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Posts tagged ‘Bernard Bailey’

Hourman


Shy and meek young chemist Rex Tyler creates the Miraclo pill, which gives a person enhanced strength, speed, resilience and stamina, as well as making his personality alter to aggressive and outgoing, and becomes the first drug-addict superhero, Hourman.  It is not acknowledged in his original run that he is a drug addict, but it is difficult not to see this in the series, and the change from the Miraclo pill to Miraclo ray towards the end of the run seems to indicate that DC felt the character needed some cleaning up.

Rex is never given any background, or relatives, or girlfriend.  At first his supporting cast is limited to his boss at Bannerman Laboratories, Mr. Bannerman.  Bannerman criticizes Rex for being so introverted in the early stories, and in the first couple we see that Rex’s personality alters when he takes Miraclo, and that after it wears off he crashes, and reverts to his old persona.  This appears to stop happening after a while, and Rex becomes more Hourman-ish even without Miraclo, which is likely why by Adventure Comics 65 he has become Bannerman’s chief assistant.

The Miraclo pill gives Rex his enhanced abilities for one hour, and the first story includes insets counting down how much longer his powers will last.  This clever device to build suspense is not used again until issue 70, but becomes standard for the last year of the run.

Bernard Bailey gave Rex a memorable, if simple, costume.  Black tights and top, cape and hood, with red highlights.  The hood hangs loosely down over the face, with holes over the eyes.  Even as a child I wondered about the practicality of this; how the hood stayed in position while he ran, rather than flopping back and exposing his face, and how he managed to see if he turned his head and his eyes no longer lined up with the holes.  Again, in the final year this seems to be acknowledged, as Rex’s hood is replaced by a form-fitting cowl.

Around his neck, Rex wears an hourglass on a cord.  This timer fairly obviously is of use for him to determine how much longer the Miraclo will last, although at no point is it ever used that way in the original run.

In his first two stories, Rex places ads in newspapers, offering to help those in need, and answers a wife’s request to stop her husband from being part of a jewel robbery at the Beaux Arts Ball in the debut appearance.  In Adventure 55 we learn that Rex is based in a city called Cosmos, which is a very odd name for a city, but this has never been referred to again.

Rex faces off against a number of mad scientists, as well as kidnappers, gamblers, thieves, and the like, but never gets any recurring villains.  For that matter, he never gets any really good villains either.  Dr. Togg, who creates nasty dog/vulture hybrids called Gombezis in Adventure Comics 57, returns decades down the road, but aside from the unusual name for his unusual creations, there is little noteworthy about him in his only golden age story.

Rex pops his Miraclo pill quite casually in his first few adventures, but then we stop seeing him do this, it is merely referred to, and I think it is not a coincidence that the pill popping panels disappear in the stories that give him a gaggle of kid sidekicks.  The only two times we see him take Miraclo after his first 8 stories are in issues 63 and 67, neither of which feature the Minutemen of America.

Adventure Comics 54 introduces Jimmy Martin, a HAM radio operator and fan of Hourman, who gets other kids who are amateur radio operators to form a gang to assist Hourman.  The very logo of the series changes to reflect this becoming “Hourman and Minute Man Martin of the Minutemen of America.”  Jimmy is the most important of this group at first, although visually the boy with the turtleneck sweater covering most of his face, and a giant cap covering much of what little is left, is the notable one.  In All-Star 2 this boy is finally named, Thorndyke, and he is established as Jimmy’s younger brother.  Many of the stories deal with other Minutemen, who get into trouble, or the family members do, or they witness a crime, which winds up bringing Hourman into the tale, but none of these kids are featured in more than one story.

