Following the two part backstory, Gary Concord, Ultra-Man, tries to find his father’s formula for the suspended animation foam with the help of his chief advisor, named Guppy. Guppy is not the sort of name I associate with a chief advisor, but it’s 2240 A.D. after all.
Stella Tor, the daughter of the tyrannical leader of an undefined European country, tries to romance Gary, but he has none of it. Still, she gets wind of his father’s lab in the badlands, and they race there. Gary finds the formula as Stella bombs the lab with poison, but the foam neutralizes the toxins. Stella dies in the battle, and her father uses her death as a pretext to invade United America, launching assaults all down the east coast, presumably from the arctic to Argentina.
Gary has lots and lots of foam made, and at the same time develops an atomic ray that melts metal. He had Tor’s homeland, and all the troops on the flanks, foamed into passivity, and then leads the aerial war against Tor. These panels are really very good, if chaotic. Guppy sacrifices himself, and Gary convinces one of Tor’s generals, Alec, to switch sides (and become his new sidekick.) The atomic ray wipes out Tor’s forces, and Tor is sent to an asylum.
This storyline ran until All-American 13, with an epilogue of sorts in 14, that sees Tor in disguise, operating a machine that uses rays to create poison gas. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it does introduce Carlota Zambezi. She is effectively written, a red herring to decoy us from suspecting Dr. Stark, who turns out to be Tor. Carlota becomes Gary’s Chief of Science at the end of the story.
In issues 15 and 16 Gary deals with Dr. Marman’s monstrous creations, that are described much like clones, but look like robots. Marman has fallen under the control of Gardo, from an underwater city of finned apes. They steal a big Uranium X power plant, which Marman ultimately blows up to stop Gardo.
Issue 16 also introduces Ginger Jones, the flighty daughter of a senator, who has a huge and unrequited crush on Gary.
Not much is made of the Ultra-Man idea up to this point, but in his final issues, we are told about his “untiring energy and superior mental powers,” and when diplomacy does not get him what he wants, he removes his costume, saying “it’s time for Ultra-Man!” and then goes and beats people up.
Gary’s next appearance is in the first issue of All-Star Comics, and it, and the final serial that runs from All-American 17 – 19 are both extremely isolationist and anti-war. In both cases nations in Europe have gone to war, and the stories make it clear that the war is having a devastating effect on United America’s economy. With exports decreased, factories are closing, people are out of work, and poverty is leading to an increase in street crime. The tale in All-Star makes the bold statement that both sides in the European war are to blame.
This story would have been on the newstands as Germany was invading and occupying France, and I doubt its message went over well. In fact, I suspect the political slant of these tales is part of the reason the series ended.
Again, in both stories the wars turn out to be caused not by the nations themselves, they are being manipulated into it by evil corporations. In the All-Star story the main goal of the war in Europe is to depress the economy of United America so much that the powers behind the war can buy up their uranium mines at low prices.
The thing I liked best about this series, aside from the funky art deco futurism of the art, is the wordplay for future inventions. Elasteel is wonderfully self-explanatory, but my favourite is destroynamite.
Gary Concord, Ultra-Man is not seen again until a Legion of Super-Heroes Annual in the 90s.
Gary Concord, Ultra Man: All-American 10 – 19 (Jan – Oct 40)
All-Star 1 (Summer 40)