Posts tagged ‘Bernard Bailey’

More Fun 80 – Green Arrow plays William Tell, Dr. Fate vs the Octopus, Aquman talks to fish, Johnny Quick loses his voice, and the Spectre vs the King of Color


The cover of More Fun 80 (June 1942) actually corresponds to the story inside!  It was not standard practice yet, but always a pleasant surprise when it does.


The story is the first of countless Green Arrow tales that play on the William Tell idea.  I suppose they could be counted, but even I am not inclined to do so.  This tale has Green Arrow and Speedy hired to be stunt archers in a film on that topic.


Oliver Queen and Roy Harper apparently lounge around the balcony to their apartment in suits when not on a case.  They head to Calfornia by Arrowplane.  Which still means the Arrowcar at this time.


The film set is plagued by “accidents,” and the archers discover that there is a gold mine on the property, and the crimes were intended to drive the crew away before they could discover it.


Dr. Fate is pitted against a large, green mobster, called the Octopus, in this Gardner Fox/ Howard Sherman tale.


There is nothing nautical about the Octopus’ criminal endeavours.  He leads a gang who run a carnival, at which they rob the patrons.  Kent Nelson and Inza come to visit, and get caught up in taking it down.   Howard Sherman really seems to have given up on this series.  Inza, hanging for her life, looks completely resigned to dropping to her death.


The Octopus tries to gas Fate to death, but fails, and Dr. Fate beats the crap out of him.  A disappointment.


Black Jack returns, getting a job on a pleasure yacht, and then convincing the rest of the crew to mutiny and hold the guests for ransom.


But it’s not the plot or the villain that makes this story mandatory for inclusion in my blog.  We see Aquaman still needs to beat up sharks to make them do what he wants.


But we also see him converse with a fish for the first time, getting the information needed to track down Black Jack.  This scene is very casually introduced, as if it were no big thing, but it’s a major development in the scope of his powers.


Aquaman catches up to Black Jack and beats the tar out of him and his men.  No fish for the final battle.  Black Jack is not done, though, and returns a few months later.


Johnny Quick deals with a crooked gambler, the Adder, who tries to manipulate a charity event Johnny is racing in.  Once again, it’s the superb art by Mort Meskin that makes this tale.


The whole things plays out almost like a situation comedy.  Johnny innocently agrees to take part in the race, unaware of the villain’s schemes.


But on the day of the race, he wakes up with laryngitis!  Oh, no!  Clever Johnny uses a loudspeaker to broadcast his speed formula loud enough that it can be heard, though he disguises it amid gibberish.  And of course, he triumphs.

But the story does raise a curious point.  Why is the volume the speed formula is said at significant?  Is there a “speed god” who needs to hear it?


Percival Popp faces off against the King of Color in this Jerry Siegel/Bernard Bailey story, and the Spectre is kind of involved as well.


I like the bizarre globe helmst the King of Color wears, and although it’s exact attributes are never specified, it can create hypnotic effects, and also read emotions!  Could have been an interesting villain.  Clarice Winston returns in this story.  Earlier I said she made no further appearances in the strip, but obviously I was mistaken.


It’s Jim Corrigan who saves the day, really.  Not the Spectre or Percival Popp.  Corrigan simply goads the King of Color, pretending to get captured in order to learn his plans.  Jim almost falls under the color spell, but the Spectre force enables him to resist and escape.

More Fun 79 – Green Arrow vs the Boomerang, Mr. Who’s last battle with Dr. Fate, Aquaman fights Nazis, Johnny Quick vs Mr. Meek, and Percival Popp takes the lead


Green Arrow gets a new villain with a lot of potential in More Fun 79 (May 1942), but it seems they didn’t see it.  He doesn’t make it onto the cover, nor did he appear again.


The Boomerang is pretty much what Captain Boomerang would become, although much lower tech, appropriate to the era.


He uses boomerangs as, essentially, a hit man, giving people revenge killings.  Oliver Queen gets alerted to this through his friends, and Green Arrow and Speedy hunt him down.


No trick arrows, but a giant boomerang!


Mr. Who escapes from prison thanks to his “Z” formula, but overall it doesn’t help him much in this Gardner Fox/Howard Sherman story.


Mr. Who breaks into a millionaire’s home, and the formula allows him to take on the man’s identity, as it did with the mayor many issues ago.  Kent and Inza are friends with the impersonated man, of course.