In issues 72 and 73 Jimmy becomes an actual sidekick for Hourman, wearing an identical costume, though in issue 73 he lacks the cowl, and just wears a domino mask.  In Adventure 74 we learn that Jimmy and his mother have left on a trip, from which they never return, and Thorndyke becomes his sidekick instead, though never wearing a costume like Jimmy’s.  Issue 75 informs us that Thorndyke’s last name is Tomkins, which is very unusual if he is the younger brother of Jimmy Martin, so perhaps there is more going on here, with the mother taking off with one of her sons and leaving the other behind.  Did Jimmy and Thorndyke have different fathers?  As well,  in issue 75 Thorndyke is aware that Rex is Hourman, though in none of the earlier stories did any of the Minutemen know his identity.

From this point to the end of the run the series is called “Hourman and Thorndyke.”  None of the Minutemen appear again, and Rex has replaced the Miraclo Pill with the Miraclo Ray (or Miraclo Machine in issue 82).  Having it be a ray that gives the powers, rather than a pill, was likely done so that Rex and Thorndyke could get powered up together, rather than having the hero give a child a drug.

Hourman’s series ends in Adventure Comics 83, and Rex does not return until a JLA/JSA crossover in the Silver Age.  Thorndyke does not return until the late 90s, in Young Justice.

 

 

Hourman:  Adventure Comics 48 – 83  (Mar 40 – Feb 43)

New York World’s Fair  1940

All-Star Comics 2  (Fall 40)

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The Spectre


The Spectre was the first dead hero.  When he was alive he was hard-edged cop Jim Corrigan, who shared a room in a boarding house with his partner in the force, Wayne Grant, while romancing wealthy socialite Clarice Winston, to the dismay of her parents.  Jim is trying to bring down mobster “Gat” Benson, and gets a tip from stoolie Louie Snipe that turns out to be a set-up.  Benson’s men capture Jim and Clarice, and put Jim in a barrel of cement, tossing him into the river.

Jim dies, but his soul is called by God (not named or shown, but the clouds and beam of light that accompany the all-powerful being kind of make it obvious).  Jim is to remain on Earth battling crime, and his astral, ghostly form emerges from the barrel and the river.  Jim saves Clarice and takes vengeance on his killers, turning one into a skeleton.

As the Spectre he is virtually omnipotent himself.  He can read minds, fly, turn invisible and intangible, grow to great heights or shrink.  He can travel through space, or to other realms, transform people into things (like ice, and then they melt).  He can inhabit inanimate objects, making the move and speak, and can even take on the form of other people.

But Jim is dead, and this stresses him out.  He moves out of the boarding house, and calls off his engagement to Clarice.  Wayne remains his partner on the force, though he appears less often as the series goes on, making his final appearance in More Fun 64.  Clarice refuses to give up on Jim, and keeps trying to patch things up, though her appearances are sporadic as well.

My favourite moment in his two-part origin story is the panel in which he sews his Spectre costume.  As the Spectre, he wears a white body stocking, covering him from head to toe, and a long dark green cloak with a hood, with matching gloves and boots, and shorts.  Aside from this one panel, it really does not seem like the Spectre wears a white thing under his cape.  He is a ghost after all, and it feels like his white body is simply his ghostly form.  At first, Jim turns into the Spectre, though in later stories the Spectre will emerge from him – sometimes both will happen over the course of the same tale.  But never again do we get to see him put a costume on.

The Spectre was created by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey, and Bailey would stick with the series until it ended.  Siegel’s name continues popping up in the credits, and no other writer is ever credited, but not all stories are ascribed to him.

The Spectre’s stories take place in Cliffland, for the most part, though issue 61 refers to Centre City, and 82 to Gotham Town.  As Cliffland is mentioned before, between, and after these two stories, I believe those are both names of suburbs, or sections of the city.

The Spectre stories are at their most intense at the outset.  They have the feeling of a horror series, not a hero one, and the Spectre’s appearance is threatening.  He thinks nothing of killing bad guys, in horrific ways, and will fly them into space simply to scare them and make them reveal information.

