Tex Thompson was Bernard Bailey’s second series for DC, and like his previous one, The Buccaneer, the art improved hugely in a very brief period of time. Tex Thompson had made a fortune in oil back home, and was now travelling the world, having adventures.
His first story sees him in England, getting framed for murder, and proving his innocence with the aid of two young children. He wears a large stetson hat, but only for this tale. Contrary to how he would look in later years, Tex has blond hair in these stories.
Issue 2 begins a three-part story that takes Tex to the south-eastern European nation of Nestralia. He now has a travelling buddy (and sidekick), Bob Daley. Bob was short, bald, had glasses and a big moustache, but was not overly played for comic relief. They are hunting for the legendary `sealed city,`buried by a volcano, and manage to find it fairly quickly. It is a ruled by the One-Eyed Gorrah, but there is also the `real`Gorrah, who he has overthrown. Tex, Bob and the real Gorrah defeat the One-Eyed Gorrah by disguising themselves as Gorrahs. The overuse of that word adds a bit of confusion to the story, as does the huge jump between issues 3 and 4. The ousting of One-Eye for Real happens between the issues, rather than being shown.
After an enjoyable one-shot, reminiscent of early Hitchcock spy movies, Tex gets captured after being mistaken for Captain Diablo. He is forced to pretend to be Diablo while seeking him out. As part of this, he grows a black pencil moustache, which he continues to sport after Diablo has been captured and he is free again.
Tex and Bob leave Europe after this, and head to China where they wind up on an island with a mad scientist wanting to put human brains into apes. He already has one hybrid, his servant Koyto. Very intense ending to this 2-parter, as other apes, distressed at seeing Koyto talk and wear clothing, rip him and the scientist to pieces with their hands.
After another asian adventure, a 3-parter in search of an island of Malays ruled by a white woman (who of course wants to marry Tex), Tex returns to the US, and puts an ad in the newspaper, offering his help and seeking more adventures.
A few more tales that remind me of Hitchcock movies, and then a really terrible thing happens in this series. Tex sees a slave being beaten and rescues the man. This is Gargantua T Potts, who looks more like a monkey than like a black man. It is embarrassingly uncomfortable to even look at the character, who now joins Bob as one of Tex`s sidekicks, but played almost grotesquely for comic relief.
There is a good story in issue 17, set in Constantinople, dealing with the political and military situation there before the war, but once Tex calls for `Gargie` you just want it to end.
Issues 19 and 20 are set in Africa, pitting Tex against a zombie army. In many ways this is another excellent tale, ruined largely by Gargantua`s presence – but what I find most notable is that all the other black men, the Africans, are drawn to look like people. Even amidst them, and in native garb, Gargantua is still drawn to look like a monkey.
Tex Thompson continues in the Early Golden Age
Tex Thompson: Action Comics 1 – 20 (June 38 – Jan 40)