Mr. Who’s own formula gives him away, making him grow large when Dr. Fate approaches him while he is in disguise.  The last we see of Mr. Who, he is in prison.  One would have thought he’d stay there, as he did not appear again in this series, but he did make a return, in a story set very shortly after this one, in All-Star Squadron in the 80s.


The only thing particularly noteworthy about the Aquaman story in this issue is that he is fighting Nazis.  I think this story is still too early to have been written and drawn before the attack on Pearl Harbour, so it’s a bit surprising to see Aquaman being so aggressive with them.


The story has him helping survivors of a Nazi U-boat bombing of their ship, while it was in protected US waters.


Aquaman identifies first and foremost as an American.  Which, of course, he is at this time.  Odd to see a pre-Atlantean Aquaman though.


Mort Meskin’s art does a lot to make this story, which pits Johnny Quick against Mr. Meek, work as well as it does.


Mr. Meek has the clever plan to film Johnny reciting his speed formula, so he can learn it and use it himself.  Nicely ironic, as Meek is unaware that Johnny Chambers works making newsreels.


The ending challenges Johnny’s wits, as he has to figure out how to use speed to escape a locked vault in a burning building.


After a couple of issues that made it seem like the Spectre was taking his series back, Percival Popp moves solidly into the lead in this tale, by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey.  The Spectre isn’t even clearly seen on the splash page!


Percival takes a job spending money – the unwitting dupe of counterfeiters.  Jim Corrigan acts as his sidekick in this tale, until the Spectre is needed.  Then Jim changes form and devotes the rest of the tale to getting Percival out of trouble.


Percival even gets to take credit for busting the ring!  I feel sick.


More Fun 78 – Green Arrow launches the Arrowcraft, Dr. Fate and the Wax Museum, Aquaman in the Sargasso Sea, Johnny Quick trounces Dr. Clever, and the Spectre helps a haunted magician


Nice shot of the catapult launch from the Arrowplane (Arrowcar!) on the cover of More Fun 78 (April 1942).


The story has to do with a modern day pirate, the Black Raider, and introduces Green Arrow’s boat, the Arrowcraft.  The little bit we see of Oliver and Roy’s apartment (the first two panels above) is about all we ever see.  No real context to their lives.


Again, a decent but largely forgettable story.  I do like the little insert close-up of Speedy’s shot on one page.


Murders and a Wax Museum make this an entertaining read, for a late Dr. Fate story, by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman.


The villains are just a gang of thieves, but they dress up as characters from a wax museum to confuse the police and scare people.  Inza and Kent are at a society costume ball that they attack.


Fate gets captured, and put into a glass chamber to suffocate.  That dratted half-helmet again!  No magic to escape, purely strength and ingenuity.  This series has all but given up on the supernatural.


Aquaman deals with a self-appointed King of the Sargasso Sea in this story.


The man has made his kingdom of abandoned boats, and populated it with wanted felons.  It’s really not a bad idea for a recurring villain, but this guy was just a one-shot.


Still, this one almost didn’t make it into the blog, until I hit the last page.  Aquaman has no problems blowing the king up, and in the last two panels defines his mission, but looks so amazingly happy doing it.


Dr. Clever has his third outing against Johnny Quick in this story, illustrated by Mort Meskin.


Johnny’s mask alters in this one as well, gaining some width on the side that really helps define the character’s face.  The story has Dr. Clever calling himself the Man of a Million Murders, but that was the “title” used by Mr. Zero a number of months ago.  As Mr. Zero never appeared again, it would seem that Dr. Clever likely killed him, making him one of the numbered deaths, and then continued his scheme.


A lot of things happen SUDDENLY in this story, but its fun.


Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey find an almost comfortable mix with the Spectre and Percival Popp in this story, as they pursue a spirits who emerge to rob the audience during a magician’s show.


Popp basically just acts as Jim Corrigan’s sidekick through this, off to the side while the Spectre investigates the mystical side to the case.


Of course, the magician is the real culprit.  They always are.  But the Spectre gets to show off some of his powers at least.

More Fun 77 – Green Arrow in Gayland, Dr. Fate fights a giant, Aquaman splashes Black Jack, Johnny Quick messes up names, and the Spectre vs Maligno


Green Arrow and Speedy get the cover, and the lead spot, beginning with More Fun 77 (March 1942).


With the title of the story, and a huge devil over the Gayland sign on the splash page, I was expecting to have a lot of fun with this Green Arrow story, finding unmeant innuendos in the dialogue.  But alas, that was not to be.  After this first page, the name of the park is never referred to again.


