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Posts tagged ‘Golden Dragon’

Skip Schuyler


Skip Schuyler heavily promotes a connexion to the serial Golden Dragon, the first 5 chapters headline that it is by the same writer.  And yeah, it is.  Ian Murray, the hero of Golden Dragon, appears on the first page,now married to Doris, running into his old friend Skip Schuyler, but that is basically a gratuitous cameo, there is nothing about this series that reminds one of Golden Dragon.

Skip Schuyler is a lieutenant with army intelligence, and is also a pilot.  He lives on base, at Fort Morrison.  We learn in issue 39 that he graduated from West Point, but that is really the extent of what we learn about Skip.  39 also introduces us to his friend Rusty Bellows, a fellow soldier at the fort, but we never see him again.

Skip prevents foreign spies from stealing airplane plans in his first story, and then heads to Vendazia, in South America, to, in his own words “save the government of Vendazia for the American bankers and industrialists.”  He kills Pancho Velez, the leader of the revolutionaries, but I didn’t feel like cheering for the bankers and industrialists.

The following issue, the aforementioned 39, has a very odd tale, as the New York Yankees decide to play a benefit game against the army, and Skip is guilted into being the pitcher by his old friend, who is unaware of Skip’s shoulder injury from a football game.  The New York Yankees win, but Skip does a bang-up pitching job, facing off against Lou Gehrig.

He then heads to Hawaii to protect the scientist who created a formula for a new explosive, and aids a retired officer against cattle rustlers, sails to China, and in his best story helps a boy caught amidst bombing to find his mother.

Then Skip is back at Fort Morrison, for the filming of a movie, The General’s Daughter, where he intentionally acts like a jerk to the actors, before saving the female lead in an impressive jump from seaplane to motorboat.

After pilot Peter Wade goes missing in the arctic, Skip and soldier Bob Drake fly north to investigate, and Skip’s only two parter would just be so disgustingly racist, with a waitress giving a long diatribe about a “drunken eskimo'” who turns out to have taken the injured Peter back to his igloo and taken him into the ground, all out of hatred of white men.

He gets one final tale, in which he meets a girl at an Officer’s Club in Shanghai.  She gets kidnapped for no apparent reason, but he rescues her.

Such a weird, wandering series.  The offensive stuff would not have seemed so to the general reader at the time, but even still this series in no way should ride on The Golden Dragon’s tail.

 

Skip Schuyler:  Adventure Comics  37 – 46  (Apr 39 – Jan 40)

Golden Dragon


Golden Dragon is, without a doubt, the best serial I have covered so far.  In 31 instalments it tells the story of a group of Americans hired to deliver guns deep into the Gobi Desert, who use the mission to hunt for the fabled treasure horde of Genghis Khan.  And it even has an ending! An actual, genuine ending!

The story opens with Ian Murray and Ken Cockerill lamenting that their days of training Chinese troops has ended, and their decision to seek out the legendary treasure.  They head to Peking, where they run into Doris Willis and her father, and he hires them to bring weaponry to the Ja-Lama, deep in the Gobi Desert.  They put together a team of other former soldiers – Red Reilly, Bob Walker, Lefty Murphy and the Campbell brothers, Don and Sandy.

While loading up the train, they are approached by Pan Chi-Lou, an emissary of the Chinese government, who they rough up and force to accompany them, though he really doesn’t seem to have a problem with this, and helps them throughout.

The train gets attacked by Mongolian horsemen, lead by Torgadoff, who is the Head Priest of the Golden Dragon, but the Americans are aided, and then accompanied, by a group of Cossack mercenaries.  At this point they also run into Doris again, as she has escaped from Torgadoff, who kidnapped her back in Peking to try to get her father to stop the arms deal.  She joins the caravan as they load up onto camels and head across the desert.

Up to this point the story has moved at much the same pace as other serials, but now it slows down, which surprisingly is a good thing.  Instead of overloading us with events and cliff-hangers, the story builds slowly, gives meaning to the actions and allows itself time to explore the characters to some degree.

The caravan reaches a ruined monastery, which appears deserted, although they notice the temple lamps have been refilled.  A couple of instalments are spent just on making the monastery an eerie location, while allowing the characters to interact with each other, and the start of the romance between Ian and Doris.  Pan Chi-Lou goes missing, and then we see Ian and Doris get captured and taken away through a hidden passageway.

They have been captured by the Ja-Lama and his men, who do not want to have to pay for the weapons shipment, and are intending just to steal it, and who send a small army to attack the monastery.  Ian, Doris and Pan manage to escape and make it back to the monastery, which has successfully been defended, largely due to the efforts of the Cossacks.

Ken is jealous of the burgeoning relationship between Ian and Doris, and makes his own play for her while Ian and Reilly head off on a scouting mission, but get severely rebuffed by Doris.  He is then approached by Torgadoff, who tells him he will give Doris to him if he stands down on guard duty that night, which he does.  Torgadoff’s men enter the camp dressed as skeletons (for no apparent reason, but it does look cool), and capture Doris and the rest of the Americans.  Ken joins them, but is trussed up with a bag over his head and forcibly brought along.

When Ian and Reilly return to the camp, they discover not only are their comrades missing, but that the Mongols have stampeded the camels as well.  The Cossacks still have thier horses, which were taken a distance away from the camp to graze during the night, so they proceed on their quest, though have to leave much of their stuff behind.

They find another monastery deep in the desert, and the only bit of poor continuity occurs.  Oh, sure, there have been a few errors.  At one point there were two Walker brothers, instead of two Campbell ones.  Doris’ last name was Whipple in one chapter, and her hair changed from brown to blonde about halfway through the run, but those are minor.  Pan Chou-Li was established as one of those missing from the camp when Ian and Red returned, but as they reach the second monastery, Pan Chou-Li is suddenly with them, acting as an interpreter.

The abbot of the monastery allows them to stay, though Torgadoff finds out they are there.  We learn that Torgadoff wants to to take total control of the region, known as the Three Don’t Cares, as its an area not claimed by China, Tibet or “sovietized Mongolia”, but the hub of major trade routes.  The Ja-Lama works for him, but wants to overthrow Torgadoff and rule in his place.  Ken gets drugged, and Torgadoff, still promising him Doris, has him write a letter to Ian warning that Torgadoff will make Doris become the “bride of the Golden Dragon” unless Ian comes alone to give himself up.   Red takes Ian’s place, which infuriates Torgadoff,

The Golden Dragon itself finally appears, a giant gilded python that Doris is going to be fed to.  Ian arrives, with the Cossacks, and besieges Torgadoff’s fortress, saves Doris, and throws Torgadoff to serpent, then shoots and kills the monstrous snake.

We learn that Ken has been killed by one of the guards, and discover that Pan Chou-Li is the lineal descendant of Genghis Khan and rightful heir to the treasure, which had been “guarded” by the Golden Dragon.  Pan pays for the arms shipment, and also generously rewards the Cossacka and Americans.  Ja-Lama is allowed to homourbaly commit suicide (though this is not stated outright, you can understand easily what is being referred to), and the story concludes with Doris and Ian in a warm embrace.

Not only is the story above par, the art is as well.  The asians look asian, not like caricatures (ok, the main bad guys do, a bit, but not overly so), the locations are lovely, and I have little doubt that the odd parka-like clothes the Mongolians wear is correct, or at least clearly based on actual clothing.

Golden Dragon:  New Comics  6 – 11 (July – Dec 36)

New Adventure Comics  12 – 31  (Jan 37 – Oct 38)

Adventure Comics  32 – 36  (Nov 38 – Mar 39)

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