Lt. Bob Neal and his friend Tubby Watts begin this period in Honolulu, still aiding Professor MacDonald, as German spies try to capture him and his plans. We discover that MacDonald has a daughter, named Judy at first, but then Patricia from then on.
With issue 52, sub 662 is sent to the Panama Canal, and through issue 55 Bob and Tubby deal with foreign mines in the ocean around the entrance to the Canal. Bob takes to the air in these stories, in an early jet, but it turns out the Germans also have a base from which they fire a ray (or more likely an electro-magnetic pulse) that stops plane engines from working, bringing the planes down. Bob manages to escape when this happens to him, but the ship he winds up on gets blown up, and he is briefly hospitalized.
Bob does, however, figure out that the mines are magnetic. How exactly this helps them get rid of the mines is not clear, but they do prevent a trawler loaded with explosives from destroying the Canal.
Issue 56 has the sub sent to protect a ship bringing oil to the Netherlands. There is some excellent art on the sea battle with German ships in this story, and by the time it was released, it must have seemed terribly topical, as the German invasion of the Netherlands had either just begun or was about to.
Perhaps because of the war in Europe, the series takes a turn at this point. In issue 57 Bob and Tubby are sent on leave to New York City. In fact, they will never return to sub 662, and with issue 58 the series becomes simply “Bob Neal.” They discover that Pat is also in New York, now a newspaper reporter, and from issues 57 – 59 Bob and Tubby help Pat with her investigations. Though two of the three stories deal with the military, foreign agents are only the culprits in one of the tales, and the series begins to resemble the more generic detective stories.
The final four issues put Bob and Tubby back in the action, as they are sent as Naval Attaches to the American Embassy in Moravia, a European nation being besieged by Bulgravia. This must be a major promotion for the two men. Their boat across the Atlantic is blown up by Bulgravian spies, and their train sabotaged as well. Bob and Tubby wind up having to steal a Bulgravian bomber and join a bombing run just to reach the capitol.
Once there, they become effectively bodyguards to the young King Peter, rescuing him and his fiancee Princess Maria from Bulgravian assassins and Moravian traitors. By issue 63 the Bulgravian airforce is bombing the city while their army approaches, and though the series ends with the heroes vowing to keep King Peter safe, there is no question that the Nazi juggernaut made its way in. I expect Bob and Tubby fought with all they had to protect the King, but all three would have been killed in battle, or executed afterwards.
Lt. Bob Neal: More Fun Comics 51 – 62 (Jan 40 – Jan 41)