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10 Greatest Failed U.S. Auto Companies: A Popular Mechanics article. 

 

This post displaced the thread "Interview with Anthony Head, 'King Uther' in SyFy's 'Merlin'" from the Sneak Peaks forum from the front page.

"The mad magician, Mordu"? He even looks like a lot like the LSH foe Mordru, but that arguably could be a coincidence (robes and a beard are standard for magicians, purple a common colour for villains). Still, I found the similarity of the characters interesting.

 

(Some of the other stories at the linked blog are still under copyright. I believe one should avoid reading online stories that aren't in the public domain when they haven't been placed online by the holder.)

The Need for Speed: A Timeline of Notable Land Speed Records: another Popular Mechanics picture article.

Try to find good old-fashioned, non-flavored Ovaltine in the supermarket, I dare ya. They still make it (it's called "classic" now), but nobody carries it. You'll be able to find chocolate, sure, and chocolate malt, but no regular (i.e., "classic") Ovaltine. Sure, I could find it online or ask my grocery store to special order it for me, but what kind of country do we live in in which regular Ovaltine is no longer readily available? *SIGH*

I'm reading the Captain Marvel story in America's Greatest Comics #1, 1941. There's a bit where Captain Marvel foils an attempt by two crooks to kidnap Mr Morris and Billy. The crooks are then murdered by the story's villain, the Ghost; Crook: "No! No! Give us another chance!" Ghost: "You have failed - I hate failures - there is no other chance!" I'm amazed to learn that that trope goes back that far.

 

The issue had an all-superhero line-up of main features. The other featured heroes are Bulletman, Minute Man, Spy Smasher, and Mister Scarlet.

 

Of these, only the Captain Marvel story was drawn in a cartoony style. The others all have a "realistic with heavy, moody shadows" look. The art on the "Minute Man" and "Mister Scarlet" stories imitates the Simon and Kirby style. This was common in the Golden Age (e.g. Irv Novick and Paul Reinman imitated the S&K style in many of their stories for MLJ). The "Minute Man" and "Mister Scarlet" stories also imitate the horror element from S&K's Captain America.

 

The "Bulletman" story was drawn by Mac Raboy (this was before Captain Marvel, Jr's introduction), and features an invisible villain. Raboy uses some interesting special effects to depict him appearing and disappearing. Bulletman defeats him in an illogical way.

 

The GCD credits the art on the "Minute Man" story to series regular Phil Bard. Although it's basically an action story with horror elements, I found this one surprisingly enjoyable, due to some interesting characterisation. Minute Man has a close relationship with General Milton, who knows his true identity. There's also an entertaining sequence with a character called Grouchy Mike who is bad-tempered but shows his mettle when the villain shows up. The story's villain, Mr Skeleton, reminded me of Hillman's the Claw due to his giant size. Like the early Captain America, Minute Man was a private in his other identity.

 

"Mister Scarlet" was co-created by Kirby, although according to the GCD he only did the first episode. The GCD tentatively attributes the art on this story to Don Rico. In the story a number of Scarlet's previous opponents team up under the leadership of a new villain. The villains are colourful and outré, but the story is less interesting than the above.

 

Mister Scarlet was probably intended as a Batman-like hero. I hadn't realised this, but since Minute Man obviously imitates "Captain America", and "Captain Marvel" was modelled after "Superman", there was a fair bit of imitation of others' heroes going on at Fawcett early on. As far as I can tell, however, Bulletman's girlfriend appeared as Bulletgirl before Hawkman's became Hawkgirl.

 

The "Spy Smasher" story is the issue's most crudely-told. It features a recurring Nazi villain called America-Smasher, who is a pudgy little guy with with a monocle who wears a military uniform and mailed gauntlets with built-in knuckledusters. Apparently, his first couple of appearances appeared out-of-order; this story, which the GCD says was his first, is written as his return, while his appearance in Spy Smasher #2, which came out the next month,(1) was written as his introduction.

 

The minor items in the issue include a two-page "Chubby" story, which the GCD says was by Tom McNamara. This is about boys getting up to mischief and has a not-bad central idea.

 

(1) According to Mike's Amazing World of Comics

On the cover the line-up of heroes from the issue charges into the camera, with Captain Marvel in the lead. According to Mike's World of Comics Daring Mystery Comics #8, which also employed this design, appeared on the stands not quite two weeks earlier. Action Comics #52, which did the same, appeared over half a year later. The Daring Mystery cover was pencilled by Jack Kirby, the America's Greatest one by Mac Raboy, and the Action one by Fred Ray.

Bulletman defeats him in an illogical way.

Luke: I know what you mean, and I love your posts, but that's still the funniest thing I've read all day.

It's my pleasure to give you joy, Doc. Thanks for the kind words. Bulletman (Spoiler Warning) figures out his foe makes himself invisible by bending light rays, so he makes him visible again by getting rid of the light. ("But I have another ace BULLETMAN-- A LOADED GUN!" "That gun means nothing compared to my loaded FIST!")

 

I made an error: the Claw wasn't Hillman, but Gleason.

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