Thursday, March 22, 2012

May 1940: Marvel Mystery Comics #9

Cover by Bill Everett

'The Human Torch versus The Sub-Mariner' (by Bill Everett and Carl Burgos): The Torch and Namor fight for twenty pages or so, and it ends with Namor having trapped the Torch in a transparent tube. This is a classic Marvel-style fight comic, something I have always been a fan of. The fight here is more than the two just trading blows for the whole story; they change environments and use their surroundings, and keep it varied enough so that it stays exciting. I can't wait to read the next chapter.

'The Angel' (by Paul Gustavson): The Angel is in a European village that is being menaced by vampires. He discovers that the vampires are really a gang of mad scientists, who are trying to transfer the minds of people with gorillas. This is a well-paced action/suspense story, with just the right amount of creepiness.

'The Masked Raider' (by Al Anders): The Masked Raider outwits some bandits who are stealing gold shipments. It's relatively well done for what it is. Perhaps I'm just in a good mood due to the Namor/Torch story?

'High Steel' (by John H. Compton): At face value, this is a story about a construction worker in South America who stops a payroll robbery by shooting the robber in the face with a rivet gun. But it has a contemplative, emotionally ambiguous ending that makes it feel a little deeper. Add in some genuine knowledge of construction work and an expansive vocabulary, and this feels light-years ahead of the usual crop of short stories.

'Electro, the Marvel of the Age' (by Steve Dahlman): Last issue, Professor Zog and Electro were kidnapped by alien dragon men and taken to their planet Ligra. Now they are forced by the dragon man leader Jago to help him overthrow the Lion Men. What results is a pretty rad battle, complete with ray guns and giant eagles. Eventually Zog manages to gain his freedom and turn Electro on the dragon men. The robot also has to rescue the queen from the creepiest giant octopus ever. I don't know what's going on with this comic; everything is great!

'Ferret, Mystery Detective' (by Stockbridge Winslow and Irwin Hasen): Ferret investigates the murder of a cleaning company owner, who was killed by a guy he didn't want to take on as a partner. There also some stuff with a thug called Hook (who has a hook for a hand, naturally), and I can't really figure out how it ties together. It's confusingly told in a number of places.

'Adventures of Ka-Zar the Great' (by Ben Thompson): Ka-Zar rescues a girl lost in the jungle and returns her to her father, pursued all the while by savage pygmies. It's adequate.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

May 1940: Superman Radio Serial #34-45

These episodes encompass two storylines. The first is about a bad guy who is causing plane crashes with a special machine. He works in a circus, which gives Superman good cause to fight a gorilla and a strongman. But at this point I can sense the serial starting to fall into a rut. It's the same kinds of stories and the same kinds of villains. The second story is a little better; it's about a Mexican crook who is trying to kill a senator that is cracking down on crime. This one has some quite well realised characters, which makes it a little more memorable. But it still suffers a bit from the same rut I talked about before.

May 1940: Superman Daily Strip #397-414 and Sunday Strip #19-30

SUPERMAN DAILY STRIP #397-414 (by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster)

An old-school Prohibition-era gangster is back in town, and he leads his gang in a raid on an arms warehouse full of army ordnance. Superman races to stop them, and even though they attack him with a tank they can't defeat him. This was short and sweet. There's not a lot to it, but I did enjoy the villain, Dinelli.  He's got a very direct approach to problems that makes for a fun bad guy.

SUPERMAN SUNDAY STRIP #19-30 (by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster)

The European fake country of Carolia is being invaded by its neighbour Bangol. A Carolian writer goes to the US to try and raise funds for the war effort, but Bangol spies try everything in their power to thwart him. Enter Superman, who stops the writer's ship from being bombed, exposes a fake charity being used to divert funds away from Carolia, and defends a charity circus. It's not a great Superman story, but the circus sequence is a lot of fun. And Superman is at his Golden Age murdering best, which I always find entertaining.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

