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Posts tagged ‘New Adventure Comics’

Tom Brent

Tom Brent is the kind of series that challenges me.  It’s bad.  The art is bad, and the stories are confusing and unsatisfying.  But I have to read all of it, and write it up, or I will cease to be me. So I really start looking for things, and in this case, found a narrative.  It’s possible the writer himself even saw it, but from the quality of conception seen in these stories, I would doubt it.

We first meet Tom at a waterfront bar in Marseilles, where he gets into a brawl.  He is a sailor, and appears to be just another rough and tumble workhorse sailor whose curiosity leads him into adventure.

He is on the ship the Norfolk, sailing to Stamboul (Istanbul), but once there is entrusted to deliver important papers to a consul.  It’s quite a task, as there are fake papers and fake consuls, and no coherent resolution or explanation.

Then he sails to Singapore on the S.S. Cory, to deliver a load of weapons.  He now dresses as if he were an officer, maybe?  No more striped shirts for him.   Once in China he becomes captain of the schooner Mary Ann, shipping gold to Singapore and not really holding off a mutiny on his ship.  The mutineers just mutiny against their new leader and put him back in charge.

After a brief vacation, still in China, he gets “commissioned” by the US authorities there to retrieve the Jade Necklace of Shai Poa.  He now has his own Manchu servant, Tong, so clearly he has some money to his name now.  In the next few stories, he continues getting orders from the police and army to perform missions for them, and moves comfortably around in high society.  How things have improved for Tom Brent!

But at the end of his final tale, he is sent on a “very dangerous mission,” that only he could do.  I am guessing that his background as a bar brawling sailor in Marseilles was the needed background, but that Tom, now used to dandified living, could not blend back in, was exposed and then killed.

Sorry, Tom.


Tom Brent:  New Adventure Comics  28 – 31  (July – Oct 38)

Adventure Comics  32 – 39  (Nov 38 – June 39)

Anchors Aweigh

Anchors Aweigh features Lieutenant Commander Don Kerry of the US navy, and his buddy Red Murphy, who is never given a rank.  They have one long serial that takes them to Brazil, where they hunt down and capture El Diablo, a revolutionary, but then spend the rest of the era dealing with problems in the south Pacific, mostly in one-shot tales.

The art is by Guardineer for the first 12 instalments, and it’s the kind of Guardineer art I don’t like, very stiff and static.  But I must conceded, after he leaves the series the art gets downright awful.

The first serial is not bad, it spends a lot of time making it look like Marshall, an American embassy staffer, is really El Diablo, but instead his assistant Fernando is the one leaving the false trail, and El Diablo actually ifs from the German embassy.

The later stories are passable at best.  Chinese bandits, a man who wants to blow up the Panama Canal, pirates, native uprisings, illegal gambling boats are all dealt with quickly and easily.  The most interesting, or at least the weirdest, of the stories involves master japanese spy Sin Yun, who attempts to get Don and Red to reveal the secrets of a radio controlled torpedo by having hybrid animals attack them.  The gorilla man is ok, but the octo-dile is hilarious.

Anchors Aweigh continues in the Early Golden Age, for some reason

Anchors Aweigh:  New Adventure Comics  28 – 31  (July – Oct 38)

Adventure Comics  32 – 45  (Nov 38 – Dec 39)

Tod Hunter, Jungle Master

Tod Hunter is a traveller and explorer in Africa, having adventures with his friend Tommy Withers.  They are in search of the God of the Ruby Eye, which has never been seen by “humans,” (by which they mean white men).  Almost immediately they are set upon by headhunters, captured and brought to Zara, the High Priestess of the God.

Zara also has imprisoned a few other Americans, Gail Duncan and her father and Paul, her fiancee.  Tod gets free and holds Zara as hostage, forcing her to lead them to the God.  It’s an immense statue,, which Tod climbs inside, finding acoustic equipment, as well as a guard he easily takes down.

The headhunters are about to sacrifice the other prisoners, when Tod speaks from the statue, which they assume is the god talking, and orders his friends released.

They escape, and bring a stash of rubies with them, but begin to plot against each other over the rubies.  The camp is attacked during the night, and a few of them go missing (along with the rubies).  Everyone suspects Paul, who is found working with Hassin, the one who ordered the raid on the camp.

But the series just loses itself at this point.  Paul was playing a double game, for some reason, and it seems he stole the rubies to keep them safe?  Maybe?  Anyway, Tod has to fight a gorilla, which causes him to lose his memory, and then they get captured by cannibals an brought to a large underground palace ruled by a white sorceror who wants amnesiac Tod to lead his men against Torog, a rival sorceror from the Symian Palace.

It feels like the writer has lost his memory as well, as the story wanders further and further from the ruby plot.  Tod gets his memory back, defeats Torog and his men and returns to his friends, but the series ends at this point, without the whole ruby theft thing ever being made clear enough that I could even put an ending on it.


