Spy lasted well into World War II, and though Bart Regan faced wave after wave of spies and saboteurs, curiously he never went to do any actual spying in Axis countries. Jerry Siegel continued as writer for the first year or so, but then the scripting was passed to lesser talents, as the art already had been.
The serious tone of the series continued throughout this era. We learn nothing more about Bart, never see him at home, and he has no regular partner, though in occasional stories he works with people he meets on the assignment. It all stays in the realm of possibility, though there are plans for amazing weapons, and a lightning gun in issue 38. But really, all these stories read much more like the police/detective stories that are currently running. Aside from the motivation of the criminals, many of the foreign plots play out like normal bad guys. For example, Bart deals with immigrant smuggling by the mob in issue 44, and in issue 73 deals with people who smuggle in cubans who are now smuggling in japanese.
Bart gets one interesting villain, in issue 46, who wears a mask but claims he was born deformed, with a goldfish-coloured head. The story gets followed up in issue 48 (more illegal immigrant smuggling), but Goldfish Man does not return.
From issues 55 – 57 Bart escorts and guards Jules Vortez, a “defector” travelling to Washington DC. I’m not sure if defector is the appropriate word, but his nebulous foreign country is on the Axis side, and has sent out assassins to kill him before he reaches the capitol.
Issue 65 features a murderous genius who implants explosives while pretending to be a repairman. Despite not actually being a foreign agent, in the splash for the story he is wearing a big swastika armband. The stories following 55 were written after the attack on Pearl Harbour, and until the end of his run Bart would be dealing with sabotage and weird plots to destroy America.
One thing you can’t help but notice in the last 20 or so tales is that anyone at all could be a Nazi plant or sympathizer. The candy shop owner, wrestlers, lunch wagon staff, monkeys, there are Nazis everywhere you turn, all plotting the downfall of the US.
While I can understand the fearful reaction to Pearl Harbour that resulted in this, I see the ground being laid for the communist witch hunts in the decade that followed.
Bart’s final case involved a native tribe that, while not actually harbouring secret Nazis itself, is the base of a white guide who is an undercover German agent.
I could send Bart off to the front lines, or behind them, at this point. But he has Sally back home, and a nest of kids by now I’m sure, so I think Bart gets promoted at this point, reaching the higher levels of power in the O.S.S., and likely help found the C.I.A. after the war.
Spy: Detective Comics 35- 77 (Jan 40 – July 43), 81 – 83 (Nov 43 – Jan 44)