Tuesday, January 3, 2012

March 1940: Marvel Mystery Comics #7

 Cover by Alex Schomburg

'The Human Torch' (by Carl Burgos): The Human Torch goes up against a crooked politician who is burning down buildings to collect the fire insurance. That particular plot is nothing special, but there are a couple of interesting things going on around that. The first is that the Torch, under the alias of Jim Hammond, becomes a police officer. It's one of the few things that I knew about the character before I started reading the stories, so it was nice to see that fall into place. It also gives the Torch a good excuse to be stumbling across crimes; you'd be amazed how many writers don't bother to give their super-hero characters a job that can actually help drive the plots forward. But best of all, the story ends with the Torch hearing about a riot by none other than the Sub-Mariner. Now that's a confrontation I'm looking forward to.

'The Angel' (by Paul Gustavson): The Angel must stop a woman who is trying to murder her brother and niece so that she will be the sole surviving heir to the family fortune. So far so boring, but I do appreciate the Angel's inventive interrogation techniques. Any character who ties a thug to the front of a car then pushes it down the side of a mountain is okay by me.

'Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner' (by Bill Everett): Oh man, shit just got real. After declaring war on the human race last issue (again), Namor spends the entirety of this story on a rampage through New York. I know that I've seen it before, but I don't care because it's so much fun. From Namor breaking the top off the Empire State Building and hurling it at pedestrians below, to him throwing people from the top of the Statue of Liberty, it's all great. I could read page after page of this. And just like 'The Human Torch' did above, this story teases the imminent crossover battle. I am so psyched to read it.

'The Masked Raider' (by William Allison): Instead I have to read a story about the Masked Raider and a crooked marshal instead. This whole chronological thing sucks.

'Blasting Bombers' (by David C. Cooke): An American pilot flies to the rescue when "Vinland" is attacked by "Nussia".  Honestly.

'Electro, the Marvel of the Age' (by Steve Dahlman): Electro takes on Boss Zarpo, a crook who is leading a crime spree while the police are occupied with a flood. The plot is mediocre, but the execution isn't too bad. I could just have been swayed by Electro's wrestling match with an elephant. As you may have guessed, I have a weakness for characters punching the hell out of animals.

'Ferret, Mystery Detective' (by Stockbridge Winslow and Irwin Hasen): Ferret takes on a gang of kidnappers, one of whom is a man dressed as a woman for reasons inexplicable to me. Equally inexplicable is the Ferret's method for figuring this out: "You were too strong for a woman, and when you lit that cigarette in the taxi, you struck the match towards you like a man, instead of away from you like a woman!"  Is this a real thing?

'Adventures of Ka-Zar the Great' (by Ben Thompson): A plane lands in the jungle, with a scientist, his daughter, and their evil pilot, who tries to blackmail them for money and the daughter's hand in marriage. Ka-Zar knifes the bad guy in the throat, but not before the scientist is killed. Everything in this story seems to be set-up for the girl to stay with Ka-Zar in the jungle, but at the end he takes her back to civilisation. It's not a bad action story, though.

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