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Posts tagged ‘All-Hero Comics’

Lance O’Casey


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)

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Spy Smasher


The Spy Smashes series begins with the interesting premise that the hero’s identity is a secret even from the reader.  For the first fourteen stories of his run, Spy Smasher carries on a crusade against the plans of The Mask, a foreign spy master whose agents try sabotage, kidnapping, propaganda and murder to destroy the morale of the US, which is not yet even at war.

Spy Smasher is often shown only in shadow in these tales, to keep up the mystery of his identity, but the writer neglected one critical factor:  giving the reader possible suspects.  There are only four recurring characters in the strip.  Admiral Corby works for naval intelligence, and Spy Smasher is usually aiding him.  Corby has a daughter, Eve, who becomes his personal secretary in Whiz Comics 5, and Eve has a fiancee, Alan Armstrong, “a wealthy young Virginia sportsman,” who occasionally fights to save Eve and her father, and unmasks a couple of spies, but is never around when Spy Smasher is in the room.  Gee, who could it possibly be?

The fourth recurring character is Zambo, the Admiral’s Filipino houseboy.  He appears only in the first year of the series, and it seems fairly clear that he is really The Mask, though that never gets revealed.  The Mask dies in issue 15 without his identity being exposed, though Zambo never appears again after this story.

Alan is finally revealed to be Spy Smasher in Whiz 15, although Eve saw his face back in issue 3.  Admiral Corby is let in on the secret in this story as well.

Spy Smasher wears a brown aviator suit, with the headgear and goggles, and a cape.  There is a diamond emblem on his chest, though it does not stand out much until issue 19, when they start colouring it black.  His costume abruptly changes colour to green in Whiz Comics 26, with the black diamond getting a red outline.  As there was a Spy Smasher movie serial being released at around this time, I suspect the colour change was done to match the movie.  It’s a good change, brown has never been a colour for superheroes.

Spy Smasher generally relies on his fists, or guns, when battling the incessant hordes of spies out to destroy America, but he does have one neat piece of equipment, his gyrosub.  This is introduced in his first appearance, as a combination airplane, autogyro (helicopter), speedboat and sub.  It looks like a short, fat airplane.  The watercraft elements are rarely used, and pretty much forgotten as the series progresses.  By 1943 the shape of the craft has changed as well, almost looking like a flying saucer.  It has two large triangular wings running the entire length of the fuselage, giving the craft almost a diamond shape.  The diamond symbol on his costume is never explained, but I do wonder if the ship’s shape was altered to match it.

What prompted Alan to become Spy Smasher is never explained. While it is not surprising that no story in Whiz Comics addresses his “origin”, as his very identity was a secret at the start, it is remarkable that this was not the subject of the lead story in Spy Smasher 1.  Following the “rule” established by Superman 1, the lead stories in Captain Marvel Adventures 1 and Ibis the Invincible 1 gave extended versions of the character’s origin, so at this point we really ought to have learned why he chose to put his costume on in the first place.

In his last two encounters with The Mask, in Whiz 14 and 15, we get to see the Hypno-Chair, a device the Mask has created to brainwash and control people.  Spy Smasher gets captured and controlled using the chair, and even though the Mask is dead, Spy Smasher goes on a destructive and traitorous rampage through issues 16 – 18.  Captain Marvel guests (and Spy Smasher appears in the Captain Marvel stories in Whiz) in these issues, trying to capture Spy Smasher, and restore his mind.  Captain Marvel almost gets him into the Hypno-Chair in issue 18, but Spy Smasher destroys it.  It comes down to a battle of wills, and through sheer mental effort Captain Marvel restores Alan’s mind.  Captain Marvel and Spy Smasher team-up again in Whiz Comics 33, to defend the USS Alaskazona.

America Smasher is introduced in Spy Smasher 2, a German agent constructing a giant bomber which Alan manages to destroy just before it reaches the US.  He believes America Smasher to have died in the plane crash, but the Nazi returns in a number of stories, building a secret munitions factory (America’s Greatest Comics 1),  trying to destroy the Panama Canal (Whiz 31), using propaganda to try to destroy the morale of the Americans (Spy Smasher 5), and trying to kill Admiral Corby at a New Year’s party (Whiz 39).

There are some other interesting nazi agents that he faces off against, Dark Angel in Spy Smasher 1, the Tigress in Spy Smasher 2, the Golden Wasp in Spy Smasher 7 – but despite their names and costumes, they are really just foreign agents with elaborate schemes.  No one in this series has any kind of powers.

Although this series makes it feel like the US was at war by early 1940, when the States actually enters the war, Spy Smasher starts having adventures outside the US.  I should also mention that Spy Smasher 4 features a story, “The Crime of Pearl Harbour,” that has him fail to stop the attack.  Spy Smasher has numerous stories on Pacific islands, and even heads to Tokyo in Spy Smasher 9.  He helps the French underground in America’s Greatest 3, and discovers that Admiral Corby’s nephew Stuart is not a traitor, but has pretended to join the Germans to spy on them for the French.  He helps the Yugoslav resistance in Spy Smasher 7, is in Berlin in Spy Smasher 10, and Brazil in Spy Smasher 11.

The story in Whiz Comics 44 scared me when I read the title, “The Junior Spy Smashers of America,” but fortunately this was a one-off idea, as some kids spot a Nazi sub debarking spies on the coast, and help Spy Smasher bring them in.  They do not become a gaggle of sidekicks.

