Wing Brady is an American soldier in the French Foreign Legion, stationed in Tunisia. His first serial, running through to issue 18 (though there is no Wing Brady story in issue 11), shows him as a typical action hero, largely working apart from the rest of the Legion, as he battles to rescue Lynn Harding, a wealthy British girl who has been captured by the evil Ali Ben Saad.
We do meet his commander, Captain Chevigny, who holds Wing in high regard, and for good reason, as Wing almost single-handedly takes down what is called the most notorious group of bandits and Tunisia. Wing does get help from Rommuli, an Italian who has infiltrated Ben Saad’s band of thieves.
Wing accompanies Lynn to Tunis in issue 19, to send her back to England, but also to uncover a munitions smuggling ring. This next serial runs to issue 27, and sees the strip expand to four pages per issue, and the art really beings to take off. There are an excellent couple of pages in issue 22, with Wing diving into the Mediterranean to battle a smuggler in the water. Wing captures the smugglers and kills Count Mario Falashi, their leader, but misses a dinner date with Lynn. The final chapter of the serial has them finally go out, and the art is exceptional – you get the distinct feeling the artist is far more at home with men in white dinner jackets and girls in flapper gowns mixing in an art deco world than he is with soldiers in the desert. There is a beautiful panel of Wing and Lynn dining with a silhouette of Flamenco dancers behind them.
Wing is promoted to Lieutenant, but Lynn is heartbroken as she is sent sailing back to England by her father.
The next serial begins with Wing in a boxing match with an old rival, and then turns into a white slavery tale, as he rescues Jill Bradford, whose uncle has sold her to a sheikh in order to find the gold left to her by her father. The uncle is killed, and Jill is almost raped by Frenchy, who accompanies Wing, and his good friend Hap Hamilton on this adventure. But the serial ends abruptly after the attempted rape in 33 – neither Jill nor Hap ever appear or are referenced again, and the boxing match set-up comes to nothing.
In fact, with issue 34 the series takes a dramatic turn, as we learn Wing, and his buddy Le Maire (is this Frenchy?) have just spent three years in a Foreign Legion prison, framed for crimes they did not commit by Sergeant Von Blascom, who is now in charge of the regiment. This leads to a long, complex vengenace tale, reminiscent of the Count of Monte Cristo, as Wing and Le Maire bring about the demise or humiliation of Von Blascom and his two corrupt partners. The serial runs to issue 41, at six pages per story, and is replete with the harsh life and horrors of the Foreign Legion. Sadly, the art loses its originality and impact as the story gets dark and gritty.
The last year of the series sees a number of single issue tales, and a couple three part stories, but most are straightforward tales of Wing fighting arab bandits. He does tend to get back into his white suit, which was never seen during the vengeance tale, and the Foreign Legion once again becomes a backdrop to more “clean” adventures. Issue 47 sees a new person in charge, Captain Montgomery, and in issue 51 Wing gets to go to Paris, accompanied by his old friend Armand. Is Armand Frenchy? Is Frenchy’s full name Armand Le Maire? I have decided it is, and this is all the same guy, cause he’s French and likes to get drunk and sort of looks the same, but that may not have been the writers intent. Fuck him.
Wing’s final appearance comes in issue 52, yet another bandit tale, in February 1940. This is technically after my cut off for the Dawn of Comics period, but only by two months. And frankly, I didn’t feel Wing deserved a separate entry in the next section just for his last two stories.
Wing Brady: New Fun 1 – 6 (Jan – Oct 35)
More Fun 7 – 9 (Jan – Mar 36), 11 – 52 (July 36 – Feb 40)