I've started a thread on Golden Age comics before. My idea was to review runs or portions of runs, but that turned out to be difficult to do; Golden Age features sometimes changed direction in significant ways, so to get a full overview of a long-running feature one has to read a lot of stories. The result was I ended up only reviewing short-running series or one-shots.

 

So I thought I'd start a thread for reviews of individual issues instead. I mean to review comics from the 50s as well as the 30s and 40s. Please feel free to contribute your own reviews.

 

I've included the transition era in the scope of the thread so there need be no debate over when exactly the Golden Age ended. Any pre-Silver Age title is fair game. DC's Silver Age is usually regarded as starting with the Silver Age Flash's debut in Showcase #4, which went on sale in July 1956. The analogous event at Marvel was the appearance of Fantastic Four #1 in August 1961.

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Danny Blaze #1 (Charlton, 1955)

This was a title about a fireman that ran two issues. This issue has three stories featuring the character.

The writing and art style remind me of newspaper strips. It wouldn't surprise me if the content came from an unsold newspaper strip proposal. The art is in a cartoony style which I think shows a Caniff influence. It's clumsy in parts, but good in others. The first story starts well, with a slowly developing crisis.

The GCD credits the cover to Maurice Whitman. I think that's a mistake. It seems to be by the same artist who drew the stories.

"Danny Blaze": "Fire at Sea"

A fire starts in a cargo ship as it heads out to sea.

"Danny Blaze": "Hot Ice"

A fire is started when two thieves fall out during a robbery. (The fire is dubiously caused by spilled acid.)

"Danny Blaze": "Panic!"

Danny takes his girl to the movies and smells a fire. Danny has to get the audience out without causing a panic.

The issue also contains a safety item called "13 Ways Not to Burn Your Home!", and a fill-in-the-missing- word puzzle page with a safety theme.

It also has 2 comedic "Nero" pages. These are about a boy who plays at being a fireman. The GCD calls the feature a "Charles Schultz Peanuts imitation". I can see Schultz's influence in the style.

In the text story a fallen iron causes a fire.

Danny Blaze #2 (Charlton, 1955)

The stories in this issue seem to be by the same artist as last time. I thought the art more consistent. The stories still have a newspaper strip style, but it's most in evidence in the first story, where there are wordless panels, quick switches between characters, and narrative gaps.

The third story is a realistic depiction of fighting a big fire. The firemen anticipate a back-draught, we're shown how they deal with it, and they don oxygen masks because it's a smoldering fire and there's likely to be carbon monoxide.

Another fireman called Whitey Grimes appears in all three stories. He's Blaze's pal, and used for comic relief. He appeared in the stories in the first issue but I didn't register he was a recurring character.

"Danny Blaze": "Lions on the Loose!"

Danny attends a vaudeville show with a lion tamer act. The lions get away and one starts a fire.

"Danny Blaze": "Mad Inventor"

At a house fire Danny and Whitey find fire extinguishers loaded with kerosene.

"Danny Blaze": "Back Draught!"

The firemen attend a big fire at a fur storage place.

The issue also has two fire safety pages on oil stove safety.

Finally, there are four more "Nero" pages; only this time the feature name is "'Lil' Nero".

Crime and Justice #17 (Charlton, 1954)

The cover of this issue was drawn by Dick Giordano and Vince Alascia. It's based on p.4 panel 8 of the "Mr. and Mrs. Chase" story, but doesn't depict either of the Chases.

The GCD credits the editing to Al Fago on the basis of a "Designed by Al Fago Studios" statement in the indicia.

("Mr. and Mrs. Chase"): "The Matto Grosso"

Curtis and Merry take seats on a plane that crosses the Matto Grosso. During the flight a thug who is also on board becomes convinced that the case a professor is carrying must contain valuables. The professor panics and falls out the emergency door. (It's a propeller-driven plane and not pressurised.) The thug shoots the co-pilot and forces the pilot to attempt to land in a clearing...

This was a regular feature about a crime-solving couple. Curtis Chase was a novelist, Merry Chase was his equal partner in adventure. The GCD records the feature as having run from #5-#21. It was often cover-featured. A similar feature called "Bert and Sue" appeared in Ace's Super-Mystery Comics.

The instalment doesn't have a feature logo, but others in the series were labelled "A Mr. and Mrs. Chase Novelette" or had a cameo image of the couple on their splashes labelled "Mr. and Mrs. Chase". The phrase was also used in the introductions. This instalment's calls it "another leg of a Mr. + Mrs. Chase trip into adventure, suspense and murder".

