Posts tagged ‘Sally Norris’

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.

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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.

Detective 16 – Speed Saunders becomes a cop, and Bart and Sally become secretaries

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Speed Saunders is now part of a police force as of Detective 16 (June 1938).  He has started wearing a really ugly plaid suit, and wears it consistently until issue 22.  We also see that he now lives in an apartment on his own, so we can safely assume that his mother had been dressing him until now.

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The intensity of the action is upped in the series from this point as well.  In this story, a stolen corpse leads to murder, kidnapping and an opium ring, and Speed fights and shoots his way through all of it.

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And another entertaining Spy story by Siegel and Shuster.  Information from the intelligence services (OSS at this point, I believe) keeps going missing, and Bart and Sally are put into secretarial jobs there to root out the traitor.

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As usual, this plays for comedy as much as drama, as Bart and the head of the intelligence service get into a fight in the dark, each assuming the other to be the traitor, while the real villain draw a bead on both of them.  And once again it’s Sally to the rescue, as she planted a flash bomb in the files, which blinds the thief, allowing Bart to take him down.

Detective 15 – Speed Saunders hunts for pearls, and Spy hunts for Mr. Death

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Speed Saunders story in Detective 15 (May 1938), continues from the previous issue, as the Danes and Speed sail back to America, and Doris’s pearls get stolen.  The end of the story states that there is more to come with the pearls.

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In fact, that is not true.  The following issue sees a change in artist, and also in career for Speed.  Again.  This tale is left unfinished.

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Bart and Sally are given their “toughest” assignment in this chapter of Siegel and Shuster’s Spy.  They are assigned to track down a serial killer known as Mr. Death.  Sally decides the best way to do this would be to put an ad in the newspaper for him, and have him come to them.

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It works, in a way.  Mr. Death is not afraid of Bart or Sally at all, and quite happily attempts to add them to his roster of victims.  Bart almost gets killed, but Sally saves the day.

Detective 14 – Speed Saunders changes jobs, and Spy changes continents

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With Detective 14 (April 1938), Speed has become a private investigator (or an “ace” investigator, as the logo claims).  He accompanies Doris Dane and her nephew Dick to Hondoku Island, searching for her missing brother Malcolm.

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No explanation is given for Speed’s career change.  His private eye career does not last very long either.

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Siegel and Shuster bring Bart and Sally back to the US quite abruptly in this chapter of Spy.  No time for a cruise, they are simply back home and onto the next case.

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The story heads into different territory, as they are sent out against a mad scientist with a destructive ray that affects the molecular stability of the objects it’s fired at.  The scientist is offering his device to foreign nations though, so it’s not completely off-base.  The bidders turn on each other, and Bart kills the scientist, so it ends in more of a bloodbath than normal.

 

Detective 13 – Bart and Sally go criminal in Spy

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Bart and Sally, still in Paris in Detective 13 (March 1938), are assigned to break the son of a prominent American politician of his gambling addiction in this Siegel and Shuster tale.

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After failing to clean him out at the casino, they resort to simply mugging the poor guy in a park!  After getting his money, they face off against other muggers trying to rob them, and of course defeat them as well.

Curiously, their methods seem to work, as the boy is so scared he vows off gambling.

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