Silver Streak Archives Volume Two
Dark Horse Comics
$59.99, color, 282 pgs.
Writers and artists: Various
Collecting Silver Streak Comics #10-13 (May-Aug 41)
I can usually find something interesting in even the worst Golden Age collections, but Silver Streak Volume Two was hard slogging from start to finish.
Volume One was interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was two heroes whose costumes didn’t make any color sense. (Silver Streak had no silver in his outfit, while Daredevil’s blue-and-red harlequin design was sometimes blue and yellow.) And I got a hoot out of the “Pirate Prince” strip for its unintentional homoeroticism; the Prince hated girls like poison and much preferred to hang out with the boys on his ship, wearing his poofy silk shirt unbuttoned down to the navel.
But by this volume the Prince enjoys the company of women, his previous attitude completely forgotten. (Much like Daredevil’s handicap; he was a mute for all of one issue.) And the novelty of the other features has worn off. "Dickie Dare, Boy Inventor," is boring; "Lance Hale" (a Tarzan wannabe in tights and a leopard shirt) is even boring-er; "Cloud Curtis" is just another G-8 knockoff; "Presto Martin’s" quick-change routine belongs in a vaudeville act, not on the police force; "Silver Streak" and "Daredevil" have settled into standard (and deadly dull) Golden Age superhero fare, complete with love interests and sidekicks.
And most of it seems drawn by children. Even the Jack Cole material, which the foreword admits he churned out quickly on his way out the door to Quality Comics (and Plastic Man).
But I still appreciate Golden Age collections for historical value, and Silver Streak is no exception. It appears, for example, that Lev Gleason had high hopes for the patriotic hero Captain Battle, who was cover featured on occasion, was granted his own title with a quickness, appeared in a lot of house ads, had his own fan club (“Captain Battle’s Boys’ Brigade), and even had a spin-off title starring his son, Captain Battle Jr. But the good captain never gained any traction, whereas Daredevil unexpectedly did, pushing out The Claw (the book’s original star) for good with issue #11. And Silver Streak demonstrated a social consciousness uncommon for the era; Pirate Prince specialized in attacking slaver boats and returning the “cargo” to Africa; one "Silver Streak" story dealt with lynching.
I will still follow this series for as long as it runs (and hopefully a Daredevil Archives someday), but I can’t recommend it to anyone but historians, completists, and Golden Age enthusiasts.
I found volume one to be better overall than most GA anthologies, but I haven’t yet cracked volume two. I don’t think Silver Streak and Daredevil are as good as, say, Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch, but the Silver Streak filler material struck me as being better than that of Marvel Mystery Comics. thanks to the reviews I’ve read today, I may move Space Family Robinson up on my list and Silver Streak a little farther down. (I’ve also fallen behind on Crime Does Not Pay.)
You should be able to find the bulk of them at Digital Comic Museum and Comic Book Plus. Some of the post-war "Crimebuster" stories from Boy Comics are similar in approach to the Daredevil Little Wise Guys ones. (At the very end "Crimebuster" became a boarding school strip, "Chuck Chandler".)