Scoop Scanlon is a reporter for the Bulletin, in an unnamed, but large, American city. He works with friend and photographer Rusty James. Reading his stories, you really have to wonder why he went into journalism, when Scoop clearly would prefer to be a policeman. He carries a gun, which he is quick to use. He had only fourteen stories in total, and in four of those he starts shootouts.
He appears to be on good terms with the police, even though he will often investigate a story he stumbles across long past the point where he should phone them in on it. In issue 8 a tip from a federal agent sends Scoop right into the hands of marijuana growers, who try to kill him, and you have to wonder whether the feds were getting back at him for muscling in on their territory.
The marijuana fields were a pre-code surprise for me, and the Dance Hall murders in issue 3 are fairly clear about the prostitution going on, even though no one says it.
For the most part, Scoop’s stories were all one-shots. He had a 2-parter in issues 5 and 6, when bank robber Gentleman Jack winds up holding the sheriff of Westchester county hostage, and Scoop starts a shootout that wipes out Jack’s gang.
He has one longer serial, from issues 9 – 12, though I am going to mention the New York World’s Fair appearance first. It came out midway through the serial, but I place it as taking place beforehand.
For all that set-up, it’s not a particularly noteworthy tale. Scoop and Rusty go to the Fair, he is assigned to get celebrity interviews, but finds that boring. An inventor friend of his shows him a threatening letter he received about his new airplane, from “The Bat’s Wing,” ao Scoop tracks them down and captures them, with the aid of the police, and without shooting first.
The serial begins as Scoop and Rusty are driving through town. They spot two gangsters, Mace and Stoop, emerge from an alley, investigate, and find the man they killed. To find proof of their guilt, Scoop and Rusty go undercover and join the Larrowan Gang, Scoop impressing them with his shooting skills, and Rusty tagging along. Rusty gets outed as a spy, and to prove his loyalty Scoop has to shoot him, which he does, though we discover he shot Rusty’s belt buckle. Still, Scoop eventually gets exposed just as the police close in. For from starting the shootout, he is thrown into the middle of it and shot multiple times by Mace before anyone fires a shot.
Scoop spends only a month in the hospital recovering, and does manage to track down and capture Mace, who had survived the gun battle and fled.
And then there’s his last story.
I envision, after it ends, Scoop returning to the Bulletin and reporting to editor, who said something like this: “I sent you to cover a wedding! A wedding! And what happens? You don’t show up, you don’t call in. You get all mixed up in some stupid story about cursed jewels from India, which is all a cover for a bunch of murders, and do you call the police? Do you let them know about the murders? No! You steal a dead body! You took a dead man and moved him somewhere and hid behind him to fake his voice and scared the crap out of the killer. Call the cops in, Scoop! This is not your job! I don’t know what to do with you, I really don’t. You were just shot, Scoop, you spent a month in the hospital getting over it. You still shouldn’t be back at work. I put you on the wedding story to keep you out of trouble, but I just can’t manage to do that. I don’t want your blood on my hands. You’re fired, Scoop. Pack your bags.”
Ay which point Scoop pulls out his gun and shoots the editor, and then goes on a mad crazed shooting spree until he is gunned down by the police.
Scoop Scanlon: Action Comics 1 – 13 (June 38 – June 39)
New York World’s Fair 1939