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Posts tagged ‘All-American’

Gary Concord, Ultra-Man

The first two issues of this science-fiction serial have an engrossing backstory, complete unto itself, really.  In the year 2239, in the United States of North America, Gary Concord has been elected High Moderator, the position of greatest power.  He is the son of the man who “brought peace to the world,” and Gary is given a letter by his father, discussing his life.

The story jumps back to the “Great War of 1950,” and Gary’s grandparents dying young in the bombing in France.  Gary’s father (also named Gary, so I will just call him Dad to avoid confusion) grows up vowing to stop all war.  He becomes a great scientist, working on a “peace formula.”  His laboratory gets bombed, and his experiments and chemicals crash to the floor, and combine to create a growing foam.  Dad frantically writes out his peace formula as the foam seals him in suspended animation.

224 years later, another war cracks open the lab, and Dad emerges in the year 2174.  He is taller and more muscular than he was, and proves his worth to the future government by creating a flame pellet gun that they use to defeat Rebberizan, who seeks to take over the world himself.  We hear briefly of repeated battles between Rebberizan and Dad, while at the same time he falls for, and marries, Rebberizan’s daughter, Leandra.  After the birth of Gary, Rebberizan murders Leandra, and Dad strangles Rebberizan to death with his bare hands.

Aside from his murderous rage, he has brought peace to Earth with the suspended animation foam.  They simply fly overhead, spray the foam, wait until everyone has passed out in it, hose it off and toss everyone in jail.

So Dad lived another twenty years as High Moderator, and then died.  Gary ascends to this apparently democratic but monarchial appearing position, and is almost immediately attacked by people who want the secret of the foam.  He fights them off,but ponders his fathers last words in the letter: “in your hands lies peace over the world, before your eyes lies the goal.”  Must be right in front of him.

Will Gary Concord figure out how to get the peace foam?  Stay tuned until I reach him in the Early Golden Age (cause the series continues there.)


Gary Concord, Ultra-Man: All-American  8 – 9  (Nov -Dec39)

The American Way

I have covered a number of novel adaptations, and film adaptations were already being done, but so far as I know, The American Way is the first Broadway play adapted for a comic.  Serialized into 6 chapters, the play spans from 1896 until the late 1930s, following a German immigrant family who settle in Ohio.

Each installment opens with a blurb announcing that it is based on the Kaufman and Hart script of “a Samuel Harris and Max Gordon production, now playing at the Centre Theatre in New York City.”  The play was apparently a huge success for actor Frederic March, and the main character, Martin Gunter, is drawn to resemble him.

The story itself is kind of rah-rah-americana.  They come to the US, get rich through hard work.  World War I brings the family to crisis, unsure about fighting against other Germans, but the father gives a big speech about the wonders of being American, so his son goes off to fight and dies.  The grandson grows up and flirts with nazism, but the dad gets another big speech about the glories of the US, and the kid relents.

I can understand how it would have been popular at the time, but it’s so overdone it makes Forrest Gump look anti-american.


American Way:  All-American 5 – 10 (Aug 39 – Jan 40)

Wiley of West Point

This series was written by Lieutenant Richard Rick, and has the earmarks of authenticity.  In fact, it may be a bit too authentic for its own good, as much of it consists of the hassles of basic training, and Wiley’s rivalry with fellow cadet Baxter.  The series decreased in page count with issue 5, dropping to two pages from four, which certainly did not help speed up the action.

Bob Wiley is accepted at West Point, but right from his arrival keeps getting into trouble.  Not necessarily big trouble.  One issue ends with a captain yelling “Report Mr. Wiley for a loose button!”, which prompts the narration to comment “see what happens to Wiley next month!”  So we aren’t really dealing with high drama here.

Now to be fair, foreign spies replace dummy ammo with real stuff before a war game, though there are no actual injuries, and a delegation from Lubania plans to spy on West Point during their tour of the facility.  Wiley gets accused of tinkering with the ammo, and after spraying the Lubanian delegation with water (intended as a prank on another cadet), Wiley is brought up to be court-martialled.

We get to see his mother and his high school sweetheart, Betty Bailey, react with horror to the news of the court-martial.  Betty’s appearance is a bit of a surprise, as Wiley has been in a light romantic triangle with Sylvia King and Baxter.

Wiley of West Point continues in the Early Golden Age

Wiley of West Point:  All-American 1 – 9  (Apr – Dec 39)

Bobby Thatcher

The only one of the series debuting in All-American #1 that did not even last a year, Bobby Thatcher is a remarkably uninteresting strip about a young boy and his two friends, Tubby Butler and Elmer.  They go on an overnight campout to Gardener’s Island, get caught in a storm, and take refuge in an old abandoned house.