The phrase recalls the titles of the radio and TV series Mr. and Mrs. North, based on books by Frances and Richard Lockridge. But the Chases aren't closely based on the Norths. They're more like Nick and Nora Charles, but younger than their movie versions.

This instalment is a thriller rather than a mystery. It's a sequel to the previous instalment, in which the Chases go on a cruise on a small ship.

Merry sometimes got involved in the action, and in this instalment she's the one who captures the final villain, a woman. Curt is shot, non-fatally, when he attempts to tackle the first villain, and doesn't contribute to the outcome.

The art is signed by Lou Morales. He does a particularly nice job on p.2, which depicts the Chases' journey from Chile to Bolivia:

"Radio Patrol": "The Case of the Careless Junkman"

Tex and Barry accidentally discover a store is a front for a gambling ring. The ring is somehow getting race results before the "legit wire services". Some weeks later the pair intervene in a mob hit. The target is fatally shot, but before he dies he provides an enigmatic clue: "Watch the junk... the junk...".

This is a patrol car story. It's more violent than I'm used to such stories being - Barry uses a machine gun against the gang at the climax - but avoids bloody imagery. 

The art is signed by Stan Campbell. Apart from the violence it's like a lesser DC story.

"No Way Out!"

A cashier plans to rob his firm after hours. The nightwatchman interrupts him. They fight...

This is a crime-does-not-pay story.

The GCD attributes the art to Dick Ayers. It's not signed, but his style is distinctive.

"Interrupted Takeoff!"

A man with an air cargo business lands a customer he needs. His wife is having an affair with his friend, and he arrives home early and discovers this...

This is another crime-does-not-pay story. The husband's discovery of his wife's infidelity is handled well, but the killer's exposure at the end isn't set up properly.

The art is again signed by Stan Campbell. (My hat-tip to the GCD for pointing this out.) It's quite good in parts, such as p.3 panel 4, weaker in others, as on the final page.

"Two Fisted Cop"

A policeman is suspended for unnecessary violence during an arrest. He stops at a bar. While he's there two men hold the place up...

This three pager is unsigned, and the GCD doesn't have an identification of the artist. I think it's Stan Campbell again. If so it's his best art in the issue.

In the text story a woman nags her husband into murdering his uncle for his business.

Luke,

I took a look at Danny Blaze over at Comic Book Plus.  I agree, #2 does look much better.  Along with the GCD it was suggested that the interior art was by Manny Stallman.  I can see it as a possibility, but I'd like to suggest Bill Molno instead -- many of the faces seem to be elongated, which I associate with Molno.  What do you think?

"Two Fisted Cop"

Are there many cops that have more or less than two fists, do you think?  

Maybe they could a sci-fi story, "Zortz Glortnorr, Three-Fisted cop!"

Dave Palmer said:

Luke,

I took a look at Danny Blaze over at Comic Book Plus.  I agree, #2 does look much better.  Along with the GCD it was suggested that the interior art was by Manny Stallman.  I can see it as a possibility, but I'd like to suggest Bill Molno instead -- many of the faces seem to be elongated, which I associate with Molno.  What do you think?

I'm not very familiar with Stallman. I know him as the artist of "The Tapping Doom" from Black Cat #31. Having checked a few things, I'd say he can't have been the Danny Blaze guy. He was too good an artist by the title's time and used a clear style.

There are shifts in style between different parts of the stories, which can be a sign of more than one artist's having contributed, or swiping. Blaze is drawn in a cartoony style. The ship from #1 "Fire at Sea" is drawn realistically p.4 panel 5, and Zorina from #2 "Lions on the Loose!" is drawn in a sophisticated style p.7 panel 3. The shots showing Zorina in the smoke p.7 panels 5-6 and p.8 panel 3 are also drawn well. Conversely #1 "Hot Ice" p.2 is drawn crudely.

I've never learned to recognise Molno's work. Here are some comparisons. It looks to me like you're right to identify the penciller (or main penciller) as Molno. Possibly he worked with someone. Possibly the stories had a heavy inker, presumably always the same since there's a consistency of style between the stories despite their shifts.