It’s a decent enough tale.  Criminals dressed as red devils are plaguing an amusement park, so Green Arrow and Speedy battle them.  The roller coaster sequence is the only part that uses the rides as backdrop.


Green Arrow infiltrates the gang, disguising himself as a devil.  So much red on that page, with Speedy in the mix.  No trick arrows or anything special about this one, though.


Dr. Fate moves a little towards the mystical in Jerry Siegel’s story, and Howard Sherman does a good splash page.


Inza functions to draw attention to the problem, her usual role.  Dr. Fate is dealing with a painting that is a portal to another realm.  Sadly, despite it being called strange, it looks pretty much like the world around us.


At least Dr. Fate gets to fight a giant, although he just resorts to punching him, as he tends to these days.


Black Jack makes his third appearance in this tale.  For a recurring villain, he never seems very competent.


This story sees him running a crooked casino on a ship outside the legal limits.  Aquaman has his first scene out of his costume, and he’s in a snazzy white suit!


Black Jack’s plan go haywire, and his ship sinks.  He survives the disaster, and is about to take vengeance on the heroine of the story, when Aquaman swoops in to the rescie and defeats him by…


Splashing him in the face!  Yup, one good splash is all it takes to bring this villain down.

Remarkably, Black Jack returns in a few months.


There is some nice Mort Meskin art on this story, and a significant development in how Johnny Quick’s powers are shown, but the main thing I want to talk about with this story is the screw up with the names.


OK, so here is Tom Mason.  See, he calls himself that.  Poor kid was trying to kill himself when Johnny intervened, and learns how he killed another boy in a duel.


And in flashback, here is the duelling master (and real villain in the story), Mr. Douglas.  The apparent duelling death is in the last panel.


And then, on the very next page, the duelling master is now called Mr. Mason, and will continue to be called this for the rest of the story.  Really bad error, shame on the editor for not catching it.  Unless secretly the duelling master is Tom’s real father, banished from the family long ago.  He changed his name, lost and eye, and became a duelling master simply to pull this evil scheme on his unknowing child.  Yeah, let’s go with that.  Improves the story.


An enjoyable fight between Johnny and Douglas/Mason, but no strong visual for the super-speed yet.


And then, amidst some clever stylization of words and images, Meskin first uses the visual that will come to define this series – a panel that shows multiple images of Johnny at once.  Here that is mixed with speed lines, and likely was not intended to inaugurate a new way of showing speed.  But it was the start.


The Spectre story in this one is a welcome change.  It’s back to the old for Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey, and there is no Percival Popp in sight.  Great splash page, showing the Spectre off better than most issues do.


The story is a bit of a let-down, only in that is so much of the formula of Spectre stories before the change.  Maligno is another malevolent spirit, once again wearing the purple robes that are the mandatory garb for nasty ghosts.


There is a touch of cosmic stuff, but nothing huge or dramatic.  A step back to the better days, but only a baby step.

More Fun 76 – Green Arrow battles knights in a castle, Dr. Fate plays chess, Aquaman aids a sinking ship, Dr. Clever returns, Clip Carson ends, and the Spectre fights a headless man


Dr. Fate gets his last cover on More Fun 76 (Feb 42), but has already lost the lead spot in the book to Green Arrow, who will take over the cover with the following issue, as well.


An entertaining Green Arrow story opens the issue, as he and Speedy investigate a haunted castle, which is really a hide-out for an international jewel thief.

The story allows the heroes to get into action in a medieval looking setting, fighting against hoodlums dressed up as knights in armour.


No trick arrows yet, but a great trick shot, as Green Arrow fires off a shaft to hit the controls on the Arrowcar (which is still called the Arrowplane), in order to make it drive on its own.


The cover for this issue actually reflects the Dr. Fate story inside, a rarity!  Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman pit Kent Nelson against a criminal chess master, but nothing past the splash page is impressive.


Once again, the story is just a loose framework in which Dr. Fate displays no magical abilities, and runs around beating people up.


And once again, he gets knocked out by gas.  With that happening so often, you’d think he would change the mask back to something more protective.


Aquaman deals with a sunken ship in this story.  It’s a fairly run of the mill plot, although not a bad tale.


Down in the wreckage Aquaman has to deal with a diver in, for the period, very advanced gear, complete with pincer hands.


And though the fish are not identified, it sure looks like he is able to command sharks at the end of this tale.  Maybe they are meant to be dolphins though.


