Posts tagged ‘Steve Malone’

Detective 59 – the Penguin returns, Wing gets a costume, Steve Malone ends, and Slam Bradley gets an agency


Robin is really happy to not be involved in the action on the cover of Detective 59 (Jan. 42).  Perhaps he was tired from the events of the Batman story in the issue.


The Penguin returns in this story by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.  The story picks up immediately after the conclusion of last issue’s tale, as the Penguin meets the various other companions of the boxcar he escaped town in.


When he realizes that so many of them have rewards out for their capture, he devises a scheme to turn them in, collect the reward, and then have other members of the group break them out of jail.


Batman gets onto his scheme and breaks it up.  He uses a crime file in this story, very rudimentary, though of course snazzy for the era.  Batman also relies on the normal radio for news alerts.


In this instalment of the Crimson Avenger Wing suddenly gets a costume as well, if not a codename.  His outfit matches the Crimson Avenger’s though with the colour scheme reversed, much like the way Kid Flash’s reversed the Flash’s colour scheme.  As his crest he has something stylized, which for many years I thought might be a “7”, or perhaps a question mark.  Now I realize it is a letter, probably Chinese.  I wonder what it means?


Crimson Avenger and Wing started appearing in Leading Comics as part of the Seven Soldiers of Victory at this time.  His team would never get mentioned in the pages of his own series.  Odd, considering that Batman was mentioned in this strip, along with the Joker and the Penguin.


As well as a costume, Wing seems to have changed his body, as well as his ability to speak English.  He is shorter and thinner than he used to be, and his face now an Asian caricature.


In his final story Steve is called to the home of a wealthy retired judge with a gambling son and a niece begging for money for her husband.  When the judge is killed, Steve figures out that its the jewelled-earring wearing nurse who was the killer, not the money hungry youths.


Steve Malone’s series ends at this point, and his character is never seen again, but after such a high-profile career I would expect that Steve went into politics and had a long and lucrative tenure in Washington D.C.


Howard Sherman has been doing the art on Slam Bradley’s series for a while now.  The stories have been decent, but none had anything that made them stand out.  Slam continues to frequently take on manly jobs as he solves crimes with Shorty providing comic relief.


In this story, we are told, for the first time, that Slam and Shorty work for the Wide-Awake Detective Agency.  It is never given that name again, though.


The story involves a casino that has its winning patrons robbed on the way home.  Slam is hired by one of the victims, and infiltrates the casino, causing a big ruckus and bringing down the house.



Detective 52 – Batman and the Jade Box, Cliff Crosby and Kay share a hotel, and Steve Malone solves a phony suicide


The cover of Detective 52 (June 1941) does reflect the story inside, a “yellow peril”tale about a jade box.


The centre of the tale is a ring that supposedly belonged to Genghis Khan.  Possession of the ring entitles one to control all the gangs.


As with the earlier Chinatown tale, Batman orders Robin to stay behind, that it is too dangerous, but he tags along anyway and saves Batman’s life.


Kay has been around a while, a sort of platonic girlfriend.  In this issue, we learn her last name, Nevers.  She and Cliff must be having some degree of serious relationship, because they stay at a hotel together.



The only Steve Malone story towards the end of the run that really sticks out for me is this one, in which a yacht crashes onto Long Island Sound with a man hanging from the rafters inside.  The man is never shown, but his shadow is seen, cast on the wall, and we see the facial reactions of the people looking at him.


Aside from that, it’s a pretty standard tale, ending with an entire page of explanations, so I’m not even going to try to summarize.  The explanation takes up 1/6 of the story’s length

Detective 38 – Robin debuts, Spy contends with a lightning gun, Red Logan begins, Steve Malone exposes the Commissioner, and Cliff Crosby finds Arctic Africans


In Detective 38 (April 1940) Bill Finger and Bob Kane introduced one of the most influential characters of the Golden Age, Robin, the Boy Wonder.  Within a year every super-hero had to have a sidekick, and most were cut from largely the same cloth as Robin.


The story begins with young Dick Grayson at the circus, performing as an aerilalist with his parents, John and Mary Grayson.  Dick overhears some gangsters threaten the circus owner, and then watches in horror as his parents fall to their deaths.


Batman then swoops in and takes Dick away with him, informing him that Boss Zucco was the force behind his parents deaths.  We can assume he came to the circus as Bruce Wayne, and saw the accident, because the car he is driving is red.  This is his earlier car, which he likely kept to drive as Bruce, reserving the costume matching car for Batman.  He trains the boy, and there is a scene by candlelight in which he makes the boy swear a vow, similar to the one young Bruce swore.

The similarity in their origins helps make this sequence plausible, without the need for explanations.  It is easy for the reader to see how Bruce viewed the boy, and their connection.