In his first two years, the Spectre faces his most powerful foes.  Zor is a master magician who rivals the Spectre in power.  He faces the Spectre in issues 55 and 57 of More Fun, and their battles see them changing size, and paralyzing each other, temporarily.  The godly voice informs the Spectre of Zor’s vulnerability to ectobane, and the Spectre manages to imprison Zor in a coffin made of it.  Zor returns in the late 90s.

Xnon wears a costume almost identical to that of the Spectre, though in dark purple, and uses advanced alien science to steal an entire train, and create a giant image of the Spectre so that he will get the blame.  The Spectre cannot best Xnon, and the godly voice gives him the Ring of Life, which enables the Spectre to seal Xnon in a meteor.  I really enjoy Bailey’s art throughout the Spectre series, but the meteor is a very childish five pointed yellow star, and the worst illustration of the run.

The Ring of Life gives the Spectre the edge in what few battles he finds difficult.  The character was already so powerful, and this really would prove to be too much.  He uses it in More Fun 63, which came out a few months after All-Star 2, but I believe the order of the stories should be reversed, as the Spectre loses the Ring in All-Star, as he battles the three-eyed High Priest of Brztal, Kulak, who causes the “whispering death,” that drives people into murderous frenzies.  The Spectre does not sacrifice the Ring, he simply loses it as they chase each other through mystical dimensions and throw comets at each other.  Kulak, and the Ring of Life, return in All-Star Squadron in the 80s.

Bandar makes three appearances fighting the Spectre, though he only gets named in the last one, and it is not clear if that is his real name anyway.  He, like Xnon, wears a purple costume almost identical to the Spectre, and seems to be a force of pure evil, from some other dimension.  He debuts in More Fun 63, returns in 64 as a living shadow, and then in 70, leading the Crimson Circle Mystical Society, killing those who attempt to leave his cult.

Issue 73 is the last of the “classic” Spectre stories, as he deals with a mystical volcano that appears in the centre of Cliffland.  The final panel of that story introduces Percival Popp, the Super-Cop, and the Spectre series begins its decline.

At first, the only really bad thing about Percival Popp is his name.  He is an amateur detective who has become a fan of Jim Corrigan, and hides in the trunk of his car to meet him.  Jim wants nothing to do with the geeky, bespectacled man, but Popp does prove himself a competent detective.

In issue 75, the godly voice allows Jim to return to life, but retain his powers.  Jim being alive is never mentioned again, and makes little sense as far as retaining his powers goes, but the whole purpose is to allow him to reconcile with Clarice, so that she can more easily appear in the stories.

The look of the Spectre changes at this time as well.  Not a huge difference, the costume remains the same, but the cowl now has a bit of a peak to it, making his face clearer, and the cloak is usually over his shoulders and behind his back, instead of being draped around him, making the Spectre appear less ghostly, and more of a hero.  He still likes flying bad guys into space to scare them, but no longer kills them, and tends to simply beat them up.

As the series trudges forward, Percival becomes more and more important in the tales, and more and more incompetent as well.  In More Fun 90 Jim enlists in the army, and leaves the invisible ghostly form of the Spectre behind to hang out with Percival.  The Spectre is basically reduced to Percival Popp’s guardian angel.  These stories are not really bad, and Bailey’s art remains enjoyable, but the series has moved just so far away from the frightening and violent early days.

The Spectre makes his last appearance in More Fun 101.  He does not return until the 60s, in a JLA/JSA crossover.  Percival Popp makes a surprisingly good return in the Ostrander/Mandrake series in the 90, and Clarice returns in that book as well.

 

The Spectre:  More Fun  52 – 101  (Feb 40 – Jan/Feb 45)

All-Star Comics  1-2  (Summer – Fall 40)

Tex Thompson / Mr. America / Americommando (Early Golden Age)


Tex Thomson‘s series continues, but more than any other series from this era, it will alter dramatically throughout the duration of it’s run.  In fact, the changes it goes through, coupled with Bailey’s ever-improving art, makes it one of the more enjoyable series to read.  If only it wasn’t for Gargantua T. Potts.