Dr. Clever returns to get vengeance on Johnny Quick, as Mort Meskin takes the artistic reins on the series.


Dr. Clever has developed a machine that gives his henchmen super-speed, and he pits them against Johnny Quick – in a boxing ring.  Clearly humiliating Quick is far more important than getting rich to this villain.


Johnny defeats Clever’s men simply by reversing the machine, and then using it to steal their speed.  Dr. Clever returns in a few months.


Clip Carson has his final adventure in this issue.  The last two issues had him in Buenos Aires, and then Montevideo, but this final tale takes him all the way to China.

It’s no more gripping than any of the other generic outings Clip Carson has had, but it does stick him right in the middle of the war, between the Chinese and Japanese.


Considering that the bombing of Pearl Harbour occurred only a couple of weeks before this issue came out, I have no trouble assuming Clip immediately joined the army, and probably tried to attack Japan single-handed.  And died.


The Spectre story in this issue is once again largely a Percival Popp tale, as he keeps trying to get on Jim Corrigan’s good side, but is only aided by the Spectre.  As usual, it was written by Jerry Siegel, with art by Bernard Bailey.


Clarice Winston makes her final appearance in the Spectre series in this story, still trying to figure out her relationship with Jim.  She does make one final appearance a year or so down the road, in an issue of All-Star Comics, but later continuity eliminated her (quite specifically) from that story.  She appears again in All-Star Squadron, largely in flashback, and her real next outing is in the Ostrander/Mandrake run of the Spectre.


Percival Popp (and Jim and the Spectre) are on the trail of an apparently headless man who goes around kidnapping athletes.


The Spectre reveals that the Headman in fact has a really really tiny head, hidden down in his shirt.  Could have been a creepy scene, but not with Percival front and centre.

More Fun 75 – Dr. Fate gets physical, Green Arrow vs Merlin, Black Jack returns, Johnny Quick vs Mr. Zero, and Percival shoves his way in


The Dr. Fate story in More Fun 75 (Jan 42) is by the original team, Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman, but little of the original feel of the series remains.


It does open as a typical story.  Inza needs Dr. Fate’s help with a friend imprisoned for a crime he did not commit.  Dr. Fate uses his crystal ball to learn of Inza’s need, but from there on this is pure down to earth stuff.


Fate tracks the gang, beating up all the members along the way. The story is nothing but a loose frame work on which to hang scenes of Dr. Fate hitting people.


Nor does the mastermind require anything magical to take him down.  Dr. Fate flies, but shows off no other degree of special powers.


Green Arrow gets his first recurring villain in this issue, who goes  by the name of Professor Merlin, but also calls himself simply Merlin.


He runs a crime college, sending his “students” out to steal cars.


His men capture Green Arrow and Speedy, but Professor Merlin is impressed by the archer, and asks if they can join forces.  Pretty foolish, really.  Of course Green Arrow agrees, but simply sets him up and takes him down.


Merlin does manage to escape, vowing revenge.  And he returns, the following month, in Leading Comics 1, the first story of the Seven Soldiers of Victory, to fight Green Arrow.


Aquaman’s story has him aiding some south seas islanders whose home has been conquered by Black Jack.


The area is rich in pearls, but Black Jack also has designs on Loana, the girl friend of Keiko.  Keiko is the guy Aquaman rescued from the giant clam, and learns all the backstory from.


Interestingly, to get to Black Jack, Aquaman has to fight and kill a shark.  He does not even attempt to mentally control the creature.  Of course he succeeds, and frees the island from Black Jack’s control, although the villain returns a couple months down the road.


Johnny Quick faces a mass murderer in this story, with great art by Jerry Robinson and Mort Meskin.  Mr. Zero has a skeletal face and head, and a tendency to kill of even his own henchmen.


Johnny Chambers and Tubby Watts are filming at a baseball game when one of Mr. Zero’s men kills a guy, getting Johnny onto the track of these guys.  This brief scene pretty much establishes the way they will often be introduced into the story, the matching green suits.  Tubby’s hair has changed colour from dark brown to red, and his face altered slightly as well, into what would become his standard appearance.


Lots of speed action, but still a costume that lacks a defining symbol.


Some more big changes occur in this story by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey.  Percival Popp is still trying to worm his way into Jim Corrigan’s life.


The Spectre finally gets fed up with it, and takes Percival off to a different planet to threaten him, but that does no good.  Percival decides to hone in on Clarice Winston in an attempt to get closer to Jim.


