Friday, December 19, 2014

Number 1672: Perplexing past

Last week I showed a robot story by Otto Binder, who wrote hundreds of Captain Marvel stories. I said I thought the robot story seemed like a Captain Marvel story without Captain Marvel, lacking the kind of genial whimsy of a typical Captain Marvel story.

So, here is a genial, whimsical Captain Marvel tale, written by Otto Binder. From Captain Marvel Adventures #135 (1952).

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Number 1671: Co-starring Hitler

Having posted several World War II and post-war stories featuring Adolf Hitler as villain, I believe Hitler might be the most represented world figure of the era. Even with Japan and Italy as allies of Nazi Germany, I believe that Hitler stood out as the arch-villain of the day. In Military Comics #21 (1943) there are two stories featuring him. I showed the Blackhawk entry in Pappy’s # 1635.

The Sniper is a second-string sort of hero. In his series he wandered around with his Robin Hood cap and his guns and dispatched enemies of democracy. Well, in the comics we have to suspend disbelief in order to follow the story, don’t we? The yellow cape alone would make him stand out in wartime Germany. I don’t think he could get far.

The feature appeared in Military Comics from issue #5 (1941) to #34 (1944), so he was strictly a wartime hero. This particular episode is drawn by Vernon Henkel, a comics journeyman whose work appeared from the 1930s until sometime in the 1950s when he went with a partner into educational filmstrips and industrial slides.

One of my favorite Hitler stories: Futuro takes Der Fuehrer “below”! Click on the thumbnail.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Number 1670: New masthead, old origin story

I have a new masthead, based on the cover of Exciting Comics #49 (1946), drawn by the greatest Golden Age cover artist of them all, Alex Schomburg. As you can see I have done my usual, distorting the illustration to fit over the top of the blog. Forgive me, Schomburg fans.

Black Terror was a superhero from the World War II era, who lasted during the 1940s and in this original incarnation disappeared before 1950. According to Don Markstein’s Black Terror Toonopedia entry, the Black Terror was instantly popular. I think it was the costume with the skull and crossbones. Otherwise Black Terror’s adventures during the war involving saboteurs, Nazis, Japanese and the usual suspects, were fairly typical of the era.

Black Terror’s origin, brought about by “formic ethers” is pure hokum. That is de rigueur for a superhero origin, which just has to give off some illusion of making sense. It is from Exciting Comics #9 (1941). Story attributed to Richard E. Hughes, art by D. Gabrielson.

Here is another Black Terror story. You can see it and a link to another BT story by clicking on the thumbnail.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Number 1669: The millionaire robot

The final entry in our theme week, Strange Robot Adventures, is a 12-page story split across two issues, numbers 53 and 54 (1955), in 6-page chapters. The robot in this tale is a crook.

It is written by Otto Binder (who created the sentient robot pulp character, Adam Link, and was chief scripter for Captain Marvel for many years), so in the robot we have an interesting character, at least. In my opinion this reads like a Captain Marvel story without Captain Marvel and without the whimsy that character represented. That isn’t to say there isn’t satire; at second glance it appears to be a jab at greed, wealth and materialism. And the message to me in the robot Tim Steele’s “scorn for money” is an attack on The American Way of Life! You can draw your own conclusions.

The first episode, “The Millionaire Robot,” is from the last pre-Comics Code issue of Strange Adventures, and the second is from the first Code-approved issue. It doesn’t seem to make much difference. There does not seem to be anything in the earlier tale that would be blocked by the heavy hand of the censor.

According to the Grand Comics Database the art is by Henry Sharp and Joe Giella.

Here is a two-part story of the Black Rider, where the first part is pre-Code and the second part produced under the Comics Code with perceptible differences. Just click on the thumbnail.