Wednesday, February 22, 2012

April 1940: Feature Comics #33

Cover by Joe Devlin

'Dollman' (by Will Eisner and Lou Fine): A racketeer named Gat Granet frames another man named Tim Shean for murder. The Dollman stops the man from being executed and drags Granet to a mock trial, where he is driven mad by a jury of hobos and the sight of a still-living Shean. This is classic Eisner (actually, it's Lou Fine, who's just as good). The scene leading to Shean's hanging is great, with the spectre of the grim reaper hovering over the page, and the mock trial is very tense as well.

'Rance Keane' (by William A. Smith): Rance and Pee Wee have travelled to New York, where they decide to buy some new clothes so that they won't look out of place. In the store they foil the plot of a cross-dressing thief, and are both awarded with shiny new outfits. (Seriously, they look like they're glowing.) There's an interminable few pages here of people arguing about the purchase of a fur coat, but it is an intriguing change of pace in a "what the hell are they doing" kind of way.

'Captain Bruce Blackburn, Counterspy' (by Harry Francis Campbell): Bruce goes up against female spy Tanya Slavska, who is trying to steal some secret papers. The usual business, with nothing original to speak of.

'Samar' (by John Charles): Samar is a shameless Tarzan knock-off. In this story he tackles a woman named Mona, who has a hypnotised army of apes that she's using to steal gold from an archaeological dig. It's a whole level of craziness above what Tarzan usually deals with, which is the sort of ripping-off that I approve of.

'Spin Shaw of the Naval Air Corps' (by Bob Powell): In the Philippines, Spin stops the attempt of a princess and her tribe to murder every white person on the island. It's a potentially exciting set-up that doesn't go anywhere.

'Captain Fortune' (by Vernon Henkel): After being shipwrecked in a storm, Fortune and his crew are captured by a lady pirate, and eventually must team up with her against the Spanish. The action is quite well done, but it all wraps up a bit too neatly at the end, with the lady pirate dead and Fortune with his crew back again. He has, however, picked up the habit of talking in the third person.

'The Voice' (by Stan Aschmeier): The Voice takes on a gang of counterfeiters who have murdered a bank president. I don't think that I followed this very well, but I didn't notice anything worth writing about, and that's never a good sign.

'Zero, Ghost Detective' (by Dan Zolnerowich): Zero must protect a man and his niece, who are threatened by the ghosts of negro slaves that were mistreated by the man's great-grandfather. It's a great set-up, but as is the case with so many Golden Age stories, it's not developed at all. Zero burns the haunted mansion down and that's that.

'The Dead Return' (by Robert M. Hyatt): Captain Mulravey murders a crew member over a treasure map. Later, when he has found the treasure, the crewman returns from the dead to kill Mulravey. Or perhaps his dead body floats into his oxygen tube and cuts off his air, it's a little ambiguous. But still quite well done.

'Rusty Ryan of Boyville' (by Paul Gustavson): A crazy old man shoots at some rock-climbing kids, and leaves one of them dangling halfway down a cliff. Rusty comes to the rescue, and the old man repents his ways. Heartwarmin', ain't it? I think I liked the old guy better when he was shooting kids with rock salt.

'Reynolds of the Mounted' (by Art Pinajian): A mine foreman murders one of his workers and tries to pin it on another, but a snooping kid helps Reynolds solve the case with his photography. There's nothing particularly wrong with the story. Except that it has a Mountie in it.

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