. Doc Strong and some other scientists escape to form their own civilisation, the Isle of Right, from which they can strike back at Ritter's tyranny. Ritter really is a terrible Mongol name, and he deserves to lose on that basis alone.

'Loop Logan, Air Ace' (by Joe Blair and Frank Volp): Loop Logan is challenged to a duel by the Blue Duke, and must also discover a saboteur. It's okay.

'The Green Falcon' (by Harry Shorten and Edd Ashe): In 12th century England, under the rule of Prince John, the Lady Marion is offered as a prize to the winner of a jousting tournament. A mysterious knight known only as the Green Falcon wins the joust, and later sets off to rescue King Richard from captivity. I enjoyed this quite a bit. It has a bit of liveliness to it, a rarity in this genre.

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