Bulldog Martin gains no more personality or background than he did in his earlier stories, but to my great surprise, he does gains powers, of a sort. The series did not run very long, there are only five installments in this era, which is likely why he has been neglected by later writers. Well, that and the embarrassingly racist portrayal of his sidekick, Jonah.
In More Fun Comics 52 Bulldog receives a package from a recently deceased friend, inventor Professor Livix, which contains pills that render one invisible. Bulldog takes to carrying these around and popping them whenever he comes across a crime, enabling him to recover the stolen Romanof Ruby, bust up a protection scam and prevent an innocent man from being arrested for the murder of his uncle.
But, distressingly, the first thing he does, in issue 52, is bust up a union meeting. In this tale, all the union bosses are corrupt, and unions exist only to rob both the worker and employer. The writer must have been a Republican.
Bulldog invisibly walks out of a house at the end of issue 55, his final story, and is never seen again. Perhaps taking too many of the pills had that effect.
Bulldog Martin: More Fun Comics 51 – 55 (Jan – May 40)
Bulldog Martin is another series with a largely unexplained, characterless hero, though the art is decent, and the stories are not bad. The biggest drawback is his sidekick, a short overweight black man named Jonah, who exists solely for comic relief.
After stumbling across hoods who drug and kill horses to fix races, Bulldog heads over to England to check out Lord Frawley’s famous airport (that’s what they call it.) He discovers Frawley is really working with foreign agents, using his runway to smuggle information and people in and out of England, and causes Frawley’s plane to crash, killing him.
Then it’s off to Algiers, where he and Jonah are attacked on the street by slavers, and wind up rescuing American heiress Sybil Lane from their clutches. In his next story, Bulldog is in Egypt with Sybil’s explorer uncle, and captures the Phantom, the leader of a gang of tomb robbers.
Bulldog and Jonah then go climbing in the Swiss Alps, and catch some gold thieves whose plane came down in the moutains.
So from what we call, Bulldog is not a policeman or a private detective or anything, just a guy who keeps being in the right place at the right time.
Bulldog Martin continues in the Early Golden Age, and hopefully gets a bit more depth to it.
Bulldog Martin: Adventure Comics 40 (July 39)
More Fun Comics 47 – 50 (Sep- Dec 39)