May 1940: More Fun Comics #57

Cover by Bernard Bailey

'The Spectre' (by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily): Zor is back! The Spectre's arch-nemesis escapes from his imprisonment, and it's not long before the two are engaged in psychic combat, hurling comets at each other. Zor wins, then sets about ruining the Spectre's life by framing his alter ego Jim Corrigan for murder, and recruiting a serial killer to menace Jim's ex-girlfriend. The Spectre is powerless, and as he always does in such a situation, he goes to God for advice. (It's happening a little too often for my liking.) God sends him off to find the mystic Ectobane tree, from which the Spectre fashions a casket to imprison Zor. He hurls the casket into space, rescues his girl, and everybody lives happily ever after. Except for the scientist at the beginning who Zor left trapped for eternity. And come to think of it, Jim never cleared his name of murder, either. But even with these nagging loose ends, this is cracking good fun. I'd be very surprised if this strip wasn't a major influence on Ditko's Doctor Strange work, and that's praise indeed.

'Detective Sergeant Carey and the Royal Lurma Diamond' (by Joe Donohoe): Carey is assigned to transfer a diamond from a ship to an armored car, but is tricked by disguised thieves. Most of this strip is the following car chase, which has some quite poor sequential storytelling. In the end it turns out that Carey's sidekick Sleepy didn't hand over the diamond after all, because: "I didn't trust that purser; he had a beard!" This from a guy with a comb-over and a Hitler moustache?

'Congo Bill' (by Whitney Ellsworth and George Papp): Bill and Professor Kent are heading for civilisation with the priceless relics they stole last issue, but they are ambushed and captured by the Skull. I rather liked the Skull last time, but his credibility goes down a notch here when he's beaten by a chimp. The chimp becomes Bill's new sidekick, christened O'Toole. This is alright. The action scenes are adequate, and there's some banter to liven things up. I've certainly read worse.

'Wild Stallion' (by Alec Mayne): A cowboy saves a wild horse from a precarious cliff, and the horse saves him in return. Then they become bestest buddies forever. Sickening.

'Captain Desmo' (by Ed Winiarski): Desmo decides that he's had a gut-full of the assassins, and goes after the Grand Assassin himself. He ends up captured, but escapes with an implausible bomb made out of playing cards, an iron pipe and some gunpowder. The assassins' castle is conveniently rigged with self-destruct mechanisms, so Desmo simply escapes and blows the whole place to smithereens, killing all of the assassins inside. The ending goes too far out of its way to make things easy for Desmo, and to wrap up the story quickly.

'Radio Squad' (by Jerry Siegel and Chad Grothkopf): Sandy and Larry are pissed off because they're stuck hunting for a stolen baby carriage when they'd rather be after a gang of bank robbers. So of course, it turns out that the bank robbers are the ones who stole the carriage. It's a mediocre story, but the annoyance of the main characters and a good car chase in the middle liven things up.

'Lieut. Bob Neal of Sub 662' (by B. Hirsch and R. Lehman): A soldier convicted of espionage in 1918 seeks revenge by murdering the pilots who testified against him. Part of his plan involves dressing up as an old lady, which again I question the necessity of. Bob stops him. Move along, nothing to see here.

'Biff Bronson' (by Albert Sulman and Joseph Sulman): Dan eats some chicken at 3 am, and has a nightmare about a guy who falls into a coma and is buried alive. Pointless and bizarre.

'Sergeant O'Malley of the Red Coat Patrol' (by Jack Lehti): A murderer escapes town with a captive child, and O'Malley must track him down. Against my natural instincts, this was actually a pretty solid adventure story.

