Cliff Cornwall is an FBI agent, whom the US army “borrow” to hunt down spies and saboteurs. In Flash Comics 16 we learn that Cliff is a reserve army air corps officer, which may explain why they chose him. He is a skilled pilot, and also shows familiarity with deep-sea diving.
Sheldon Moldoff lends his beautiful art to a few of the early stories, but his work is really just wasted here. The series is not bad, but hardly memorable.
His first case takes him to Alaska to discover why a number of pilots, and their planes, have gone missing, and he meets Lys Valliere on this case, bringing her back to Washington DC with him at the end. She never formally enters the FBI or military or anything, but accompanies Cliff on a number of his cases, and proves herself a useful partner – something he is always keen to point out. You can tell he has the hots for her.
Lys is in the first three stories, getting very jealous in the last one as Cliff appears to fall for a foreign spy, but it turns out he is just playing with her, setting her up to deliver false information back to her superiors.
Lys does not appear again until issue 11, long enough that I thought we would never see her again, but she gets one more appearance after that, in issue 15. Cliff has no other supporting cast, just a long series of foreign spies, about half of whom are female seductresses.
The stories in issues 10 and 11 are set in the Philippines, and Cliff has to find foreign spymaster Goldie, who has had the natives stirred up against the Americans, hoping to make them pull out their bases. Goldie gets captured by Cliff after he saves her life, which makes a big enough impression on her that after her men grab Cliff and free her, she winds up changing sides and helping to bring down her comrades. She gets pardoned and released into Cliff’s custody, but gets shot and killed at the end of the story.
Not a lot else to say about this series. In issue 13 Snowland gets invaded. From the map they display, this is clearly Greenland, which makes it very odd that Cliff cites the Monroe Doctrine as a reason to invade the country.
Cliff’s series ends mid-1941, and I expect he fell foul of some foreign spy. Probably a guy, he always was suspicious of the women.
Cliff Cornwall: Flash Comics 1 – 17 (Jan 40 – May 41)