"Interplanetary Safari!", Space Adventures #11; pencils by Bill Molno, inks by Dick Giordano

  • -the story is signed "Joe Shuster + Dick Giordano", but Martin O'Hearn holds Molno ghosted for Shuster

"Fire at Sea", Danny Blaze #1

"The Death Watch!", Crime and Justice #19; pencils by Bill Molno, inks by Ray Osrin

  • the story's opening page was used for the cover, and the cover version is signed "Joe Shuster Ray Osrin"

"Interplanetary Safari!", Space Adventures #11; pencils by Bill Molno, inks by Dick Giordano

"Fire at Sea", Danny Blaze #1

"Colossus from the Skies", Space Adventures #32; the GCD's assessment is pencils by Bill Molno, inks by Rocco Mastroserio

"The Death Watch!", Crime and Justice #19; pencils by Bill Molno, inks by Ray Osrin

"Fire at Sea", Danny Blaze #1

"Fire at Sea", Danny Blaze #1

"Lions on the Loose!", Danny Blaze #2

"The Captive World", Space Adventures #33; the GCD's assessment is pencils and inks by Bill Molno

"They Made a Man", Fightin' Five #29; the GCD's assessment is pencils by Bill Molno, inks perhaps by Molno

"Lions on the Loose!", Danny Blaze #1

"The Congressional Medal of Honor", Attack #55; the GCD's assessment (from Nick Caputo) is pencils by Bill Molno, inks by Sal Trapani

"Fellow Americans", Attack (second series) #2; the GCD's assessment is pencils by Bill Molno, inks possibly by Molno

The Baron said:

"Two Fisted Cop"

Are there many cops that have more or less than two fists, do you think?  

Maybe they could a sci-fi story, "Zortz Glortnorr, Three-Fisted cop!"

From that panel the girl the guy plans to go see could be the bald guy in the second panel!

For a Night of Love (Avon, 1951)

This is a collection of four adaptations of stories by Émile Zola, plus a single one-page adaptation. The main stories are all love stories, but of different kinds. The one pager is a semi-ghost story.

Each of the main stories is drawn by a different artist, but they use a similar styles. The art is clear and attractive, a little stiff. The stories are like Classics Illustrated adaptations from that title's better period.

The issue opens with an inside front cover contents page listing the longer stories. The illustrations aren't from the stories and were apparently drawn by each story's artist. 

"For a Night of Love"

An ugly man becomes obsessed with the woman who has moved in next door, who he watches through her window. He learns his fellow-worker Colombel is her lover. When he attempts to call on her she spurns him, and afterwards keeps her shutters closed. But a month later she opens them and beckons to him to visit. She promises him her love, if he will do one thing for her...

This is an adaptation of Zola's "Pour une nuit d'amour". The tale is a tragedy about a lonely man.

The adaptation is the most risqué of the issue's stories. The splash shows Thérèse disrobing for sex. When she invites Julien to her apartment she has on a very light, low, dress, and when he agrees to her proposal she gets him to start necking with her.

The art is signed by Louis Ravelli. It reminds me of George Evans.

"The Miller's Daughter"

The daughter of a rich miller becomes engaged to a Belgian man. As the wedding approaches the Franco-Prussian War begins. The French establish a position in the mill to cover a retreat, and the miller and the young people assist them in defending it...

This is from Zola's "L'Attaque du moulin". The tale is a straight patriotic story.

The art is by Rafael Astarita. He's an artist I hope to see really good stuff from. His work here is solid but doesn't stand out. The story's end is unsatisfactory, but blame Zola or his editor for that.

"The Loves for Felice"

Jacques Damour is a metal engraver with a wife and two children. He and his young son join the Communards during the Paris Commune. His son is killed. Damour is arrested and sent to the West Indies. He escapes, but can't return to France until the amnesty. When he returns he can't find his wife and daughter...

 

This is from Zola's "Jacques Damour". It's belongs to the type of story that's tragic in its middle but has a semi-happy ending.

The story isn't signed, and the GCD doesn't have an identification of the artist. It was not Ravelli, Astarita or Sitton, as this artist's work is woodcut-ish in places, particularly in the handling of Felice's face and hair.

"The Desperate Woman of Paris"

Nantas came to Paris to conquer it, but he has not been successful. He's at the end of his rope. A woman comes to him with a proposition. The daughter of a baron has become pregnant to a married man. She needs a man she can present to her father as the father, and marry. Her agent has chosen him as he's poor and that will make the liaison seem romantic. Nantes sees this will give him his chance, and accepts...

This is from Zola's "Nantas". The adaptation is bungled because the story omits the reflections on strength that provide context for its twist ending.

The story is signed by Marion Sitton. Her art here resembles Ravelli's on the first story.

"Angeline"

This is the one-pager. It adapts Zola's "Angeline ou la maison hantée", and reads like a one-pager from a not-too-scary horror comic.

I think the artist was the artist of the "The Loves for Felice", as it has a bit of that woodcut look: note the heavy outlining of the woman's hair panel 3. Panel 6 looks like Kurt Schaffenberger but the rest of the page doesn't.

