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.


  1. Totally agree about the Hawkman story. I read it in the Archive a few months ago and it took me completely off guard. Carter Hall had a sadistic streak in those stories that rivalled The Spectre's.

    BTW, I haven't commented, but I really appreciate and enjoy this blog. You've set yourself up quite a task.

  2. Thanks for the kind words. Hope you don't mind that the task I set myself has become slightly less expansive than before.