Posts tagged ‘New Adventure Comics’

Detective 3 – Hope Hazard, G-Woman, a Tong War, and Sally at the chapel in Spy


Although the Hope Hazard story came sequentially before the other two stories from Detective Comics 3 (May 1937) that I am going to discuss in this entry, I am putting it last.  This is because of the peculiar nature of the entry.  Nuff said.


Claws of the Red Dragon picks up as Bruce Nelson manages to get through the walled and gated entry. He runs into an American gangster, Joe Stucchi, and discovers they are in the midst of a Tong war between Imperial and Republican Chinese, both of whom want the remnants of the Red Jade Dragon.


Bruce searches the house and sees quite a few murders before finding Sigrid, but as they try to find her father, they fall into the hands of Lu Gong, a descendant of the Mongol kings of China, and the one behind the kidnappings.




Siegel and Shuster’s Spy really features Sally Norris this issue.  She has the title box all to herself!  The marriage is called off, as Sally is stolen from the chapel.


The spy ring want to question her about Bart Regan’s true identity.  Serves her right for exposing him, but when Bart finds out he rushes to her aid.


This just means the two of them are in danger as the chapter ends.  But take note of the position Bart and Sally are in, and remember it for the endings of later issues!



This series is a puzzlement.  Hope Hazard, G-Woman begins as a serial about an FBI agent, but runs only one instalment in Detective Comics.  When it returns, nearly a year later and in the pages of More Fun Comics, Hope Hazard is the daughter of a retired secret service agent, and an amateur sleuth.


The first story has missing airplanes and a mad scientist, Xavier, King of the Underworld in a beautifully drawn cave with all his followers.


Hope and her pilot, Bill Littlejohn, are in danger of being caught by them, but this cliffhanger is just dropped when the series returns.


Her second and final story was in More Fun 30 (April 1938).  But had I just entered it there, the contrast with this one would not have been clear.


Here, Hope has inherited a  manor house, and is content to live a placid life, mostly sitting around watching while other people get involved in kidnapping, torture, theft and murder.


This one page shows her at her most active, wandering around like a gothic heroine.  Hard to accept that this is the same woman from the caves.


And though she finds the stolen jewel at the end, this feels more like a romance story set-up with her and the cop, rather than a “G-Woman.”


To make things even more curious, in December of 37 (between the two stories), in New Adventure Comics  22 there was a one-issue tale,  G-Woman, about a blond FBI agent.  Given the change in artist, this could be meant to be Hope Hazard, but her name is June Justis.  She is also described as the “only female agent” on the force.


This one fights dirty and shoots to kill.  Much harsher than either of the Hope Hazard stories.  But she is more suited to the “G-Woman” name than they were.


So here we have Hope Hazard, G-Woman and not G-Woman, with a pilot or with her dad, who maybe is also Justine Justis.

And if you can make more sense of this than I did, good for you.


Barry O`Neil


Barry O`Neil`s long running series moves from2 page stories in More Fun Comics to four to six page stories in New Adventure Comics with issue 31, October 1938, which also happens to be part 30 of the serial he is involved in.

Yes, part 30.  Barry has spent his entire run so far battling the Yellow Peril, as personified by Fang Gow.  I`m not really going to attempt an in-depth summary of the story so far.  Suffice it to say Barry`s adventures have spanned Asia and Europe, and brought him romance in the form of ever-kidnapped Jean, and friendship with he father, the French Inspector Le Grand.

Fang Gow is finally defeated and left for dead in Adventure Comics 37, though the reader gets to see that he is still alive, though needing major surgery.


Barry heads back to Paris with Le Grand and Jean, and issue 38 jumps to six months later, when one of Le Grand’s military friends has apparently committed suicide.  Barry takes only two issues to deduce that the man was murdered at the orders of spymaster Count Duniff, who he tracks down and kills.

Issues 40 – 43 see Barry head to Tunisia to stop a plot by another spy, Krull, to destroy the French fleet.


