Monday, July 9, 2012

June 1940: Marvel Mystery Comics #10

Cover by Alex Schomburg

'The Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner' (by Bill Everett and Carl Burgos): Remember how excited I was to read the finale to the first battle between the Torch and Namor?  Well forget it, because it's a complete dud.  Instead of a great pay-off to the months of build-up, we get a single page where Betty Dean shows up, talks to Namor, and the two former enemies hug it out and go their separate ways.  Marvel, this is complete bullshit!  I can't believe I'm angry about a comic that came out nearly 40 years before I was born.

'The Human Torch' (by Carl Burgos): The Torch deals with a gang of racketeers who are driving up petrol prices by blowing up any petrol station that won't comply with it.  It's no great shakes to begin with, but doubly disappointing after the previous anticlimax.

'The Sub-Mariner' (by Bill Everett): Trust the Sub-Mariner to pull me out of the doldrums!  After Namor returns home and gets a bollocking from his parents, a crew of Americans arrive in the Arctic trying to track him down.  Namor, along with his cousin Dorma, leads an attack on the ship, and gets to act the villain again. This is cracking good stuff.  I'm constantly surprised by how good Everett is.  I'm also surprised by the presence of Dorma.  I had always assumed she was a Lee/Kirby creation, but here she is in the original stories helping Namor out.  It's cool that Lee and Kirby remembered her when they revived Namor in the Silver Age.

'The Angel' (by Paul Gustavson): The Angel tackles a horde of ghouls, who are kidnapping young ladies to sacrifice to their volcano god.  Gustavson has a knack for creepiness, and his ghouls do not disappoint.  It ends on a cliffhanger, with the Angel trapped underground being menaced by monsters.  Good stuff.

'Electro' (by Steve Dahlman): Electro must battle a mad scientist and his undead army.  It's a well-worn Golden Age plot, but this one stands out for sheer gruesomeness.  It's full of scenes of mass murder and carnage, as the zombies run riot in the streets, stabbing people and shooting them point blank.  Then the giant robot Electro gets in the mix, and he's tearing the zombies to pieces.  The mad scientist ends up being thrown into a vat of acid, and his castle is bombed by planes.  It's one of the most viscerally exciting stories I've read for this blog.

'Terry Vance, the School-Boy Sleuth' (by Ray Gill and Bob Oksner): This is the debut of Terry Vance (the boy with a thousand hobbies!) and his monkey assistant Dr. Watson.  It's a standard murder-mystery plot, with the victim murdered by a man left out of his will.  I've rarely had time for child protagonists, and this one didn't grab me at all.

In other stories: 'The Masked Raider' (by Al Anders) is framed for the murder of a tax collector.  'Ka-Zar the Great' (by Ben Thompson) rescues two Scotland Yard detectives left for dead in the jungle by a crook.

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