More Fun 67 – The Spectre falls under a villain’s control, Congo Bill ends, Lance Larkin rides a dinosaur, and the origin of Dr. Fate
The final Spectre story to be a cover feature, the Jerry Siegel/Bernard Bailey tale from More Fun 67 (May 1941) has the Spectre at the mercy of Deeja Kathoon.
Kathoon is able to control ghosts, and many appear in the tale, all dressed much like the Spectre, though their robes cloak more of their bodies. Jim Corrigan is assigned to solve a series of mysterious vanishings, which were also the work of Kathoon.
As the Spectre, he disguises himself as a regular ghost, in an attempt to get near the villain, but his “disguise” is seen through. Not too hard, as he looks like he has just pulled his cape around himself. Kathoon takes control of the Spectre and sends him on a destructive rampage.
The Ring of Life seems to have a consciousness of its own in this tale, appearing out of nowhere to free the Spectre, who turns on Kathoon and chases him into another dimension.
Interestingly, when no longer on Earth, Kathoon adopts the purple cloaked garb that has previously signified a vengeful ghost in this series. Is Kathoon really alive, or some sort of malevolent and powerful spirit?
It’s moot point, as the Spectre hurls him to his death. Another potentially recurring villain bites the dust.
Congo Bill’s final outing in More Fun has the best art of his run, and one of the most racist stories. Bill and Professor Kent pursue a diamond thief named Slade, and get captured by Bantu warriors. Their chief turns out to be Slade in disguise, and Bill is allowed to take him back in exchange for “the secret of eternal fire’ (a lighter). Oh, those easy to fool Bantu warriors.
At least Slade gets a grisly death. That improves things a bit.
Congo Bill’s series moves over to Action Comics, with Professor Kent tagging along.
Lance Larkin heads to Saigon in his tale. While his second story kept him among the Arabs, the previous issue saw him in Rangoon.
He gets his horse shipped to him, but now the horse is called Satan. Whatever happened to Omar? Did he rename the horse? The story makes it clear he has owned this horse before, it is not a new one.
Heading inland, he encounters the neice of a dead explorer. She tells him of a forgotten tribe of dragon-riding cavemen. The dragons seem to be somewhat evolved dinosaurs.
Together they seek out the tribe, and she and Lance get to ride some dragons. Then they leave, promising to keep the secret of the tribe.
Dr. Fate is finally given an origin story in this issue, by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman. Young Kent Nelson accompanied his archaeologist father on an Egyptian dig.
The boy came across what appeared to be a statue, but was actually the form of Nabu, and ancient being from a wandering planet called Cilia. I always found it weird that there was an alien aspect to this character, and that’s generally ignored, or re-interpreted as a mystical dimension.
Kent’s father dies from poison gas, and so Nabu raises the child, training him in his arcane knowledge and abilities. Was Nabu responsible for the father’s death? It is not stated that way in this story, but it certainly seems to be the case, even indirectly, and later stories would lay the blame more strongly on him.
Nabu gives Kent Nelson the garb of Dr. Fate. At this point, there is no indication of Nabu taking residence in the helmet, that was a much later development.
The last few pages of the story return to the present, as Inza attends a society party at which a man is threatened by shadowy beings. She calls on Fate, who traces the shadows to the underworld, and takes Inza along because…the party was getting dull, maybe? There they face off against Nergal, a lord of the underworld who gets cowed by Fate pretty quickly. All he has to do is threaten Nergal and he backs down.
Still, the origin story is good, the best Dr. Fate story to date.