The back page has promotion offering seven mystery novels for $1. The books are Mischief by Charlotte Armstrong, Cat of Many Tales by Ellery Queen, In the Best Families by Rex Stout, The Case of the Cautious Coquette by Erle Stanley Gardner, Crooked House by Agatha Christie, The Beckoning Door by Mabel Seeley, and The Dishonest Murderer by Frances and Richard Lockridge.

The first version of this post displaced the thread Comic Thoughts for the week of 5/24/2017 from the homepage.

Police Comics #1 (Quality, 1941)

This issue has nine main stories and two one-page comedy features.

The majority of the adventure stories are drawn in the Lou Fine/early Will Eisner style. I don't know which of the two men originated it, so I'll refer to it as the Fine style to distinguish it from the later Eisner look. The other adventure stories don't look all that different as they also use a lot of panels per page, mostly keep the characters in the middle distance, and are coloured the same way.

The cover shows Firebrand beating up Axis soldiers, and was drawn by Gill Fox. In his story he fights gangsters. The lead gangster turns out to be a fake refugee, but he's not said to be a spy.

"The Firebrand"

Firebrand is playboy Rod Reilly. As Firebrand he works outside the law, and is wanted for the police. He is assisted in his crime-fighting by his manservant/chauffeur Slugger, an ex-prizefighter. He leaves a burning brand as his calling-card.

The instalment starts off as a story about a protection racket and becomes a story about diamond smuggling. The gang is casually murderous. Reilly is already Firebrand when the story commences.

The story is bylined for its artist, Reed Crandall. He used the Fine style, and I don't know it would be easy to guess it was him if the story wasn't bylined. The GCD ascribes the script to S. M. Iger.

I've posted this story's splash and the splash of the debut "Pat Patriot" story from Daredevil Comics #2 below. I don't think the similarity is a coincidence. According to DC Indexes the issues came out the same month. The GCD ascribes the art of the "Pat Patriot" story to Frank Borth.

"711"

As the story opens Jake Horn is about to be sent to jail. He convinces his friend Daniel Dyce to pose as him and take the rap because his wife is about to have a baby. Horn swears he'll confess when the child is born, but he's killed by a hit and run driver on the way to see him.

Dyce completes an escape tunnel, but decides to stay in the prison as by then he's forgotten outside. We later see he can get around inside the prison as well. He fights crime outside the prison as 711 using information he gathers inside it.

As 711 the hero wears a purple costume with a green cape. His fedora hides his identity by casting a shadow over his eyes. His costume includes gloves. He's supposed to be pulling them on in the splash panel, but the colourist didn't get this.

711 is Dyce's convict-number. His costume has the number on its back.

The story is bylined for George Brenner, and the GCD takes him to have been the writer/artist. His art here is decent work in the Fine style.

The writing doesn't succeed in selling the premise - couldn't he live in a graveyard instead? - but the splash panel is cool: the feature-title is worked in the art, and its image of 711 makes him look mysterious.

"Super Snooper"

This is the first of the one-pagers. It's about a detective - whether police or private I don't know - and has pleasing bigfoot art the GCD attributes to Fox. Snooper is investigating a scientist. The scientist attempts to kill him with a carnivorous plant.

"Eagle Evans: Flier of Fortune"

Evans and Smith photograph a German armoured car force in the desert city of Cyranis, but the British general arrests them for breaking Britain's neutrality treaty with its chieftain. Evans and Smith escape. They contact a local prince Evan knows from WWI and Evens leads his forces against the German one.

Evans is a pilot. Snap Smith is a photographer, and his partner in adventure. The story is set in the Middle East or North Africa. Evans and Smith seem to be flying reconnaissance for the British at the start, but it's not clear.

The GCD ascribes the art to Witmer Williams. It's in the Fine style. A former indexer also took Williams to be the writer, but Craig Delich notes Jerry Bails's Who's Who doesn't list him as having written.

A lot of the pages in the issue have 9 panels. Those from "The Human Bomb" are mostly 11 or 12. This story's are mostly 9-11, but p.6 has a whole 15.

"Chic Carter"

Curtis Randall lives in a castle he had brought from Europe, and has a suit of armour which belonged to a baron who was his ancestor. He calls his family together and reveals he's changing his will so none of them will receive anything. When he retires to his study the armour comes to life, and strikes him down!

The title character is a reporter, but he has a second identity as a superhero called the Sword. His costume consists of red trousers, a tight yellow top and yellow gloves, and a black domino mask. His weapon is a foil.

To my surprise this was his second appearance. His first was in Smash Comics #26.

The art of this story is partly Fine-ish, but it also shows the influence of Eisner's later style, which he was using by this point in The Spirit.

The story has no byline. The GCD ascribes the writing and art to Vernon Henkel, and says he created the character.