Tod Hunter:  New Adventure Comics  27 – 31  (June – Oct 38)

Adventure Comics  32 –  45 (Nov 38 – Dec 39)

Captain Desmo

Captain Desmo is a series about a flyer, who had been the youngest pilot to lead a fleet of allied planes (presumably in World War I).  He flies a plane with a star on the side, and wears WWI-style headgear, also with a star on it.  He wears this at all times, we never see what he looks like without it.  He even wears it while he sleeps.

His series opens with a two-parter in which he flies deep into Mongolia to aid the Emco Oil Company against mongolian tribes, who do not want whites on their land.  Throughout his series he would fight and kill for the benefit of whites over natives.

Desmo has a longer story, from issues 28 -31, which takes him to India, which would also be the base of operations for him for the rest of this era.  He comes of the rescue of an American tourist, Gabby McGuire, who would remain as his sidekick for the rest of the run.  He also meets up with Major McAlistair, of His Majesty’s Lancers, who will employ him to rescue a kidnapped girl in this story, and then call on him regularly as the series progresses.

In fact, in issues 32 – 34 Desmo would be working to free McAlistair after he is framed for treason.  But the opening of issue 32 is the part that really sticks in my mind.  Desmo sits in an armchair, fully clothed and still with his mask on, smoking a pipe as Gabby bathes naked in a tub directly in front of him.  Weeeeeeird, and the mask just makes it creepier.

He re-unites a lost explorer with his daughter in a Shangri-La type lost valley in the Himilayas, aids the British against native revolts and Tartar attacks.  In issues 41 and 42 the leader of the murderous rebellious native is called Abdul Hassan, but clearly was drawn to resemble Mahatma Gandhi, which just helps make this series feel very white imperialistic.

On the plus side, in issue 45 he braves dangers and flies cholera medicine far into inland India.  So he’s not a total creep.


Captain Desmo continues in the Early Golden Age


Captain Desmo:  New Adventure Comics  26 = 31  (May – Oct 38)

Adventure Comics  32 – 45  (Nov 38  – Dec 39)

Rusty and his Pals

Rusty and his Pals was the first series Bob Kane did for DC.  It serializes the adventures of a young blond boy, Rusty, and his friends Tubby and Specs, but by the end of it’s first storyline (conveniently the end of this era) it has laid the basis that the Batman series will be built from.

Rusty and his Pals appear to be about 9 or 10 years old as this begins.  After reading a book about pirates, the three boys build a raft, and sail out to find some and have adventures.  Remarkably, they do run into a masted schooner with a crew all dressed as pirates, but these are performers, and the ship is used for entertainment.  They bring the boys aboard, and continue sailing to England, unaware that the ship is also transporting opium to Chen Fu.

On board, the boys meet Steve Carter, and American man who will look more and more like Bruce Wayne as the series progresses, and also effectively become the action hero of the strip.

One of Chen Fu’s operatives, Long Sin, leads an attack on the ship, and Rusty, Steve and the the rest flee, making it to a tropical island run by counterfeiter Ichabod Slade.  He has a giant, sword-wielding assistant, Omar, and a beautiful female accomplice, the Duchess.

A storm forces Long Sin and his men to abandon the pirate ship, but the lifeboat is overloaded, and Long Sin has his own men thrown into the ocean to ensure his survival.

Rusty, Steve et al escape from Slade thanks to the Duchess, who has fallen for Steve and regrets her evil ways.  Long Sin and his forces arrive on the island for a big climactic battle, which also sees a volcanic eruption devastate the island, just as our heroes manage to fly away.

They finally arrive in England, where Chen Fu has Rusty kidnapped, seeking vengeance on Steve.  Steve rescues the boy, bringing him to safety by hiding out in an opium den.  With the aid of a gun-toting Scotland Yard inspector they have a big shoot out with Chen Fu’s men, Fu is captured, and Steve and the Duchess, now using her real name, Diane, plan to get married.  The boys feel they would be in the way, and head off in search of new adventures.

The art on this series improves dramatically as the run progresses. The early chapters show an impressive attention to details, but the details overload the panels, the art is not in a strong balance.  Kane gets much better with this over time.  Steve starts off with a poorly proportioned body and some really awkward stances, but moves like Batman by the end.  The villains look extremely cartoony, but the stylization works well.

In occasional panels you get a taste of how Kane would draw Batman.  The shot of a man smoking opium, in issue 29, is the first of these, and really stands out.  A motorboat/seaplane chase in 34 similarly captures the action very well.

The Duchess bears more than a passing resemblance to Catwoman, both physically, and character-wise, the bad girl with a crush on the hero.  The Scotland Yard inspector is short and fat, wearing a deerstalker, much the way Alfred would appear when introduced.  The boys appear much older by the end of this era, fully teenagers, and Rusty goes into fights alongside Steve with much the same camaraderie as Robin would with Batman.