Clarice winds up in a coma, Percival thinks it has to do with a statue, but the Spectre realizes Percival is going to be diving near his corpse, still sitting on the bottom of the harbour.


The Spectre goes to the Voice, who returns Jim’s body to life, with the Spectre now residing inside it.  He saves the day, and Percival’s life, and ends cuddling with Clarice.

It’s questionable whether Jim Corrigan really returned to life, or the body was simply freed from cement, and the Spectre force allowed to possess it, and have it act independently.  This story was completely ignored in the Ostrander/Mandrake series, in which the body is still encased in cement in the harbour.

More Fun 74 – The Spectre meets Percival Popp, Green Arrow fights in silence, Aquaman vs Black Jack, Johnny Quick vs Dr. Clever, Dr. Fate vs Mr. Who, again



Percival Popp, the Super-Cop is introduced in More Fun 74 (Dec 41), by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey.  They seemed to feel that a humourous sidekick was needed for the strip, and went whole hog with this character.


Jim Corrigan is on the case of some missing men, but discovers Percival in the trunk of his car.  Percival admires Jim, and is following him.


This adds “humour” to the story, as Jim must keep Percival safe, while taking down the mad scientist.  You’d think the Spectre would be annoyed by this useless tagalong, but it doesn’t seem to bother him that much.  Certainly not as much as it bothers me.


Green Arrow and Speedy deal with a gang leader called the Voice, who has created a machine that nullifies all sound.


His men rob banks while the sound is blocked, so no alarms or screams can alert the police.  Green Arrow does not use an actual trick arrow, technically.  He and Speedy shoot flaming arrows into the sky as an alert to the police, but flaming arrows do exist anyway.  Still, it’s a baby step in that direction.


Aquaman gets his first recurring foe in this story, a modern day pirate named Black Jack.


Aquaman happens to swim by a ship that Black Jack is robbing, and climbs aboard to fight him.  He subdues Aquaman, but clearly has no idea who he is dealing with, as he has him bound and forced to walk the plank.  May as well shoot at Superman with a sun-powered ray gun.


Aquaman escapes, rassles a torpedo, and stops Black Jack’s crime spree, but the villain vows vengeance, and in fact will return next issue.


Johnny Quick also gets his first recurring villain in this issue, Dr. Clever, a mad scientist but a natty dresser.


Johnny disrupts three different schemes of Dr. Clever in this story – an extortion scheme, poisoning diners and making their skin change colour, a fake machine that draws gold from seawater, which is really a cover to sell stolen gold, and finally just stealing other people’s inventions.


Johnny’s costume looks a bit more coherent in this story, although fairly generic.  It cries for a chest symbol.

Dr. Clever returns a couple issues down the road.


Dr. Fate uses his crystal ball, and determines that Mr. Who survived their encounter in the last issue, in this Gardner Fox/Howard Sherman tale.


We learn that Solution “Z” is eve more potent than thought, as it enabled Mr. Who to grow gills and survive being underwater.  He returns to the city, and goes after the mayor.  Solution “Z” also allows Mr. Who to shape change, and he tales the mayor’s place.


Once again it is Dr. Fate’s need to breathe that causes him problems, while bullets are no threat.  Fate does expose Mr. Who’s impersonation of the mayor before being taken down.


The story concludes with Fate capturing Dr. Who, but the narration at the end implies that Mr. Who will escape prison anyway, and be back next issue.  In reality, it took him a few issues to return.  The prison was a bit better than the narrator thought.

More Fun 73 – Dr. Fate vs Mr Who, Green Arrow debuts, Johnny Quick vs the Black Knight, the Spectre vs the volcano, and Aquaman debuts


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.



More Fun 72 – The Spectre battles Spiezel, Johnny Quick visits Tin Pan Alley, and Dr. Fate has a new helmet


The Dr. Fate cover to More Fun 72 (Oct 41) is notable for two reasons.  Firstly, it debuts his half-helmet, which he will wear for the remainder of his appearance in More Fun.  Secondly, it features him fighting a Nazi sub.  This cover appeared in mid-1941, before the US entered World War 2.  The story in the issue has no connection to the cover, however.


The Spectre is given a good enemy in this Jerry Siegel/Bernard Bailey story.  A farmer named Hiram Spiezel opens a strange jar he finds on his land, and gets possessed by an ancient, malevolent, but unnamed, spirit.


