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Jack Woods

New Fun Comics featured one-page strips on its covers (something that would end as it changed title to More Fun with issue 8), and the very first issue cover-featured Jack Woods, a cowboy hero.

From issues 1 – 17, Jack has a serialized tale aiding Don Miguel and his daughter Dolores against Mexican cattle rustlers, lead by Villa (an evocative name for the time).  After a few one-page cover appearances, he moved to two-page interior tales for the rest of the serial.  It’s not awful, but highly reminiscent of early movie serials, and certainly lacking originality.

In issues 18- 23 he helps poor Widow Harkins against thieving Stanton, who is trying to steal her secret gold mine.  It’s not that secret, as all the characters in the story know about it, and Jack even seems to know of a secret entrance that no one else does, but overall I would say this is the best storyline of his run.  The mine collapse and surging underground river give the story some added spice, and the feature moves up to four page stories with issue 22, the length they would remain at for the duration of Jack’s run.

As well, in issue 19 it is abruptly revealed that Jack Woods is a Texas Ranger, not merely a cowboy who helps those in need.  His status as a Ranger would be mentioned in his next few tales, but then sort of dropped.

Issues 24 – 26 see him aiding an innocent man being framed for murder by bank robbers, and following that Jack would have his only single issue tale, quickly dispatching a cattle rustling gang, the Black Riders.

The rest of his run in More Fun would consist of  three-part tales, as he saved an innocent man from being lynched as a cattle rustler, fought an evil oil company trying to steal ranchers land, and gets framed as a cattle rustler himself.

Though no supporting characters would last longer than one storyline, Jack was aided by his native servant Indian Joe against the oil company, and his old friend Chuck when he was framed.

After a gap of almost a year, Jack Woods returned for two more two issue tales in Adventure Comics.  Issues 39 and 40 saw a ridiculously complicated story (considering it ran a grand total of 8 pages), in which Jack kills a Mexican thief unfortunately named Scar Tortilla, and is then set up to be caught as a thief himself by a man who had taken the identity of a different dead man in order to defraud an elderly couple.  Issues 41 and 42 had him come to the aid of a man who was being forced to help bank robbers, but at the end of his feature in issue 42 two men show up to arrest Jack as a murderer.

Considering that his series ended with that issue, and he has never made any further appearances, I presume Jack really was a murderer on the run, and was possibly lying about being a Texas Ranger.  So he was arrested, and either imprisoned or executed.  A sad ending for DC’s first cover feature.

Making up stuff like that to explain story gaps and abrupt endings is part of what makes comic collecting sooooo much fun.

Jack Woods:  New Fun Comics 1 – 6  (Jan – Oct 35)

More Fun Comics 7 – 35  (Jan 36 – Sep 38)

Adventure Comics 39 – 42  (June – Sep 39)

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