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.

No comments:

Post a Comment