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Captain Desmo (Early Golden Age)

Captain Desmo continues to make India the base of his operations for much of the rest of his series, defending British mine owners and archeologists against the natives.  He continues to wear his distinctive headgear at all times, even wearing it when he is undercover in issue 62.

In March of 1940 his series moves from Adventure Comics to More Fun Comics, and his first four stories in this book, while not a serial, do form a continuous story, pitting Desmo against the Society of Assassins, described as “eaters of hasheesh dope.”  Desmo interferes with their murder and kidnapping plans repeatedly, so they capture his sidekick, Gabby, to try to force him to stop.  Instead, Desmo demands payment from them, which enables him to get into their base and plant his playing-card bomb, which destroys their hide-out and kills their leader.  The last panel of this story (issue 57) has Desmo talking to the reader, warning children against duplicating the playing-card bomb.

What is very curious in these stories is that when Gabby is not wearing his hat, his hair colour and body mass change, he becomes a big burly blond, instead of the scrawny brown haired man he is with the hat on.  This happens in more than one issue, but is never addressed at all.  And once again we get a shot of Gabby bathing naked in front of the masked Desmo.

He has a few stories that leave India at this point, going to a tropical island that is a secret munitions factory in 58, and then to Tibet where he aids American cattle ranchers against the natives in 59.  Issue 60 has him in Hong Kong, dealing with a super-powered enemy sub.

Issue 63 is the first time Desmo really takes part in the war, though indirectly, as he works in conjunction with a female British spy bringing down an Axis spy.  And for the next few issues, Desmo would be working hand in hand with the British to protect their Indian occupation against the Nazis.

Issue 67 sees Desmo in South America, stopping German spies from recruiting the natives to overthrow the British, and then finally heads back to the US, getting a new plane in San Francisco in issue 69.  He does not use it much though, for the last few issues the series really changes tack.  He starts going without his headgear, revealing receding black hair, though he wears sunglasses at all times, in all places.

He solves mysteries, aboard a train, at a resort hotel, and at a wealthy party.  I suspect the war forced them to stop doing the fascistic stories that comprise the Desmo series, and they tried to make it work as a detective strip, but it simply ceased to be anything, and ended fairly quickly, his last story in More Fun 72.

As the cover date of that issue is October 41, I am sure Desmo re-enlisted immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, and likely rose to high rank in the US airforce pretty quickly, with all his experience.

Captain Desmo:  Adventure Comics 46 – 47 (Jan – Feb 40)

More Fun Comics  53- 72 (Mar 40 – Oct 41)

Captain Desmo

Captain Desmo is a series about a flyer, who had been the youngest pilot to lead a fleet of allied planes (presumably in World War I).  He flies a plane with a star on the side, and wears WWI-style headgear, also with a star on it.  He wears this at all times, we never see what he looks like without it.  He even wears it while he sleeps.

His series opens with a two-parter in which he flies deep into Mongolia to aid the Emco Oil Company against mongolian tribes, who do not want whites on their land.  Throughout his series he would fight and kill for the benefit of whites over natives.

Desmo has a longer story, from issues 28 -31, which takes him to India, which would also be the base of operations for him for the rest of this era.  He comes of the rescue of an American tourist, Gabby McGuire, who would remain as his sidekick for the rest of the run.  He also meets up with Major McAlistair, of His Majesty’s Lancers, who will employ him to rescue a kidnapped girl in this story, and then call on him regularly as the series progresses.

In fact, in issues 32 – 34 Desmo would be working to free McAlistair after he is framed for treason.  But the opening of issue 32 is the part that really sticks in my mind.  Desmo sits in an armchair, fully clothed and still with his mask on, smoking a pipe as Gabby bathes naked in a tub directly in front of him.  Weeeeeeird, and the mask just makes it creepier.

He re-unites a lost explorer with his daughter in a Shangri-La type lost valley in the Himilayas, aids the British against native revolts and Tartar attacks.  In issues 41 and 42 the leader of the murderous rebellious native is called Abdul Hassan, but clearly was drawn to resemble Mahatma Gandhi, which just helps make this series feel very white imperialistic.

On the plus side, in issue 45 he braves dangers and flies cholera medicine far into inland India.  So he’s not a total creep.


Captain Desmo continues in the Early Golden Age


Captain Desmo:  New Adventure Comics  26 = 31  (May – Oct 38)

Adventure Comics  32 – 45  (Nov 38  – Dec 39)

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