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.

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.

 

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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!

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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