"Plastic Man"

During a getaway from a robbery at a chemical works Eel O'Brien is shot in the shoulder and doused with acid. The gang leaves him behind, but he gets away and falls unconscious. He wakes up in a hermitage. The monk explains he saved him from the police as he thinks there's good in him. O'Brien starts seeing things differently. As he reflects he stretches his arms, and finds he now can stretch like a rubber band!

The story was written and drawn by Jack Cole. His later style had not fully emerged, but you can see it's him. The story has an underlying humour, but it's played straight on the surface. Plas pulls his first disguise-surprise stunt when he flattens himself like a rug.

Plastic Man's origin shares common elements with the Spirit's. In this story he seems to mean to continue being Eel O'Brien so he can mix with the underworld.

"Steele Kerrigan"

Kerrigan was sent to prison when 17 for acting as a the lookout of a gang, although he was tricked into it. He's released early for saving the warden's life during a riot. When he meets his girl, Anne, after his release the two find a wounded police officer. Kerrigan spots where the crooks have broken into a bank. He activates an alarm and calls the police, but is stunned by a nitro blast. The police find him at the scene and arrest him. Meanwhile Anne is kidnapped by the gang...

Kerrigan is a very grounded young man with good values who wears a bow tie. He's had bad luck but doesn't believe in being bitter about it.

This story is bylined to artist Al Bryant. It's another drawn in the Fine style. The GCD doesn't have a guess as to the writer.

"The Mouthpiece"

DA Bill Perkins also fights crime as the Mouthpiece. In this identity he wears a suit, hat and mask, like the Spirit or Midnight. All he does to switch identities is take off his hat and mask.

This story pits him against a gang smuggling in refugees from Europe. The gang chains the refugees as they get close to shore, and if a patrol boat approaches throws them overboard.

The story was drawn and presumably written by Fred Guardineer. It's in his usual naïve style. I've learned to appreciate his work and like seeing it. This story has Jack Cole-like grimness and violence.

"Phantom Lady"

Sandra and Senator Knight attend the demonstration of a new explosive. A plane strafes and then bombs the field as part of a plot to kidnap the inventor. Sandra has an idea as to where he may have been taken and switches to the Phantom Lady to investigate.

Like Firebrand, Phantom Lady is already a superhero when the story starts. Her costume is a one-piece yellow bathing suit with a red belt and a green cape. I suppose when she's not using her blackout ray she must attach it to her belt, but the artist doesn't show this.

Her car is equipped with blackout ray lights at both ends. I've not seen that before, and it's the story's best touch.

The story has scenes where she confronts the villains, but she doesn't fight them physically. They die at the end through their own blundering.

The tale is bylined to artist Arthur Peddy. His work here isn't as Fine-ish as some of the others', but it's probably meant to be in that style. The GCD doesn't know the writer.

"Dewey Drip"

Drip is a young hillbilly. He receives a draft notice.

This is the other one-pager. I take it the subsequent instalments were about Drip's adventures in the army, but this one is wholly a Li'l Abner imitation. It's a lively one-pager, drawn in a pleasing Li'l Abner-ish style.

The story is signed by John Devlin, and the GCD tentatively attributes him with the writing as well as the art. 

Some publishers' humorous one-pagers were awful, but the ones in this issue you could look forward to seeing.

"The Human Bomb"

Roy Lincoln and his father have been working on a super-explosive. Some thugs enter their lab and demand it. The older Lincoln grabs a gun, and is shot dead. Roy fights the men, and swallows the capsule so they won't get it. His whole body glows, and the glow then concentrates in his hands. One of the thugs tries to shoot him, but when the bullets touch him, they explode!

In this story Roy only seems to explode things when he punches them, but we also see his power makes him immune to bullets. He straight-out murders the head of the spy ring at the end.

The story is bylined "Paul Carroll", but it was actually written and drawn by Paul Gustavson. Like a lot of his art, his work here is in the Fine style.

The text story is a murder mystery called "Vengeance" by Robert M. Hyatt. It features a continuing detective character called Dick Mace. We're not supposed to see him as a bungler, but he only solves the case after the whole family targeted by the murderer is deadI thought the murders were going to turn out to be the work of Grancourt himself.

Firebrand was supposed to be the star of Police Comics but only lasted thirteen issues. Ironically it's the reformed criminal Plastic Man who grabs the lead feature.

Phantom Lady and the Human Bomb, of course, become members of the Freedom Fighters, followed by Firebrand.

711 always intrigued since I first read about him in Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Superheroes. I won't spoi; why he was different.

You just caused me to dig out my Rovin to read about 711 -- and I agree, that's quite a gimmick!

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