Johnnie Law made better use of black and white in telling gritty, violent, film-noir tales than any of the others to date. The stories were often barely there, just an excuse for action scenes, but those were where the enjoyment lay.
The first four instalments detail Johnnie’s rise, starting as a beat cop on the lower east side, he saves a homeless child from a burning building and is promoted to detective, solving the case of the mad arsonist. He also adopts Tim, the boy he saved from the fire.
Issue 25 begins a particularly dark serial, with marijuana as its starting point. A high schooler shoots and kills someone (his mother, or perhaps a teacher, its not clear), and Johnnie and the force attribute the boys murderous insanity to marijuana, and seek out the dealers, following the trail up to the boss. The serial misses a couple of issues, returns with two chapters in 28, concluding in 29 and 30, after a couple of gun fights between Johnnie and Danetti, making the most of the shadows in an abandoned building, and the car chase and crash under the bridges.
After the first instalment, marijuana is never again mentioned in the story. Perhaps this caused the delay, removing any mention? Tim does not even come back into it (he was offered marijuana in school at the beginning), and in fact never again appears in the series. I believe child welfare removed him to a more stable environment, especially as Law lives in Mrs. Ashley’s Boarding House, and frequently is out all night on cases.
The series continues with mostly three part tales, some one shots. Johnnie goes on a date with Helen in one chapter, and things seem to go well when it turns out she is a gun toting officer of the law as well, but she doesn’t come back for a second date.
The final instalment, in issue 44, has an abrupt and extreme ending, but an appropriate one for the series. A mad scientist makes people his slaves, and sends them out as human bombers. After Johnnie is put on the case, the mad doctor sends a human bomb to him. The final panel is just the explosion cloud. No Johnnie. He blew up real good.
Johnnie Law: More Fun 21 – 25 (June – Oct 37), 28 – 44 (Jan 38 – June 39)