Posts tagged ‘Joe Shuster’

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.

Detective 26 – Slam Bradley vs artists, Steve Malone heads out, the Crimson Avenger on the run, and Sally says good-bye

tec_26

tec_26_001

Once again, the art on the Slam Bradley story in Detective 26 (April 1939) looks different.  Siegel and Shuster are still credited, but something is not the same.

tec_26_002

The story is a dark one.  Artists kidnap people and subject them to horrible tortures, so as to copy their expressions.  Slam and Shorty come across them peddling their art.

tec_26_003

tec_26_004

Steve Malone, now with no friends or supporting cast, returns for a one issue story.

tec_26_005

He solves a murder pretty quickly.  No need to call the police when the D.A. is on the scene.  Then he is off…to the pages of Adventure Comics.  His series gets a bit of a reboot there, and then returns to Detective just before the end of 39.

tec_26_006

A group of criminals use a phony Crimson Avenger to help cover their tracks in this story, and the phony winds up killing a cop!

tec_26_007

The Crimson Avenger has to find his impersonator while the cops hunt him.  It’s told fairly well.

tec_26_008

Sally Norris makes his final appearance in Siegel and Shuster’s Spy in this story, though no hint of this is in the story itself.

tec_26_009

Bart and Sally are sent out to stop a mad bomber who wants to destroy Congress.  I have doubts about the art, it really doesn’t seem up to par, but Shuster is credited.

tec_26_010

Sally tied to the rocket just looks silly, though.  At least it was an event that was far more extreme than anything else that has happened to her.  Makes it easier to accept that she must have retired from the service.

I suspect that Sally got pregnant.  You can’t embrace that way in every story without a kid coming along eventually.

 

 

Detective 25 – FDR in Spy, Cosmo goes to Canada, and Slam Bradley goes to college

tec_25

tec_25_001

Franklin Roosevelt makes an appearance in the Spy story in Detective 25 (Match 1939), by Siegel and Shuster.  Bart and Sally are brought to him, blind-folded, both in gratitude of the service, and to commission them to round up a spy ring.

tec_25_002

Sally once more takes the direct route, getting caught stealing their files, so the bad guys will come to them.

tec_25_003

As usual, the couple operate as an equal team,and Bart goes after the tough guys, while Sally takes down the girl with the gun.  I think it’s cute that Bart is too shy to embrace Sally in front of the President, and the fact that almost every story ends that way highlights it.

tec_25_004

Cosmo heads to Canada in this story.  Note the snow, trees, plaid shirts, trees, Mounties, and trees.

tec_25_005

Cosmo uses a bear skin rug to frighten gangsters who have kidnapped a child, first using the paws of the bear to leave tracks in the snow around their cabin, and then actually wearing the rug as a “disguise” to attack them.

tec_25_006

tec_25_007

I find the art on this Slam Bradley story odd.  Shorty seems to look younger than normal, and the narration on the splash seems to imply the reader is being introduced to Slam.

This makes me suspect that this might have been an unused strip, the “pilot” for the series.

tec_25_008

On a whim, Slam decides to go to college, and Shorty tags along.  This is the story in which we learn that Slam did not complete high school (nor did Shorty).  They inform the dean that they are detectives, and, clearly startled, he admits them.

tec_25_009

The story then has Slam avoiding and surviving a number of murder attempts.  The dean turns out to be the culprit.  He had been stealing funds, and when Slam announced he was a detective, believed that he was under investigation.

Detective 23 – Speed Saunders on skis, the Crimson Avenger vs Zombies, Spy investigate dead celebrities, and Slam Bradley heads into the future

tec_23

Speed Saunders gets the cover and the lead story in Detective 34 (Jan 39), as he hits the slopes, finding murder on the way down.

tec_23_002

Fred Guardineer has taken over the art on this series, which improves it a bit, although frankly it’s not Guardineer’s best.  The story is ok, mostly action as opposed to detecting.  This was the only time Speed Saunders got a cover appearance.  Between this, and the Crimson Avenger cover last issue, it seems that Detective was looking for something to draw in more readers, but had no series dynamic enough to carry the cover spot.  One was about to come along.

tec_23_003

As for Lee Travis, this issue sees him, as the Crimson Avenger, fighting zombies!

tec_23_011

They are not the flesh eating zombies we know and love, though.  These are actually much closer to the Caribbean original, mindless people enslaved to a madman.