Spy Smasher continues in the Late Golden Age

Spy Smasher:  Whiz Comics 2 – 56  (Feb 40 – July 44)

Spy Smasher 1 – 11  (Fall 41 – Feb 43)

America’s Greatest Comics 1 – 6  (Fall 41 – Winter 42), 8 (Summer 43)

All-Hero Comics 1  (Mar 43)

Ibis the Invincible


Ibis the Invincible is an Egyptian prince, Amentep, who used his magical Ibistick (looks like a bottle opener) to sleep away the centuries until his beloved Taia was revived from death.  He emerges from his mummy case, retrieves the Ibistick and uses it to awaken Taia.  In both tellings of his origin, Whiz Comics 2, and the later, more detailed version in Ibis the Invincible 1, he is to sleep until she is revived, but he wakes first and revives her.  This irritates me, especially when the contradiction occurs on the same page!

But aside from that, this is not a bad series.  It does take a while to find its bearings.  Many of the stories in the first two years use cliffhanger endings, which get a bit tiresome.  The Ibistick has the power to literally do anything, it acts on the person’s wishes, spoken or simply thought, so most cliffhangers are fairly easily resolved.

The difficulty in figuring out what can possibly challenge Ibis likely lead to the repetitive nature of his early stories.  Ibis tends to lose/drop/loan the Ibistick, and the person who winds up in possession makes all manner of wishes, but when confronted by Ibis tries to use the Ibistick against him.  The Ibistick then causes whatever the person intended for Ibis, to happen to the wisher instead.

Of the early Ibis stories, the best by far occurs in Whiz Comics 6.  A fisherman finds the Ibistick, which was lost at the end of the previous chapter.  It provides him with a huge haul of fish.  The fisherman, not realizing the powers of the wand, gives it to his son, who wishes he had a bicycle instead.  The bike materializes, and he rides off, leaving the Ibistick behind.  A dog grabs the stick, wishing for a steak, which he then gets.  A hobo tries to get the steak, but gets the wand instead, and winds up riding his own private train car.  Ibis finally catches up with the wand, the hobo tries to use it against him, and loses everything.

Taia stays at Ibis’s side throughout his adventures.  Sure she gets captured occasionally, but at least he doesn’t keep dropping or losing her. She has no powers, though she uses the Ibistick occasionally, but she is ready with her dagger when the need arises.  Ibis also has a crystal ball that he can use to find Taia, or the Ibistick, but he rarely uses it.

Ibis wears a modern day suit, and a turban.  There are a huge amount of artists who work on this series, so the basic simplicity of the costume was a plus.  Even still, some artists gave him a cape as well.

In Whiz Comics 7, as Ibis and Taia drive across the country to California, they meet a young orphan boy at a carnival, working for a drunk who does a William Tell act, shooting an apple off the boys head.  They more or less adopt him, and he travels with them as they deal with nebulous asian villain Piang in issues 9 and 10.  At the end of the story in issue 19, they enroll Tommy in a military academy.

Tommy remains important over the next few issues, as he is framed for cheating, and later kidnapped by Trug, Ibis’ main rival in his debut appearance in Whiz 13.  Trug is also of nebulous asian descent, maybe from India.  He wears a turban as well, and has a knowledge of magic.  He is able to disguise himself instantly, and pull off some other basic illusions, but craves the Ibistick.  Trug appears in every story between issues 13 and 20, and returns periodically throughout the run.  In issue 31 he tricks Tommy into believing Ibis is his real father, and the kid actually falls for this, at least until Ibis tells him otherwise.  Tommy graduates from the Academy at the end of this story, and immediately enlists in the airforce.  He is not seen again during this era.  Trug acquires “The Horrible Hand in issue 34”, “The Living Paintings” in 40, and “The Murderous Ice Monkey” in 55, his final appearance in this era.

Ibis deals with a crazed Nazi, Half-Man, in issues 21 – 24.  Severely wounded, missing limbs and a eye and just overall looking sort of like he should be dead, Half-Man pursues Ibis, hoping to get the Ibistick and heal himself.  This story comes to a very nice conclusion, as Ibis defeats him, but then uses the stick to heal him anyway.  Whole again, and grateful, Half-Man (or I guess Whole-Man now) deserts the German army and joins the US forces.

In issue 25 Ibis and Taia head to Egypt, where rebellious muslims revive Rameses to lead them against the British.  Rameses is rendered in full-out horror movie style, a decaying mummified corpse, with his own agenda.  He kills the men who revived him, taking their army as his own.  The Rameses story runs to issue 28, and he returns in Ibis the Invincible 2.

The Flying Dutchman is introduced in Whiz 27, returning in issue 37.  The first story is fairly good, though it interrupts the Rameses serial, but the return tale has such a painful ending.  The Flying Dutchman finds love and is relieved of his curse.  Yes, fine, that`s the traditional ending to the tale, but he and his crew return to life at this point, and as they are Dutch, they go off to fight the Nazis.  Why bring a decent villain back just to get rid of him completely?

Ibis gets pitted against a variety of mystical foes, including the Headless Horseman (Whiz 30), a revived Atilla the Hun (33), the City of Skeletons (44) and even the norse trickster god Loki, in issue 50.

The worst Ibis story of the period is in Whiz Comics 46, “The Missing Leprechaun.”  This story introduces Banshee O’Brien, a young boy apprentice, who does not get to use the Ibistick, instead he learns spells.  Clearly intended as a thoroughly unnecessary boy sidekick for Ibis, he does not appear again.  I know I breathed a sigh of relief when he was not in issue 47.

Ibis the Invincible continues in the Late Golden Age

Ibis the Invincible:  Whiz Comics 2 – 56  (Feb 40 – July 44)

Ibis the Invincible  1 – 2  (Spring 42 – Spring 43)

All-Hero Comics 1  (Spring 43)

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