The Seven Soldiers of Victory Archives (Some Spoilage May Occur)

Spoiler space.

Views: 973

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Volume Three:

75)Volume Three starts with a foreword by one Roy Thomas, whom I seem to recall wrote some comics for DC back in the late 70's and early 80's.  The Rascally One focuses manily on his own personal history with the Soldiers, talking about how he first heard of them, and so on. Also, being Roy Thomas, he offers corrections of some of the information given in the forewords from the first two volumes.

76)All of the stories in Volume Three were written by Joe Samachson and illustrated by Arturo Cazeneuve. Skimming through the book, I'm not particularly overwhelmed by Cazeneuve's art - it's a bit rough and inconsistent.

77)Next we see the cover of Leading Comics #9 (Winter 1943-44), drawn by Jon Small.  It shows the other Soldiers cheering on as the Star-Spangled Kid squares off against Mr. X - who looks sort-of like a sinister stage magician.

 

78)Chapter One: The Chameleon of Crime!: We open at a sort of criminal resort up in the mountains, where five criminals (Blackie Kraul, Lazy Dyers, Red Heister Dopo the Dip and a fifth guy who never gets named) are all grousing about their defeats at the hands of the various Legionnaires.  They are approached by Mr. X, who is a notorious master of disguise, and who bets them ten grand each that he can defeat the heroes that stymied them. The crooks take the bet, and the game is on!

 

79)Chapter Two: Mr. X Marks the Spot!: Mr. X challenges the Crimson Avenger by announcing his plan to rob a pawn shop. He manages to trap the Avenger and Wing in a vault, but the Avenger manages to escape using objects in the vault, and foils the robbery. Mr. X escpaes disguised as a homeless man.

 

80)Chapter Three: The X-Ploits of Mr. X!: Mr. X next plots to rob a rodeo, assuming that the Vigilante will be there. It's kind of a big assumption, but it pays off as it just happens to be a rodeo where Greg Saunders is performing. (Do they typicaly have musical acts at rodeos?)  Saunders has progressed to the point where he at least wears different clothes when he's in his "civilian" identity.  X poses as a rodeo worker to steal the box office, but is foiled by the Vigilante. He does manage to escape, however.  The Vigilante has some interesting nicknames, here, including "The Larruping Lariateer" and "The Western Waddy".

 

81)Chapter Four: The House that Couldn't Be Robbed!:  We begin here with Syl and Pat visiting the wealthy Mr. Doremy in his fortress-like home.  Via sky-writing, Mr. X challenges the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy to name a target, and he'll rob it.  Doremy takes it upon himself to offer his home as a target. Mr.X has infiltrated a gang of crooks, and manipulates them into tunneling into the Doremy Estate, while posing as a dimwitted thug.  However, the American Avengers foil the crime, though Mr. X escapes.

 

82)Interlude at Hoodlums' Hideout:  This is a text piece that serves as a prelude to the next chapter. Blackie, nervous that he'll lose his bet, tips off the Shining Knight to Mr. X's next target, unaware that he is doing exactly what Mr. X wants him to do. This is an interesting idea - you don't see text pieces like this in comics much these days. I wil note that Dopo the Dip is called "Dodo the Dip" here.

 

83)Chapter Six: The Gorilla and the Gangster!: In which the Shining Knight battles a gang that commits a train robbery using a gorilla, only to discover that the gorilla was, in fact, Mr X!   I can only assume that this is the dumbest gang in the world, that none of them caught on to the fact that their gorilla wasn't real. As usual, the Knight foils the robbery, but Mr. X escapes.

 

84)Chapter Seven: Inco the Unknown!:  Mr. X poses as a stage magician to gain inside information on rich people to rob. He becomes - incorrectly - convinced that he has figured out Green Arrow's secret identity, but is foiled when the real Amazing Archers arrive on the scene.  Again, however, he manages to escape.

 

85)Chapter Eight: Conclusion:  Using clues they obtained during their various battles, the Legionnaires capture Mr. X, who is disguised as a train conductor. As a bonus, they capture the crooks he was betting with, too. the Vigilante gets another good nickname here, "The Punching Plainsman".