Rusty and his Pals continues in the Early Golden Age.

Rusty and his Pals:  New Adventure Comics  26 – 31 (May – Oct 38)

Adventure Comics  32 – 45  (Nov 38 – Dec 39)

Robin Hood

This Robin Hood story is told in the fashion of the novel adaptations, and I suspect it is adapting some book on the character.  It makes the curious choice of setting the events during the reign of Henry II, and has young Robin intending to be a forester for the king. The story then makes this all a Saxon/Norman thing, with the rich being the Normans, and Robin standing up for the oppressed Saxons.

After getting challenged by the foresters to prove his archery skills, Robin shoots a stag, and is then arrested by the foresters for doing so.

With the aid of Will the Saxon woodcutter, Robin gets away, and then spends the next few instalments gathering his band of men.  The scene with Little John on the log over the river I recognize, and I have vague memories of a poem in which Robin has to carry Friar Tuck across a stream, though I do not remember anything ascribing the Friar a deadly pack of hunting dogs.  Will Scarlet appears as Robin’s dispossessed cousin.

This version does not confine Robin to Sherwood Forest, in fact the forest is not even mentioned in this run.  Friar Tuck is found in the region of Fountains Abbey, way up in Yorkshire.

In the last two instalements Robin and his men come to the aid of Sir Richard of Lea, whose lands are about to be foreclosed on by the abbot.  Robin’s men also capture the wealthy Bishop of Hereford, and take money from him to pay off Sir Richard’s debts.  The abbot is surprised to receive the payment, he was expecting to take the land.  The Sheriff of Nottingham is with the abbot, and hears of Robin Hood, but as the serial ends at this point never gets to take any action against him.

One of the reasons I believe this was taken from a novel is that, aside from the men in his band, we have few to none of the standard Robin Hood events – there is no big archery contest at the castle, the Sheriff is only being introduced in the 8th instalment, and no Maid Marian is in sight.

Robin Hood would get much better treatment by DC in the 50s, but I will discuss his run in Brave and the Bold, and in his own series as well, when I reach those.

Robin Hood:  New Adventure Comics  23 – 30  (Jan – Sep 38)

Nadir, Master of Magic

Nadir, Master of Magic is an Indian Prince, living in New York City.  His parents died in an unspecified tragedy that left Nadir devoting his life to eliminating crime – a forerunner of the Batman origin.  He has two mystical objects, though both have their lame sides, and he is a skilled fighter and marksman as well.  He has a crystal ball that can show him past events, and the current location of people, but it only functions between 3 am and dawn.  He has a ring that can direct him to anyone he wants to find, and it will warn him on danger, but as 50% of the time the warnings come too late, that’s not awesome.  He also has a devoted servant from India, Arcot, who joins him on his cases.  He wears a turban, unless he fears being recognized or questioned about it, but is drawn to look like a white man.

Most of his run consists of one serial, The Pearl of the Bleeding Heart.  Nadir is contacted by an old friend, Lord Thomas Ellsworth, after his pearl has been stolen.  He suspects fellow collector Henri Duprez, and the crystal ball confirms this.  Nadir pursues the pearl, but has a hard time catching up with it, as each of it’s owners meets a violent death at the hands of it’s new owners.  Nadir follows the trail to Cuba on his private plane, although he crashes in a storm and they have to swim to shore.

The climax of the plot is a shootout, car chase, fist fight sequence, with no magic mastery required.  Still, not bad.

Issues 28 and 29 have Nadir come across a hypnotized Broadway starlet about to jump off the George Washington Bridge, which leads him to battle a madman along the lines of the Phantom of the Opera, but again the ring and crystal ball are used for set-up, not for the climax.  Nadir also reads the villains mind, seeing his thoughts, though curiously he credits this to hypnosis.

In his final story he leaves Arcot behind and goes for a cruise to the south seas, where his ship is attacked by pirates.  He uses full out mind control powers, making the pirates decide to stop attacking and leave his ship.  But the ring completely fails to warn him about the trap he walks into on the island, where he gets strangled and strung up by a cord.  With no Arcot to come to the rescue, Nadir’s series ends with “He’s out!  Drop him in the car.”

I would normally declare Nadir dead at this point, but he has made a couple of cameos since, part of larger groupings of Golden Age magic based characters, as an extremely old man.  There is no mention or appearance of either the ring or 3 am crystal ball.  I’m not sure what happened to the ball, but I expect the pirates stole the ring after they captured him.  He was critically injured, and likely spent many years in a coma recovering.

You can’t help but notice that this series has hints of both Batman and Green Lantern, yet has fallen into total obscurity.  The pieces just didn’t fit together in this.



Nadir:  New Adventure Comics  17 – 30  (July 37 – Sep 38)

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