Posts tagged ‘Jerry Siegel’

Detective 46 – Hugo Strange’s Fear Gas, Spy fights Goldfish-Man, and Cliff Crosby gets an occupation

tec_46

Detective 46 (Dec. 40) closes out the year, and despite having another appearance by Hugo Strange, the cover remains a generic Batman and Robin image.

tec_46_001

Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson bring back Hugo Strange, last seen in Batman 1.  This is the first story with Hugo Strange that includes Robin.  In it, Strange develops a fear gas, which causes paralyzing terror in those who inhale it.

tec_46_002

It’s a bit odd to see this gas being invented by someone other than the Scarecrow.  This story predates the first appearance of that villain by a year, and the gas would not become a part of his arsenal until the 1960s. The story culminates in a battle on a cliff between Batman and Strange, somewhat reminiscent of the fight between Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty in “The Final Problem, ” although in this story it is only the villain who falls to their death. Hugo Strange’s death takes a very long time to be reversed.  His character does not appear again until the late 70s.

tec_46_003

Spy was still being scripted by Jerry Siegel, but the stories in it were all fairly prosaic at this point. Bart does get one interesting villain.  He wears a mask but claims he was born deformed, with a goldfish-coloured head.

tec_46_004

The story gets followed up in issue 48 (more illegal immigrant smuggling), but Goldfish Man does not return.

tec_46_007

With this issue, Cliff Crosby’s profession gets clearly stated, and stabilized. He is the owner and publisher of the New York Record, and his ace reporter is Kay Nevers.  We can assume that exploring is just a hobby for him, and that publishing a newspaper is exactly the kind of experience that overseeing airplane construction requires.

tec_46_008

For a newspaper publisher, his work days remain pretty dramatic.  A shipwrecked man turns out to be a killer in hiding, and Cliff nearly dies a couple of times trying to sort out the story.

Detective 39 – Robin in Chinatown, Red Logan and the snake, Speed Saunders gets a sidekick, Cliff Crosby in Florida, and Slam Bradley in Paris

tec_39

Robin joins Batman in action on the cover of Detective 39 (May 1940), although the image does not reflect the story inside.

tec_39_001

The logo is an awkward combination of the one recently being used for Batman, and the Robin logo from the previous issue, with it’s hint of Robin Hood.  The story, by Bill Finer, with art by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, begins with kidnapped millionaires, and leads to a jade idol in Chinatown.

tec_39_002

Although Bruce didn’t hesitate to bring the boy along to fight armed hoods on a building under construction, in this story he tells Dick to stay behind, that it’s too dangerous.

tec_39_003

Not that it does any good.  Dick gets into the Robin costume and heads down to Chinatown himself.

tec_39_004

Robin gets his fair share of the action, even getting involved in a sword fight with the bad guy’s muscle.  Batman gets to be the one to unmask the killer, who turns out to be a white man in disguise.

tec_39_005

I should also point out the giant jade idol. Huge props would become a staple of the Batman series decades down the road, but they go all the way back to this story!

tec_39_006

Red Logan’s story in this issue is blatantly derived from the Sherlock Holmes tale, “The Adventure of the Speckled Band.”

tec_39_007

A series of locked room murders, with a cobra as the culprit.

tec_39_008

The story in this issue sets up Speed to get a sidekick.  He recruits Danny, a street kid, to help him keep an eye on a nest of Siva worshippers, and the boy gets commended by the police chief

tec_39_009.

We are told in the last panel that Danny will be Speed’s new assistant, but then never see him again.  And I breathed a sigh of relief over that.

tec_39_010

tec_39_011

This story sees Cliff Crosby on vacation in Florida.  So he is taking a vacation from being an explorer?  What exactly is the difference?  Does he travel but not look at or do anything?

tec_39_012

If that’s the case, that’s not the story, as Cliff gets wound up with Seminoles and alligators and thieves and all manner of trouble.

tec_39_013

The primary reason this Slam Bradley story by Jerry Siegel made it into my blog was one terrible panel.

tec_39_014

Slam bouncing off an awning.  Terrible.

tec_39_015

The rest of the story, and the art, isn’t so bad.  Though it’s far from thrilling.  Slam and Shorty are assigned to guard a gem, which is a fake.  They wind up flying over to Paris during the story, but no mention is made of the War.

