Bob Merritt is definitely the star of this serial. Of his “Flying Pals”, only the youngest, Dicky Saunders, gets a significant role. Buzz, Shorty and Tex are quite interchangeable. It took me an embarrassingly long time to notice that Bob flies an early version of a jet, while everyone else is in biplanes. I think that is because his jet, the Bumblebee, is such a weird looking craft. It’s just far too short for an airplane.
The series opens as Bob signs a deal with financier Cyrus Campbell to build more of these weird new planes. Cyrus promptly gets shot, and at the same time an evil asians capture Prospector Jake, and send an impersonator to Bob to tell him of Jake’s gold mine. Considering that the evil asians want the mine to themselves, I really have no idea why they bothered with the impersonator, and just did’t let Bob know about the mine at all. But they did.
Once the real Prospector Jake gets free, the impersonator tries to kill Bob, aided by Bob’s houseboy Fernando. Fernando’s complicity in the attack is not uncovered, and Bob merrily reveals his plans to pursue the asians back to the mine that he wouldn’t even know about if they hadn’t told him in the first place.
Perhaps I should interject here that the art on this series is just stunningly beautiful at times. Which makes up for a story that is just going to get worse.
Bob and his Flying Pals head north to Alaska, stopping briefly in Edmonton, Alberta. I was thrilled about this, though a little dismayed that the city is shown with mountains towering behind it. You cannot see the mountains from Edmonton. Not even if you’re Bob Merritt.
Bob and crew are also being trailed by gangster Monk Morton, who wants the mine for himself.
In Alaska, they find a volcanic crater topped by a huge cloud that can emit tendrils that will bring down a plane. How this works is never explained, but apparently the evil asians are behind it, as they grab young Dicky Saunders when his plane is destroyed by the cloud. The asians have been inside the volcano for quite some time, it seems, as this is the location of the gold mine and they have huge piles of it already mined.
Bob finds a way into the dormant volcano, and is briefly captured by the asians before he can free himself and Dicky. Meanwhile, Monk Morton has decided to blow up Merritt’s base camp. Dicky heads though a tunnel to cut the wires on the explosives while Bob heads back to camp to warn his men, while the asians take to the air to bomb the camp.
The aerial battle scenes are disappointing, visually. The stuff in the caverns is so much more interesting to look at. Bob wins the day in the air with his weird little plane, while Dicky succeeds in defusing the bombs. Bob flies back into the crater, avoiding the cloud tendrils, aiming to stop the asians from leaving with the gold, but gets shot.
And that’s it. The final instalment ends with Bob being shot. So much for Bob.
There aren’t many of the nebulous asians left at this point, and their planes have been shot down. Bob’s Flying Pals seem mostly useless, so I’m wagering that its Monk Morton and his men who triumph in the end, wiping out the asians and the Flying Pals, grabbing the gold, and heading south as millionaires.
Bob Merritt: New Fun 5 – 6 (Aug – Oct 35)
More Fun 7 – 25 (Jan 36 – Oct 37), 27 – 30 (Dec 37 – Apr 38)