Fang Gow returns in issue 44, now perfectly healthy but being held in a French prison.  How he got there from an operating table in Port Said is never explained.  He escapes from prison, devises a formula for turning humans into wax, and launches a scheme to smuggle French criminals into the US by turning them into wax and shipping them as pieces of art.  Barry discovers and dispatches this plan in one issue, and kills Fang Gow at the end, though in issue 45 Fang Gow is dug up from his grave and revived by his men, and then kidnaps Jean, for old times sake.


Barry O`Neil‘s series continues, but now is all one-issue tales.  Fang Gow remains the major villain, almost the only villain, but never approaches the degree of menace that he was during the longer serials.  Far from it, he becomes almost a ridiculous figure, as in story after story Barry and Le Grand quickly end his plots and plans.

With issue 47, Barry and Le Grand are recruited to French Intelligence, and clearly excel at it, as in the very next issue they are called the “ace spy-smashing team of French Intelligence.”  Of course, their missions are always related to Fang Gow, who is apparently a bigger threat to France than Nazi Germany.

Fang Gow’s plans range from messing up the food rationing system, to mind controlling Jean to kill Barry, to devising a formula that will shrink people.  He falls for a ridiculous ploy, being “hired” by undercover French Intelligence operatives to kill Barry, as a plot to capture Fang Gow.  Why they simply don’t take him into custody when they meet with him is beyond me. We meet Fang Gow’s daughter in issue 53, though she is never given a name.


With issue 55 Barry and Le Grand relocate to French Guyana.  The reason is not given, but the fall of France to the Nazis in the spring of 1940 is clearly behind it.  Curiously, Jean does not come with them.  She does not appear again, nor is she ever mentioned.  It’s hard to believe Le Grand would have casually abandoned his daughter to the Nazi occupation, so I fear that Jean must have been killed suring it.

Fang Gow heads to French Guyana as well, creating giants, using a special sub to sink allied ships, and plotting to free all the prisoners from Devil’s Island.  This last plot backfires big time, as Fang Gow winds up imprisoned there himself.

In issue 58, Barry and Le Grand sail to England with Fang Gow in custody.  Fang Gow plots to kill himself, then be revived by a sea burial, but this backfired on him as well when his coffin hits an undersea mine and explodes, finally putting an end to this menace.  Barry comments that he “will miss him,” and as overdone as his appearances became, once Fang Gow is gone, the series loses its purpose.


In 59 Barry and Le Grand sail to the US, and solver murder and diamond theft on the way, then in Adventure Comics 60, March 1941,  Barry learns that a wealthy uncle died leaving him everything, including the deciding votes on unifying the New York subway system. Barry escapes death at the hands of those who want to keep the subways private, and his long run ends with the formation of the public subway system.


Barry was now extremely wealthy, and on the board of the new subway, so I expect he settled down in New York City at this point.

Barry O’Neil lasted longer than any other series that began in New Fun #1, but ended as a pale shadow of what it was.



New Adventure Comics 28 – Federal Men


This story, the conclusion of a two-parter, is significant solely for the villain, the Cobra.  The plot itself is a standard kidnapping story that Steve Carson solves fairly easily, though he does wrestle a giant cobra.


It’s not the villain’s scheme or giant snake that earns him a mention, though, its his appearance.

The older, bald man, often hunched, or looming, was a look that Siegel and Shuster would bring back for the the Ultra-Humanite, and later for Luthor.

It’s not really so surprising that that occurred.  Clark Kent, Dr. Occult, Slam Bradley and Bart Regan, the lead character in Spy, all look pretty much exactly the same as Steve Carson.

Tom Brent


Tom Brent is the kind of series that challenges me.  It’s bad.  The art is bad, and the stories are confusing and unsatisfying.  But I have to read all of it, and write it up, or I will cease to be me. So I really start looking for things, and in this case, found a narrative.  It’s possible the writer himself even saw it, but from the quality of conception seen in these stories, I would doubt it.

We first meet Tom at a waterfront bar in Marseilles, where he gets into a brawl.  He is a sailor, and appears to be just another rough and tumble workhorse sailor whose curiosity leads him into adventure.

He is on the ship the Norfolk, sailing to Stamboul (Istanbul), but once there is entrusted to deliver important papers to a consul.  It’s quite a task, as there are fake papers and fake consuls, and no coherent resolution or explanation.

