With issue 73 (Nov 41), More Fun Comics became almost entirely super-heroes. The Spectre, Dr. Fate and Johnny Quick were joined by Green Arrow and Aquaman, and the only other series still going were the long-running Radio Squad, and another Clip Carson adventure, this one in Hunduras. After his debut, Clip had beaten up Seminoles in the Everglades, and actually helped an Inuit man in Alaska. In the previous issue, he solved a murder while on vacation at a Dude Ranch in Arizona. From this story till the end of his run, Clip’s adventures would be scattered around the globe.
Mr. Who debuts in this Gardner Fox/Howard Sherman tale, another mad scientist, but with enough character to be fun. And a “Z” solution that allows him to grow to giant size.
I enjoy the page of Fate fighting with the giant spider, Mr. Who heading out to commit a crime, and leave the hero to die. Dr. Fate is able to emit energy to free himself, but fights the spider bare-handed.
Dr. Fate hurls him into the water at the end, but the story leaves open the possibility that he survived – and he most certainly did, appearing in the following issue.
Green Arrow and Speedy debut, created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp. Oliver Queen and Roy Harper both have brown hair in this story. The colours of the two heroes hair, as well as their hats, gloves and boots would alter almost regularly all the way into the 1960s.
Green Arrow and Speedy are already operating as a team, and mention is made of a previous case. They already have what would later be called the Arrowcar, but here is termed the Arrowplane. There would later be an Arrowplane that was an airplane, not a car.
While the obvious inspiration for the character is Robin Hood, in reality more stories and elements would be drawn from the Batman series. Already there is a boy sidekick, and a vehicle named for the hero.
The story is a standard mystery. Murders among a group of historians, who share names with historical figures. The archery is all straight forward as well, no trick arrows.
I really like Ed Moore’s art on this Johnny Quick story that pits him against the Black Knight, who mysteriously goes around destroying statues.
Johnny and Tubby Watts are filming when the Knight goes on a rampage, and Johnny trails him, but gets captured.
The glass room makes a great trap, and foreshadows the distinctive way speed would come to be shown in this strip – multiple images of Johnny in the same panel. He escapes and exposes the Knight as a robot, in the control of an unscrupulous art dealer.
This is the final Spectre story by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey before the series changes irrevocably. And it has some weird moments, but is about par for the course. The Spectre series had been inventive, as it was, but rarely lived up to the promise of its premise, at least partly because that was so grim and disturbing.
Here wer get a story about giant volcanoes popping up in downtown Cliffland, caused by a mad scientist with a teleporter.
There is a strange page, in which Clarice Winston tries to get Jim to propose, just a few issues after saying they should not be married. I think we can add this together, as well as her pursuit of Jim so long after he broke it off years ago, can add to show her unstable mental state.
Being attacked by lions likely doesn’t help her in the long run either.
In the end, the Spectre doesn’t even save the day. It’s the bad guy’s assistant who sacrifices himself to destroy the villain and the machine.
And the final panel sees a dark foreshadowing. Percival Popp – the Super-Cop.
What person, who enjoyed the dark, grisly elements of this series about a vengeful ghost looked at that picture and thought, yes, that is exactly what the series needs.
Aquaman also debuts in this issue. He’s just sort of swimming around the Atlantic in the middle of a world war, and is on hand when a ship gets sunk by a Nazi U-boat.
Aquaman plunges into action, whups them Nazis, and they flee. Then he gets the lifeboat to safety.
He briefly relates his origin, which is far different from the one we know. Here is a human, raised by his scientist father in an underwater city that may have been Atlantis. The father used the science of that kingdom to alter his son, to make his able to live in the sea.
It’s a really cruel story of child abuse and isolation, so it’s no surprise when Aquaman immediately runs away after revealing it.
As he defeats the nearby Nazis, we also see him use his ability to communicate with fish.
A barely defined character, but a series with a lot of visual potential, and a good name.