I really do not understand how this series lasted as long as it did. The only explanation I can think of is that the publishers felt “Dale Daring” was a great name for a series, and kept with it.
It begins with a four-part serial, The Drew Mystery. There are many mysteries about this serial, not the least of which is why it is called the Drew Mystery, as no one named Drew ever appears. Dale is introduced on the phone with police lieutenant Dick Sparks, telling him that she is following a lead on the Drew mystery, which takes her to plastic surgeon Dr. Millard. Millard warns her that she is in danger, and he is right about that, as men burst in and capture her (but not the doctor) and take her to a cabin in the woods which they set fire to, in order to kill her. Dick tracks her, but it’s a mysterious bearded man with an eye patch who rescues both of them from the bad guys, bringing them to the cave he lives in with a variety of exotic animals.
And the first serial ends there.
What? What the fuck was that? Is Dale a policewoman? Is she a private detective? Is she just really nosy?
For some reason the series returns a few issue later, but now she is in China with her father, worried about General Tsin Lee, and friends with US marine Captain Dan Brewster. Her father gets captured by the general, for no apparent reason. Dale and Dan pursue him, aided by a “native” guide named Ali (so he is not a native to China, that’s for sure).
It seems DC was not 100% certain about continuing this serial at first. It debuts in issue 11, has its second chapter in issue 13, but doesn’t become a regular feature until issue 17.
But continue it they did. Dan, Dale and Ali find and rescue her father, but wind up in a shooting stand-off with Tsin Lee and his men. Our heroes are trapped in Tsin Lee’s arsenal, which conveniently has a radio Dan uses to contact the marines, who come flying in and machine gun Lee and his men.
With issue 23, Dale, her dad , Dan and Ali are back on the coast of China, and think their troubles are over. While Dale and Dan have a dinner date, her father gets kidnapped again, and off we go back to the interior to rescue him again, this time from Tsin Lee’s father, who is seeking vengeance for the death of his son. Dale gets captured as well, and Dan Brewster becomes the unquestioned main character in this serial, as there are chapters of him tracking them and battling “celestials” (which I guess means evil Chinese people) before finally rescuing Dale and her dad. Conveniently, as they are trying to make there way back to the coast another US marine comes flying overhead and saves them
There is some very nice art in this, when Dan cuts a rope bridge to stop the pursuing “celestials.” That’s really the only positive comment I have about the series.
In issue 32 Dale accompanies her father to his rubber plantation in South America (Brazil I would assume), and Dan quits the marines to go with her, likely hoping he would finally get his name on the series. He tells Ali he is going to bring him along, but since Ali vanishes from the strip, I imagine he failed to get him through customs.
The rubber plantation is run by a new and sadistic foreman, and Dale and Daddy get there just in time for a native uprising. Dan shows up to join the fray, but once the natives have killed the foreman they give up, happy to be working for Mr. Daring again, who promises better conditions for them.
So they hang out in Brazil now. Dale gets a big picture of her face next to the title logo, in a failed attempt to convince the reader that she is the heroine of the series and not just the woman Dan Brewster will rescue over and over again. Dale and Dan go exploring in a haunted cave, looking for treasure, but after some cool stuff with time-lost Spanish pirates we find out that was just a dream.
Then Dale and Dan head to an island, where they come across ivory smugglers whose boat crashed. The boat the smugglers are using is fairly small, not practical for an ocean crossing, so I guess they were getting the ivory tusks from those famous Brazilian elephants we hear so much about.
Dale and Dan get captured (of course), and escape (of course) and find a military base, and lead the troops back to where the smugglers are. The smugglers mine the river, planning to destroy the boat Dale and Dan are on, but in fact wind up sailing into the mines and killing themselves.
And finally the series is done. I would have cancelled it after the eye patch guy with his cave of exotic pets.
Dale Daring: New Comics 4 – 8 (Apr -Sep 36), 11 (Dec 36)
New Adventure Comics 13 (Feb 37), 17 – 31 (June 37- Oct 38)
Adventure Comics 32 – 37 (Nov 38 – Apr 39)