Sunday, February 19, 2012

April 1940: Marvel Mystery Comics #8

Cover by Alex Schomburg

'Sub-Mariner' (by Bill Everett): Last issue we were left with the tantalising prospect of a confrontation between the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch. This story follows that up with more teasing. Luckily it's teasing that's fun to read, with Namor on yet another rampage. Mostly it's him releasing deadly animals from the zoo, and showing that he has a heart of gold by rescuing a baby from a killer elephant. Never mind that he just killed hundreds of people a few pages earlier by bombing the Hudson Tunnel; he rescues a baby, so he must be a good guy. There's a short battle with the Torch near the end, but it doesn't live up to the hype.

'The Human Torch' (by Carl Burgos): I was expecting more of the Torch/Namor fight here, but instead what we get is a story running in parallel. The events of the previous story are told from the Torch's perspective, with him running around town and cleaning up the destruction Namor has caused. It does result in a pretty funny scene of the Torch being man-handled by an ape, but on the whole it's frustrating. I just want to see the characters fight, but the only fight scene we get is a repeat of the one from the previous story. The main event is promised next issue, but at this point I'm getting a bit tired of it.

'The Angel' (by Paul Gustavson): The Angel must rescue a girl who has been kidnapped, all as part of a plot to buy her father's stock in a mining company. This starts promisingly, as I always like it when the Angel is presented as a figure that strikes fear into criminals. But from there it's a straightforward action story, albeit not a bad one. The ending strikes a bizarre note, with the rescued girl pretending to faint so that she can be carried in the Angel's arms. I guess he's a rugged, handsome dude, but it honestly comes off as a little creepy.

'The Masked Raider' (by Al Anders): The Masked Raider, along with his new sidekick Mexican Pete, track down a gang of bank robbers. Surprise surprise, the bank manager was in on the whole thing. It was either going to be him or the sheriff, and they went with the slightly more cliched option of the two.

'Dynamite's Doom' (by Jack D'arcy):
A watchman for a mine tracks down a gang of train robbers. The set-up for this is done well enough, but the conclusion is rushed, probably because the whole thing has to be crammed into two pages.

'Electro, the Marvel of the Age' (by Steve Dahlman): This starts out normally enough, with some crooks kidnapping Professor Zog and forcing him to use Electro in a crime spree. I was all set for scenes of Electro smashing the police and the army, and there's plenty of that, but halfway through the scene switches to the Planet Ligra, where the alien Dragon-Men decide that they want Electro for themselves. The aliens fly to Earth, defeat the gangsters, and capture Zog and Electro. It's a bizarre turn that I certainly didn't see coming. I did enjoy the insanity of it, but this story really does portray Zog as pretty gutless. He rolls over for the crooks with no resistance, and is similarly willing to cooperate when the aliens show up.

'Ferret' (by Stockbridge Winslow and Irwin Hasen): Ferret captures some bank robbers with the help of a cryptic clue placed in the classified section of the newspaper. So cryptic that I can't relate it to the happenings of the story at all. Either I'm stupid, or the story makes no sense.

'Adventures of Ka-Zar' (by Ben Thomspon): Ka-Zar goes up against an unscrupulous miner, who has hired a tribe of natives to supply him with slaves. It's the same old same old for Ka-Zar.

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