Detective 38 – Robin debuts, Spy contends with a lightning gun, Red Logan begins, Steve Malone exposes the Commissioner, and Cliff Crosby finds Arctic Africans

tec_38

In Detective 38 (April 1940) Bill Finger and Bob Kane introduced one of the most influential characters of the Golden Age, Robin, the Boy Wonder.  Within a year every super-hero had to have a sidekick, and most were cut from largely the same cloth as Robin.

tec_38_001

The story begins with young Dick Grayson at the circus, performing as an aerilalist with his parents, John and Mary Grayson.  Dick overhears some gangsters threaten the circus owner, and then watches in horror as his parents fall to their deaths.

tec_38_002

Batman then swoops in and takes Dick away with him, informing him that Boss Zucco was the force behind his parents deaths.  We can assume he came to the circus as Bruce Wayne, and saw the accident, because the car he is driving is red.  This is his earlier car, which he likely kept to drive as Bruce, reserving the costume matching car for Batman.  He trains the boy, and there is a scene by candlelight in which he makes the boy swear a vow, similar to the one young Bruce swore.

The similarity in their origins helps make this sequence plausible, without the need for explanations.  It is easy for the reader to see how Bruce viewed the boy, and their connection.

tec_38_003

Dick is frequently smiling as Robin in tales from this era, it is clear the boy is having the time of his life, and he functions to a degree on his own in this story, with Batman watching off to the side.

tec_38_004

Unlike Bruce, Dick gets to bring his parents’ killer to justice at the end of the story.  Bruce gives him the option of returning to the circus, but it must have been a formality.  It was clear Dick had found a new home, Batman had found a sidekick, and a trend had been born.

tec_38_005

With Jerry Siegel still writing the series, Spy stayed largely within the realm of the possible.  The story in this issue pushes it about as far as it will go at this time, with a lightning gun, developed by a mad scientist.

tec_38_006

He is another one-shot character, though, and once Bart disposes of him, the lightning gun is never seen again.

tec_38_007

Red Logan begins in this issue of in Detective Comics, nearly a year after his series ended in More Fun.  Red is in England, working out of an office in the Daily Mail in London as a foreign correspondent for the Times Courier, still with Ivan as his massive sidekick.

tec_38_008

His case involves what appear to be vampire murders, but are actually deaths caused by a mad scientist stealing people’s blood.

tec_38_009

Steve gets one of his edgier cases in this issue, as he goes after the man behind the gambling rackets, and discovers that it’s the Police Commissioner.

tec_38_010

The art on the series has improved dramatically since it began, but the stories remain short and simple.

tec_38_011

Cliff Crosby, now with his friend Dr. Broussard, are abruptly “famous explorers” in this tale, set above the Arctic Circle.  They discover an African tribe there, with a “formula” that allows them to survive the cold.

tec_38_012

Cliff makes a deal with Aga, to restore him to what he claims is his “rightful throne,” in exchange for the formula.  Or, to put it another way, an American installs a puppet monarch in exchange for trade goods.

 

Detective 37 – almost the Batmobile, Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise ends, the Crimson Avenger returns, Cliff Crosby debuts, and Slam Bradley inherits a racehorse

tec_37

tec_37_009

Detective 37 (March 1940) contains the final Batman story before Robin shows up.  Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s story loosely resembles the movie The Old Dark House, and overall the feel is of a horror movie.

The Batmobile is almost in existence at the start of this tale.  While there is still no emblem (or name), The way the car is drawn and coloured emphasizes it as an attribute of the man.

tec_37_011

Batman shows off another bit of gear, infra-red lenses to allow him to see in the dark, which come in useful in a fight scene.

tec_37_012

Batman never cares much if the villain dies in these early stories.  While the man impales himself, Batman still shows no remorse.  The end of the story promotes the next Hugo Strange tale, but it appears instead in Batman 1 – a solo tale, pre-dating Robin.

tec_37_001

In his final story Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise goes undercover as a sailor on the Sea Swan, investigating a series of ships that have gone  missing while crossing the Atlantic.  It turns out the vice-president of the line is selling these ships and their cargo to the Nazis.  Some of the crew are in on the scam, and lead a mutiny, then turn the ship over to the Germans, who arrive in a u-boat.  Cosmo infiltrates the mutineers and ruins their plans, and when the u-boat surfaces, Cosmo and Captain Barker have it shot at, blowing it up.