 

Overall:  Another good story, Ithought. Somewhat formulaic, but entertaining. Mr. X strikes me as a good villain to bring back - "Masters of Disguise" are always fun.

 

 

Roy Thomas, whom I seem to recall wrote some comics for DC back in the late 70's and early 80's.

Speaking of which, have you read All-Star Squadron #29, which is Thomas's updating of one of the stories from Leading Comics?

 

I may have- I know I read All-Star Squadron regularly, back in the day. The specific story doesn't strike a chord, however.

I've grown up hearing about how awful and racist it was that Wing wasn't even counted as one of the Soldiers, even though he was as active as the other sidekicks (Speedy and Stripesy), who were counted. And I agree, it should have been the Eight Soldiers of Victory, even if that isn't alliterative. (It's a pretty awful name anyway.)

 

But until this series of reprints, I didn't know that there was briefly a NINTH soldier, another sidekick who wasn't counted -- who was white. Yup, podnuh, I'm talking about Billy Gunn. That drains a little of the racist charge, although I don't doubt for a minute that it was there. (Plus, I imagine Billy replaced "Stuff, the Chinatown Kid" -- Vig's usual sidekick in Action Comics -- because of one two many Chinese sidekicks, which is a little racist, too.)

It could have been worse. They could have counted Winged Victory and not Wing! ;-)
Ouch! Good point!
Now that I think about it, all the Vigilante reprints that I read in the 70s with Stuff had him looking caucasian, though a little creepy in his pseudo-sailor outfit. When he was murdered as an adult in World's Finest, he was Asian again and stayed that way Post-Crisis.
Captain Comics said:

I've grown up hearing about how awful and racist it was that Wing wasn't even counted as one of the Soldiers, even though he was as active as the other sidekicks (Speedy and Stripesy), who were counted. And I agree, it should have been the Eight Soldiers of Victory, even if that isn't alliterative. (It's a pretty awful name anyway.)

 

But until this series of reprints, I didn't know that there was briefly a NINTH soldier, another sidekick who wasn't counted -- who was white. Yup, podnuh, I'm talking about Billy Gunn. That drains a little of the racist charge, although I don't doubt for a minute that it was there. (Plus, I imagine Billy replaced "Stuff, the Chinatown Kid" -- Vig's usual sidekick in Action Comics -- because of one two many Chinese sidekicks, which is a little racist, too.)



It's difficult to be sure that racism was behind the omission of Stuff from the Law's Legionnaires tales in Leading Comics, though I wouldn't rule it out.

 

Making it a bit tougher to be able to definitively go "Aha!" is the fact that Billy Gunn was actually the Vigilante's first sidekick.  Gunn debuted in the second published Vigilante tale, from Action Comics  # 43 (Dec., 1941), and became Vig's saddle pal.  Gunn made only one more appearance in Action Comics, in the following issue---# 44 (Jan., 1942). 

 

In Action Comics # 45 (Feb., 1942), Billy Gunn was gone, without explanation, and Stuff, the Chinatown Kid was introduced, to become Vig's new sidekick.  Stuff would go on to appear in almost all of the stories in the remainder of the Vigilante's run in Action Comics.

 

The curious part is this:  Billy Gunn appeared as the Vigilante's aide in Leading Comics # 1 (Winter, 1941)---that's follows, since the character of Stuff had not yet been introduced---and in Leading Comics # 2 (Spring, 1942)---which might be O.K.; Stuff made his first appearance at roughly the same time, but maybe Leading Comics # 2 had been written slightly before the Vigilante story in Action Comics # 45.

 

But Billy Gunn also appeared in Leading Comics # 3 (Summer, 1942) and # 4 (Fall, 1942)---when, over in Action Comics, Stuff was well established as filling the second seat of Vig's "Vigicycle".  An obvious place to start, in trying to reconcile that discrepancy, is with the writers.

 

Mort Weisinger is credited as writing the two stories with Billy Gunn and the introduction of Stuff, from Action Comics # 43-5.