'Doctor Fate' (by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman): Doctor Fate battles a mystic named Mango, who is killing people with an orb of fire. Between the fiery deaths and some undead legions there's certainly enough going on, but Fate himself is almost too mysterious for his own good. He's very detached and otherworldly, and there really isn't a gateway character to draw me into the strip otherwise.  Even the Spectre has a human alter ego.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

May 1940: Mutt & Jeff #2

It's time for Mutt & Jeff again.  I can't think of much to say about a collection of humour strips, except that it's better than I thought it would be.  The style of humour is also more modern than I would have expected.  It wouldn't look out of place in a newspaper today.  So, in lieu of a proper review, here's my favourite strip from this issue.  Judge it for yourself.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

May 1940: All-Star Comics #1

Cover by Creig Flessel, Harry Lampert, Jon L. Blummer and Bernard Baily

DC's new quarterly title is a compilation of their most popular strips from More Fun Comics, Adventure Comics, All-American Comics and Flash Comics. Nothing is included from Action Comics or Detective Comics, because the most popular strips from those (Superman and Batman) already have their own quarterly books. So here we get Hawkman, Sandman, Ultra-Man, Flash, Hour-Man, the Spectre, Red White and Blue, and uh... Biff Bronson. I expect that Ultra-Man will be replaced with Green Lantern pretty shortly. Biff Bronson is also an odd choice; I would have thought that Doctor Fate was much more suitable.

'Hawkman' (by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff): Hawkman is in Wales, where he stumbles across a plot in which a wicked uncle tries to gain the inheritance of his niece and nephew. At least this villain tackles the old tropes in style: he has the nephew ensconced in his castle, where he tortures him, and he's also allied with a witch who can create voodoo zombies. The set-up is all there for some crazy super-hero action. What we get isn't bad, it just zips through everything a little too quickly. Whenever Hawkman is menaced it's for a single panel, and then he's soaring off to the next challenge. Some build-up and resolution to these things would have been great.

I'd also like to illustrate just why a super-hero's civilian job is important to the stories. With someone like Superman, who works as a reporter, there's a built-in excuse for him to know about the latest crimes. Now take Hawkman, who is an antique weapons dealer. Yes, it's flavourful and explains his arsenal of ancient weaponry, but it doesn't help him get involved in stories. In this one he's just flying around Wales for no reason, and stumbles across a girl in trouble.

Also, incest alert!

'The Sandman' (by Gardner Fox and Chad Grothkopf): The Sandman tackles a pair of jewel thieves who are twins. The only notable thing about the story is that these twins give the Sandman a bigger challenge than just about anybody ever has. He gets shot in the shoulder, disarmed of his gas gun, and pistol-whipped, which is more punishment than some Golden Age heroes take in their entire careers.

'Gary Concord, the Ultra-Man' (by Sheldon Mayer and Jon L. Blummer): Now hold on a second. I was under the impression that Gary Concord was basically the supreme leader of the USA, but in this story there's a president. Not only that, but Gary's father had once secured world peace, and Gary himself was dedicated to that ideal as well. But when war breaks out in Europe between Toutonia and Balkania, he says it's not America's problem. Despite these inconsistencies, this is a cracking story. After the war breaks out, things get tough in America, and riots break out. Gary wants to stop the war in Europe, but he's kept busy keeping the peace at home. It all turns out to be the work of a foreign ambassador who is playing both sides in order to get a hold of everybody's uranium mines. The stakes are high, the action is tense, and it's great seeing the hero completely out of his depth.

'The Flash, the Fastest Man Alive' (by Gardner Fox and Everett E. Hibbard): The Flash investigates a murder, and manages to solve it before the policeman present can return to the station to report the crime. In the process, the Flash harasses the police chief so badly that he is deputised, and I assume that he'll be a police officer in future stories. This is a lot of fun, with the Flash zipping from place to place and doing his investigations in a split second before moving on. I wish modern Flash comics could hit as frenetic a pace as this story.

'The Spectre' (by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily): The Spectre is genuinely like nothing else around at the time. In this story he goes up against an arsonist, who ends up being part of an insurance scam. But in his initial investigation, after finding a scrap of cloth in a burned out warehouse, he goes to the afterlife to question the spirit who had once wore the cloth. It's cosmic on a scale that no other Golden Age hero can match. In the end, when he confronts the businessman responsible, he shows him the faces of all those who died in the fires, which causes the businessman to drop dead. And there's no doubt that the Spectre kills him on purpose. This is great stuff.