Then he sails to Singapore on the S.S. Cory, to deliver a load of weapons.  He now dresses as if he were an officer, maybe?  No more striped shirts for him.   Once in China he becomes captain of the schooner Mary Ann, shipping gold to Singapore and not really holding off a mutiny on his ship.  The mutineers just mutiny against their new leader and put him back in charge.

After a brief vacation, still in China, he gets “commissioned” by the US authorities there to retrieve the Jade Necklace of Shai Poa.  He now has his own Manchu servant, Tong, so clearly he has some money to his name now.


In the next few stories, he continues getting orders from the police and army to perform missions for them, and moves comfortably around in high society.  How things have improved for Tom Brent!


But at the end of his final tale, he is sent on a “very dangerous mission,” that only he could do.  I am guessing that his background as a bar brawling sailor in Marseilles was the needed background, but that Tom, now used to dandified living, could not blend back in, was exposed and then killed.

Sorry, Tom.


Tom Brent ran from New Adventure Comics  28 (July 38) – Adventure Comics  39  (June 39).

Anchors Aweigh


Anchors Aweigh features Lieutenant Commander Don Kerry of the US navy, and his buddy Red Murphy, who is never given a rank.  They have one long serial that takes them to Brazil, where they hunt down and capture El Diablo, a revolutionary, but then spend the rest of the era dealing with problems in the south Pacific, mostly in one-shot tales. It ran from New Adventure Comics 28 (July 38) – Adventure Comics 52 (July 40).

The art is by Guardineer for the first few instalments, and it’s the kind of Guardineer art I don’t like, very stiff and static.  But I must conceded, after he leaves the series the art gets downright awful.

The first serial is not bad, it spends a lot of time making it look like Marshall, an American embassy staffer, is really El Diablo, but instead his assistant Fernando is the one leaving the false trail, and El Diablo actually ifs from the German embassy.

The later stories are passable at best.  Chinese bandits, a man who wants to blow up the Panama Canal, pirates, native uprisings, illegal gambling boats are all dealt with quickly and easily.  The most interesting, or at least the weirdest, of the stories involves master japanese spy Sin Yun, who attempts to get Don and Red to reveal the secrets of a radio controlled torpedo by having hybrid animals attack them.  The gorilla man is ok, but the octo-dile is hilarious.


We finally learn that Red has the rank of lieutenant, which I’m guessing is lower than Don’s lieutenant commander.  Their final seven stories take them from Baja California to Jamaica, the Panama Canal and the Philippines, as they deal with foreign agents and everyday crooks.

The art is largely passable, though the jungle snake pit the heroes have to walk through in issue 49 looks simply ridiculous.


My favourite story in this brief period comes in Adventure Comics 48, as Don impersonates a drug dealer to find out who is running the gang.  Much of the story consists of him acting the tough guy to avoid giving himself away, rebuffing other members of the gang, and even the wife of the man he is impersonating, until Don uncovers the postmaster as the drug czar.

The second last tale is set in the “south seas,” and while pursuing pirates Don and Red get trapped during a hurricane.


The location of the final story, pitting them against rum runners turned gun runners, is not given.  So I am going to place them both in Hawaii at the end of their run.  They sit around relaxing and thinking their days of action are behind them, then get bombed during the attack on Pearl Harbour.

That may seem like a harsh ending to give these guys, but they are sailors, and had they done anything of note in the war we surely would have known.


Tod Hunter, Jungle Master


Tod Hunter is a traveller and explorer in Africa, having adventures with his friend Tommy Withers.  They are in search of the God of the Ruby Eye, which has never been seen by “humans,” (by which they mean white men).  Almost immediately they are set upon by headhunters, captured and brought to Zara, the High Priestess of the God.

Zara also has imprisoned a few other Americans, Gail Duncan and her father and Paul, her fiancee.  Tod gets free and holds Zara as hostage, forcing her to lead them to the God.  It’s an immense statue,, which Tod climbs inside, finding acoustic equipment, as well as a guard he easily takes down.

The headhunters are about to sacrifice the other prisoners, when Tod speaks from the statue, which they assume is the god talking, and orders his friends released.

They escape, and bring a stash of rubies with them, but begin to plot against each other over the rubies.  The camp is attacked during the night, and a few of them go missing (along with the rubies).  Everyone suspects Paul, who is found working with Hassin, the one who ordered the raid on the camp.