tec_23_004

Once again, the art seems to go up a notch when a car is involved in the scene.

tec_23b

It’s another darker, more serious tale for Bart and Sally in this episode of Siegel and Shuster’s Spy.  A number of famous and prominent people are murdered, and our heroes are put onto the case.

tec_23_005

There is a scene of Sally in the shower.  Nothing at all is seen, but I still think this would have been pretty risque at the time, especially as one of the bad guy’s goons is searching her room at the time.

tec_23_006

Less banter, and a more competent villain, but Bart and Sally still function as equals throughout this story, even if Bart gets to save the day in this one.

tec_23_007

Siegel and Shuster give a very unusual adventure to Slam Bradley and Shorty in this issue, the first half of a two-part story.

tec_23_008

It begins simply enough, with a scientist who has invented a “time flyer.”  He takes Slam and Shorty with him on a trip to 2 Billion A.D.

tec_23_009

And then it just gets bizarre, with all manner of weird and dangerous creatures, even a flower that almost kills Shorty.

tec_23_010

And for the first time in Slam Bradley’s series, a cliff-hanger ending, as he races to find a cure for Shorty.

Detective 22 – the return of Fui Onyui, the Crimson Avenger shoots from the car, Spy become firefighters, Cosmo as a farmer, and Inspector Kent ends

tec_22

The Crimson Avenger gets his first cover, although he does not get the lead spot in Detective 22 (Dec 38), remaining buried deep in the middle of the book.

tec_22_001

Slam Bradley leads off the issue, as Siegel and Shuster bring back Fui Onyui, who had vowed vengeance against Shorty in the very first issue.

tec_22_002

Shorty gets kidnapped, and Slam follows his trail, leading to the almost mandatory opium den.

tec_22_003

The story avoids explaining exactly what has happened to Shorty, leaving him in a deathlike trance, but opium would be the obvious answer.

tec_22_004

Slam forces Fui to inject something into Shorty that revives him, and Shorty joins in the fight that brings the bad guy to heel again.  This was Fui’s last appearance.

tec_22_005

Lee Travis, though his paper, begins offering a $5,000 reward for the Crimson Avenger, dead or alive.  Life just isn’t providing enough danger and thrills, it seems.  He actively wants to encourage people to kill him.

tec_22_006

Corrupt cops are at the root of the story in this issue, as the Crimson Avenger has to track down missing papers.  By far the best scene is a car chase, with the Avenger shooting out the window.  This shot would be used for the issue of Secret Origins that told his story, in the mid-80s.

tec_22_007

Bart and Sally are assigned to root out spies and secret info at a foreign embassy in this chapter of Siegel and Shuster’s Spy.

tec_22_008

Once again, it is refreshing to see that being married to Bart has not changed the dynamic in the relationship between them.  Sally still speaks her mind and goes her own way.

tec_22_009

The story gets a bit silly, as they disguise themselves as firefighters after they bomb the embassy, to gain entrance, but it’s all fun.

tec_22_010

I haven’t mentioned any of the Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise stories so far because none really grabbed me.  Lack of character development is one thing, common to series from this era, but Cosmo’s lack of using or really playing with his central concept just becomes tedious.

tec_22_011

In this story, dealing with stolen gems, there is a scene with Cosmo disguised as a farmer.  This is the first time in the strip that we do not see Cosmo get into his disguise first, and his identity is sprung on the reader.

Seems like a basic idea, but it took them 22 issues to use it.

tec_22_012

Inspector Kent of Scotland Yard has his second, and final, story in Detective Comics, once again pitted against the Raven.

tec_22_013

Once again Kent does a less than impressive job.  It takes him far too long to realize the Raven is impersonating his partner, Sergeant Willy Wiggbert.

Inspector Kent had one final story, appearing in Adventure Comics the following spring.

