Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 1940: Top-Notch Comics #8

Cover by Edd Ashe

'The Wizard' (by Harry Shorten and Edd Ashe): The Wizard takes on Mayor Beadle and his crooked politics, but of much more importance is the introduction of Roy the Super-Boy. Roy is a bootblack and orphan who the Wizard takes under his wing and trains. By the end of that training Roy is supposedly just as good as the Wizard, which seems a bit odd. I've seen the Wizard tear battleships apart with his bare hands!  I hate kid sidekicks at the best of times (Robin excepted) and I'm wondering what makes this kid so special. Can the Wizard train just anybody to be as strong as he is? Why not recruit an army of super-strong kids? It doesn't make sense, and I'm very sceptical as to whether Roy's presence will improve the strip.

'The Firefly' (by Harry Shorten and Bob Wood): Harley Hudson has devoted his life to becoming a crime-fighter, and after two years of studying insects he is able to replicate their amazing muscular feats. He dons a uniform, becomes the Firefly, and battles a mad scientist who is trying to create his master-race. It does have a certain energy to it, and mad scientists at this point are a welcome break from racketeers and spies. It's a decent enough beginning.

'Shanghai Sheridan' (by Joe Blair and Irv Novick): Sheridan helps smuggle arms and ammunition to the rebels in China. This is the strip's final appearance. It was underwhelming throughout, and its only notable trait was a questionable portrayal of the various Asian peoples involved.

'Streak Chandler on Mars' (by Harry Shorten and William Wills): Streak Chandler and his friends have been captured by the space pirate Quantus, and are being held on one of Jupiter's moons. They manage to escape and destroy Quantus's fleet, but Streak is betrayed by the alien Lura, who captures them all. This is the final appearance of this strip, so one can only assume that Lura has them all executed. So long Streak, I'll never forget that time you fought a weird horse-headed octopus.

'Dick Storm' (by Harry Shorten and Mort Meskin): Dick and his friends are trapped on an island with pirates, who they manage to defeat, despite the cowardice of Jessup.  This is the final installment of this very boring strip.

In other stories:

'Galahad' (by Harry Shorten and Lin Streeter) helps King Arthur fight the King of Ireland. 'Wings Johnson of the Air Patrol' (by Joe Blair and Ed Smalle) locates and destroys a secret Nazi airbase. 'Bob Phantom, Scourge of the Underworld' (by Harry Shorten and Gerry Thorpe) tackles a gang of cop kidnappers.  And 'Kardak the Mystic Magician' (by Harry Shorten and Bernard Klein) battles the Master of the Valley of Death in an effectively creepy story.

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