Monday, March 12, 2012

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.

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