That being said, Gargantua makes his final appearance in Action Comics 25, spending some time with Tex and Bob Daley at Tex’s camp in Maine, Golden Gates.  They encounter a mysterious amnesiac, being pursued by gangsters.  For a few panels it looks like Gargantua will be the one to save the day, but again he is reduced to racist comic relief.

In Action 26 Gargantua is gone.  We learn that he has enlisted with the French army as a cook, and that he is of Senegalese descent (meant to explain why he did such a thing).  While I was glad to see the last of him, this story was cover-dated March of 1940, meaning Gargantua joined the French army just in time for the Nazi invasion of France.

Issue 26 also introduces Special Prosecutor Maloney, who swears Tex and Bob in as agents reporting directly to him, needing their skills to help fight a crime wave.  Tex infiltrates the main gang, discovering that their leader is the supposedly honourable Vander Wallace.  Tex winds up shooting and killing Vander Wallace as he gives a public address, the audience completely unaware of Wallace’s criminal ties.  One would expect this to have some major repercussions, but Maloney is content to keep Tex and Bob as his staff.

Issue 26 also introduces Miss X, a woman with knowledge of the mob, who sometimes seems to be working with them, but who will constantly act to protect or aid Tex.  She will return in issues 27, 29 and 30.  It seems fairly clear that she is meant to be the daughter of Maloney, who is introduced in Action 27 as Janice, though called Peggy in 29 and 30.  As Miss X, she sometimes has a hat on, and always a pair of sunglasses, but that’s it for disguise.  Tex mentions to Bob in issue 30 that he believes he knows who she is, and if she is in fact Maloney’s daughter, Tex certainly should be able to recognize her.  But as her plot thread gets simply abandoned, there is never a big reveal of her identity.  Neither Miss X nor Janice/Peggy Maloney appear again after issue 30.  Perhaps they went to join Gargantua in France.

Issues 27 and 28 also feature the return of the Gorrah, still seeking vengeance on Tex for his earlier defeats.  The Gorrah manages to get Tex under a hypnotic spell in issue 27, sending him out to kill.  Miss X shoots Tex to prevent him from becoming a murderer, and though it’s just a glancing wound, the shock breaks Tex out of the spell.

In issue 33 the series changes name to Mr. America.  Tex resigns from Maloney’s staff when he is given a special assignment by the war relief commission, to accompany a ship across the Atlantic, and prevent a plot to blow it up.  He fails at that, the ship gets sunk and Tex is believed dead.  Later, a black haired man wearing a red cape, white shirt and blue trousers, a domino mask and carrying a whip tracks down those behind the explosion and brings them to justice.  He calls himself Mr. America, but Bob almost immediately recognizes him as Tex.

Tex decides to maintain the Mr. America identity, for some reason feeling that it’s important that the world believe Tex Thomson to have died when the ship sunk.  In the first few months, we will see blond haired Tex hanging with Bob, before going into action as the black haired Mr. America.  It’s difficult to tell if he is meant to be wearing a wig or dyeing his hair, but as he simply stops ever appearing as a blond within a year, it becomes safe to assume it’s a dye job.

As Mr. America he uses what he calls a “yankee doodle feather” to announce his presence.  This is a feather coloured red, white and blue.  Tex will drop one of these in among the bad guys before he starts fighting them, and although it always has the effect of scaring the bad guys, one cannot help but think Tex would fare better with the element of surprise, particularly as they often have guns, and he just has a whip.

Tex’s main prey as Mr. America are spies and fifth columnists, and the series becomes far more military-oriented. The Gorrah makes one last appearance, in issue 38, working with Nazi agents, though he betrays them in the end, preferring to pursue his goal of vengeance over their plot against the army.  At first Gorrah believes Tex to have died, and is out to kill Bob, but he learns the truth, and the identity of Mr. America, just before perishing in the explosion intended for a educator’s convention.

