Posts tagged ‘Kent 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 96 – Dr. Fate forgets his magic

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As much as Dr. Fate had been de-powered, it seems it wasn’t enough.  More Fun 96 (March/April 1944) sees him visited by a Chaldean wizard, (but seemingly not Nabu) who removes his memories of his magic.  Perhaps it’s all a bad dream brought on by sleeping in a helmet, but it seems to happen.

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Dr. Fate discovers that without his magic skills, he’s really not of much use.  He still has an air of authority, which he uses to rally a crowd at a cave-in.

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At the end, he simply bluffs his way against the armed villain.  Sad.  Once again, I am left wondering why they even bothered to continue this series, and the Spectre, when they so clearly didn’t want them to be what they were.

In later continuity, this story more or less matches Nabu removing most of Kent Nelson’s powers when he gives up the full helmet.

More Fun 87 – Green Arrow fires a rocket-arrow, Dr. Fate – doctor, Aquaman meets Atlanteans and Tubby Watts gets paid to do nothing

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Johnny Quick gets his second cover appearance on More Fun 87 (Jan 43).  He still doesn’t get the lead spot, and Green Arrow resumes his cover features with the next issue.  This is also the final issue with a Radio Squad story, the one early series that stuck around.

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Green Arrow and Speedy wind up in a complex case, which builds to a big prison breakout attempt.  But the plot is not the important thing here, it’s the arrows.

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Up until now the arrows have always been used in the acceptable variety of ways arrows are used – like setting them on fire, or shooting them up as signals.  But in this story, it stretches a little further.  In order to sneak into the prison to get information on the villain’s plans, Green Arrow and Speedy shooted hooked arrows at convicts, reeling them in almost like fish.

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Towards the end of the story, the duo fire off rockets, but Green Arrow specifically calls them Arrow-Rockets, name branding them a la Batman.  But also making this the first trick arrow.

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Some really nice art by Howard Sherman on Gardner Fox’s latest Dr. Fate story.

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Dr. Fate is pitted against a rival, but the doctor is a phony, as Kent susses out in his medical day job.  This issue shows him as a doctor, while most of the issues simply refer to his occupation in passing.

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Some of his powers seem to be back, as he is immune to bullets, and he’s pulled his crystal ball out of storage!

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There are even a couple panels of Dr. Fate underwater, drawn in Sherman’s unique way of expressing that.   A better story than most of the late Dr. Fate tales.

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Atlanteans get introduced in the Aquaman story in this issue.  The ark-type ship shown in the splash page is run by thugs in biker jackets, gathering rare creatures from around the world.  They find an Atleantean man, beat the crap out of him, and throw him in a  cage.

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The reader is treated to a fairly standard telling of the destruction and sinking of Atlantis.  The art makes ancient Atlantis look pretty urban and bland.

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Aquaman discovers Atlantis and meets its inhabitants for the first time – the previous notion of him living in a temple in the abandoned ruins can easily be blended with this.  He mistook an abandoned out-lying settlement for Atlantis proper.

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He frees the captured Atlantean, and throws the men in cages to be displayed to the Atlanteans.  Just temporarily.  So he says.

 

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Tubby Watts gets a more important role than usual, in a convoluted story that sees him paid by criminals to do nothing, part of a scheme to steal a farmer’s land that has oil on it.

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Tubby gets the plot-line, but after a page of being Johnny Chambers, Quick gets into action.

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Meskin is now making the most of the multiple images visual, which also appears on the cover.

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Drawn this way, Johnny has finally become a visually distinct character from the Flash.

 

 

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.

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