This series begins under the title Red Coat Patrol, and in the first installment O’Malley joins the mounties, becoming a constable. The series takes place somewhere in western Canada, possibly above the arctic circle, but really the only specifics given are that in one story O’Malley travels to “the Alberta region,” so he must not be in Alberta (and I would say, that curious phrasing also indicates the writer is not Canadian.)
Although O’Malley is aided in the stories by a native friend, Blackhawk, rather than another mountie, the stories consistently reflect an uncomfortable degree of racism toward the natives, and even moreso toward the metis. In the very first story O’Malley faces a crazed metis murderer, Frenchy La Rue (although he is consistently called half-breed, rather than metis). La Rue even makes a return appearance, escaping from prison in issue 42, killing again, and then trying to blow up O’Malley with dynamite, though he only succeeds in killing himself. No matter, there are more crazed metis killers where he came from, and O’Malley faces another in issue 49.
He also deals with troublesome natives, with Blackhawk helping him, rather than his brethren. In issues 40 and 48 natives threaten to kill whites, and are stopped by O’Malley. Issue 49 has some of the best art on the run, but makes the typical Hollywood mistake of having the big plains headdress and BC totem poles in the same tribe.
O’Malley also has a dog, Flame. Flame is rarely seen at the beginning of the run, and does little until issue 44. In that story, to prevent gold mine thieves from escaping in their plane, about to take off on a frozen lake, Flame runs across the ice with a rope, giving it to Blackhawk so he and O’Malley can catch the planes landing gear and make it crash. Flame almost gets shot in that one. But now that he has had a taste of action, Flame becomes a major player, even saving O’Malley’s life in 49, when he is hit by a logjam in the river.
The series changes title to Sergeant O’Malley and the Red Coat Patrol with issue 46, possibly reflecting a promotion.
Throughout the run, the art is above par, and even though it’s all stereotypical Canadian wilderness, it’s done very well. I don’t even mind the huge number of chapters that take place in the winter.
Sergeant O’Malley and the Red Coat Patrol continues in the Early Golden Age
Sergeant O’Malley: More Fun Comics 39 – 40 (Jan -Fen 39), 42 (Apr 39), 45-50 (July – Dec 39)