tec_37_002

They stand on deck rejoicing over their victory, but I think this is short-lived.  The sub would certainly have been in contact with the rest of the fleet – more than one sub would be needed to deal with the ship and its crew and prisoners.  I fear that though they blew up one sub, there were more around, and the Sea Swan was torpedoed and sunk, killing Cosmo and all the others aboard.

tec_37_003

The Crimson Avenger returns, with no significant change to the series.  Lee Travis still runs the Globe-Leader, Wing is still speaking decent English and driving the car.

tec_37_004

The story sees him pursue and capture some kidnappers.

tec_37_005

Cliff Crosby’s series languished amid the back pages of Detective Comics for the entirety of its run.  The art managed to reach a passable level, but the stories, often only 5 or 6 pages long, never achieve anything memorable.

tec_37_006

The series begins without making it clear what Cliff does for a living.  He helps a reporter friend, Terry Jensen, find a kidnapped judge in his first tale, but there is no indication of anything really definable about the character.  Little by little, over the few years the series ran, the picture would get drawn.

tec_37_007

Slam inherits a racehorse in this Jerry Siegel tale.  There are drugged animals, fixed races, and blackmail at the root of the tale.

tec_37_008

The story climaxes with Shorty filling in for a murdered jockey, and winning the Kentucky Derby.

Detective 36 – Hugo Strange debuts, Buck Marshall and Bruce Nelson end, and Slam Bradley heads to China

tec_36

Although the ears on the Batman costume had decreased to their “normal” level by this time, the insert on Detective 36 (Feb 40) still showed the long, pointy-ears.

tec_36_001

Bill Finger and Bob Kane introduce Professor Hugo Strange in this story, a criminal mastermind, who uses a fog machine to allow his men to safely flee their crimes.

tec_36_002

Strange is cut from the same cloth as pulp fiction villains: wealthy, intellectual, but physically inferior to the hero.

tec_36_003

There is not too much else to the villain at this point, but he returns later in the year, in Batman 1, with a monstrous plan.

tec_36_004

Buck Marshall’s series comes to a close with this issue.  Bad guys try to steal a claim to a gold mine and kill the prospector, but Buck saves the day.

tec_36_005

My feeling is that at this point, the Sheriff retires, possibly be awarded a name for doing so, and Buck moves into the Sheriff job.  As this clearly involves relinquishing one’s name, his series ends.

tec_36_006

Bruce Nelson’s series also concludes with this issue.  For the previous three issues, Bruce had been in Africa, but he is now back in the US, skiing.

tec_36_007

He solves a fairly run-of-the-mill murder case.  There is little that remains of the dark and twisted serials that began this series.  I suspect Bruce Nelson himself has grown bored of the ease of his last year or so, and heads to Europe and enlists to fight the war.

tec_36_008

After their harrowing time in the French Foreign Legion, when Slam and Shorty were forced to sleep in neighbouring cots, they are back in bed together at the start of Jerry Siegel’s story in this issue.

tec_36_009

But not for long, as they get hired to retrieve (steal) an idol from deep inside China.  While it’s true they are clearly in a very remote, inland region, it still seems odd that there is no acknowledgement of the war.

Detective 35 – Batman and the Ruby Idol, Steve Malone gets a new secretary, and Slam Bradley joins the French Foreign Legion

tec_35

Batman is back on the cover for Detective 35 (Jan 40), but the picture seems to show him fighting the Duc D’Orterre, from the previous story.

tec_35_005

Batman clearly has no problem with guns at this point.  Oddly, this story, by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, does not have Batman involved in any big gun fights.

tec_35_006

The story all deals with a stolen ruby idol, and a very mysterious murder.  Commissioner Gordon, who has not been in the last few European stories, is back in this one, in a very small role.

tec_35_007

The one significant development in this story is the car.  Still not a Batmobile in any sense, this “high powered roadster”  is now blue, matching the highlights in Batman’s costume, personalizing it a bit.