They find a treasure map in the house, though they lose part of it, and also discover an old man, who is also hunting for the treasure.

After a day in school, during which they fantasize about how they would spend their riches, they return to the island, but get captured by the mysterious man.  They escape, but their boat gets capsized on it’s way back to land.  They survive.

And that’s it.  Wow.  They failed to find buried treasure.  Someone wake me when it’s over.


Bobby Thatcher:  All-American 1 – 7  (Apr – Oct 39)

Ben Webster

This series appears to be continued from somewhere else, though I have no idea where.  The first panel informs us that Ben Webster, his dog Briar and friend Professor Matt Mattix have just returned from the world of Tammarunich, leaving behind Toby Baxter, Mary Jane and Chippo.  While that could just be fake backstory, I suspect these earlier chapters did exist.

Not that it really matters much.  Chippo has left a package with them, that contains thousands of dollars, and the story details the Professor`s greedy relatives moving in and forcing Ben out.  Ben finds notes for a thought recorder, and finds another scientist, Mr. Ented, to build it.  They have fun exposing the thoughts of politicians, students and art dealers.  A gang of spies steals the plans, and attacks Ben for the machine, but Mattx has called the Feds in, who save the day.

The last couple of chapters have Mattix open an experimental school for juvenile delinquents, teaching them with kindness.  That storyline will continue (I expect) in the upcoming chapters.

This is not a great series, not by any means, but does seem sort of inspired by Tintin

Ben Webster continues in the Early Golden Age

Ben Webster:  All-American 1 – 9 (Apr – Dec 39)

Adventures in the Unknown

Adventures in the Unknown is a science-fiction serial, featuring two college students, Alan Kane and Ted Dolliver, who get recruited by Professor Lutyens to travel to Mars in his spaceship, the Wanderer.

Issues 1 – 6 are titled “The Mystery Men of Mars.”  Lutyens has found a way to reverse gravity, and this will make the spaceship “fall upwards”, sending it to Mars.  Despite that somewhat nonsensical premise, the scenes as they travel through space use zero gravity accurately, in an era where that could only have been a wild guess.  They also wear spacesuits in the ship, for protection, though once they land on Mars they go back into the normal clothes before emerging on the planet.

Mars is run by odd looking robots, which contain the preserved brains of the long-dead martians.  The robots intend to seal the three travellers in specimen tubes for a museum, but Lutyens communicates using math – so again it seems the writer has some decent scientific understanding.  Lutyens chooses to stay on Mars, and has his brain removed from his aging body and placed in a  robot shell.

The boys show themselves fairly inept without the Professor to help them.  They take a robot guide to help them get back to the ship, but lose their way, and their guide, and have to “steal” another robot to get back to their ship.  They make it back to Earth, crash-landing in the Atlantic, but the robot ceases to function and almost no one believes their story.

The only one who does believe them is another scientist, Ignatius Lazar, who happened to be on the ship that rescued them, and saw the martian robot before it stopped working.  Turns out he has invented a time machine, the “tempomobile,” and enlists Alan and Ted in making a time trip with it.

This serial is called “A Thousand Years a Minute,” and begins in issue 7, but continues past my cut-off point.  Before they leave, the boys find a caveman skull with a bullet hole in it, and wonder about it (I’m certain we will see how it happens later in the story).  But for now, I will leave the two college kids trying to shoot dinosaurs with their rifles, and failing, in the paleolithic.

Adventures in the Unknown continues in the Early Golden Age

Adventures in the Unknown:  All-American 1 – 9  (Apr – Dec 39)


Scribbly is a humour series, one I am only covering because of the eventual appearances of the Red Tornado in it, but I do have to admit it is a delight to read.  Sheldon Mayer`s semi-autobiographical strip about a 13 year old boy, newly arrived in the city, who gets a job as a newspaper cartoonist.

We meet his struggling and no-nonsense mother, and tormenting younger brother Dinky.  Daphne, the girl at school he likes also debuts in issue 1.  Issue 3 introduces Ma Hunkel, and her children Huey, an aspiring writer and Scribbly`s new best friend, and Sisty, the younger sister.

The Hunkels are behind the `famous midget cartoonist`scam in issues 5 and 6 that first gets Scribbly hired at the newspaper.

One of the things I like best about Scribby is the use of his comic, Why Big Brudders Leave Home.  We occasionally see it in print in the paper in the stories, but each page of Scribbly has a small insert of the comic itself, showing the varied ways Dinky torments Scribby.  As well, the reader was encouraged to send in things from their own experiences, paid $1 if the idea was used, and given credit.

Scribby continues in the Early Golden Age

Scribbly:  All-American  1- 9  (Apr – Dec 39)

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