Posts tagged ‘Sally Norris’

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 24 – submarine warfare in Spy, and a future gone mad in Slam Bradley

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The coming war in Europe, and the neutrality of the US, are central to the Spy story in Detective 24 (Feb 39).  Siegel and Shuster avoid specifying which nation is illegally buying arms, but Germany is the obvious inference.

Bart insists that Sally stay behind on this mission, as it involves him working undercover aboard a ship.

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So Sally just books herself a cabin and comes along anyway.  But on the whole, she is less effective in this story than in previous ones.  She does little except get threatened and cry over Bart.  I think I would have preferred him on his own in this piece.

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Both wind up tossed into the sea when their ship gets torpedoed, and the story climaxes with a submarine battle between the US navy and the unnamed European country with lots of subs.  Hmmmm.  Who could it be?

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Siegel and Shuster conclude Slam Bradley’s trip into the future in this story.  It picks up right where it left off, Slam rushing Shorty for help.  Shorty’s life gets saved, but Slam winds up in a gladiatorial match.

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Slam triumphs, but as he has killed the leader of these people, everyone is out to get him, and Slam and Shorty spend the rest of the story running from everyone, eventually making it back to the present.

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Entertaining and off-beat, but I’m glad the series did not continue in this vein.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

Detective 17 – Dr. Fu Manchu begins, Spy takes on the Klan, Bruce Nelson gets caught smuggling, and we meet Shorty’s twin brother

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In Detective 17 (July 1938) a Dr. Fu Manchu serial begins.  It was written by Sax Rohmer, the author of the original Fu Manchu novels, and partially adapts the first book, The Mystery of Dr. Fu Manchu.  Likely because the author was involved in it’s creation, it both looks and reads better than any of the earlier adaptations.

The character personified the racist idea of the “yellow peril” to such a degree that the name is still known, even though few have read the books.  And in fact, one of the books is titled “The Yellow Peril.”

Dr. Fu Manchu is evil incarnate, basically, a chemist and poisoner out to bring down both “old” and “new” China and rule it himself.  He controls the opium dens of London, but also has palatial countryside estates spread throughout England.  He is pursued by Dennis Nayland-Smith and his sidekick, Dr. Petrie, as he murders men connected to his past in India, and kidnaps engineers.

Because this is so blatantly a serial, I have summarized the plot of its duration in Detective, and will only give it another entry when it ends.

Well, partly because it’s a serial.  Partly because it’s just so racist.

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For a different take on racism, Siegel and Shuster’s Spy tale in this issue has Bart and Sally infiltrating the “Hooded Hordes,” who are pretty obviously meant to be the KKK.

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It’s a good story, more serious than most in this run.  The only real drawback is that we never see the Hordes behaving in a racist way.  Hard to show a group as evil if you don’t show the evil the group does.

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Bruce Nelson finally gets to headline his own series!  And wouldn’t you know it, “coolie smugglers.”  Just can’t avoid racism in this issue it seems.  The story is set in Africa, and Bruce gets set up, unaware that there are dead asians concealed in his plane.

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On the positive side (race-wise) Bruce has a sidekick in this story, a Zulu who is a capable pilot, with a lot of attitude towards the white smugglers.

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Slam Bradley investigates murders at a radio station in this Siegel and Shuster tale.

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Slam also gets to meet Shorty’s identical twin brother, Sporty.  He mistakes the brother, pulling him over his knee to spank him.  Embarrassing!  Sporty doesn’t seem to really mind, though, eagerly helping out on the case.

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Shorty becomes a minor radio celebrity, but it almost costs him his life.

Sporty, who made a much better second sidekick than Snoop, does not make any further appearances.

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