tec_35_001

In this issue, Steve Malone gets a secretary, Nancy.  He sends her out as bait for a kidnapping ring, and though she gets freed, we never see her again, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she gave her notice after that.

tec_35_002

tec_35_003

Jerry Siegel sends Slam off to Africa to hunt down murderers in this issue’s tale.  Slam and Shorty wind up enlisting in the French Foreign Legion in order to find they prey.  One of the men they are hunting winds up being their sergeant, so the usual tale of the brutality of the Foreign Legion gets used as an attempt to kill Slam.

tec_35_004

Detective 34 – Batman in Paris, Steve Malone returns, Speed Saunders goes flying, and Slam Bradley gets torpedoed

tec_34_001

tec_34_008

The looming image of Batman from the first page of the story in Detective 34 (Dec 39) would be merged with the origin story, and reprinted in Batman 1 a few months down the road.

tec_34_009

Bruce is still in Paris in this story, which pits him against the Duc D’Orterre, a torturer with an unusually shaped head.  The Duc stole the face of a man whose sister he was interested in.  The man is bandaged, so presumably the Duc flayed him.

tec_34_010

Some nicely dynamic action by Bob Kane, and a decent tale by Bill Finer, once again reminiscent of the horror movies of the era.

tec_34

Steve Malone’s series moves back to Detective after its reboot in Adventure Comics, and he brings his new blond assistant Happy with him.

tec_34_002

They break up a protection scam in this story, which, as usual, has no elements of being a district attorney in it whatsoever.

tec_34_003

Fred Guardineer’s Speed Saunders story in this issue has the army request Speed’s help after sabotage to their weapons.  We learn in this tale that Speed was “one of the best pilots in France,” which would seem to imply that he is old enough to have fought in World War I.

tec_34_004

tec_34_005

In this Jerry Siegel story, Slam and Shorty head off on a round-the-world cruise, but war between Tweepon and Luthoria (!) sees their liner get torpedoed by a submarine.

tec_34_006

But that’s little problem for Slam, who takes over the submarine himself.

tec_34_007

Detective 30 – Dr. Death returns, mind-control in Spy, and bad art in Speed Saunders

tec_30

No appearance, but again Batman is mentioned on the cover of Detective 30 (Aug 39).

tec_30_001

Bill Finger and Bob Kane pick up the story immediately after the ending of the first, and then jump ahead slightly.  Batman suspects Dr. Death is back, although this story deals more with a jewel theft than with murder.

tec_30_002

Bruce still is keeping the costume in his living room.

tec_30_003

While this is by no means a Batmobile, it is the first indication that his car is “special.”

tec_30_004

Dr. Death returns, shrouded in bandages, with a new foreign henchman.  The story mirrors the previous one a bit, as Batman deals with the henchman first, and then confronts Dr. Death at the end.

tec_30_005

This specific Dr. Death never appears again, but a similar version appears in the 80s, and then another in more recent years.

tec_30_006

tec_30_007

Jerry Siegel continues to script Spy, but the art is in lesser hands, as a scientist plots to take over the United States using a hypnosis ray, and starts by taking over the minds of senators, having them promote suspending democracy and instituting a dictatorship.  He then starts using the ray on agents, and both Jack Steele and the Chief fall prey to it.  He really ought to have used it on Bart, as Bart shoots the machine and frees everyone from his control.

tec_30_008

Jack is not seen again after this story.  Makes me wonder if he really was under the scientists control, or if he turned traitor.

tec_30_009

An overly complex story and some really poor art by Guardineer on the Speed Saunders story in this issue.  The crossbow in the forehead of the victim on the first page made me laugh, which is clearly not the intent.

tec_30_010

There is also a black honeycomb, referred to as coal, that a policeman hides in later in the tale.

