Posts tagged ‘Tom Brent’

Adventure Comics 32 – Federal Men

Adv_32_Adventure_Comics

With issue 32 (November, 1938), Adventure Comics finally adopts the title it would become famous under.  The covers remained generic, and once again there was no change of content to match the change of title.

This issue contained chapters of the following serials:

Barry O`Neil

Tom Brent

Dale Daring

Captain Desmo

Tod Hunter, Jungle Master

Golden Dragon

Rusty and His Pals

Anchors Aweigh

It also saw the beginning of a 5 part storyline in the Federal Men series.

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Steve gets trapped in a burning house while trying to rescue a fugitive, and though he survives the house’s collapse, he loses his memory.  Discovering a gun in his pocket, he believes himself to be a criminal. He winds up joining the Biff Davis mob, but after stopping Biff from shooting a cop (which results in Davis being shot and killed), he argues to the gang that he did it for their benefit, to prevent them from being pursued as cop killers.  He becomes the new boss of the gang, and leads them on a series of bank robberies in which they use knockout gas to incapacitate the tellers and guards, gaining his crew the nickname the Phantom Gang.  Ralph Ventnor is assigned to the case, as Steve informs the gang of his plans to pull of a $40 million gold robbery.  One of the gang members, Red, gets caught trying to rob a jeweler, and tells Ralph he is part of the Phantom Gang.  He is released to be an informant, but instead tries to set Steve up, plotting to kill Ralph and frame Steve for it, taking over the gang in time to pull off the gold robbery.  Ralph recognizes Steve, and Steve’s memory returns in time to thwart Red’s plan, and the gang gets apprehended.  Great story.

Tom Brent

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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.

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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!

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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).

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