I've started this thread for issue reviews of comics from the Silver and Bronze Ages that were by published companies other than Marvel and DC. Comics I currently have in mind to write about include issues of Charlton's Blue Beetle (pre-Ditko) and Son of Vulcan, Dell's Brain Boy, Kona and Space Man, Lightning Comics's Fatman the Human Flying Saucer, M.F. Enterprises's Captain Marvel, and Tower Comics's Undersea Agent. Please feel free to contribute your own reviews.
This post displaced The Grant Morrison Thread from the home page.
Mike Shayne Private Eye #1 (Dell, 1961)
("Mike Shayne"): "The Private Practice of Michael Shayne"
A lawyer friend of Shayne's named Larry Kincaid has taken a client called Elliot Thomas. Thomas claims a man called Harry Grange has papers he needs to clear himself. They want Shayne to grab them by force when they offer to pay. Shayne guesses the papers are really incriminating, and angrily refuses the case.
From Kincaid Shayne learns that Grange has been taking Phyllis Brighton to John Marco's casino. He sees her there with Grange, and resolves to get her out of the casino's clutches. He tells Marco if he doesn't return the money she's lost he'll expose his games as rigged. Marco gives him the money.
When he gets back home Shayne gets a call from man claiming to be Grange. The caller says he has to talk to Shayne about Kincaid right away and names a remote location for the meeting. Shayne finds his gun is missing, and the desk tells him Kincaid has been in his room. He knows it's a set-up but goes anyway, and finds Grange's dead body with a woman's handkerchief in his hand, and his own gun by the corpse...
Mike Shayne was created by Davis Dresser, writing as Brett Halliday. Thrilling Detective has an account of the character here.
The Private Practice of Michael Shayne is the second novel in the series, from 1940. The adaption in this issue uses early 1960s fashions.
This is one of those complicated private eye mysteries where the hero has to figure out what's going on and prove it to clear himself. The audience isn't privy to his thinking, and doesn't know what he's up to half the time. The issue doesn't say the story's an adaptation, but it shows in how hard to follow it is.
The series is set around Miami. Will Gentry is Chief of the City of Miami detectives, and normally friendly with Shayne. Tim Rourke is Shayne's reporter friend. Shayne has a hostile relationship with Peter Painter, the Chief of the Miami Beach detectives.
The GCD says the script was by Ken Fitch, and the art by Edd Ashe. Ashe's work here is in a similar vein to George Evans's.
Thrilling Detective informs me Phyllis also appeared in the first novel, and became Shayne's wife after this adventure. She was killed off later in the series. There's not a lot of emphasis on their relationship in the adaptation and I didn't realise she was such a significant character.
The site also has a quote which speaks of the humour of the early books. It isn't evident here, but it did make it into the movies.
Ashe's art has reality, and he draws pretty women well. However, if you're after a comic with exciting action this isn't the one to read. The scene from the cover, also featured in the splash panel, is the story's most exciting moment, and it comes fairly early on.
"A Plot to Murder"
A young woman's twin sister visits her and reveals she's married a rich man under her sister's name. She wants her sister to murder him while she establishes and alibi...
The GCD tentatively attributes the script of this story to Fitch, and attributes the art to Ashe.
The issue also has three one-pagers, on the inside covers and back cover. Their topics are Prohibition, Paradise Square, and determination of the time of death of corpses. The GCD ascribes them to Fitch and Ashe too, but it may be the indexer was merely guessing about their authorship. The depiction of Paradise Square is based on George Catlin's painting of the location.
The text story is called "Denny the Dip". A young pickpocket goes straight and becomes a bookkeeper. Two of his former acquaintances try to force him to help them steal the payroll.
Mike Shayne Private Eye #2 (Dell, 1962)
("Mike Shayne"): "Bodies are Where You Find Them..."
There's an election on, and Shayne is a partisan of one of the candidates, Jim Marsh. A woman contacts Marsh and he sends her to Shayne. By the time she arrives at his office she's nearly unconscious from a drug.
Shayne's office used to be his apartment, and there's still a bed in the back. He places her on it. Phyllis arrives at his office as they're supposed to be leaving for New York. He tells her he can't go and takes her to the train. He returns to his office and finds the woman has been murdered! A call from the lobby tells him Gentry and Rourke are on the way up...
