Posts tagged ‘Joe Simon’

Detective 81 – the Cavalier debuts, Wing becomes a reporter, and the Boy Commandos meet General MacArthur

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The Cavalier is introduced in Detective 81 (Nov. 43), a thief with a code of chivalry, created by Bob Kane.

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The Cavalier performs a series of thefts of apparently worthless obejcts: a baseball, a toy bat, etc.  Batman and Robin repeatedly fail to stop him, thanks to the Cavalier’s impressive arsenal.  Like, a handkerchief with a ball attached to it.  OK, that’s the least impressive thing in his arsenal, true.  He also has an electrified sword, and a razor-tipped plume in his hat.

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The “worthless” objects are, in fact, critical to each step of his plan.  For example, the baseball has an autograph on it that is duplicated to allow the Cavalier access to a bank vault.

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Batman and Robin foil his schemes, but do not catch the Cavalier, whose return in Batman’s own book is promoted in the final panel. Just like the Crime Doctor a few issues earlier.

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Wing gets his largest role in the Crimson Avenger series in this story.  That’s not such a good thing, as it means the story is far more offensive and racist than most of this run.

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With all his reporters busy, Lee Travis agrees to let Wing cover a theft, but his lack of understanding of English leads him to mis-report the story as an inside job.  But it turns out that it actually was, and Wing is kidnapped by the thieves, who want to know how he figured it out.

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The Crimson Avenger comes to Wing’s rescue.  And even though he broke an important story, Lee has no intention of allowing Wing to stay a reporter.

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The Boy Commandos meet General MacArthur on the first couple of pages of this Simon and Kirby story.  MacArthur and Rip Carter are discussing the war plans for the Pacific when Brooklyn interjects with news of the assault on Bataan.

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The rest of the story has Rip and the Boys at Bataan, helping to rescue the troops there and beating back the Japanese forces.

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The Bataan Death March would already have been big news by the time this story was written.  But clearly this series wanted to be as fresh as the headlines.

 

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Detective 79 – Batman in “Destiny’s Auction,” the Crimson Avenger vs the Adder,and the Boy Commandos in Italy

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Detective 79 (Sept. 43) features “Destiny’s Auction” as its Batman and Robin story, one of my favourite Batman stories from this period.

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Jerry Anderson does the art as Madame Calagra tells the future of an aspiring actress, an aging actor, and a rising hoodlum.  They interpret the destinies in a positive way – but things go very wrong for each of them, in ways suiting the words.

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There are three identical trunks, one with stolen gems, and another an unpublished manuscript.  Batman and Robin get involved, and the lives of the three enmesh.

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Big happy ending (except for the hoodlum), and those three fortunes from the opening have come true again, in a positive way.

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The Crimson Avenger and Wing go up against the Adder in this story, although the Adder appears rarely.  Mostly its Lee and Wing taking on his assistant.

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Banks are being robbed, and bank presidents apprehended and killed.

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The Crimson Avenger and Wing jump around a lot and hit a lot of people.  They finally encounter the Adder, who gets unmasked and revealed to be the bank president seen at the beginning, who faked his own murder.

Not someone who would likely be a recurring villain, and there is nothing serpentine about the Adder or his outfit either.

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Mussolini appears on the splash page, and the final panel, of this Simon and Kirby Boy Commandos story, but unfortunately not in the story itself.

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Rip leads the boys to Italy, where they encounter many Italian partisans, who desire the overthrow of Mussolini.  With the Boys, they work to kick out German occupiers.

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Detective 77 – the Crime Doctor debuts, and the Boy Commandos in the Himilayas

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Bill Finger and Bob Kane introduce Matthew Thorne, the Crime Doctor, in Detective 77 (July 1943).

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Thorne is a family physician, who advises criminals on the side.  In both cases he behaves much the same way, observation, analysis and prescription.  It works chillingly well.

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Batman eventually gets on his trail, and the Crime Doctor fares pretty well at holding him off.  When an injured man stumbles in needing Thorne’s help, both he and Batman work together to perform the surgery to save the man’s life.  Batman cannot understand why Thorne would want to turn to crime, with his knowledge, wealth and social standing, but Thorne avows that he does it simply for the pleasure of it.

The Crime Doctor is caught at the end of the story, but the final panel informs the reader of his return in the pages of Batman the following month.

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Simon and Kirby send the Boy Commandos deep into China, where they discover a magical land, along the lines of Shangi-La, in this story.

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Japanese invaders are approaching, and the Commandos aid the locals, who are deemed Chinese, to fend them off and save the city.  This is highly ironic, I think.  These Shangri-La cities are derived from the shadowy knowledge of Tibet at this time, and the Chinese are not the good guys in the history of Tibet.

 

Detective 76 – the Joker becomes a florist, and the Boy Commandos meet Sandman and the Newsboy Legion

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Jerry Robinson takes over the pencilling on the Batman story in Detective 76 (June 1943), making Batman and his crew look a little more life-like, less stylized.

