Wednesday, January 4, 2012

March 1940: Smash Comics #10

 Cover possibly by George Brenner

'Espionage starring The Black X' (by Will Eisner): Eisner's montage openings are getting crazier all the time. Check out his representation of war between Russia and Finland:

The story sees the Black X tracking down the plans for shipment routes into Finland that have been stolen by the Russians. This is all very familiar, but Eisner puts a twist on it by involving a kidnapped boy that X becomes fixated on rescuing. It threatens to get a little too sentimental, but manages to stop short and deliver a decent action story.

The strangest thing is that the boy is seen reading a copy of Smash Comics, and even comments on the Black X having his own strip. Some secret agent he is!

'Chic Carter, Ace Reporter' (by Vernon Henkel): This story, in which Chic Carter must protect a woman who was witness to a bank robbery, is nothing special. But it does contain one of the greatest misleading captions of all time: "Before Lefty can fire again Chic is upon him... and hits him so hard he goes off into space!"

'Clip Chance' (by George Brenner): Clip Chance plays baseball, and some crooks try to rig the match by shooting the players. Sport comics suck so hard.

'Flash Fulton, Newsreel Ace' (by Paul Gustavson): Flash must rescue the assistant DA from a county prison that has been taken over by the inmates. I did enjoy the cheerful exuberance Flash displays while infiltrating a building full of murderers, but there's not a lot else here.

'Hugh Hazzard and his Iron Man' (by George Brenner): The papers to an arms pact between the USA and Canada are stolen by foreign agents, and Hugh and his robot must stop them. I didn't find a lot to enjoy in this one. Ever since Hugh started riding inside Bozo the robot during missions I feel like the strip has lost something. Bozo has been reduced from a character to a suit of armour, which makes him much less fun to read about.

'Captain Cook of Scotland Yard' (by Stan Aschmeier): A criminal called the Bat pretends to terrorise himself while also terrorising his neighbours. It's dull.

'Abdul the Arab' (by Vernon Henkel): Abdul destroys an Arab band that has threatened the local English military. The story goes to great lengths to set up the mystery of where the Arabs are getting their seemingly inexhaustible supply of ammo, and then never resolves it. The only upside to this story is that Abdul actually does the heroics, as opposed to his servant Hassan.

'Invisible Justice' (by Art Pinajian): Invisible Justice deals with a crook who has hijacked a scientific expedition to the Sargasso Sea to retrieve his hidden treasure. He also kills an octopus with a knife, which is by far the best thing he's ever done.

'The Sea Bat' (by Robert M. Hyatt): A deep sea diver is attacked by a giant manta, and returns to kill it with electricity. It's a valuable lesson for anybody who is planning to battle undersea wildlife.

'John Law, Scientective' (by Harry Francis Campbell): John invites the criminal called the Avenger over for a chat and deduces his identity, a hitherto unmentioned scientist called Rowan. It's a cheap way to resolve the mystery, but the Avenger is still at large, so the real climax is yet to come.

'Wings Wendall' (by Vernon Henkel): Wings destroys an airbase set up by spies in Brazil. There are some well done dogfights, but the story is too boring for them to mean anything.

1 comment:

  1. Espionage was about to undergo a page-count drop and lose its choice spot at the front of the book, so Eisner had a vested interest in showing how popular a character Black-X was.