But the series just loses itself at this point.  Paul was playing a double game, for some reason, and it seems he stole the rubies to keep them safe?  Maybe?


Anyway, Tod has to fight a gorilla, which causes him to lose his memory, and then they get captured by cannibals an brought to a large underground palace ruled by a white sorceror who wants amnesiac Tod to lead his men against Torog, a rival sorceror from the Symian Palace.

It feels like the writer has lost his memory as well, as the story wanders further and further from the ruby plot.  Tod gets his memory back, defeats Torog and his men and returns to his friends, but the series ends at this point, without the whole ruby theft thing ever being made clear enough that I could even put an ending on it.



Tod Hunter, Jungle Master ran from  New Adventure Comics  27 (June 38) – Adventure Comics 38 (May 39)

Rusty and His Pals


Rusty and his Pals was the first series Bob Kane did for DC.  It serializes the adventures of a young blond boy, Rusty, and his friends Tubby and Specs, but by the end of it’s first storyline  it has laid the basis that the Batman series will be built from. It ran from New Adventure Comics 26 (May 38) – Adventure Comics 52 (July 40).

Rusty and his Pals appear to be about 9 or 10 years old as this begins.  After reading a book about pirates, the three boys build a raft, and sail out to find some and have adventures.  Remarkably, they do run into a masted schooner with a crew all dressed as pirates, but these are performers, and the ship is used for entertainment.  They bring the boys aboard, and continue sailing to England, unaware that the ship is also transporting opium to Chen Fu.

On board, the boys meet Steve Carter, and American man who will look more and more like Bruce Wayne as the series progresses, and also effectively become the action hero of the strip.

In occasional panels you get a taste of how Kane would draw Batman.  The shot of a man smoking opium, in issue 30, is the first of these, and really stands out, barely matching the art on the rest of the page.


One of Chen Fu’s operatives, Long Sin, leads an attack on the ship, and Rusty, Steve and the the rest flee, making it to a tropical island run by counterfeiter Ichabod Slade.  He has a giant, sword-wielding assistant, Omar, and a beautiful female accomplice, the Duchess.

A storm forces Long Sin and his men to abandon the pirate ship, but the lifeboat is overloaded, and Long Sin has his own men thrown into the ocean to ensure his survival.

Rusty, Steve et al escape from Slade thanks to the Duchess, who has fallen for Steve and regrets her evil ways.  Long Sin and his forces arrive on the island for a big climactic battle, which also sees a volcanic eruption devastate the island, just as our heroes manage to fly away.


They finally arrive in England, where Chen Fu has Rusty kidnapped, seeking vengeance on Steve.  Steve rescues the boy, bringing him to safety by hiding out in an opium den.  With the aid of a gun-toting Scotland Yard inspector they have a big shoot out with Chen Fu’s men, Fu is captured, and Steve and the Duchess, now using her real name, Diane, plan to get married.  The boys feel they would be in the way, and head off in search of new adventures.


The art on this series improves dramatically as the run progresses. The early chapters show an impressive attention to details, but the details overload the panels, the art is not in a strong balance.  Kane gets much better with this over time.  Steve starts off with a poorly proportioned body and some really awkward stances, but moves like Batman by the end.  The villains look extremely cartoony, but the stylization works well.

The Duchess bears more than a passing resemblance to Catwoman, both physically, and character-wise, the bad girl with a crush on the hero.  The Scotland Yard inspector is short and fat, wearing a deerstalker, much the way Alfred would appear when introduced.  The boys appear much older by the end of this era, fully teenagers, and Rusty goes into fights alongside Steve with much the same camaraderie as Robin would with Batman.

The second (and last) serial begins in issue 46 by “re-introducing” the boys.  I put that in quotations because they were poorly introduced when the series began, taking a few issues before we learned their names.  And even so, the intro blurbs tell us little. Rusty is courageous, Specs is bookish and Tubby eats a lot.


The story picks up as the boys wander an English moor, get lost in a storm and find a huge old house.  Bob Kane does some of his best art on the run with the house.  There is a long hallway, with a hammer-beamed ceiling, and some other great, moody interiors. I would love to say these were the basis of Wayne Manor, but Kane never drew it to look this good.


