Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday's Favorite OTR

Dragnet: "Jade Thumb Rings" 12/8/49

Sgt. Friday is tasked with getting a witness to talk. But when the witness is a six-year-old boy with an over-active imagination, that can be quite a job.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"And the Evil of the Stars is not as the Evil of Earth."

Clark Ashton Smith is often spoken of in the same breath as H.P. Lovecraft. That's because the two were friends--they exchanged letters regularly for 15 years, though I can't for the life of me remember if they ever met in person. They both wrote horror stories often published in Weird Tales, often borrowing place names and and names of hideous Elder Gods from one another. Both presented a world in their fiction that was made frightening by the implication that there are powerful and inhuman beings flitting about the universe and occasionally stopping by Earth to sow a little bit of death and madness. In their worlds, there's a lot of stuff out there we're literally better off not knowing about.

In fact, it's really not hard at all to assume that Smith's and Lovecraft's stories take place in the same universe.Smith's "The Beast of Averoigne," for instance, was published in the May 1933 issue of Weird Tales.  Set in 14th Century France, it involves a creature that first appears on the night a red comet first appears in the sky. The horror "rises to the height of a tall man, and it moved with swaying of a great serpent, and it's members undulated as if boneless." It proves to have a taste for human bone marrow and feeds on a monk at an abbey and a couple of nearby villagers.

Smith, like Lovecraft, is a master of word choice and sentence construction--his Wikipedia entry accurately refers to his vocabulary as "wide and ornate."  There's an archaic feel to his prose--a style that fits his subject matter perfectly.

Smith's unique voice is what makes stories like "The Beast of
Averoigne"--which is essentially a pretty straightforward monster story--so much scary fun to read; the prose draws you back in time and sets you down in a different time and place. This time, we're transported to the side of a sorcerer who is recruited to destroy the beast. Using an ancient ring that contains a demon inside, he discovers that the beast "belonged to a race of stellar devils that had not visited the Earth since the foundering of Atlantis."  He also discovers a way of destroying it, but the act of doing so reveals something even more horrible about its existence here on Earth than was previously suspected.

It is, in fact, almost impossible not to assume the story is set in the same universe as Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" or "The Shadow of Innsmouth." Heck, the Beast could have been of the same race as Cthulhu or other Elder Things--maybe a toddler only a few million years old.

Gee whiz, now the toddlers I care for in my church's nursery don't seem so ill-behaved after all.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Death of a Star

Gold Key had the comic book rights to Star Trek from 1967 (when the show was still airing) until 1978--the rights went to Marvel when the first movie was being produced and poor Gold Key was on its last legs by then anyways.

During those 11 years, they published 61 issues. It was a very mixed bag in terms of quality. Early on, the writers and artists were apparently told very little about the show--something that was apparent on the several occasions when Mr. Spock broke out in laughter (without having been infected by alien spores first). The stories themselves were often very silly, though they were nearly as often still entertaining.

Taken for what it is, Gold Key's Trek stories are fun. And every once in awhile, they'd come up with something really cool.

Star Trek #30 (May 1975) has the Enterprise observing a star that's about to explode. It should be a routine mission, with the starship keeping watch from a safe distance.

But then they pick up life forms on a planet orbiting the sun. This is confusing, because earlier probes had indicated no intelligent life at all.

There's still a day before the sun blows, so Kirk investigates by bringing the Enterprise into orbit around the planet. He, Spock, Uhuru and Nurse Chapel beam down to a jungle environment.

Once there, shenanigans ensue. Lightning strikes herd them through a path that mysteriously opens up through the foliage, bringing them to a pyramid. Inside the pyramid is an old lady who claims to be a sun-god and states she's ready to die. She says her name is Isis--the same as the name of the star.

Ancient underground ruins are soon added to the mix--telepathic history tapes tell Kirk and Spock of the rise and fall of a mighty civilization. But those people died out, so why do their sensors keep telling them there are millions of people on the planet?

The answer is awesome--a plot twist that probably never would have been approved for a TV episode, but that I think works perfectly here. The old lady IS the star, taking on human form to spend its final hours on the planet she had nurtured for millions of years. She declines offers to be "rescued" and zaps the landing party back to the Enterprise before her "life" comes to a very violent end.

