Friday, June 10, 2016

Number 1904: Black Cat’s “skunk hunt”

Three Nazi saboteurs disguise themselves as American GIs in order to kidnap some Hollywood stars and ruin the soldiers’ morale. Eh? That seems like a plan that is bound to fail, and it does (sorry for telling). Movie star Linda Turner is actually Black Cat, and when it comes to kicking Axis ass she is nonpareil.

According to the splash panel, this was “written, drawn and directed” by Al Gabriele, an artist from the Simon and Kirby school of superheroics. Not much is known about Gabriele, but he did artwork in the comics up until 1949, at least. He has a link to the Black Cat. He drew her first story in Pocket Comics #1 (1941).

This story is from Speed Comics #29 (1943).

Black Cat surrendered her title to a horror anthology, and this is her last story under her own title. Just click on the thumbnail.


Daniel [] said...

Well, Rick is being played for a bigger fool than he actually is, and that's a bit off-putting. (As is the Cat's response, in the splash panel, to his apparently being thrown to his death.)

And I don't know why the Nazis didn't kill the soldiers whose uniforms they stole, nor how the aforementioned Nazis escaped detection once their attack were reported. (Most of the soldiers would be in large networks of acquaintance, from previous training or assignments. Those soldiers who were not in a large network could be subjected to special scrutiny.)

The final wrap-up is entirely too rushed.

And how does Rick manage not to lose his hat to the sea in all this?

I definitely see what looks like the influence of Simon & Kirby at various points, but this work is generally lighter, tighter, and cleaner than what I would expect from them.

Brian Barnes said...

Comics ... ah comics. I know, "suspend your disbelief" but the fact that nobody can tell a statuesque woman with flaming piles of red hair that always disappears right when the Black Cat shows up (and boy can she change costumes FAST) just might, I don't know, be exactly the same woman, is hard to swallow.

This is VERY 40s art and it looks A LOT like Simon. I could be easily convinced this was some wacky ink job on early Simon.

If the physics of catching a falling man (who probably weights a good 50-100 lbs more than you) while holding onto a rope ladder were portrayed right, this would have been the first Black Cat horror story :)

Pappy said...

Brian, maybe Linda used those muscles with which she caught the falling man for rapid undressing and re-dressing as Black Cat. She definitely has the change tecnnique down.

After her Hollywood stardom begins to descend, perhaps she could come back with a career as the world's fastest ecdysiast!

Pappy said...

Daniel, we can imagine that despite Rick's worried worship of Linda ("I thought you were kidnapped -- or something even worse!") Linda is not so devoted to him. After all, she is jealous of Rick's desire for her Black Cat persona. Looks like sessions with a shrink would help Linda sort out this internal dilemma.

Al Gabriele was part of the Simon-Kirby studio. From work attributed to him by the Grand Comics Database, it appears he stayed on at Timely after Simon and Kirby went to DC.

Ryan Anthony said...

You were right, Pappy, when you stated that little is known about Al Babriele; Wikipedia isn't even sure if his name was Albert or Alfred, and so they can't tell when he died. He co-created Black Marvel, Miss America, and the Whizzer, and his work can be confirmed as running to 1949. But that's about it.

Regarding this story: the way he's constructed and his behavior in the Black Cat stories show that Rick Horne could have been the star of his own strip--a crusading reporter-cum-sleuth who's always out to rescue a trouble-prone movie star. But he's actually a parody of that type of character; "Something funny about [Von Runt]. Hmmm. Oh well." And he gives up on an intriguing mystery, just like that.

The scene where Linda changes into Black Cat while her attackers are still in the room almost took me out of the story, until it was shown that she wore the skimpy costume under her dress. Still, how long would she have had to get the dress off, grab her boots and mask and put them on? But that's not even the worst part. I agree with Brian Barnes--Linda disappears from the dressing room, the lights come back on, and there's another stunning redhead whom the thugs are gullible enough to believe is an entirely different woman. Then, later, right in the middle of a crisis, Linda disappears while on board a ship, and Black Cat, whom no one knew was aboard, appears to save the day. This isn't a comic book; it's a comical book.

Wheez Von Klaw said...

Love this guy's clean artwork. Really good. Like a Joe Simon Jr. I'd love to see more, that's for sure.

Darci said...

Jerry Bails' Who's Who gives his first name as Albert. I would expect Jerry would have known.

Pappy said...

Darci, and I agree about Jerry's Who's Who being an authority on such things. Thanks for your input.

KrowTrayllis said...

Hey Pappy, love your blog.
About this Black Cat entry ... there seems to be a page missing from this post? The numbering sequence (at the bottom of each page) jumps from 3 to 5. In fact, the missing page 4 is where you extracted the opening splash graphic for this segment! Just figured I'd give you a heads up.

Pappy said...

Krow, all of those comments above yours, and yet you're the only person (including me!) who noticed a page missing. I have restored it, and thanks for pointing it out.