Dick is frequently smiling as Robin in tales from this era, it is clear the boy is having the time of his life, and he functions to a degree on his own in this story, with Batman watching off to the side.


Unlike Bruce, Dick gets to bring his parents’ killer to justice at the end of the story.  Bruce gives him the option of returning to the circus, but it must have been a formality.  It was clear Dick had found a new home, Batman had found a sidekick, and a trend had been born.


With Jerry Siegel still writing the series, Spy stayed largely within the realm of the possible.  The story in this issue pushes it about as far as it will go at this time, with a lightning gun, developed by a mad scientist.


He is another one-shot character, though, and once Bart disposes of him, the lightning gun is never seen again.


Red Logan begins in this issue of in Detective Comics, nearly a year after his series ended in More Fun.  Red is in England, working out of an office in the Daily Mail in London as a foreign correspondent for the Times Courier, still with Ivan as his massive sidekick.


His case involves what appear to be vampire murders, but are actually deaths caused by a mad scientist stealing people’s blood.


Steve gets one of his edgier cases in this issue, as he goes after the man behind the gambling rackets, and discovers that it’s the Police Commissioner.


The art on the series has improved dramatically since it began, but the stories remain short and simple.


Cliff Crosby, now with his friend Dr. Broussard, are abruptly “famous explorers” in this tale, set above the Arctic Circle.  They discover an African tribe there, with a “formula” that allows them to survive the cold.


Cliff makes a deal with Aga, to restore him to what he claims is his “rightful throne,” in exchange for the formula.  Or, to put it another way, an American installs a puppet monarch in exchange for trade goods.


Detective 35 – Batman and the Ruby Idol, Steve Malone gets a new secretary, and Slam Bradley joins the French Foreign Legion


Batman is back on the cover for Detective 35 (Jan 40), but the picture seems to show him fighting the Duc D’Orterre, from the previous story.


Batman clearly has no problem with guns at this point.  Oddly, this story, by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, does not have Batman involved in any big gun fights.


The story all deals with a stolen ruby idol, and a very mysterious murder.  Commissioner Gordon, who has not been in the last few European stories, is back in this one, in a very small role.


The one significant development in this story is the car.  Still not a Batmobile in any sense, this “high powered roadster”  is now blue, matching the highlights in Batman’s costume, personalizing it a bit.


In this issue, Steve Malone gets a secretary, Nancy.  He sends her out as bait for a kidnapping ring, and though she gets freed, we never see her again, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she gave her notice after that.



Jerry Siegel sends Slam off to Africa to hunt down murderers in this issue’s tale.  Slam and Shorty wind up enlisting in the French Foreign Legion in order to find they prey.  One of the men they are hunting winds up being their sergeant, so the usual tale of the brutality of the Foreign Legion gets used as an attempt to kill Slam.


Detective 34 – Batman in Paris, Steve Malone returns, Speed Saunders goes flying, and Slam Bradley gets torpedoed



The looming image of Batman from the first page of the story in Detective 34 (Dec 39) would be merged with the origin story, and reprinted in Batman 1 a few months down the road.


Bruce is still in Paris in this story, which pits him against the Duc D’Orterre, a torturer with an unusually shaped head.  The Duc stole the face of a man whose sister he was interested in.  The man is bandaged, so presumably the Duc flayed him.


Some nicely dynamic action by Bob Kane, and a decent tale by Bill Finer, once again reminiscent of the horror movies of the era.


Steve Malone’s series moves back to Detective after its reboot in Adventure Comics, and he brings his new blond assistant Happy with him.


They break up a protection scam in this story, which, as usual, has no elements of being a district attorney in it whatsoever.


Fred Guardineer’s Speed Saunders story in this issue has the army request Speed’s help after sabotage to their weapons.  We learn in this tale that Speed was “one of the best pilots in France,” which would seem to imply that he is old enough to have fought in World War I.



In this Jerry Siegel story, Slam and Shorty head off on a round-the-world cruise, but war between Tweepon and Luthoria (!) sees their liner get torpedoed by a submarine.


But that’s little problem for Slam, who takes over the submarine himself.


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



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.


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.



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


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.


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!


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


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.


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.


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 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



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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 19 – Inspector Kent begins, wedding bells for Spy, and Steve Malone fights in an airplane



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


Steve Malone


Steve Malone was a crusading district attorney in a long-running series in Detective Comics.  For two issues (38-39, May-June 1939) his series moved into the pages of Adventure Comics.

Neither the art nor the stories are terribly impressive.

His brief run in Adventure Comics did provide Steve with a sidekick, Happy, and assistant DA.  This gives Steve the spare time needed to sly after some killers, dive from the aircraft into the ocean, swim to the boat, climb aboard and capture the bad guys.


After stopping some laconic kidnappers, Steve takes his series back to the pages of Detective Comics, bringing Happy back with him.

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