The writer is named Alan Moniz, whose credits on the Grand Comic Book Database list him as writer for science fiction titles such as Trek and Mighty Samson. Here he constructs a wonderful tale in which he builds up to the plot twist slowly, steadily introducing elements that make it "believable." Alberto Giolitti's striking art work gives the whole tale an appropriately bizarre feel.

I'm pretty sure Gene Roddenberry would indeed have vetoed an episode that told us stars are actually living beings--Star Trek was, after all, a show that at least gave lip service to scientific realism (even if in practice it a tad short of this more often than not). But in the more outlandish Gold Key version of Trek, living stars are a perfect fit.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday's Favorite OTR

Dimension X: "Competition" 11/19/50

Being stranded on a strange planet without any friends or money is bad enough. Being kidnapped by mobsters is worse. Being poisoned and forced to do their bidding in exchange for the antidote--well, that's when things get really bad!

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

"You've lost the truth--and you aren't even true to your lie."

Last time we visited Leigh Brackett's Solar System, we landed on the dark side of Mercury. But the talented author returned to Mercury a few more times and, in the story "A World is Born," (Comet magazine, July
1941) she takes us to the Twilight area sandwiched in between the sunlight half of the planet and the dark half.

It's not a pleasant place--the effects blistering heat on one side and absolute cold on the other disrupts the atmosphere, charging it with electricity and causing frequent violent lightning storms.

But all the same, men are on Mercury trying to carve out a colony--working radium mines and growing crops with huge copper cables mounted around them to act as lightning rods.

Most of the men are volunteers, but one of them--Mel Gray--doesn't want to be here. A cynical veteran of the Second Interplanetary War, he's now a prisoner assigned to work on Mercury whether he wants to or not.

Soon, he's planning an escape. But that turns out to be a set-up. Gray was actually sent to Mars by a prison official in hopes that he'd escape. The official will then use that as a scandal to close down the nascent colony and grab the mineral rights for himself.

Gray soon realizes this, but he doesn't care. He long ago realized that he had all he could handle in looking out for himself. He doesn't care for anyone else.

Or so he tells himself. He grabs the lovely Jill Moulton as a hostage during his escape, but then he discovers the official behind the plot has no intention of letting him live afterwards. He further discovers that he hasn't sunk low enough to risk a woman's life.

His combined effort to get Jill to safety AND still get away results in a great action sequence. He and Jill end up in a series of mine tunnels while a storm rages outside. They are pursued by a group of assassins on one side and some of the local workers on the other. And--though they don't know it yet--there are some non-human and
very bizarre life forms down in those tunnels with them...

This is a great story. Brackett had a talent for creating alien environments, then describing them to us succinctly yet vividly. This is combined with some solid characterizations; Mel Gray's discovery that he still has moral standards is part of a very common trope, but it's handled well and generates some honest emotion. Jill acts with intelligence and courage, making her more than just a standard damsel in distress.

This is the second of the four Mercury stories we'll be looking at. So far, our innermost planet sounds like a pretty unpleasant place, does it? Well, if you live in a Solar System full of Adventure Planets, then you need to accept the consequences.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Death in the Newspaper

When I've written about comic strips (as opposed to comic books), I've generally done so for my Thursday catch-all posts. I've kept Wednesdays the exclusive hang-out for comic books. 

But I've been reconsidering this. I'd like to write a little bit more often about newspaper strips and I think that--every once in awhile--I'll use a Wednesday to talk about a specific story arc from one of the classic adventure strips. 

Today, though, we'll sort-of go halfway there. In 1940, the Register and Tribune Syndicate of Des Moines began to distribute a 16-page comic book that newspapers would include in their Sunday edition (along with the regular comics section). Though their subscriber base was never large and their page count eventually 
dropped to 8 pages, this newspaper/comic book hybrid ran for 12 years.

The main feature for the comic was The Spirit, created by Will Eisner. Except for a few years spent in the army during the war, Eisner drew the strip and did most of the writing. He often re-wrote scripts when he didn't originate them, so The Spirit was pretty much his baby from start to finish.

