Monday, December 10, 2018

Number 2271: Babyface Nelson: live fast, die young

George “Babyface” Nelson (born Lester Gillis, 1908, died November, 1934), was one of the early 1930’s “cowboys in cars,” driving from town to town robbing banks and killing some innocent folks along the way. It wasn’t called the lawless era for nothing, and antisocial psychos like Nelson helped the nascent Federal Bureau of Investigation become the foundation for today’s FBI.

Jack Kirby drew this version of Nelson’s death, which leaves out some key characters; his wife, for one. The story was just one of a whole comic book full of crime and true-life crooks whose stories are told with artistic license. My mother, at the age of 13, with my grandmother, attended the funeral of Samuel Cowley, FBI agent. Cowley was one of the two FBI men who shot it out with Nelson; Cowley and his partner, Herman Ellis, were both killed by Nelson, although Cowley lived for a time in the hospital before dying from his wounds. Nelson died soon after escaping the scene. He was wrapped in an Indian blanket by his wife and left outdoors by a church, where his body was discovered.

This shortened, action-packed drama of Nelson’s last days, appeared in Headline Comics #23 (1947).


Brian Barnes said...

Is it so necessary to stack the deck? The story is fine, but it would be better if Nelson was "tough" all the way to the end, instead of jumping at shadows constantly. Sometimes, a story is only as good as it's villain.

I like this early Kirby work but the inking wasn't doing him a lot of favors.

Pappy said...

Brian, having Nelson paranoid about the police could be a nod to those who criticized crime comics, saying to them that kids would get a lesson from the story that when sought by the law no criminal can get any rest.

Nelson was a murderous psychopath, and I don't know how afraid he was of cops in real life.

Mark Mayerson said...

The word balloon on page 2 panel 2 is should be pointing at Case, not Nelson.