There is a paranoid old man in the house, and his rude bodyguard, but the bodyguard gets killed by “natives” and the old man has a heart attack, and they seek out his nephew Angus McHeather (which means his father’s name was Heather, which is weird).  They follow a trail that leads them deep below the house, and learn about the old man’s past in a travelling carnival that went broke in Malay (current Malaysia, though that’s probably obvious).  The man and three others killed a tribe of Malay and stole their bejewelled idol, which the old man in turn stole from the other three.

So now Rusty and his pals join Angus on a journey to Malay, where they face not only angry natives seeking vengeance, but also the other three men, determined to find the treasure.

The serial is pretty good, though Angus is a poor substitute for Steve Carter, though he does save the boys in the end, using ventriloquism to make the natives think their killer gorilla, and later the idol itself, it talking.


After all is resolved, the boys journey home in the last two panels of issue 52.  They arrive back home just in time for a Fourth of July celebration, and the parents are so relieved to have them back that they do not seem stressed about the fact that the boys look years older than they did when they left, or that Rusty’s hair changed colour from blond to the more logical red.

The series ends here, but knowing these boys, I have little doubt that when the US entered World War II they would have lied about their ages and entered the forces.


New Adventure Comics 25 – Federal Men


The last of the stories featuring the Junior Federal Men, New Adventure Comics 25 (May 1938) brings back the notion of the Federal Men of the future, combining it with the children’s version of the team.

A group of boys in the year 3000 come across old issues of New Adventure Comics, read the tales of Carson and the kids, and are inspired to emulate them, capturing Zator Rog.

Sadly, there is no return appearance by Jor-L.

New Adventure Comics 24 – Federal Men


Of the run of stories featuring the Junior Federal Men, this one, from Issue 24 (Feb 38) is easily my favourite.

A very young boy finds gangsters hanging out in a waterfront warehouse, but when he tries to alert the police they don’t believe him.  The courageous lad then throws rocks at the cops until they chase him into the warehouse and wind up in a gun battle with the hoods.

Though once again you have to wonder at the kind of behaviour these stories are encouraging.  Yes, kids, if the police don’t believe you just throw rocks at them!

Robin Hood


This Robin Hood story is told in the fashion of the novel adaptations, and I suspect it is adapting some book on the character.  It makes the curious choice of setting the events during the reign of Henry II, and has young Robin intending to be a forester for the king. The story then makes this all a Saxon/Norman thing, with the rich being the Normans, and Robin standing up for the oppressed Saxons. It ran from New Adventure Comics 23 – 30  (Jan – Sep 38).

After getting challenged by the foresters to prove his archery skills, Robin shoots a stag, and is then arrested by the foresters for doing so.

With the aid of Will the Saxon woodcutter, Robin gets away, and then spends the next few instalments gathering his band of men.  The scene with Little John on the log over the river I recognize, and I have vague memories of a poem in which Robin has to carry Friar Tuck across a stream, though I do not remember anything ascribing the Friar a deadly pack of hunting dogs.  Will Scarlet appears as Robin’s dispossessed cousin.

This version does not confine Robin to Sherwood Forest, in fact the forest is not even mentioned in this run.  Friar Tuck is found in the region of Fountains Abbey, way up in Yorkshire.

In the last two instalements Robin and his men come to the aid of Sir Richard of Lea, whose lands are about to be foreclosed on by the abbot.  Robin’s men also capture the wealthy Bishop of Hereford, and take money from him to pay off Sir Richard’s debts.  The abbot is surprised to receive the payment, he was expecting to take the land.  The Sheriff of Nottingham is with the abbot, and hears of Robin Hood, but as the serial ends at this point never gets to take any action against him.


One of the reasons I believe this was taken from a novel is that, aside from the men in his band, we have few to none of the standard Robin Hood events – there is no big archery contest at the castle, the Sheriff is only being introduced in the 8th instalment, and no Maid Marian is in sight.

Robin Hood would get much better treatment by DC in the 50s, but I will discuss his run in Brave and the Bold, and in his own series as well, if and when I reach those.


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