Wednesday, August 29, 2012

July 1940: Smash Comics #14

 Cover by Gill Fox

'Espionage starring the Black X' (by Will Eisner and Dan Zolnerowich): The Black X quits as a spy because he is in love with the sinister Madame Doom. As fate would have it, at the same time she is building an army of slaves who are willing to drink explosives and turn themselves into suicide bombers. The Black X eventually comes to his senses and stops the plot, but he can't stop Madame Doom from killing herself to avoid capture. It's more good stuff from Eisner, who somehow manages to sell the idea that X has really quit, and provides some genuine pathos in the conclusion. Zolnerowich turns in some good art as well, with a very capable Eisner impression.

'The Ray' (by Lou Fine): Ray Terrill is a reporter, who gains amazing light-based powers when he is on a hot air balloon that passes through a cosmic storm. His first adventure involves stopping some crooks from stealing an explosive formula, and it's not particularly exciting. But the art by Lou Fine is great, especially in the origin sequence.

In other stories:

'Magno' (by Paul Gustavson)
battles a disgraced physics teacher who has a paralyzer ray. 'Abdul the Arab' (by Bob Powell) uncovers some traitors who are giving information to the enemy of a British colonel. 'Clip Chance' (by George Brenner) competes in a car race. 'Wings Wendall of the Military Intelligence' (by Vernon Henkel) enters Nazi territory to recover some papers. 'Invisible Justice' (by Art Pinajian) deals with some crooks who are mining helium to sell to other countries. 'Chic Carter, Ace Reporter' (by Vernon Henkel) goes in search of a missing explorer, who has gone crazy. 'The Purple Trio' (by S.M. Iger and Alex Blum) deal with a spy who is disrupting shipping near Turkey. And 'Bozo the Robot' (by George Brenner) tackles a mad scientist who has created a monster out of dead body parts (like Frankenstein).

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