Detective 21 – Speed Saunders deduces well, Buck Marshall fights the deputy, Spy become double agents, the Crimson Avenger gets a secretary, and Steve Malone avenges his buddy

tec_21

tec_21_001

Speed Saunders gets the story I like the most from his run in Detective 21 (Nov 38).  He has to solve the murder of a writer who was exposing gangsters.  The woman appears to have been killed by a poisoned drink, but Speed figures out it was in her cigarette.

tec_21_003

tec_21_004

Thoughout Buck Marshall’s run, the sheriff of Sage City, where many of Buck’s tales brought him, was never called anything other than Sheriff.  In this story, he gets a deputy, who is only ever called Deputy.

tec_21_005

The Deputy eventually turns out to be the mastermind behind the bad guys.  I believe he was frustrated at his lack of name and so  he turns to the dark side and used his position of power to run the largest rustling operation in the region.

tec_21_006

Bart and Sally are ordered to become double agents in this Spy tale, by Siegel and Shuster.  They are to give harmless and misleading information to Baron Von Muldorf.  They fulfill this task, but once the Baron realizes he has been used, he seeks revenge.

tec_21_007

The story gets far more intense at this point, Sally almost getting shot, and the brake lines on their car being cut.  Still, our heroes triumph, and embrace at the end.

tec_21_008

Many Crimson Avenger stories would begin like the one in this issue, with the first panel a close-up of a newspaper, the headline of which would be the basis for the story.  We also meet Miss Stevens, Lee Travis’ secretary at the newspaper.

tec_21_009

The plot has to do with the Crimson Avenger (called simply Crimson in this, and other tales) breaking up a group of criminals who hang out in the city’s cemetery.  Apparently the cops find that too creepy to go in and do anything about them.  At the end, the police find the bound felons, with a note the Avenger left claiming responsibility, but they still don’t trust him.

tec_21_010

Steve Malone gets a call informing him that Big Jim has been killed, though he finds him barely alive, and has to fish him out of a river.  Ferrini was part of an opium smuggling mob, and they are seeking vengeance, but Steve tracks down and captures them all.

tec_21_011

Neither Big Jim nor Jeanne appears again, and I think it’s safe to say Jim dies of his injuries, and I think Jeanne leaves afterwards, so upset about Jim dying, they must have had something going on.

 

 

Detective 20 – Spy tries to help a senator, Bruce Nelson goes to Broadway, Crimson Avenger debuts, and Slam Bradley learns magic

tec_20

tec_20_001

Bart and Sally’s marriage is never mentioned in Siegel and Shuster’s Spy story in Detective 20 (Oct 38), but she appears to dress a bit more demurely now.

tec_20_002

Aside from that, there is no significant change in the series, now that the characters are married.  Which is a good thing, overall.  They are assigned to help a senator under threat, but he makes things hard for them.

tec_20_003

Also notable is the final panel, once again of them in their signature embrace.  Also nice to see their married status didn’t change that.

tec_20_004

This issue begins a serial, Bruce Nelson and the Song of Death, a Broadway backstage murder mystery, in which he recruits a socialite, Billie Bryson, to take over a “cursed” role in a musical comedy while he searches for the killer.

tec_20_005

Billie would make brief appearances in two other serials, as his girlfriend, but sadly not help him on any more cases.

tec_20_006

The Crimson Avenger started off as a sort of hybrid of the Shadow and the Green Hornet, both successful pulp heroes.  Lee Travis, the young published and editor of the Globe Leader, would dress up in a dark blue suit with a matching wide-brimmed hat, with a large red cape and cloak, packing two pistols that he would shoot through openings in the cloak.

tec_20_007

He had a faithful Chinese servant, Wing, who knew his identity, and functioned largely as his driver.  Wing was capable of speaking clear English.

tec_20_008

In his first story, the Crimson Avenger goes after a shady defense lawyer, offering to kill the DA for him, but in fact setting him up, effectively entrapping him.

tec_20_009

I’m going to go out on a limb with Siegel and Shuster’s tale in issue 20, in which Slam learns enough magic to be able to become invisible and control what people are able to see.  As he uses his magical powers to take down a gang, they get a different magician, Mysto, so aid them, but Mysto proves unequal to Slam.

tec_20_010

Mysto never does anything villainous, just tries to help the bad guys, and I think Mysto comes to regret his rash behaviour.  I think he is just really young and unwise at this point in his life, and he would grow up, taking the straight and narrow path, eventually becoming the Mysto, Magician Detective that would get a series in Detective Comics in the early 1950s.

tec_20_011

Slam displays an astonishing range of powers in this story.  He can create illusions, but also turn invisible, and intangible, and is immune to bullets shot at him at point blank range.

tec_20_012

At the end, Slam declares that he has no interest in using magic anymore, and prefers his fists.

