Posts tagged ‘Sandman’

Adventure 81 – Sandy the Golden Boy to the Rescue!

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Sandy the Golden Boy is not a name to strike terror in the hearts of anyone, but Adventure 81 (Dec 42) gives him his best role of the run, and shows that he has courage, if not a sense of self-preservation.

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The story opens with a great twist, as Wesley Dodds wakes from a nightmare about the Sandman, and Sandy realizes that Wes is being impersonated.  Without giving on that he has figured it out, Sandy manages to track down the captured Wes.

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He storms right on in, pretending that Sandman is following him.  It fails, and the kidnappers toss him and Wesley into a flooded mine pit.  But of course our heroes escape and prevail, defeating the impersonator before he can pull off a stick swindle.

Adventure 80 – Sandman, Starman, Shining Knight and Manhunter

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The Sandman story inside has nothing to do with the cover, but it is the lead feature for Adventure 80 (Nov 42), and Sandman had not been in the opening spot since the introduction of Hourman.

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Sandman faces off against Felix Black, an insomniac whose ailment embitters him and turns him to a life of crime.  Wes and Sandy help an out of work detective from the “We Never Sleep” Agency track him down.  Meanwhile, the hoods Felix has hired realize how wealthy he is, and turn on him.

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Felix even gets a happy ending!  An entertaining piece, one of the few where Joe Simon’s writing is stronger than Jack Kirby’s art.

 

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This is the final Starman story with art by Ray Burnley.  Once again a time machine is at the centre of the action, as hoods use it to recruit, of all people, Shakespeare as their mob boss.

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The last couple of pages look rushed and sloppy, I’m not sure they are even Burnley’s work, and the resolution really doesn’t make much of Shakespeare or the time machine.  A great set-up that fizzles out.  Sort of like the Starman series as a whole.

 

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The Shining Knight gets a better story than usual, pitting him against gangsters riding pterodactyls!

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Porky Callahan, a pickpocket, ups his game by stealing the eggs for the dinosaurs from a museum and hatching them.  His gang quickly realize the criminal potential of the animals, which are not as difficult to ride as one might think, at least not in comic books.

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The aerial battle is better than anything this strip has seen so far, and I forgive the resolution, in which Sir Justin shows up with a band of fire-breathing dragons he got from, ummm, don’t ask.

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The Manhunter story is more intense than usual, opening with a prison break somewhere in the south, it seems, as there is a large swamp with natives living in it close to the penitentiary.

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Even though the Manhunter series is usually mostly fighting, in this one it is almost frightening.  Manhunter catches up to the men just in time to save a native boy from them.

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This story, more than most of the others, leaves the reader really rooting for Manhunter.  Possibly just because a child is in danger, but Kirby really does a great job making the cons look threatening.

Unfortunately this story also ends their run on Manhunter, though the costume would be maintained and there would be sort of an effort to keep the look of the series.  At least Simon and Kirby went out on a high note with this one

 

Adventure 78 – Manhunter meets Sandman (on the cover)

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In the 1940s crossovers were very rare, except on covers.  Batman and Superman would regularly hang out on the covers of World’s Finest Comics for well over a decade before meeting in the interior pages.  Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman had fun on the covers of Comic Cavalcade without ever meeting in the stories inside.

So it’s likely that readers of this issue were not surprised that Manhunter and Sandman met only on the cover of Adventure 78 (Sept 42), and that their interior stories had no connection to the image.

 

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Manhunter faces off against the Tiger, a murderer with a taste for striped suits, in his story.

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As with most Manhunter stories, this is simple and straightforward.  Putting the killer in a striped suit is almost daring for this series.

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But with Kirby at the helm, even the simplest action becomes dramatic and dynamic.

 

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Sandman’s adventure is a little more complex. though there is no use of dreams in this tale of Magno, a phony escape artist who uses his elaborate routines as a cover for his gang to commit robberies.

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And while both of these stories have really enjoyable art, neither would actually have merited being included in my blog had the two heroes not been featured on the cover.

Adventure 77 – Starman battles The Mist, Genius Jones debuts, and everyone dreams of Sandman

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No connection at all between the cover for Adventure 77 (Aug 42) and the Sandman story it contains, which may make it easier to cope with as I discuss the other stories first.

 

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The Mist escapes from prison, having figured out how to chemically treat objects to enable him to mind control people who have touched them.  Pretty impressive achievement.  You’d think there would be endless legal ways to make money off of that, but crime works as well.

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It seems like Starman has been doing some research as well, as the gravity rod is now capable of nullifying the effect of the Mist’s invisio-solution.  This second battle between them is a satisfying rematch, but also the last appearance of the Mist until the 1960s.

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At the climax of their fight, it almost appears that Starman has some degree of mental control over his rod.  The text denies this, claiming that the rod returns to his hand from the force of the chain that yanked it from the Mist.  Still, in later years there would be some mental connection between Starman and the rod, and this may be the moment he discovers it.

 

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Genius Jones debuts is this issue.  This is a humourous series that I likely would have skipped over, except that Genius Jones would return in the Dr. 13 strip in Tales of the Unexpected early in the millenium, so I am forced to include his original run.

He gets shipwrecked on a deserted island, and spends his time until rescue reading.  As he is still a child, he clearly did not have decades to read, but somehow managed to learn pretty much everything there is to learn.

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He opens a consulting booth, charging a dime to adults and 5 cents to children to answer any and all questions.  Can’t help but think of Lucy and her psychiatrist stand from Charlie Brown, which may well have been influenced by this.

