Thursday, April 12, 2012

June 1940: Adventure Comics #52

Cover by Bernard Baily

'The Sandman' (by Gardner Fox and Creig Flessel): A thug steals a glove from the home of Dian Belmont, the Sandman's partner, and leaves an amber apple behind. It turns out to be a plot to frame Dian for a gold robbery. The oddness of the original theft sets the mystery up well, but I don't think it really works in the end. No adequate explanation is ever given for the amber apple.

'Rusty and His Pals' (possibly by Bill Finger): Rusty and his pals have been captured by tribesmen, along with the villainous Unholy Three. The tribal chief sets a gorilla on them, and the Unholy Three are all killed. Rusty and his pals escape through the use of ventriloquism (which the writer pulls out of his arse, I might add), and return to American laden with gold. This all feels very cursory, and has all the trappings of a story wrapped up prematurely because the series has been cancelled.  Which, I have just discovered, is exactly the case.

'Barry O'Neill' (by Ed Winiarski): Fang Gow is using a "spoilator ray" to rot all the food rations in Paris, causing the people to grow restless. Barry and Le Grand stop him, Fang Gow escapes, and it's just another average story for this strip.

'The Red Metal' (by Gardner Fox): In the first part of this prose story, explorer Terry Mallory was captured by African natives while searching for a lost city. In this part, Terry and another captive speak through a religious idol and give orders that allow them to escape. It's specifically set up for a sequel, but it certainly doesn't merit one.

'Steve Conrad, Adventurer' (by Jack Lehti): Steve must rescue a friend's daughter who has been kidnapped by an island tribe. Not only does this story feature Chang, Steve's comedy sidekick and the most egregiously racist Chinese caricature I've ever seen, it has some unflattering portrayals of the natives, and it also has Steve blacking up as a disguise. There's nothing else in the story that can offset that kind of thing.

'Federal Men' (by Jerry Siegel and Chad Grothkopf): Steve Carson captures a smuggler who is bringing drugs into the US by train. Nothing to see here.

'Cotton Carver and the Flying Men' (by Gardner Fox and Jack Lehti): The wolf woman Lupa is kidnapped by the winged Slooees, and taken to their city in the sky. Which beggars the question: if Cotton is having all of his adventures underground, how is there a sky at all? There's also a ton of sexual tension between Cotton and Lupa ("you're wonderful" being Golden Age speak for "let's fuck"), but I thought he was with Princess Deela? He only leaves her behind for a few panels before he's flirting with someone else.

'Socko Strong' (by Albert Sulman and Joseph Sulman): Socko and Jerry stumble across the lab of the Great I, a mad scientist with the power to turn invisible. Most of the story is a fight scene with the Great I attacking Socko and Socko trying to hit him. I quite enjoyed the cat and mouse game. The story ends with the Great I victorious, and Socko about to be blown up by a bomb.

'Anchors Aweigh' (by Bart Tumey): Don and Red are captured by gun runners, and proceed to make trouble until the navy catches up with them. The bad guys are so stupid for letting them run free that they deserve everything they get.  This is the final appearance of 'Anchors Aweigh', which has been chugging along since Adventure Comics #28.  It's never been great, but it's also never been terrible that I can recall.

'Presenting... Tick-Tock Tyler (The Man of the Hour) as the Hourman' (by Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily): Someone is impersonating the Hour-Man and committing crimes. The real Hour-Man investigates, and discovers that the culprit is his new lab assistant, under hypnosis by the villainous Dr. Clegg. This Clegg guy is presented as a returning foe, but I'll be buggered if I remember him.

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