I should also point out that Tex’s last name is consistently spelled Thomson in this era, though in later times it will always be spelled Thompson.  So in case you are thinking that I just made a spelling error in the title and tags, I didn’t, it was an active choice.

In Action 42, sad at being left behind so often, Bob Daley decides to take on a masked identity of his own.  He puts on long red underwear and a lampshade on his head, and armed with a broom and a squirt gun of ink, takes to the streets as Fat Man.  Tex has no idea of Fat Man’s indentity at first, he has been busy in his secret cabin/laboratory in the woods making his cape function as a flying carpet.

The following issue takes the series to its goofiest point.  Maloney makes his final appearance as giant monsters attack Centre City (the only time the city is identified).  Tex flies around on his cape and Fat Man hits people with brooms.  Tex talks all manner of crap about Fat Man to Bob, only later discovering the two are the same man.  The giants are revealed as robots (which is hardly less dangerous), and Tex takes out the bad guys after Bob is knocked unconscious, but leaves them so Fat Man will get the credit.

Action 44 has Bob learn that Tex knows his identity, and it is also the final appearance of the flying cape.  Tex uses it to escape from German agents who have been sabotaging factories, making it fly while it is still around his neck.  Although he does get away, I think it likely caused some major neck strain, probably why he retired it.

From issues 46 -49 Tex deals with the machinations of the Queen Bee, the first of many DC villains to use this name.  This Queen Bee has no powers, she is a heartless criminal mastermind, content to work with Nazi spies as they attempt to terrorize the public with giant robots, rob a Red Cross benefit, or attack the navy.  In Action 49 we meet her scientist father, and learn that it was a failed experiment with a machine that would eliminate worry that caused her to lose all sense of right and wrong.  The Queen Bee gets captured,  and her father manages to de-program her, ending her criminal career.

Issue 52 features Tex chasing down a Nazi who escaped from a Canadian prison camp and entered the US, but the billing is Mr. America and Fat Man as The Americommandos.  Bob only appears in a non-speaking cameo in this story.

In issue 53, the credits read The Americommando and Fat Man, as they head to Hollywood to deal with sabotage on the set of a war film, and discover the producer is working with the Nazis.  Tex is called the Americommando, but there is no apparent reason for the change of name.

With issue 54, the series truly does become Americommando.  Tex is secretly brought to FDR himself, and ordered to undergo extensive training to become the Americommando, proficient with all weaponry, able to pilot planes and tanks, and multilingual.  Bob is requested to stay behind and fight crime as Fat Man, and this is his final appearance, unless one considers The Golden Age miniseries from the mid-90s as canonical.

Tex travels to England, and is given the assignment to go undercover as Captain Otto Riker of the Gestapo, and sent behind enemy lines.

Tex only manages to succeed in the Riker disguise for issue 55, with 56 Hitler himself brings in the Japanese Dr. Ito, also called the Little One, to determine who the Americommando is, and Ito has little problem figuring out Riker is a fraud.  This prompts Tex to take on the identity of a French painter in issue 57, but he calls himself Jean Valjean, which Ito recognizes as the main character from Les Miserables, so that disguise fails as well.

One thing that makes it easier to figure out Tex’s identity is that he no longer wears the mask with the rest of his Mr. America costume.  In fact, that is about the only difference between Mr. America and the Americommando.  Despite all his weapons training, he still tends to rely on his fists and whip.

Ito pursues the Americommando in France again in issue 58, but then Tex starts travelling a bit more, heading to Italy, Greece and the Netherlands, uncovering Nazi plans, communicating defenses, and working with the undergrounds of the different countries.

Dr Ito returns in issue 62, as Tex blows up an oil storage facility in Romania.

Action 63 sees Tex’s greatest challenge, to steal plans that Hitler carries on himself at all times.  He succeeds by turning Hitler’s propaganda against him accepting a challenge to fight a Nazi champion in the ring.  Actual German heavyweight champion Max Schmelling appears in the story, although he is not the one to fight Tex.  This is sort of sad, part of the anti-Schmelling view the media played up during the war.  In fact, though he was drafted into the service, Schmelling was not a Nazi, and even risked his life to save two jewish children.  At any rate, Tex triumphs in the ring, and not only escapes the Nazis after the match, but punches Hitler in the face while stealing the plans.

