Friday, July 01, 2016

Number 1913: Lady Luck on the rocks

In 2012 I posted a Lady Luck story (see the link below today's feature). I offered my opinion why Lady Luck, who had all of the charms a reader could want — looks, brains, money — only lasted five issues in her own comic book. After all, she had been in the Spirit Section for years, and those stories were reprinted in Smash Comics until issue #85. Smash was changed to Lady Luck with issue #86, and continued through issue #90.

Lady Luck had the additional bonus of being drawn by one of Quality Comics’ best artists, Klaus Nordling,* who had also done Pen Miller and the Barker. The Lady Luck stories were cute and funny. They could also strain credulity, as in the panels where Lady Luck, in high heels, bounds across boulders, and even keeps the seams of her stockings straight!

*The Grand Comics Database attributes the art to Fred Schwab, ghosting for Nordling. Looks like Nordling to me, although I don’t know how much he actually may have had to do with the finished artwork.

From Lady Luck #88 (1950):

Just your luck, another Lady Luck! Just click on the thumbnail.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Number 1912: Avenge THIS!

“Avenger,” singular and plural, has been used several times for individual heroes (DC’s Crimson Avenger, ME’s The Avenger, the subject of today’s post), Avengers (British male-female secret agent team for television, and Marvel super team). Avenger is used often enough it seems a bit generic to me. And another thing, what exactly is each Avenger avenging? (That is a rhetorical question. Here is another rhetorical question: does it matter?)

The Avenger from ME was a Code-approved comic. I think it was intended to replace the Ghost Rider, which the publisher knew could not get Code approval in those strictly censorious days of the mid-fifties. ME also published a second hero, Strong Man, who was not as colorful as the red-clad Avenger, but lasted exactly as long, four issues.

The Avenger, first issue drawn by Dick Ayers, subsequent issues drawn by Bob Powell, was an attempt to revive the superhero genre. The Avenger was not “super,” but like Batman was a rich guy who set out to fight evil.. The Avenger was probably a couple of years too early, and then his name was co-opted for the Marvel gang now burning up movie screens worldwide.

From The Avenger #2 (1955):

More Avenger, this time by Dick Ayers. Just click on the thumbnail.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Number 1911: Britain’s most wanted

Charley (or Charlie, or more properly Charles) Peace was a real-life criminal in Victorian England. The Daily Mail has this interesting short article with illustrations about Peace, who was a murderer and all around bounder, villain and miscreant in his day. He was also, as the article is headlined, “...the son of a one-legged lion tamer.” (The effect of his father on his later criminal career can only be guessed at.)

The description of Peace in the splash panel, “England’s worst murderer of the 19th century, and perhaps of all time . . . the acme of evil in all lands, in all times!” is pure hyperbole. When the story was published originally in 1948 there were a lot of war criminals of the late world war whose zeal for mass murder was much more the worst “in all lands, in all times.”

I give credit to Sid Greene, the artist, for doing a good job on the period atmospherics of this ripping yarn from Crime Must Pay the Penalty #3. My scans are from a reprint in issue #36 (1954).

Friday, June 24, 2016

Number 1910: Man (and heel) of Steel

Steel Sterling had a unique twist to the secret identity business...the superhero dressed in a suit and tie and pretended to be his own twin brother. One brother a superhero, the “twin” a private detective, and a heel with women.

I have shown Steel before, and the same things always bug me about the character. He jumped into a vat of molten steel to be come the Man of Steel. Steel was then hardened like steel rather than becoming a steel girder for a skyscraper.

Steel can fly, but has some unique powers: he can magnetize himself to a car so he can follow it (in the days before GPS tracking), and he can also tune into the radio by positioning his tongue to his teeth. Maybe for his amusement he could tune in The Shadow or The Jack Benny Show.

 I showed Steel Sterling’s origin story in 2011, and as a bonus, I am throwing in a story from Zip Comics #11. Just click on the thumbnails.