'Biff Bronson' (by Albert Sulman and Joseph Sulman): Biff takes on a foreign agent with a photographic memory, who is using it to memorise secret plans. "This is getting tedious!" says Biff in one panel, and I can't help but to agree.

'Exile to Jupiter' (by Evelyn Gaines): Earth has been conquered by natives of Mercury. Earthman Dik's girlfriend has been sent to the penal colony on Jupiter, so Dik steals a spaceship, frees the slaves on Jupiter, leads them in a revolt that kills every Mercurian on the planet, then retakes the Earth and kills the Mercurian tyrant. All in two pages. Needless to say, this is terribly underdeveloped. Gaines has plotted a novel and written a synopsis.

'Presenting Tick-Tock Tyler, the Man of the Hour, as the Hour-Man' (by Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily): Hour-Man goes up against an arsonist and real estate agent who wants the deed to a house. It's terribly boring.

'Red, White and Blue' (by Jerry Siegel and William Smith): Red, Whitey and BlooeyBlooey. I'm not sure if it's bad storytelling, or an attempt to build mystery around an ongoing enemy.  I favour the former.

Monday, March 12, 2012

May 1940: Action Comics #26

Cover by Wayne Boring

'Superman' (by Jerry Siegel,  Paul J. Lauretta and Paul Cassidy): Superman tackles a crooked doctor who is selling a phony cure for infantile paralysis. One of the things that works about these low-key social injustice stories is that they allow Superman's alter ego of Clark Kent to play an integral role in the story; his investigations, as well as those of Lois Lane, are as important as the heroics of Superman, and it's a big part of what makes even the most formulaic Superman stories work.


'Pep Morgan' (by Fred Guardineer): Pep is hunting with his friend Pierre in Canada. Pierre breaks his leg, and Pep must carry him to safety before a blizzard arrives, but the nearest outpost has a plague warning. Pep and Pierre hole up in a cave, and Pep must fight a bear. Eventually he finds some people and returns to save Pierre. I enjoyed this story, which is usually the case when Pep stops playing sport and gets involved in a real story. He should fight bears more often.

'Black Pirate' (by Sheldon Moldoff): This story starts with the Black Pirate adrift in the ocean, fighting off sharks with a chain. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know I was impressed. Eventually he is rescued by a passing ship and returned to land, where he meets Jeanne, a childhood friend. Jeanne is menaced by some villain that the Black Pirate recognises, and that's where it ends for now. With an arresting start and a good cliffhanger, I can forgive the somewhat flagging middle.

'Three Aces' (by Gardner Fox and Chad Grothkopf): The Three Aces help a woman get to New Guinea to claim a stash of pearls left to her by her dead father. Some natives oppose them, but the Aces gleefully mow them down with machine guns in order to get the pearls. All in a day's fun for them, apparently. I guess it's self defence, but the Aces are so much more well-equipped, and are spoiling for a fight anyway; they just come across here as reprehensible bastards.

'Tex Thomson' (by Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily): The story starts with a mention of Gargantua's departure. Apparently he has left to join the French army, which is a decent enough send-off for the guy. As the story proper kicks off, Tex and Bob are recruited by special prosecutor Maloney to help him clean up the rackets. Tex starts by rounding up a gang of car thieves. He is helped along the way by a woman named Miss X, who seems to have some mysterious connection to him. I can see now why the creators decided to write Gargantua out; this is humourless, street level crime fiction, and he really wouldn't have fit in. It's not bad, but it is a little bit bland.

'Message for the Major' (by Gardner Fox): In this prose story, a British soldier saves his fellow troops from an ambush by sending smoke signals. Somehow Fox manages to tell this story without any drama present at all. It's just the guy lighting a fire and waiting around for two pages.

'Clip Carson, Soldier of Fortune' (by Sheldon Moldoff): Clip heads up north to help a girl and her father stop a pair of killers from claiming their mine. In the process Clip blows up some wolves with dynamite. After he is captured by the killers, one of them takes Clip's coat, and ends up getting mauled by an angry wolf. And so, Clip is saved because of his callous violence against the animal kingdom. This is a well told story though, with some top-notch art.

