Tuesday, February 14, 2012

April 1940: Master Comics #2

Cover by Harry Fiske

'Master Man' (by Newt Alfred): Master Man sees war in Europe on his "troublescope", and fights his way through an army of soldiers, righting wrongs on his way to confront General Adolfuss. I was struck here by a scene where Master Man throws a Nazi soldier from a plane, making sure that he lands in a bale of hay so as not to be injured. Standard super-hero behaviour by modern standards, but it's very unusual in this era, especially where Nazis are concerned. Most heroes would be content to throw the soldier to his doom. I was also surprised that in the final confrontation, Master Man and Adolfuss slug it out for three hours. The villains of this era are rarely physical powerhouses.

'The White Rajah and the Lost Mummy' (by Creators Unknown): The White Rajah must stop a pair of treasure hunters who are after the Lost Temple of Ghogoli. This is fairly dull, but it has to be said that the Rajah rules over the biggest bunch of jerks ever. Every tribesman he encounters is ready to torture him or throw him in a tiger pit with the flimsiest of excuses.

'The Devil's Dagger' (by Ken Battefield): An old prospector finds a treasure chest, and the Devil's Dagger must stop Marlowe, head of the underworld, from stealing it. It's very basic stuff that follows the super-hero formula exactly. The Devil's Dagger even has an alter ego as a newspaper reporter, and a girlfriend who he can't tell his secret. It's all material that's been done before. Once again, his car the Speed Ghost is the raddest thing in the story.

'Morton Murch, the Hillbilly Hero' (by Newt Alfred): Morton is still on the floating island of Felicia, which is at war with the Malabads. He stops the war by dousing the Malabads in a gas that makes them peaceful. I don't know what to make of this strip. On the one hand, all of Morton's actions are typical of a Golden Age action hero. On the other, his speech patterns are exactly the sort of thing usually seen in a comedy sidekick. It's not really played for laughs, but I keep expecting it to be.

'Shipwreck Roberts' (by Mike Suchorsky): The evil Dr. Drown is rescuing spies that have been deported and taking them back to America, and Roberts must stop him. You would think a story where the villain pilots a robotic dinosaur, and has trained brontosaurus henchmen, would be great. Somehow this manages to be tedious beyond belief.

'Frontier Marshal' (by Creators Unknown): The villainous Trask is in jail, but his lieutenant Whipple hatches a plot to break him out. Marshal Crane must stop them, but he's been captured in the cliffhanger. Boring as only a Western can be.

'Lost but Found' (by Writer Unknown): I had to give up on this text story, as the scan I have of it is super-blurry. It's about a guy who gets lost on a mountain and finds some crooks hiding out in a cabin, but I couldn't read the conclusion.

'Mr. Clue' (by Newt Alfred): Mr.Clue investigates the theft of a valuable emerald. It turns out that a chauffeur did it, which is pretty obvious given that the character is doing something shifty in every single panel that he appears in.

'Streak Sloan, Boy Newsreel Explorer' (by Martin Nodel): Streak is sent to photograph a huge forest fire, and discovers that it is the work of a logging magnate who is trying to burn the land of his business rivals. Once again, it's well worn territory.

'El Carim, Master of Magic and the Jewel Thieves' (by Carl Formes and Sven Elven): El Carim must go to South America to capture a notorious jewel thief. Once again he displays no powers of magic, only advanced technology like invisible paint, and his monocle that can spy on people anywhere in the world. There's potential here, but this story certainly doesn't live up to it.

'Rick O'Shay' (by Creators Unknown): O'Shay takes on Matt Morgan, "the most dangerous man in Africa". Morgan is kidnapping natives to work in his copper mines, but O'Shay stops him. There is a ton of action in this story, but it's strangely lifeless. To top it off, O'Shay beats Morgan off-panel, so all possible excitement is averted.

Master Comics is a massive, frustrating tease.  It has less pages than the other comics, which makes me think that I can finish it quicker than usual.  The problem is that the dimensions of the page are much larger than the average comic, and that extra space is used to cram in more panels.  It takes me pretty much the same amount of time to read and review one of these despite the low page count, and it always leaves me feeling a little pissed off.

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