Lance O’Casey is a young red-headed sailor, who apparently owns only one set of clothing, a red and white striped shirt and some white trousers. He wears them in every single story. He lives on Maloana island, in the South Pacific, making a living selling pearls, it appears. He has a pet monkey named Mr. Hogan, and his schooner is named the Brian Boru.
If this character had not had a cameo in an issue of The Power of Shazam in the late 90s, I could have skipped him over and not thought twice about it; but as he does appear in a DC comic, he merits an entry, however grudgingly.
In Whiz Comics 4, a pirate treasure map leads him to Horseshoe Island, where he finds Captain Daniel Doom, a very old man with a long white beard, the grandson of the Captain Doom who made the map. Turns out Grampa Doom was a kidder as well as a pirate, as the treasure is worthless brass. But Doom and O’Casey become buddies, working together to build a new schooner after the Brian Boru is wrecked, and they sail back to Maloana together on the Brian Boru II in issue 6.
In most of the stories, O’Casey and Doom deal with angry natives, who they kill and rob in heroic fashion. They even make it to Peru in issues 15 and 16, heading inland to steal Inca gold (and of course kill the Incas who do not want their gold stolen.) The casual racism, and idea that the natives have no right to their own resources, becomes really appalling when you read it in story after story.
Mr. Hogan gets a girlfriend, Mabel, in issue 14. Mr. Hogan is the monkey, please recall. Mabel is a female monkey. Lance and Doom are not getting as much action as the monkey, which may explain why they are so eager to kill the natives.
Issues 18 – 21 follow our heroes to a tropical island in the Antarctic, which they get blown to by a hurricane. The stories in issues 18 and 19 were printed in reverse order, so they are on the island in issue 18, but the hurricaine brings them to the island in issue 19.
After a few more stories of killing and robbing native islanders, O’Casey winds up facing off against modern pirates (pirates kill and rob white people, which makes them bad) in Whiz 26. There is a woman with the pirates, Lorela, and though she escapes from them with O’Casey, he is not completely sure he can trust her, until she helps save him from vengeful natives in the following issue. Doom is not in this story, nor is Mabel. Neither appears again, and though their absence is never explained, the coincidence of them disappearing at the same time makes me suspect that Mabel and Captain Doom were having a secret romance, and took off together. Poor Mr. Hogan.
Lorela sticks around through issue 30, but with issue 31, the first after the attack on Pearl Harbour, the series undergoes some changes. Lorela and Mr. Hogan vanish. We had been lead to believe there might be some romance building between her and Lance, but it seems the monkeys get all the lovin in this strip.
In issue 31 Lance also has a new schooner, the Starfish, and helps two Mikes (Hawkins and Belliw) fleeing the Japanese fleet. Lance works alongside the US navy in this story, and Mike Hawkins joins the forces at the end of the tale, but Lance decides to fight the Japanese on his own, and Mike Belliw joins him on the schooner. Mike Belliw is from Brooklyn. Im not sure that has anything to do with his decision to fight Japanese subs and destroyers on a wooden schooner, but it’s the only information we ever get about him.
So for a while its Lance and Mike against the Japanese, but then it becomes Lance and Mike against the Japanese and evil natives for a few stories, as the asians recruit Dukwadl, the Zombie Maker in issue 44, and an island of cannibals in issue 45. The stories get further from reality, as Lance and Mike get trapped on an island outside of time, guarded by a giant cyclops in issue 48 and a Sea Dragon in 51. Issue 49 introduces the descendant of pirate Jean Lafitte, who decides to dress as his ancestor and follow in his footsteps. He gets captured at the end of the story, but is about the best villain Lance O’Casey ever faces.
In his final story before the series takes a hiatus for a couple of years, Lance and Mike are in India, and take a job as mercenaries, though they wind up fighting the Japanese anyway. Kip, a young orphaned beggar boy, basically attaches himself to the men, becoming their cook, cleaner and general houseboy (boatboy?)
Lance O’Casey returns in the Late Golden Age
Lance O’Casey: Whiz Comics 2 – 53 (Feb 40 – Mar 44)
All-Hero Comics 1 (Mar 43)