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The story suits the change, as the Joker makes himself look “normal” as he takes over a flower shop.

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The plants he sells come in pots that are rigged with chloroform gas, knocking out the owners and leaving the house free to be robbed.  Having figured out the plan, Bruce buys some flowers, but removes the gas from the pots.  He, Dick and Alfred pretend to be asleep, but once the Joker’s men have robbed them, change clothes and take them down.

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Simon and Kirby bring most of their characters together in this Boy Commandos story, as the Boys are brought to the US on a publicity campaign.

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Waiting to greet them once they arrive in New York are Sandman and Sandy, as well as the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion.

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The Nazis are also out in force, to kidnap the boys and make the publicity campaign a disaster for morale.  When the kids go missing, the other heroes jump into action to find them, but the Boys free themselves and Rip, and get to meet Roosevelt at the White House.

Detective 74 – Tweedledum and Tweedledee debut, and Rip Carter goes on trial

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Two of Batman’s most frequent enemies from the 1940s, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, are introduced in Detective 74 (April 1943), with art by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.

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The story begins with Batman and Robin getting confused, and then electric shocked, by what appear to be identical twins.

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Heading to a tailor who runs a store for oversized men, Bruce and Dick learn that the two men are actually cousins, Deever and Dumfree Tweed, and seek out their house.

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Though it would not usually be their “shtick,” in this first story they dress up as the Alice in Wonderland characters, along with a Mad Hatter and March Hare as muscle, in order to rob a costume ball.  Batman nixes that plan.

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Simon and Kirby put Rip Carter on trial in this Boy Commandos story.  Though it’s not for the reckless endangerment of children.  Taking the kids into battle is just fine.

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Instead, he is charged with disobeying orders, leading to casualties among the troops.  Rip, and others, relate the story behind this, which has to do with a cowardly British officer.

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It’s not the best Boy Commandos story, it’s a bit heavy on text, and the ending is awkward, with one of the judges revealed as the penitent father of the cowardly officer, so Rip gets acquitted.  And not as much good battle art as usual, either.

Detective 73 – Batman vs the Scarecrow, the Boy Commandos and the tin box, and the Crimson Avenger gets a cloud

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The Scarecrow makes his second appearance in Detective 73 (March 1943), which turns out to be the last appearance of the character until the 1960s.  Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson illustrate.

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Professor Crane is out of prison, and has thought up a new set of crimes, which have absolutely nothing to do with fear or scaring people at all.  Nope, instead he has a little blackboard and leaves three letter rhyming clues (vat, mat, yat).  What a let down.  Linda Page appears briefly, buying a ridiculous hat.

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The Scarecrow does hoist a nasty looking machine gun, but without the fear gas element (which had been created by Hugo Strange before the Scarecrow was introduced), the character just doesn’t sing.

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Simon and Kirby give each of the boys a chance to shine in this tale, which sees the Boy Commandos navigate a dense jungle to deliver a little tin box.

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There are Nazis pursuing them, of course, but unlike the other tales to date, this one gives much more play to the team itself.  Brooklyn still manages to grab focus.

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The tin box is revealed to be tin foil wrappers, and Rip Carter explains the importance of recycling stuff for war.  So propaganda again, but far more readable than the Japanese one.

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The Crimson Avenger starts using a capsule that releases a crimson smoke cloud, which he uses for dramatic entrances and exits, and also for messing up the bad guys during a fight.  It seems to affect the brain at times.

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The City Desk Editor is left befuddled at Lee Travis’ disappearance, while Lee himself managed to change costume and fall out a window.

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The Crimson Avenger and Wing are pursuing a mob boss who likes his people to dress and use tech from the turn of the century.  A mob boss keeping his people behind the times is not likely to triumph.

Detective 72 – Batman fights the judge, and the Boy Commandos play with flowers

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Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson contribute the art on the Batman story in Detective 72 (Feb. 43).  The cover accurately bills the story, “License for Larceny.”

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A financial investor, J. Spencer Lawson, is also a gangland boss, Larry the Judge, who issues licenses to his men, determining what crimes they are allowed to commit, and imposing penalties on those who disobey.  This could be, if it was written now, a really harsh and disturbing tale, but it’s 1943 so it’s not.

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As a financial investor, he learns all about his clients, so he knows who to rob, and of what.  Bruce Wayne falls into his grasp, but Batman takes him down.

This tale also includes a rare, external shot of Wayne’s house.  The term “manor” ceased being used during the war, and the house looks much smaller and less ostentatious than expected.

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This Boy Commandos story, by Simon and Kirby, has the kids in rural England, stumbling upon a nest of spies.

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The insidious foes meet in the basement of a flower shop, and they are smuggling explosives in the flower pots.  The Boys stumble across this, and mess up their plans.

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This is the first story in which Brooklyn is really given a chance to shine.  He had always been the stand-out character, with his dialect and personality, but was usually given equal time with the rest of the team.  Now he starts to move to the front.

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