Tex gets a new sidekick in issue 63 as well, a Greek prisoner of war, Poppy, who is his assistant during the match, provided by the Nazis.  Poppy joins Tex on his next mission, in Russia, but is not seen after that.  I expect he returned home and worked with the resistance until war`s end.

Tex heads east with issue 66, heading to Burma for a bit of an awkward story that contrasts how much better the Burmese were under British subjugation than under Japanese subjugation.  67 has a delightful tale as Tex races the Japanese to find Shanghai Rose, with her knowledge of Japanese troops movements.  It`s Tex who determines that Shanghai Rose is a parrot.

Tex is in China for the next couple of stories, and then breaks into a prisoner of war camp in Tokyo itself in issue 71.  Another attempt is made at having him impersonate a German officer, this time Captain Brand, at the German embassy in Tokyo, in issue 72.  This starts well, but Dr. Ito is brought to Tokyo in issue 73.  Ito recognizes Tex almost immediately, though Tex avoids capture by pre-setting a leaflet drop that he uses as an alibi.  Still, in issue 74 Ito gets proof that Brand is really the Americommando, as Tex was stupid enough to enter Brands room while still in his hero costume.

The series really does go out with a bang in Action 74.  Tex and Ito are both aboard a Japanese bombed heading for the Calirfornia coast.  Tex has been revealed as Brand, but escapes his captors and takes over the control of the plane.  Ito shoots Tex, but not before Tex manages to open the bomb bay doors, sending the bombs and Ito plunging down into the Pacific Ocean.  The series ends with the wounded Tex seeing the coast of the US come into view.

Although this is the final appearance of Tex Thompson in this era,he appears as a member of the All-Star Squadron in a couple of stories set during 1942.

Tex is shown in the Justice Society Returns miniseries to be back behind enemy lines as a German officer before the end of the war, which is backed up by the events in The Golden Age mini previously mentioned.  Although Golden Age is technically an Elseworlds, James Robinson considered it canonical during his run on Starman, and I tend to follow the train of thought that it is as well, meaning Tex makes his final appearance in it`s pages, captured and killed by the Ultra-Humanite.

There is one further Mr. America story, in Secret Origins in the late 80s.

Tex Thomson:  Action Comics 21 – 32 (Feb 40 – Jan 41)

Mr. America:  Action Comics 33 – 53 (Feb 41 – Oct 42)

Americommando:  Action Comics 54 – 74 (Nov 42 – July 44)

Tex Thompson


Tex Thompson was Bernard Bailey’s second series for DC, and like his previous one, The Buccaneer, the art improved hugely in a very brief period of time.  Tex Thompson had made a fortune in oil back home, and was now travelling the world, having adventures.

His first story sees him in England, getting framed for murder, and proving his innocence with the aid of two young children.  He wears a large stetson hat, but only for this tale.  Contrary to how he would look in later years, Tex has blond hair in these stories.

Issue 2 begins a three-part story that takes Tex to the south-eastern European nation of Nestralia.  He now has a travelling buddy (and sidekick), Bob Daley.  Bob was short, bald, had glasses and a big moustache, but was not overly played for comic relief.  They are hunting for the legendary `sealed city,`buried by a volcano, and manage to find it fairly quickly.  It is a ruled by the One-Eyed Gorrah, but there is also the `real`Gorrah, who he has overthrown.  Tex, Bob and the real Gorrah defeat the One-Eyed Gorrah by disguising themselves as Gorrahs.  The overuse of that word adds a bit of confusion to the story, as does the huge jump between issues 3 and 4.  The ousting of One-Eye for Real happens between the issues, rather than being shown.