 

Over at Leading Comics, Weisinger is credited as the writer for the Vigilante segment in #1---again, no discrepancy because the character of Stuff had not yet been introduced.

 

But the writer of the Vigilante chapter in Leading Comics # 2 was Bill Finger.  I was unable to find any writing credit for the Vig chapter in Leading Comics  # 3, but Finger is also credited for the Vig segment in issue # 4---the last one in which Billy Gunn appears as Vig's sidekick.

 

It wouldn't be inapt to assume Finger wrote the Vig chapter in Leading Comics # 3, as well.  If that's the case, then it's possible that Finger wrote the Vig sequences in Leading Comics # 2 and 3 and 4 without having done more than looked at the first couple of Vigilante stories in Action Comics, and thus, didn't know that Billy Gunn had been replaced by Stuff.

 

Again, I'm not saying with defintion that racism didn't have a hand in omitting Stuff from the 7SoV stories, but it's kind of tough to believe that the folks at National would care that much over having two Chinese sidekicks in the same series.  And it's possible that the reason could have been simple writer's ignorance.

 

The stand I'll take is this:  I think it was the 7SoV writer's lack of knowledge about the introduction of Stuff over in Action Comics that led to Billy Gunn appearing in the Vig chapters of Leading Comics # 2-4.  But racism could have had a hand in omitting Stuff from the 7SoV series after that.

 

 

Perhaps a kinder reason was that they didn't want to add another sidekick to the series, unofficially or not. The Nine Soldiers of Victory is just as bad as the Eight! Maybe it would have been easier if they settled on the Law's Legionnaires!

I know that the Shining Knight got a sidekick in Sir Butch but I don't know if he fits in with the 7SV chronologically.

As to the matter of why Wing got the short shrift when it came to official membership in the Law’s Legionnaires, I never really gave it much thought before.  But when I sat down to examine it, I discovered a curious fact that might have some bearing on it.  At least, on why Wing wasn’t included at the start of the series in Leading Comics.

  

We’ve been discussing why Stuff, the Chinatown Kid was also not considered a member.  Or for that matter, Billy Gunn.  Well, for those two, the distinction should be obvious.  Neither Billy Gunn, nor Stuff, were costumed mystery men.  There isn’t any question of whether they should be called “partners” or “sidekicks”.  They were clearly sidekicks to the Vigilante; if they had been slightly less involved in the action, the term “assistant” would be even more applicable to them.

 

But, commander, yells that fellow in the back, Wing wore a costume, just like the Green Arrow’s Speedy and the Star-Spangled Kid’s Stripsey.  So he can’t be lumped in with Billy Gunn and Stuff.

 

Hold on.  I’m getting to that.  But first, I want to point out that, besides not being counted as a “Soldier of Victory”, Wing was given the same treatment in the Leading Comics 7SoV stories as Gunn and Stuff, in that Wing never appeared in the opening chapter or the closing chapter---the two segments of the stories when the entire group appeared together.

  

When the Legionnaires regathered at the end, for the final confrontation with the Big Bad, the Vigilante didn’t bring his sidekick along, and the Crimson Avenger didn’t bring Wing.

  

So the only surface difference between the sidekicks would appear to be the fact that Wing wore a mask and costume.

  

But remember, neither Wing, nor the Crimson Avenger began their mystery-man careers wearing the standard super-hero tights.  I wanted to see how the timing worked out between the time when they donned costumes and when the first issue of Leading Comics was released.

 

The Crimson adopted his skin-tight outfit---and it originally had a cape---in Detective Comics # 44 (Dec., 1940).  Even accounting for lead times and cover-dates pushed forward, that’s too far ahead of the release of Leading Comics # 1 to have an impact.

  

But then I recalled something which most people don’t know---Wing didn’t adopt his costume at the same time that the Crimson did.  For over two years, the Crimson Avenger operated in his super-hero skin-tights while Wing remained in mufti, acting as his chauffeur and general factotum.  In other words, he essentially filled the same rôle as Billy Gunn, and later, Stuff, did for the Vigilante.

