Posts tagged ‘Inza Nelson’

More Fun 98 – Dr. Fate ends

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Dr. Fate goes out with a whimper, not a bang, in More Fun 98 (July/Aug 1944).  I credit the unnamed nurse on the first page as being Inza.  The last time we definitely saw Inza, she was training to become his “assistant.”  In a number of stories, Kent Nelson has been shown with a nurse, but she is never identified.  I see no reason to think this would be anyone other than Inza.

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The story deals with a child patient who is kidnapped by gangsters, because he resembles their midget boss.

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It’s a dull little tale, nothing original about it.  And nothing very Dr. Fate about it either.

Dr. Fate had already been dropped from the Justice Society line-up in All-Star Comics, so this was his final appearance in the Golden Age.  He returned, along with the Justice Society, in the pages of Justice League of America.  His full helmet was back, and his powers stronger than ever.  Inza was back a few years later, ageless due to the presence of Dr. Fate.

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More Fun 85 – Dr. Fate gets his degree, Aquaman gets hot, and Johnny Quick gets multiple images

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Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman bill this story from More Fun 85 (Nov 42) as the “New” Dr. Fate, and there are some changes to the character, though none as castrating as those which have already occurred.

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Kent Nelson decides to get a degree in medicine, and achieves that in less than a page.  Inza decides to become his assistant (nurse?) but her training is clearly more extensive, as we do not see her function in this capacity during the story.

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As Dr. Fate, he stops wearing his cape.  There also seems to be little of his strength or notion of being able to turn his body into energy or such.  He gets knocked out (with ether), then bound and tossed into a corner.  No way this would have happened to the character two years earlier.

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Of course, he gets free and stops the bad guy, who had killed the doctor who did recostructive surgery on his face.  The story ends with a bit that cannot help but bring “Inglourious Basterds” to mind, as the bandages come off to reveal that the doctor had carved swastikas all over the criminal’s face.

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Aquaman goes up against seal poachers in the arctic in this story.  The cold northern setting is quickly forgotten, though, once the hunters capture Aquaman.

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Then we are suddenly somewhere much hotter, with palm trees.  They throw Aquaman onto an island and leave him there to die, shooting at him if he tries to enter the water.  Although there is no concept of him dying if he is out of water for a period of time, the story does explain that he “loses his strength” when in the hot sun.  This is the first time this idea is really played on, though it will be decades before the one-hour time limit is conceived.

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He rides a swordfish into his final battle with the poachers.  He has to wrangle the fish in order to ride it, though.  He shows no sign of being able to mentally command it.  In fact, in these early stories the implication seems to be that he can mentally control small fish, crabs and such, but the larger, more aggressive fish are out of his range.

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The use of multiple images by Mort Meskin to show Johnny Quick’s super-speed takes hold in this story.  It is used prominently on the splash page, and again in two other panels of the story.

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The story itself is pretty much a “task” story, as Johnny endeavours to complete three impossible tasks necessary in order for a man to collect his inheritance.

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Johnny finds a needle in a haystack, counts can in a garbage dumps and bricks in a tall building, and also takes down the shady lawyer scheming against the heir.

More Fun 83 – Dr, Fate fights Fates, Aquaman and Black Jack at it again, and Johnny Quick gets a chest symbol

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The Dr. Fate story in More Fun 83 (Sept 42) has a lot of supernatural trappings to it, destiny and fortune-telling, but Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman still manage to avoid a mystical story.

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As with the issue before, the “two fates” the con men are dealing with is just a scam.  And again, Inza and Kent get involved through their friends.

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I was surprised when the crystal ball was talked about as if it were some sort of ray machine, but that’s just another example of the systematic removal of all magic from Dr.  Fate.  You have to wonder why they stuck with the character for so long, instead of just cancelling his series, when they didn’ t want any element of what the character was.

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Black Jack makes another appearance in More Fun in this story, strongly cementing his position as Aquaman’s arch-enemy of the Golden Age.