 

Detective 19 – Inspector Kent begins, wedding bells for Spy, and Steve Malone fights in an airplane

tec_19

tec_19_001

Inspector Kent of Scotland Yard debuts in Detective 19 (Sept 38).  There is a little British flavour to the series, despite the name, and even less character to the titular hero.

tec_19_002

This story pits him against his arch-foe (actually his only foe), The Raven.  In this story, the Raven steals an invisibility machine.  Scary looking device, and its effects don’t last as long as they might.  Kent does not do a very impressive job in this case.  He is saved from being shot by the man he falsely accused of the crimes.

Inspector Kent appears once more in Detective Comics, a few months down the road.

tec_19_003

Bart and Sally make it to the church in this issue’s chapter of Spy, by Siegel and Shuster, but don’t make it all the way through the ceremony before being called back to work.

tec_19_004

Sally is at her sarcastic best, “note how well-dressed we are for the occasion.”  They are sent out after Rina Rinaldo, a mercenary bomber.

tec_19_005

Rina has a compact mirror that also functions as an explosively destructive ray, although in the end she winds up killing herself with it.

We never do see the completion of the wedding ceremony, but it must have occurred at some point between this and the following issue.

tec_19_006

Steve Malone’s second story gives the character a small supporting cast: a secretary, Jeanne, and a buddy/sidekick, Big Jim, a boisterous drunken Russian.

tec_19_007

Steve and Big Jim chase down and catch bank robber Ferrini,which culimnates in a battle in the cockpit of an airplane.  Shame that the art is not up to the task of showing this.

Detective 18 – Sally pops the question in Spy, Steve Malone begins, and Slam Bradley finds a rocket ship

tec_18

Sax Rohmer’s Dr. Fu Manchu becomes the first cover feature, in Detective 18 (Aug 38).  The serial would continue, but never get a cover again.  Probably not a bad thing, looking back.

tec_18_001

This issue also contains one of my very favourite instalments of Spy.  Despite having the ominous title “Death’s Ruby,” Siegel and Shuster provide the reader with a story that verges on situation comedy.  Bart almost proposes to Sally, but backs down.

tec_18_002

Despite holding a job generally considered exclusively male, and having worked as equal partners with Bart, even saving his life more than once, it never occurs to Sally that she might propose to Bart instead of waiting for him.  Fortunately, a never-seen-before-or-since friend suggests exactly that to her.

tec_18_003

So as Bart races around working on his latest case, Sally rushes after him, trying to propose, but being cut off.

tec_18_004

Not that she has given up on being a spy.  She helps Bart take down some agents, if only to try to get some quiet time in which to propose, but that just doesn’t happen.

tec_18_005

And as a delightful twist, Bart winds up proposing to her in the final panel.  Made me laugh, and want to cheer.

tec_18_006

Steve Malone is introduced as “a brilliant young criminal lawyer.”  Oddly, at no point do we ever see him in a courtroom, but he’s too busy chasing down bad guys and having fistfights in biplanes to bother with that stuff.

tec_18_007

In his first story he is approached by the wife of the French ambassador as he emerges from the opera house, and he seems to have a well off background and group of friends.  He solves the ambassador’s murder without even needing the police.  When he does deal with them, they are hugely deferential to him.

tec_18_008

Look at that rocket.  Does it look familiar?  As of this time, the rocket that brought baby Kal-El to Earth had not been shown in detail in the Superman series (although it had been drawn, but those pages were not included in Action Comics 1).  But here it is, the identical rocket, in Slam Bradley.  It even lands in a wheat field!

tec_18_009

In the tale, it was stolen by a scientist from a different inventor, both claiming to be the one who built it.  One scientist is lying about building it, who is to say they both aren’t?  That the one scientist found the abandoned rocket and worked to make it function, only to have it stolen by the second scientist.  Yup, that’s my interpretation, so here, in issue 18, is the debut of Superman’s rocket to Earth.

tec_18_010

Of course, that theory does not hold up for the last few pages of the tale, in which the evil scientist and Shorty get into a fight inside the rocket, which is large enough to hold far more than a Kryptonian baby.  And time-wise, it cannot be the same rocket that would have landed in the 1920’s, to give Clark enough time to grow up.  But visually, it’s the same, and I’m sticking to that!

 

Tag Cloud