'Zatara, the Master Magician and the Jagtooth Gold Mine' (by Gardner Fox and Fred Guardineer): Man, there sure is a lot of Canada in this comic. Zatara goes up north to claim a friend's gold mine, only to find that it has been taken by a half-breed named Tony. I was getting a bit bored of this, even after Zatara turned a pack of wolves into balloons. But the conclusion, with Zatara turning his servant Tong into a flying robot to pursue Tony's getaway plane, is sheer genius. This is the Gardner Fox I want to read.

May 1940: All-American Comics #16

Cover by Sheldon Moldoff

'The Green Lantern' (by Bill Finger and Martin Nodell): It's the first appearance of Green Lantern, also known as Alan Scott. Scott is a bridge engineer who is involved in a train crash that kills everyone aboard except for him. After the crash he finds a lantern that speaks and gifts him with incredible power in the form of a ring. It's all very mystical and mysterious, even if Scott's random discovery of the lantern feels forced. Scott uses his power to track down the man who engineered the crash, then decides to become a superhero called the Green Lantern. It's all very solid origin material, and there's some very intriguing background stuff about the mystic lantern itself.

'Hop Harrigan' (by Jon L. Blummer): Ikky gets in a fight with a pilot who disparaged his light planes. Later that same pilot gets trapped on an island during a storm, and can't take off in his plane, so Ikky must rescue him using a light plane. There's also a lot of stuff about Hop's new aviation club. Aren't you listening to me, DC? I already told you that your fan clubs suck.

'Red, White and Blue' (by WIlliam Smith): Red, Whitey and Blooey must infiltrate a ship commanded by the Wasp, a renowned foreign spy. The Wasp is trying to blow up US ships that are engaged in war games. The humour is a little subdued in this story, and the jokes that are there seem a little forced. It's still a decent action story, but a little down on this strip's usual quality.

'Ben Webster' (by Russell Cole): Ben has been lured away by a woman pretending to be a princess, whose accomplices stage an elaborate hoax in order to get Ben to spill the secrets of his magic beauty mud. I had thought that story was over, but I'm glad to see that it isn't. This is pretty good.

'Popsicle Pete' (by Art Helfant): Pete uses his $2500 to buy a valuable stamp, and then there's a couple of pages talking about how stamps are awesome and everybody should collect them. This is blatant advertising from a strip that's already sponsored by a popsicle company. Terrible.

'Traitor's Treachery' (probably by George Shute): Continued from last issue, Jimmy Stone is still investigating the passport racket. He gets captured, but his g-man pal Phil rescues him. The patriotism is at toxic levels by the end of this story, which overshadows its very few merits.

'Adventures in the Unknown: The Infra-Red Destroyers' (by Carl H, Claudy and Stan Aschmeier): Ted and Alan are captured by Professor Jurghens, the man in charge of the invisible invaders from Venus. There was potential here for some craziness, but instead it's a standard captures-and-escapes adventure story, and a tiresome one at that. This is a filler chapter.

'Scribbly' (by Sheldon Mayer): Scribbly leaves the ranch to go home, but he misses the horse Widow Maker. Unbeknownst to him, Widow Maker has followed him to New York. The strip gives a lot of time to Widow Maker's thought processes, which I found amusing for reasons I can't quite articulate. This strip is rarely very funny, but it does keep up a consistent level of mild humour.

'Gary Concord, the Ultra-Man' (by Jon L. Blummer): Gary investigates the disappearance of an undersea atomic plant, and finds that the Garoo monster from a couple of issues ago has returned. This thing was creepy last time around, but here it's not properly reintroduced. The story relies far too heavily on prior knowledge, and it doesn't really work unless you've read that earlier story.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

May 1940: Flash Comics #7

Cover by Sheldon Moldoff

'The Flash' (by Gardner Fox and Everett E. Hibbard): The Flash helps an inventor and his daughter, who are being threatened by a crook named Black Mike into creating a machine that can dissolve metal. Mike tries to use it to fix a motor race that he has bet on, but the Flash stops him. There's a slight shift in tone with this story. I can't quite place my finger on it, but it's not quite as upbeat and pacy as before. Also, the Flash's ability to become invisible by moving quickly on the spot is completely overused. He spends almost the entirety of this story in an invisible state, which gets very tiresome.