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The story has to do with a lost treasure from the time of the Louisiana Purchase.  The best part of the story has Aquaman imprisoned in a chest by Black Jack.  He summons a variety of sea creatures, not just fish, who manage to open the box and free him.  Another boost to his powers.

Black Jack returns in a couple of months.

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The Johnny Quick story in this issue has Johnny filling in for a delivery boy who is being harassed by crooks.  But it also is the story in which Johnny displays a chest symbol for the first time, and his costume is finally “complete,” thanks to Mort Meskin.

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The main part of the story is not Johnny and crooks, rather, it’s Johnny doing delivery boy stuff at super-speed.  This kind of story would become more and more frequent as his series went on.  I call them “task” stories, as its all about doing the tasks of a given profession, or variety of professions, rather than about solving crimes.

More Fun 82 – Green Arrow meets Robin Hood, Dr. Fate vs the Lucky One, and Aquaman lives in Atlantis

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The first of many, many versions, Green Arrow and Speedy meet Robin Hood in More Fun 82 (Aug 42), which also sees the logo shrink and move to the corner of the cover.

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Speedy is the first to travel back in time, popping some experimental “time pills.”  Oliver follows quickly after.

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The story then has the two heroes join forces with Robin Hood and his Merry Men.  As there are no trick arrows yet, Green Arrow is really not much different from Robin Hood in the story.   The two would meet again and again over the years, every time as if it were the first.

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Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman give Dr. Fate an interesting villain in this story, although his name, the Lucky One, leaves something to be desired.

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He runs really large and elaborate cons, convincing people he has great luck.  As usual, Kent and Inza learn of him through society friends, and Dr. Fate goes into action.

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In the top two panels it really appears that Fate is flying, yet by the bottom of the page he seems unable to do so, in order to avoid the card trap.

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Aside from that, this story has much better visuals than any story in while.  Still no magic from Fate, but that was far in the past now.

The villain does not appear again, but certainly seems to be cut of the same cloth as later JLA villain Amos Fortune.

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Aquaman’s story slightly resembles his fight with the King of the Sargasso Sea, as a man takes kingship on an island of convicts (cleverly called Convict Island).

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What makes this story significant is a very brief scene in which Aquaman takes a man he has rescued to his place of residence (apparently).  A temple, sealed against the water, in the ruins of ancient Atlantis.  Sadly we see almost nothing of the temple, inside or out, or the ruined city.  But it is the first mention of Atlantis in the Aquaman series.

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More Fun 81 – Green Arrow goes bankrupt, Dr. Fate can no longer fly, but Johnny Quick can.

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Oliver Queen goes bankrupt in the lead story in More Fun 81 (July 1942).  Interesting, in light of the fact that 25 years down the road, it would happen again, with character-changing effects.

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In this story, it`s simply a plot device that enables us to laugh at Oliver as her tries to find a suitable job, and admire Roy’s dedication to trying to help out.

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And there is crime along the way as well.  And wouldn’t you know it, solving the crime brings back the “lost” fortune.

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Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman give Dr. Fate a new villain, the Clock, whose face resembles a dial.

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The Clock is passing off one of his men as a violin instructor, to gain access and knowledge of society people.  He comes into contact with Kent and Inza at a party, but Kent shows off some honed observation and deduction skills in exposing the man.

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At one point, the Clock manages to capture Fate and has him tossed down a well.  Fate has to rely on ingenuity to survive – but in earlier days he simply would have flown out.  Even after he got the half-helmet, he was still flying around in stories.  Now, even that is gone.

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No mistaking that it’s World War 2 in this story.  Aside from the swastika-coated splash page, this Mort Meskin story has Johnny working with US codebreakers on cracking a Nazi code.

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The story is far more serious in tone than any of his previous outings, and instead of panels devoted to the words “suddenly,” or “swish, an entire panel is devoted to the codes.

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And while a number of panels in earlier stories have implied it, this issue makes it unmistakable that Johnny Quick’s speed formula endows him with the power of flight.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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No trick arrows, but a giant boomerang!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

 

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