Superheroes were all the rage in 1940, but Eisner resisted the pressure to turn his hero--criminologist Denny Colt--into a costumed hero. Instead, he slapped a mask and a pair of gloves on the character, which made everyone happy and left him free to tell the sort of stories he wanted to tell. Any one Spirit story might be a comedy, a hard-boiled crime story, a fantasy or a combination of genres. Often the Spirit was only a peripheral character in a particular story, because that story was centered on an inevitably fascinating one-shot character. 

I got to meet Mr. Eisner once when he spoke at the art college at which I work. It was just before my first book came out and the teacher giving him the campus tour mentioned this. Mr. Eisner was kind enough to ask me about the book. When I mentioned that it was in part about pulp magazines such as Black Mask, he said he learned to write short stories from reading Black Mask

And he was indeed a master of the short story format. The post-war Spirit stories, which usually ran only 7 pages, were models of concise storytelling and often packed an extraordinary emotional punch. 

For instance, the November 10, 1949 issue is about Freddie, a young man who is apparently well-liked in his neighborhood, but who sick of his life and wants to move on. Moving on costs money and the most
convenient way to get money is to rob the local candy store.

Well, we've been told right up front that this story is about the last ten minutes of Freddie's life, so it's not surprising when things go wrong. Freddie ends up killing the candy store owner and, after spending several tense moments serving malteds to customers while a corpse is hidden behind the counter, he's forced to make a run for it. The Spirit nearly catches him in a subway station--Freddie makes a break for it, but his hands get stuck in a subway car, pulling him to his death against a steel support. 

Several things make the story work. First, Eisner quickly but effectively sketches out Freddie's character for us. He looks young and his character design wouldn't be out-of-place in an Archie comic, but we soon see that he's a bitter man
who's about to make several horribly bad decisions. We are made to sympathize with Freddie to a degree, but without in anyway being told to excuse his actions.

Also, Eisner casually inserts a number of elements that remind us the entire story takes place in only ten minutes. For instance, on the first page there's a little girl bouncing a ball while reciting an alphabet rhyme. She's on "A my Name is Alice" when Freddie walks by on his way to the candy shop. She's still at the game, up to R when Freddie is fleeing for his life a few minutes later. It's such a simple thing, but it works
perfectly, reminding us just how quickly events are unfolding.

I can really believe that Eisner learned to write short stories from Black Mask. Were this a prose story, it's exactly the sort of tale you'd have expected to find in that magazine. 

We'll be back to regular comic books next week with a look at a Gold Key Star Trek story. But we will return to newspapers from time to time. Captain Kirk, Superman and Turok will just have to learn to share the spotlight with Dick Tracy, Captain Easy and Flash Gordon. 


Monday, February 17, 2014

Cover Cavalcade

I actually didn't know until recently that Jim Aparo did some work at Charlton. Here's an effective and exciting cover that's typical of the quality of Aparo's work.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Comic Books and Dinosaurs--Part 1

The latest addition to my YouTube channel:

I have fun making these, so I'll probably continue to inflict them on you all periodically. But I do apologize for my complete lack of improvement in my skill as a narrator.

Here, by the way, is a video I just made for the library at which I work:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday's Favorite OTR

Cloak and Dagger: "Wine of Freedom" 10/15/51

An American agent travels from town to town in Germany, posing as a wine merchant as he tries to organize the fledgling anti-Nazi underground. But deciding whom to trust is a difficult problem--you can only be wrong once.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Getting Practice in Chasing the Wrong Man

Often circumstances will force me to watch a movie. For instance, I was at my parents' home recently, flipping channels on their TV. I run across some movie channel that I didn't even know about and they're showing Mr. Moto in Danger Island (1939).

Well, I didn't want to start watching after the movie had already started, but when I went back home that afternoon, I blithely ignored the fact that I was obligated to prepare a Bible study I'd be teaching in just a few days so that I could pop in my DVD of that movie and watch it properly from start to finish. There was no choice. I had to do this.

Watching one of the eight Mr. Moto films is always a good thing, because all of them are entertaining. Danger Island isn't the best of them, but it's still got a lot going to it. 

In this one, Moto is initially aboard a ship heading for San Juan. He's been hired to take over an investigation of diamond smuggling--the first investigator having ended up with a knife in his back.