Spiezel becomes a financial shark, ruthlessly exploiting others and taking advantage of their problems.  In other words, a banker.  He also plots to control the world financially.  In other words, an American banker.


But the story does not mire itself in market manipulations.  Once the Spectre gets involved the battle becomes more physical, and Bailey does some great stuff with the art, becoming metaphorical on Speizel’s actions.


In order to defeat him, the Spectre goes to the Voice and asks for help.  He is given a glowing red band around his hips, and with that is able to drive the spirit out of Spiezel, get it back in the jar and bury it on the ocean floor.  But the thing that comes to my mind is, where is the Ring of Life?

It’s absence without mention was not explained, until Roy Thomas filled in the gaps in All-Star Squadron.


Johnny Quick solves a murder mystery among musicians in his second story.


It’s a decent mystery tale, and the panel on the bottom of the musicians makes me think they might have corresponded to actual singers of the time?  I only suspect that because of the one with the pipe, which was how Bing Crosby was always characterized.


Although it is not stated, Johnny is clearly able to fly as of this story, a significant difference from the Flash.


Dr. Fate’s story in this issue changes the helmet, and this slightly alters his never-well-defined powers.  We also get to meet Inza’s family, who are farmers.  That surprises me, because Inza has, up to now, been shown as a well-off member of urban society.  Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman also give Fate a ring he can use to view people, and the crystal ball makes an appearance again.  Now that he has half a helmet, he also appears far more often as Kent Nelson.


He goes after some forgers, who have been taking advantage of the simple farm folks, including Inza’s grandparents.  The forgers trap him and gas him, and it works.  Because he no longer has his full helmet.


He recovers and captures the bad guys, beating them into submission.  He explains to Inza that his body is partly composed of molecular energy.  I’m no science whiz, but isn’t everyones?  But the half-helmet leaves his breathing vulnerable.

There is never any mention of the other helmet, what happened to it, or why he is now wearing this one.  As with the Ring of Life, the explanation would wait until All-Star Squadron.

More Fun 71- The Spectre helps out a wedding, Johnny Quick debuts, and Dr. Fate helps the Earth rotate


Dr. Fate is the cover feature of More Fun 71 (Sept 41), but moves back to the final slot in the book.  The character clearly had not proved as popular as expected, as this is the final issue where he wears the full helmet.  His series becomes far less mystical for the duration of its run.


Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey’s Spectre moves back to the lead spot, although the story is nowhere on par with earlier adventures.  This story all deals with confusion and chaos at a wedding.  The groom is late, and a “rare cosmic event” decreases the Spectre’s powers, so he cannot use them to find him.  He still can change his shape and take the groom’s place at the wedding though.


But the story almost descends into farce as Jim (as the groom) gets kidnapped, and the bride calls the wedding off, and the Spectre has to play matchmaker.  The other really curious thing in the story is a scene with Clarice Winston, when she tells Jim not to let the ceremony “give him ideas.”  Clearly she is no longer mooning over him.  It’s surprising they are at the wedding together, if her feelings have cooled towards him so much.  She hasn’t been seen in the series for a while now.


Johnny Quick debuts in this issue.  A newsreel reporter named Johnny Chambers, he and his cameraman, Tubby Watts, head to the circus to film, when a lion breaks free of its cage.


Johnny already has his powers when the story begins, and the flashback to his origin ascribes him some previous adventures as well.  We see Johnny as a college student, and the professor who teaches him the “speed formula” he recites to gain his powers.  In this issue, the speed is shown the same way it is in the Flash series, and there is not that much to distinguish the two characters at this point, except that Johnny’s costume looks kind of crappy.


Johnny disguises himself as a strong man, infiltrating the circus and discovers that it is the front for a crime ring.  So many circuses are fronts for crime rings in 1940s comics.  Makes one wonder just how often that really occurred.


The last “full helmet” Dr. Fate story sees the Earth stop rotating, leaving half in baking sunlight and half in darkness.  Inza is travelling in New Mexico at the time, and begs Fate to help out the people there.  He uses his magic to create globes that will induce rain, which also has the effect of making the Earth rotate again.  Because.  It just does.


There is a mad scientist behind it all, Adam Igorovich, who tries to blackmail the various countries.  When that fails, he uses his machine to move the Earth closer to the sun, threatening to destroy it.


Dr. Fate resorts to his fists again, beating the guy up rather that using magic on him.  The scientist tries to kill Fate by blowing up his lab, but Fate zips away and the madman kills only himself.

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