This series begins with a promising first chapter of a story called The Demon Dummy. There is too much text, but the tale of a ventriloquist framed and imprisoned by a shady cop, so he can steal the other man’s girlfriend, sets up an interesting revenge premise, and the abrasive dummy is always good for creepiness. But a bit too much happens before the chapter concludes. The cop gets caught and imprisoned, and the woman dies giving birth to the cop’s child. There is no one left for revenge to be taken against.
And so the second issue largely consists of the dummy urging the ventriloquist to act against the baby, which is just awful. The ventriloquist throws away the dummy, adopts the baby, and even winds up marrying a nurse. Not the ending one was expecting, but a decent enough one.
Sadly, that was as good as the Flash Picture Novelettes would get. The rest are all one-parters, and though there is a recurring character, Inspector Pierce, the stories themselves are convoluted and tedious.
It really seems that the intention with this series was to have more text than illustration in the stories. Each novelette has at least four or five panels that are nothing but text, and much of the time we just look at characters talking. Often they are sitting, frequently they are literally just talking heads. Nothing to grab the reader.
The bulk of the stories are mysteries, Inspector Pierce appearing in five of them, debuting in issue 4’s Where There’s a Will, and returning in The Money Vanishes (8), Two A.M. (10), The Hooded Horror (15) and the final story, Voice from the Dead, in issue 17. Issue 8 includes a box proclaiming it “Another Inspector Pierce Mystery”.
Issue 6 has a science-fiction story, Don Fuel and the Mystery Planet. Ranger Danger, in issue 11 is a western, and though there is a blackmailer in issue 13’s Shadows of the Past, it’s really a romance tale.
The series was replaced by Minute Movies, by the same creator. I do not have high expectations for it.
Flash Picture Novelette: Flash Comics 1 – 11 (Jan – Nov 40), 13, (Jan 41), 15 (Mar 41), 17 (May 41)