  

Wing didn’t adopt his own costume until Detective Comics # 59 (Jan., 1942), in a story written and drawn by Jack Lehti. 

 

Now that ties in very closely with the first issue of Leading Comics, which bore a cover-date of “Winter, 1941”.  Unfortunately, this is also where things get fuzzy.  Detective Comics # 59 and Leading Comics # 1 came out so close together.  What we don’t know is the lead times involved in the individual Crimson Avenger parts of both magazines.  But they would have been in development at about the same time. 

  

Another thing to consider is that Jack Lehti also wrote and drew the Crimson Avenger segment that appeared in Leading Comics # 1.

  

It’s quite probable that during the evolutionary period, when the Law’s Legionnaires series was being conceived, Wing was still functioning as the Crimson’s uncostumed assistant.  That put him in the same class as Billy Gunn and Stuff.  So the Law’s Legionnaires was conceived with seven costumed heroes---the Shining Knight, the Vigilante, the Green Arrow and Speedy, the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, and the Crimson Avenger.  And they’ll do it in the same format as the Justice Society of America, over at All-Star Comics:  one writer and artist will handle the opening and closing segments, when the entire team is together, meanwhile, the chapters with the individual heroes will be done by the writers and artists who usually handle them in their parent magazines.

  

So editor Whitney Ellsworth calls in his stable of talent and orders the first 7SoV story.  Leading Comics # 1 was cover-dated Winter, 1941, so that order probably came down sometime in the fall of 1941.  Right about that same time, Jack Lehti was in the process of, or maybe had completed, his Crimson Avenger tale for Detective Comics # 59.  So, when he was assigned to do the Crimson Avenger portion of Leading Comics # 1, he knew that had just put Wing in a costume and wrote the Crimson Avenger segment to reflect that.

  

That could explain why Wing was originally excluded from being an official Soldier of Victory---at the time Ellsworth came up with the idea, Wing wasn’t a costumed hero.

  

What it doesn’t explain is why Wing continued to be left out of the group after the first couple of issues of Leading Comics.

  

Perhaps by then, they felt locked into the name “Seven Soldiers of Victory”.  Or perhaps they liked the alliteration.  Or perhaps, there was some racist thinking behind it.  I would expect that, if the powers-that-were had that much objection to including an Oriental character, Wing wouldn’t have even appeared in the individual segment.  It’s parsing it a bit thin to discern a racist-based distinction of  “It’s O.K. to have Wing appear in one segment of every story, and on six of the Leading Comics covers, but nooooooooooo, we can’t have him be a member of the group.”

  

But I wasn’t there then.  There might have been some racist thinking involved.  Or they might have been really in love with the name “Seven Soldiers of Victory” and didn’t want to change it.   Or maybe a little of both.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Groups

Latest Activity

The Baron replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"Those remind me of the robots from Undersea Kingdom, that looked like walking water heaters,…"
3 minutes ago
The Baron replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"Mechazawa, the robot that hates technology, literally looks down on Kamiyama."
6 minutes ago
JD DeLuzio replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
12 minutes ago
Peter Wrexham replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
19 minutes ago
Dave Palmer replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"Human looking robots"
1 hour ago
Dave Palmer replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"Was his weakness to wood known to the general public?  If it was something that criminals knew…"
1 hour ago
John Dunbar replied to Commander Benson's discussion Deck Log Entry # 240 An Empty Chair
"Commander, my deepest condolences to you and Cheryl, your family, and Rick's family and…"
13 hours ago
Richard Willis replied to Steve W's discussion Comical Comic Cuts
"(Only happened AFAIK in the Tobey McGuire movies)"
14 hours ago
Richard Willis replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"I looked and looked for a cover with the Golden Age Green Lantern fighting a wooden robot. Came up…"
15 hours ago
Richard Willis replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"so is Flash a puppet or a robot?  A puppet needs a puppet master and strings, a robot is…"
15 hours ago
Steve W replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
15 hours ago
Dave Palmer replied to Commander Benson's discussion Deck Log Entry # 240 An Empty Chair
"My sincerest condolences to you and your family."
15 hours ago

© 2022   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service