Detective 29 – Batman vs Dr. Death, Crimson Avenger takes a break, Cosmo vs the Avenger, and Slam Bradley goes to Hawaii

tec_29

Batman gets his second cover appearance in Detective 29 (July 1939), and the story even matches the picture!

tec_29_001

Batman is given his first recurring villain, Dr. Death, in this story by Bill Finger and Bob Kane.  He has a stylish monocle, an murderous servant, and a taste for killing people.

tec_29_002

There is no notion of a Batcave yet.  Bruce Wayne appears to keep his gear in a trunk in the living room at this point.  We see the utility belt for the first time, and it gets used later in the story.

tec_29_003

Even in this early, and rough, form, Batman still makes for dynamic reading.  And seems to need exotic villains to balance the extreme look of the character.

tec_29_004

Batman strangles the servant, and Dr. Death appears to die in a fire, but in fact returns in the following issue.

tec_29_005

The Crimson Avenger’s series ends with this story, although it returns in early 1940.  After a kidnapping, Lee Travis learns the details of the sounds the victim heard while captive, and uses those to track the bad guys.

tec_29_006

Wing gets a small role in this one, helping the Crimson Avenger escape the burning building at the end.  The final panel announces more adventures for the hero, and I suspect the series was put on hold because it was felt too similar to Batman; and that the boom in heroes was the cause of it’s return.

tec_29_007

Cosmo is pitted against the Avenger, a mad scientist who has developed a weapon that causes a bell tower to collapse, a ship to sink, a dam to burst, and airplanes to fall from the sky.  Cosmo tracks down the scientist, and claims to be an “electric meter inspector” when he approaches him, but does not disguise himself for that, which turns out to be a bad move, as Cosmo is famous enough that the crazed Professor Salvini recognizes him immediately, and almost kills him.

tec_29_008

In fact, if it were not for a stray bullet causing Salvini’s weapon to explode and kill him, Cosmo would have certainly fallen victim to the Avenger.

tec_29_009

Siegel and Shuster are still credited with this Slam Bradley story, but again it looks unusual to me, art-wise.

tec_29_011

Slam receives a note warning him to stay away from Hawaii, which he takes as a challenge.  He and Shorty head there, and meet Betty Clark, whose uncle has disappeared.  She sent the letter, figuring that he would take it as a challenge and come.

Must be an easier way to hire someone.  Like, offer to hire them.

tec_29_012

They get caught up with foreign spies trying incite native revolts, and creepy looking green lepers.

tec_29_010

It’s also worth noting that Slam and Shorty share a bed in this story.  It’s not the first time we have seen this, either.

 

Detective 28 – Batman uses his rope, Bart gets a new partner, the Crimson Avenger gets a new secretary and Dr. Fu Manchu ends

tec_28

While Batman did not get the cover for Detective 28 (June 1939), he retained the lead spot in the book, and his name does appear on it.

tec_28_008

There is not much to the second Batman story, by Bill Finger and Bob Kane.  Batman is pitted against jewel thieves, but is mistaken by the police for part of the gang.

tec_28_009

His first bit of bat-gear appears in this story, although it’s simply called a “silken rope.”

tec_28_010

But what the heck, I’ll still call it the Bat-rope.  It’s also notable how little Batman speaks in this era.  Nor was it felt necessary to have thought balloons explain everything (“I’ll attach my Bat-rope to the other building so I can swing to it and escape!”)

tec_28_011

Batman’s car is still the big red roadster in this story.  Commissioner Gordon appears only in the last panel of the story, but even this early, we get the dynamic that Gordon is the only police officer Batman really trusts.

tec_28_001

The Siegel and Shuster Spy story in this issue once again shows the US on the verge of war.  Bart is assigned to solve the mysterious bombing of a ship in the harbour.

tec_28_002

Bart also gets a partner in this story, Jack Steele, who sticks around for a couple more issue.

tec_28_003

No matter how good a spy Bart Regan is, without or without his new partner, it still feels a bit absurd to see a headline in mid-1939 saying “War Peril Banished.”

tec_28_004

Lee Travis gets a new secretary in this issue, Miss Blaine.  It’s not clear what became of Miss Stevens.  Miss Blaine seems made of tougher stuff anyway, as she gets captured by jewel thieves in this story, but holds up well under pressure.

tec_28_005

Both the Crimson Avenger and his secretary have been set up in the story by the woman whose jewels were supposedly stolen.  She even sicks a cobra on them, but the Crimson remains triumphant.

tec_28_006

Dr. Fu Manchu ends its run in this issue.

tec_28_007

It’s unclear how far they planned to go with these adaptations, but Sax Rohmer does not even reach the ending of his first book by the time this is cancelled.

Tag Cloud