This is an adaptation of the fifth book of the series. The GCD again ascribes the adaptation to Ken Fitch and Edd Ashe. I compared Ashe's art to George Evans's last time, but it also reminds me of Ed Robbins's.
This is another complicated mystery. Shayne's initial theory of the crime is mistaken and the mistake almost lands him in jail. He has to flee, and hide from the police.
This issue Shayne's hair is red on the cover and inside, as it reportedly is in the books. In #1 it was black on the cover and blond inside.
"The Quick Buck"
Synopsis (complete): A firm that manufactures spark plugs finds out a former salesman has been stealing and selling boxes of them. Two patrolmen wait at his place to arrest him, but he escapes, murders one of them, and goes on the run. The police find the body and track him down. He tries to shoot it out and is killed.
This reads like a true crime story, but I don't know if it is. The GCD ascribes the story to Fitch and Ashe.
The issue also has one-pagers on the inside covers. The first is an account of the career of Big Jim Colosimo. The second has an item on the proper way to knock a man out with a gun and a little story about how a detective knew a man supposedly found hanging hadn't really been hanged. The GCD attributes their art to Ashe.
The text story concerns the plan of a drug gang to murder an undercover detective when he enters a bar.
Charlton Premiere #19 (Charlton, 1967), featuring "Marine War Heroes"
This was the first issue. The next one restarted the numbering with #1.
The cover was drawn by Rocco Mastroserio. The image corresponds to the opening of "The Sniper". But it's a tougher image, so my guess is the cover was done first and the story was based on it. On the cover the marines seem to be taking fire from two directions, so perhaps the dialogue was added to link it to the story after the story was done.
"The Darkness of War" opens with a similar situation, albeit with only one soldier, so it may have based on the cover too.
The cover is worth comparing to Two-Fisted Tales #30's. The idea is similar, but the EC cover is many times more powerful.
The issue's stories all have credits, lettered very small, at the bottom of their first pages.
"The Devil Dogs of Chateau Thierry"
WWI in France. Three marines manage to take a German machine-gun position, but have to play dead when the Germans advance. This puts them behind the German lines.
The sergeant reasons their own unit must have dropped back. Since they can't possibly cross the German lines he leads them away from the front, deeper into German territory...
This story was scripted by Joe Gill and drawn by Marcos Adan. According to this page, which Google translated for me, Adan was the Argentinian artist Gustavo Trigo. He drew in a realistic style that reminds me of some Filipino artists'.
The opening sequence depicts combat as grim and gritty. The second half has the plot of a Sgt. Fury adventure, but thanks to the art the feeling of reality carries all the way through.
Joe Gill's work was often terrible, but I don't have a problem with his writing here.
"What Makes a Marine?"
This is a one-pager about how tough marines are, half of which consists of a recreation of the famous flag raising photo. It lacks substance. The script was by Gill, the art by Charles Nicholas and Vince Alascia.
WWII in the Pacific. A Japanese unit attempts to seize the supplies at a small hospital. The nurse and patients fight back.
This is a tepid story. Its gimmick is the nurse and soldiers fight the Japanese with stuff available in the hospital. The script was by David Kaler, the art by Nicholas and Alascia.
"The Darkness of War"
WWII in the Pacific. A glancing shot from a sniper leaves Lt Geary blinded. Alone, he tries to make his way back to his unit.
This is another tepid story, and it wastes a good premise, I think. If the hero were shown being ingenious his overcoming of the odds would be more plausible. To be fair, the story's only three pages. The script was by Kaler, the art by Nicholas and Frank McLaughlin.
On the opening page Geary looks ethnically Asian, but in the rest of the story he doesn't, so apparently that's due to sloppy handling of his face and the colouring. Which is a pity, as that would've been a nice touch.
Vietnam. Sam and Joe have been separated from their company. A sniper shoots them, but Sam is only knocked out. The sniper mistakes him for dead. He takes the men's weapons and dog tags, replacing them with number tags.
Sam buries Joe and resolves to find and kill the sniper. He tries rejoin his company, but can't find it. He finds another dead American with a number tag, and buries him too. Then he heads off to find the sniper...
Sam narrates the story in the captions. His personal fight with the sniper reminds me "Corpse on the Imjin!" from Two-Fisted Tales #25. The script was by Willie Franz, and the art by Nicholas and Alascia.
In the text story a journalist from Latin America describes what happened when he went on a patrol boat mission in Vietnam.
This post displaced the thread Randy Jackson reads Blue Devil from the homepage.