The serialized adventures of Cotton Carver continue for another year and a half. There are more cliff-hangars as the series progresses, though many still reach conclusions at the end. And though I loved the earlier issues of this strip, it loses me partway through.
Adventure 46 sees the trip to Sere mentioned previously, which turns out to be a land rich in radium. Mona, the Priestess of Sere, commands a tornado and uses it to separate Cotton from the Barlundians, but sends him on his way after the frees her lover from prison.
Cotton returns to Barlundia only to discover Deela has been kidnapped by the First Ones, and after he rescues her they find themselves in a valley that allows them to return to the “upper world.” They climb up through a volcano, arriving in the arctic, but get separated by an earthquake. Deela falls into the hands of some trappers, lead by Red Mike, who steals her emerald necklace and demands to know where she found the stones. Cotton makes his way to them, killing and skinning a polar bear and wearing its hide to scare the trappers, but another earthquake sends Cotton, Deela and Red Mike tumbling into another underground world.
Once there, Red Mike decides to make friends, and they quickly forgive him. Cotton also proclaims that the world above no longer holds any interest for him. He is not too keen on the land he is currently in, run by descendants of the missing Roanoke settlement, and they flee.
These issues are the ones that lose me, as we are presented with Flying Men, Atlanteans, Wolf People and Tree People in rapid succession, and none are well-developed or explained. The series just hurtles from cliffhanger to cliffhanger. The cliffhangers are not always well-resolved, either. Most egregious is the one from issues 52-53. Cotton has rescued Lupo, Priestess of the Wolf People, from the cloud city of the Flying Men by using a balloon. The Flying Men tear a hole in it, which causes Cotton and Lupo to fall towards the ground. 53 opens with Cotton having managed to grab the edges of the balloon, pulled them together and formed a parachute that they coast down on. No way.
Cotton meets some lost people from the upper world, Nora Blake, her father, and her boyfriend Jim Bent in issue 54, but he leaves them to find their way back to the surface world in the following story.
In 56 Cotton and Deela leave Red Mike with Lupo and the Wolf People, and begin to head back to Barlundia, with lots of brief adventures along the way. When they return, in issue 60, they hear that King Marl has died and Xargon has seized the throne. They find Marl alive in the dungeon and restore him to his throne, and after Cotton prevents him being assassinated by Ortho of Sarthan, Marl makes Cotton the Prince of Sarthan.
Cotton survives a poisoning attempt by Ortho’s sister, and secures the food supply from bandits.
In an earlier issue, Cotton and Deela had discussed marriage, but he insisted he needed time to have adventures before settling down. As the series concludes, Cotton is now ruler of a princedom, and likely fairly settled, and ready to marry Deela. And then one day, after Marl dies, ascending to become King of Barlandia.
Cotton Carver: Adventure Comics 46 – 65 (Jan 40 – Aug 41)