Genius Jones answers questions, solves crimes and generally makes the world a better place, all in a very child-friendly looking strip.  But he has no real enemies, or character development, or anything else that might make me reference another one of his stories.  So the only other mention he will rate in this blog will be to mark the end of his run.

 

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The Sandman story opens with a page of wonderful Kirby art, establishing the wealth and position of the victim of this story.  Monroe Alvin is framed for a murder he does not remember committing, despite photographic evidence of his crime.

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The dream motif had not been used much in the previous few stories, but in this one almost everyone is having prophetic dreams of the Sandman, usually right before he encounters them.

That’s quite a help, as this is a complex case involving fake doctors and amnesia, but Sandman puts it all to rights.  Pleasant dreams for all.

 

Adventure 75 – Manhunter in a kiss-and-run, and Sandman vs Thor (almost)

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Is that really Thor that Sandman and Sandy are fighting on the cover of Adventure 75 (June 42)?  I’ll tell you, but first we discuss Manhunter.  That whole order-of-stories-in-the-issue thing.

 

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Manhunter’s mask is really silvery in this story, which pits him against a gang lead by Mr. Meek, but really its about a femme fatale.

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Paul Kirk is the victim of a kiss and run, which is just an opportunity for a female thief to plant some jewels on him.  As with most Manhunter stories, there is little characterization and no supporting cast, just Paul in action.

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Even though the girl lies to him and sets him up, she is not a killer, and so Manhunter allows her to go free at the end of the story, maybe hoping for another kiss.  No such luck.

 

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Jack Kirby’s interest in Thor manifests itself in this classic story.  The Norse thunder god is running rampant in the streets, and Sandman and Sandy don’t quite know what to make of it.

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He isn’t the real thunder god, just a thief and con-artist known as “Fairytales” Fenton, which is not a really menacing name for a burly criminal, but ok.  Even a fake Thor makes for dynamic visuals.

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The “Villain from Valhalla” (as he is referred to in the story’s title) returns in the pages of All-Star Squadron, with a magical hammer (though not Mjolnir) that makes him more of a threat.  And Kirby would draw more stories featuring Thor for some other comic book company later on.

Adventure 74 – Starman goes animal, Hourman gets a new partner, Manhunter gets a mask and Sandman plays chess

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Sandman returns as the cover feature of the book with Adventure 74 (May 42), but is not the lead feature, and I’m just obsessive enough that I need to cover the stories in the order in which they appear, so….

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Starman has to deal with another mad scientist, Ivan Karoff, who has developed a machine that transforms men into the animal they most resemble, using them as pawns to commit crimes.   Starman is sent out on the case, but makes a delightful mistake.

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Starman believes he is rescuing a woman from a werewolf created by Karoff, but in fact has simply stumbled across a film shoot.

He does manage to find the bad guy, though he gets captured. Karoff stupidly decides to subject the hero to the machine.

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All that does is bring out the lion in Starman.  We also get a sense of the unused potential of the gravity rod, as it is capable of easily transforming Starman back to human.

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Karoff himself winds up subjected to his ray, which transforms him into a pig.

 

 

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As previously mentioned, Jimmy Martin no longer appears in the Hourman series.  Thorndyke informs Rex Tyler of this, apparently knowing his identity already, which none of the other Minute Men did.

As well, it had previously been established that Thorndyke and Jimmy were brothers, yet issue 75 informs us that Thorndyke’s last name is Tomkins, which is very unusual if he is the younger brother of Jimmy Martin, so perhaps there is more going on here, with the mother taking off with one of her sons and leaving the other behind.  Did Jimmy and Thorndyke have different fathers?  It’s all very suspicious.

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Anyway, with Hourman and Thorndyke both buzzing on Miraclo, they track down thieves Bugs Manders and Gimpty Gowan, getting captured and trussed up for their efforts.  It takes them longer than the hour of power that they have, and Hourman has to bluff his way through the final battle, which is sort of impressive, considering the withdrawl he must be experiencing.

 

 

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Simon and Kirby refine the Mnahunter outfit, giving Pauk Kirk a blue mask as he joins a society party scavenger hunt.  A romantic rivalry at the party is to be decided by the outcome of the hunt, which leads one of the men to rig the hunt, so his rival has to track down and capture a notorious killer.

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Paul dons his newly masked outfit and does the boy’s work for him, apprehending Crusher Burns, thus winning the boy the shallow girl who wanted the men to compete for her.

 

 

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Sandman and Sandy face off against a genius, Hiran Gaunt, who has turned to crime simply for the mental challenge.  This is a man who can deduce the combination of a safe, so he really has an amazing brain.

Playing on his pride, Sandman sets up a chess-playing computer, which is really a machine with Sandy stuffed inside of it, as a lure to draw him out.

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Then it’s simply a matter of trailing him and beating up his gang.  Good art on this one, but the dream element does not come into play at all.

Adventure 72 – Simon and Kirby Sandman begins

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Simon and Kirby take the reins of this series with Adventure Comics 72 (March 42), and the series quickly excels.  The trademark of leaving sand behind had pretty much fallen by the wayside when Simon and Kirby replace it with the “calling card” that reads

There is no place beyond the law

Where tyrants rule with unshakable power

It’s a dream from which the evil wake

To face their fate…their terrifying hour

The Sandman

But more importantly, they begin playing with the concept of dreams, right from the get-go.

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In their first story, a human slaver has a nightmare about being caught by the Sandman.  It turns out he is already in jail, the dream reflects events that have occurred, but it quickly becomes a theme in the series that the bad guys have nightmares about the Sandman before actually encountering him.

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The cape was gone, and there would be small alterations to the mask and colouring of the costume as well, as Kirby took a firmer grip on the series.

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