'King Standish' (by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert): The King poses as a janitor in order to stop his arch-enemy the Witch from stealing bonds from a lawyer. Another gang of more violent gangsters also tries to steal the bonds, and the King must rescue the Witch, then team up with her against them. There are enough factions to keep this interesting, and the King/Witch relationship adds a little as well. It's not great, but it does just enough to stay above average.

'The Hawkman' (by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff): A scientist named Boris Nickaloff creates an "Unkillable Man" called Czar out of animated stone, and sends him on a crime spree. After an unsuccessful confrontation, Hawkman discovers that Czar needs to breathe. He returns later and kills Nickaloff and Czar both with a bolas, and everyone acts like it's the happiest ending ever. Except that Czar had a certain childlike, innocent quality, and desired nothing more than to make his master happy. He didn't deserve to die by bolas strangulation, and the story feels off because of that.

'Rod Rian of the Sky Police' (by Paul H. Jepsen): One of Rod's buddies, a Unicor, is kidnapped by talking gorillas. Rod goes to rescue him, but is menaced by a tri-horned buffalo. To be continued! This strip just keeps accumulating weird elements. There are the Unicors, who are green-skinned men with horns on their head. The aforementioned gorilla men. There are still friendly skeletons wandering around Rod's camp. It's all strange, and never quite gels, but I keep reading with interest to see what the hell is coming up next.

'Johnny Thunderbolt' (by John B. Wentworth and Stan Aschmeier): Johnny Thunder inadvertently prevents some army intelligence agents from capturing a female spy, and gets fired as a g-man. He even loses his girl Daisy when she sees the spy thanking him with a kiss. He decides to become a superhero called the Thunderbolt and captures the spy, but fails to regain the affections of Daisy. It's still absurd, and still funny, and I can't ask for much more than that.

'Cliff Cornwall, Special Agent' (by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff): Cliff goes up against the Clue Criminal, an art thief who likes to send the FBI clues to his future crimes. This guy seems to have a good gig with the art thievery business, but then he decides to blow up a zeppelin for no apparent reason. It's quite jarring.

'Planet of the Metal Men' (by Evelyn Gaines): This prose story is continued from last issue. Jack, Sally and Tommy are still on the planet of the metallic Zoopians, who have decided to invade Earth and capture a few thousand humans to provide amusement for them. Tommy escapes by rusting a Zoopian with a water pistol, and summons a an Earth battalion to rescue them with a giant hose. It's crazy stuff, and enjoyable on that level. But it does beggar the question: if there's no water on the planet of the Zoopians, how did Tommy and co. survive there for so long?

'Circus Curse' (by Ed Wheelan): A circus is apparently under a curse, but the real culprit behind the accidents ends up being the former treasurer. The mystery is set up here, with a few red herrings presented, but the actual reveal is a character that the reader can't possibly know about. All the relevant information is given in a horrendous infodump after the fact, when it really ought to have been parcelled out before the reveal.

'The Whip' (by John B. Wentworth and Homer Fleming): This story begins with a history lesson, briefly touching on the Mexico/Texas conflict, then following the story of a hidden cache of gold. A bandit nursed back to health by some ranchers leaves them a clue to the gold as gratitude, but the Whip must intervene when bad men come after the gold. This is continued next month, not something I'm particularly excited about. I was more interested in this when it was doing the history lesson. Also, the Whip's accent seems to be getting more and more outrageous. It's even funnier when you remember that he's faking it.

