Tuesday, February 21, 2012

April 1940: Crack Comics #2

Cover by Gill Fox

'The Clock' (by George Brenner): The Clock deals with the attempted murder of an heir about to come of age by his uncle. "This is Silas Greer, my guardian - that is, he's my guardian until tomorrow - and then I receive the bulk of dad's estate - so I guess Uncle Silas's work is ended!" It's a solidly put together story, but subtle it ain't. There's also a subplot in which the Clock is aided by the Orchid, a mysterious female acquaintance. Her appearance in this story is quite irrelevant, but she's obviously being set up for a future tale.

'The Red Torpedo' (by Henry Kiefer): The Red Torpedo must destroy a powerful enemy battleship, which he does by trapping it with icebergs and ramming it with his submarine. Even with such admirably blunt tactics, I couldn't get excited about this story. I was impressed with some of the creative panel layouts, though.

'Ned Brant' (by Bob Zuppke and E.W. Depew): The scan of this story was blurry, so I couldn't read it all. Something about Ned pitching in a baseball game that I was mercifully spared.

'Lee Preston of the Red Cross' (by Bob Powell): Lee must deliver medicine to a mission in China, but when she arrives the place is besieged by bandits. The action is decent enough, but there's a romantic subplot that comes out of nowhere and feels very forced.

'The Space Legion' (by Vernon Henkel): Rock Braddon goes to Venus to rescue a missing expedition, and discovers the evil Jafek and his fleet poised to conquer Earth. This guy is shamelessly cliched. Not only does he want to conquer Earth and Venus, but he decides he will take Rock's female companion as his bride. It's too bad that the story is so lacklustre, or I might have enjoyed such a gloriously hackneyed villain.

'Alias the Spider' (by Paul Gustavson): The Spider takes on a businessman who has blown up his own department store to collect the insurance. The story ends with a big panel showing the Spider shooting this guy in the back with an arrow, which to me seems a disproportionate response to insurance fraud. Having it has the very last panel only draws more attention to it.

'Jane Arden' (by Monte Barrett and Russell E. Ross): Jane is on the trail of a suspected murderer and his female accomplice. Hints are being dropped that the woman is the actual killer, but whatever. The villains have no menace.

'Madam Fatal' (by Art Pinajian): Madam Fatal (aka the cross-dressing crusader Richard Stanton) takes on a foreign spy trying to obtain a new secret chemical. The only value to be had here is the sight of a granny walloping thugs left and right, but it's a fleeting amusement.

'Doom Synducate' (by Larry Spain): Too blurry to read. Hooray!

'Wizard Wells, Miracle Man of Science' (by Harry Francis Campbell): Wizard Wells tricks the gangster Black Morda into coming after him in front of a bunch of witnesses. Everyone says that Wells talks like a textbook, but I can't figure out why. He sounds normal to me.

'The Black Condor' (by Lou Fine): An Englishwoman becomes the Queen of an Indian province, and is kidnapped by Prince Ali-Kan. The Black Condor goes to her rescue and single-handedly routs Ali-Kan's army. This is a lot of fun, and a testament to how great art can elevate a mediocre story.

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