After an enjoyable one-shot, reminiscent of early Hitchcock spy movies, Tex gets captured after being mistaken for Captain Diablo.  He is forced to pretend to be Diablo while seeking him out.  As part of this, he grows a black pencil moustache, which he continues to sport after Diablo has been captured and he is free again.

Tex and Bob leave Europe after this, and head to China where they wind up on an island with a mad scientist wanting to put human brains into apes.  He already has one hybrid, his servant Koyto.  Very intense ending to this 2-parter, as other apes, distressed at seeing Koyto talk and wear clothing, rip him and the scientist to pieces with their hands.

After another asian adventure, a 3-parter in search of an island of Malays ruled by a white woman (who of course wants to marry Tex), Tex returns to the US, and puts an ad in the newspaper, offering his help and seeking more adventures.

A few more tales that remind me of Hitchcock movies, and then a really terrible thing happens in this series.  Tex sees a slave being beaten and rescues the man.  This is Gargantua T Potts, who looks more like a monkey than like a black man.  It is embarrassingly uncomfortable to even look at the character, who now joins Bob as one of Tex`s sidekicks, but played almost grotesquely for comic relief.

There is a good story in issue 17, set in Constantinople, dealing with the political and military situation there before the war, but once Tex calls for `Gargie` you just want it to end.

Issues 19 and 20 are set in Africa, pitting Tex against a zombie army.  In many ways this is another excellent tale, ruined largely by Gargantua`s presence – but what I find most notable is that all the other black men, the Africans, are drawn to look like people.  Even amidst them, and in native garb, Gargantua is still drawn to look like a monkey.

Tex Thompson continues in the Early Golden Age

Tex Thompson:  Action Comics 1 – 20 (June 38 – Jan 40)

The Buccaneer


The Buccaneer has a lot going for it as a series.  It’s Bernard Bailey’s first work for DC, and the art, while rough at the start, is wonderful by the end of the run, and right from the get go the sailing ships are excellent.  The story reaches an actual conclusion.  I like the time period.  But to me it failed to live up to the expectations that came with the name.

I wanted big, swashbuckling adventure.  I was treated to an awful lot of talking.  Scheming, plotting, lying, to be sure.  But talking all the same.  Yes, there are some duels, and a couple of sea battles, but it was all far too static.

Dennis Stone is the hero of the tale, a young sailor who takes command of the Serpent after the accidental death of the captain.  The first few instalments detail him coming to power, and the bond formed with Daneo, his best friend and later First Mate.  Repulsed at seeing a slave being beaten, but helpless to intervene by law, Dennis buys the man and gives him his freedom, but the hunchback, Keboz, has nowhere to go, so Dennis hires him onto his crew.

The previous captain ran the Serpent as a slave transport, and so Stone has obligations to slavers, but refuses to carry their “cargo”, falling afoul of Captain Klough.  Klough would convince the Governor of Billburgh that Stone is an escaped slave himself, and the two plot to capture and hang Dennis, who gets aided by the Governor’s daughter, Rina, who kills Klough

After fleeing he goes to a place named Castle Terror.  Cause you know, that sounds like a good place to hang out.  It’s run by Dr. Killmen, which is another sign you should turn and leave, but Dennis moves in and finds himself stuck in the Man in the Iron Mask, as one of the people there is really the Prince of Natria, being held there as an imposter on orders of the Count of Natria.   Dennis frees the Prince and they make it back to Natria, discovering that the Count has imprisoned the Governor and intends to wed Rina. The Prince regains his throne as Dennis defeats the Count and the Governor grants him his freedom.  Rina agrees to marry him, and Dennis gives up captainship of the Serpent, passing it to Daneo.

But the thing I liked best was the very last panel, and ad for Bailey’s upcoming More Fun series, The Spectre!  This was the character’s first appearance, and the first time that sort of teaser for a new character was done.

 

Buccaneer:  More Fun Comics 32 – 51  (May 38 – Jan 40)

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