The Ads: Ads for the next issue of All-American Comics tease the first appearance of Green Lantern. He has also replaced Ultra-Man in that 'Big Six' ad with the head shots that I posted a while ago, which seems a little premature. Conversely, ads for All-Star Comics #1 have Ultra-Man as a headliner.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

May 1940: New York World's Fair Comics 1940

Cover by Jack Burnley
Also, it's the first ever published image of Superman, Batman and Robin together.

'Superman' (by Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley): Clark and Lois are sent to do a story on the World's Fair, and stumble upon a jewel thief who is trying to steal a priceless emerald. This couldn't be more straightforward, but it is executed quite well. I don't know who Jack Burnley is, but he does a great Shuster impressions.  I'd happily see him on some more strips.  But in the end it's still another jewel thief story. All the solid writing and good art in the world can't get me excited about it.

'Red, White and Blue' (by Jerry Siegel and Harry Lampert): It seems as though Siegel has limited patience for the World's Fair gimmick, because here it's restricted to a mention as Red's current vacation spot. From there the story kicks off, with a meat producer poisoning the army's current meat supply so that they will get their contract back. Red, Whitey and Blooey stop them with the usual hijinks and banter. It's light and amusing as this strip always is when at its best.

'Hanko the Cowhand at the World's Fair' (by Creig Flessel): Hanko and Daisy tour the various exhibits, and Hanko gets into situations because he is a dumb hick from the country. It's a series of scenes and gags strung together rather than a story, and none of them really work.

'Slam Bradley' (by Jerry Siegel and Howard Sherman): Slam and Shorty investigate the kidnapping of a foreign princess, with some lip service paid to the fair. At this point I am really missing Shuster on this strip. Sherman does okay, but is inferior to Shuster in every respect, and the strip can't help but suffer for it. I get the feeling that I've seen the best Slam Bradley has to offer, and that it's all downhill from here.

'Zatara the Master Magician at the World's Fair' (by Gardner Fox and Joseph Sulman): Zatara puts on his own exhibit at the fair, and in the process nabs a pickpocket, some armed robbers and a jewel thief. Then he randomly takes his audience on a trip to Mars and flies them through the centre of the sun, only to reveal that it was all an illusion. The crazy, stream-of-conscious randomness fits well with the ending, but still. "It was all a dream"? That's never good.  And I'm wondering what the deal is with the creative team. Where's Fred Guardineer? It seems wrong that he's not involved here.

'The Hour-Man at the World's Fair' (by Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily): Rex Taylor is sent to run an exhibit for his chemical company, and ends up stopping some crooks from ransacking a rich guy's house while he's out hunting.  The most notable scene is when the Hourman releases the head crook to be hunted down by his intended victim, which at least has a bit of black humour to it. The rest is pretty dull.

'At the World's Fair with Jim and Jane' (by Creig Flessel): Two kids and their uncle tour the fair and react very enthusiastically to things like a film about the history of transportation. Were people really so much easier to entertain?  Anyway, I thought that this was familiar, and it turns out to be a reprint from the 1939 issue of this comic.

'The Sandman Goes to the World Fair' (by Gardner Fox and Chad Grothkopf): The Sandman must rescue his girlfriend/sidekick Dian Belmont from crooks who have kidnapped her as revenge on her father, the DA. If you want layers, don't come looking at this story. It does the job, I guess, but it's dreadfully dull, despite some uncharacteristic bursts of enthusiasm from the Sandman.

'Johnny Thunderbolt' (by John B. Wentworth and Stan Aschmeier): Johnny goes to the fair and is robbed by a pickpocket; hijinks ensue. Johnny's powers get overhauled a little in this story. Now when he says the magic words, his wishes are actually enforced by thunderbolts, and people who don't do what he says get zapped. It's going to take some getting used to.

'Batman with Robin the Boy Wonder' (by Bill Finger and Bob Kane): Batman and Robin go to the World's Fair, where they must tackle a mad scientist on a crime spree with a ray that can disintegrate metal.  When Kane is firing his stories have a real energy, and that's the case here. Batman rushes from crisis to crisis with a smile, and this is easily the most fun story in the whole comic.