Adventure 163 (April 1951) gives the Shining Knight a light-hearted tale. An old man. Mesquite Mike, who longs for the days of chivalry writes to the Knight for help with the gunslingers in his western town.
Sir Justin comes to see him,not letting Mike know his secret identity. The sheriff is in league with the bad guys, and makes Mike his deputy as a joke.
The rest of the story is pure sit-com, as he gets into his Shining Knight gear to scare down the bad guys, while the oblivious Mesquite Mike believes that he is the one making the outlaws cower in fear.
In the end, Mike is made sheriff. A happy ending, at least until Mike winds up having to do his job without the Shining Knight standing behind him.
This is also the last Shining Knight story by Frank Frazetta.
Lana Lang makes her first appearance in Adventure Comics in issue 161 (Feb 51), a few months after her introduction in Superboy’s own comic. At first she was little more than a red-headed copy of Lois Lane, and this story really emphasizes that, as Lana becomes a reporter for the local paper.
In her spare time, of course, she tries to prove that Clark Kent is really Superboy.
Although there was not much to her at the start, she did have a positive effect on the Superboy series as a whole. The Kents would start appearing more often, to give her someone to interact with aside from Clark, and bit by bit the world of Smallville would grow from this, with a supporting cast slowly increasing.
The Shining Knight story in this one is a lot of fun, as con men sell horses with wings attached, claiming to be selling Winged Victory. Sir Justin gets wind of the scam, and tricks the men into “capturing” the real Winged Victory.
The horse becomes the hero, as it does not fly where the men try to take it, instead delivering them to justice in the form of the Shining Knight.
Once again, lovely Frazetta art.
Johnny Quick finally gets an origin story in Adventure 159 (Dec 50), a mere nine years after the character debuted.
The story is entertaining, pitting Johnny against another university student who gets the same abilities. Very few Johnny Quick stories had him take on villains who had any sort of powers.
The problem I have with the origin is that it is his professor who devises the speed formula. Johnny is simply the first one to try it out, and use it nobly. Later continuity would downplay this, to the point of ignoring it, and have Johnny develop the formula on his own.
The story also has its own problems with continuity, in that both Johnny and the villainous Charley are immediately able to use the speed formula to fly. This use of the power did not appear in the earliest Johnny Quick stories, and only sort of developed unintentionally, a byproduct of the way Johnny’s speed was shown, with multiple images in the same panel. Fitting many Johnnys into one panel relied using all the space available, and Johnny was shown in the air before the stories actually admitted that he had the power of flight.
Sir Butch returns as the Shining Knight tries to visit Camelot but goes the wrong way through time and winds up in the far future. Merlin used the wrong tincture in his spell, though you would expect after so many trips through time that the Shining Knight might have noticed something was wrong.
As much as I love Frazetta’s art on this series, I feel a little let down by this tale, which doesn’t show a future world to a degree I would wish.
Sir Justin winds up stumbling into a plot to overthrow the government and establish a dictatorship, while Sir Butch falls in love with the daughter of the Chief Councillor. Merlin retrieves the two of them and brings them to Camelot just after Sir Justin defeats the conspirators, but before Sir Butch can even get his first kiss.
An american town called Camelot decides to go with the name big time, making itself as Camelot as it can, and writes to the Shining Knight to come and help them in Adventure 157 (Oct 50).
Gangsters see the news of this, and figure the town will be easy to loot, with everyone using swords and such instead of guns. Silly hoodlums. The Shining Knight trounces them.
A very simple little tale, once again made readable thanks to Frazetta’s art.
And yes, I am including every Shining Knight tale drawn by Frank Frazetta, whether the story is strong or not.
Throughout his run the Shining Knight never had a steady romantic interest. In Adventure 155 (Aug 50) Sir Justin meets Mary Mason, and in chivalrous fashion approaches her father for permission to date her.
It turns out Mr. Mason is very into Arthurian lore as well, and wants Sir Justin to prove himself worthy of his daughter. He sends him into a swamp to fight “dragons” (lizards), but Sir Justin stumbles across some escaped prisoners.
He gets into his Shining Knight gear and defeats the felons, saving Mary in the process, and while the father is suitably impressed, Mary is not. She credits the Shining Knight with her rescue, and believes Sir Justin did nothing to help her.
And so ends Sir Justin’s big romance.
Mordred makes his only appearance in the Shining Knight series in Adventure 153 (June 1950), and conveniently happens to be in the right place when Bellerophon (from Greek mythology) winds up transported to Camelot by fumes from a magic cave.
That sounds dumb, I know, but the story is better than most of the Shining Knight’s tales, and is by Frazetta to boot.
Mordred hates Sir Justin, of course. No need to give any reason behind that, Mordred is already the villain of Arthurian legend. He lies to Bellerophon and convinces him to battle the Shining Knight.
As both combatants have flying horses it makes for quite the battle. In fact, the two are so evenly matched that neither actually triumphs. Merlin figures out when and where Bellerophon is from and sends him back to his own time.
Mordred sulks, but is not punished in any way.
Sir Justin takes a vacation out west in Adventure 151 (April 1950), and comes across a small town where the sheriff has no horse he can ride. The cheap townsfolk refuse to buy him one, and it seems no one in this town has heard of cars, even though it’s 1950.
The Shining Knight comes to the rescue, breaking in a bronco so the sheriff has something to ride.
A very simple little tale, made eminently readable by Frazetta’s exquisite art.