That's not a sign that things will go easily for Moto. And, sure enough, things get dangerous pretty darn quick. Mr. Moto suffers an appendicitis attack (or does he?) as the ship comes into port and he's taken away in an ambulance that had been hijacked by thugs.

Moto thinks and fights his way out of that situation and ends up at the governor's mansion--which is pretty much overflowing with suspects: there's at least four different guys who might turn out to be the head of the smuggling ring.

There's another attempt on Moto's life. When this fails, he's falsely identified as a criminal who has stolen the real Moto's identity and forced to go on the run. But is he in trouble, or is he yet again running a con on the bad guys? Moto, in fact, runs at least three distinct and separate cons before the movie ends. 

It's a solid and fast-moving story, filmed in crisp, beautiful black-and-white. The script (based on a novel titled Murder in Trinidad) had originally been intended as a Charlie Chan movie, making this the second time a Chan film had morphed into a Moto film. The first of these was Mr. Moto's Gamble, which was much more of a Chan film in its plot and overall style--and even included Keye Luke as Lee Chan helping Moto solve a murder.

Danger Island, though, contains the sort of action that one expects from a Moto movie. It makes me curious about how much the script changed when it was changed when it switched protagonists. Charlie Chan might fake appendicitis to fool the bad guys, but he certainly wouldn't be tossing them around with judo throws later on. I also have a hard time picturing Chan on the run from the police. Perhaps the original script had Lee Chan doing some of the action stuff; or perhaps Danger Island got a much more thorough re-write than did Mr. Moto's Gamble. It is interesting to note that Moto picks up a sidekick (a wrestler he befriends named Twister McGurk) who takes on the same duel role of comic relief and assistant that a Chan son often fulfilled. 

Oh, there's one other supporting character that's worth mentioning. Richard Lane plays a government official named Commissioner Gordon, who is tasked with the job of catching Moto when the detective goes on the run. First, of course, there's his name and title. Every time he's referred to as Commissioner Gordon, I expect him to activate the Bat Signal. This is especially ironic considering Mr. Moto is running a series of Batman-level gambits to break up the smuggling ring. 

Also, in 1941, Richard Lane would take the role of Inspector Farraday in the Boston Blackie movies. So here he is chasing Mr. Moto, who is actually innocent of any crime. Soon, he'd spend 14 movies chasing reformed thief Boston Blackie for various murders, only to have Blackie inevitably catch the real killer and prove to be innocent. I guess it's a good thing he got in a little practice at this with Moto before he began his Boston Blackie Marathon. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

To the Brain By Way of the Heart and Lungs

I normally prefer Gold Key's beautiful painted covers to their photo covers, but this montage of images from the 1966 film Fantastic Voyage is undeniably awesome.

The adaptation of the movie found inside is pretty gosh-darn awesome as well. Gold Key (and Dell before them) usually did a pretty good job of turning movies into comic books, but the necessity of fitting these stories into 32 pages often meant they felt a bit rushed.

But the uncredited writer did a skilled job of trimming down Fantastic Voyage. The story, of course, involves saving a man who has an inoperable brain tumor. Well, inoperable from the outside. If you shrink a submarine (named the Proteus) down to microscopic size and inject it into the man's bloodstream, then it might be possible to perform the delicate operation from the inside.

Naturally, that job would be much easier if there weren't a double agent on board, sabotaging their efforts.

I've written about the movie before, but that was during a series of posts listing the three coolest make-believe submarines in history. (The Proteus, by the way, was number 2.) So I didn't talk a lot about the story.

The sub crew has an hour before the minuaturization process reverses itself, so they are under time pressure. Injected into an artery in the injured man's neck, they pass through a fistula (a microscopic joining of an artery and a vein formed by an injury) and end up going in the wrong direction. This means artificially stopping the heart so the sub can pass through without being shaken apart while they get back in an artery and head to the brain. But then their air tanks are leaked dry and the laser meant to be used during the operation is damaged. Are these accidents or acts of sabotage? The crew has to improvise repairs while working desperately against the clock.

It's a visually beautiful movie that still looks great today. It's well-known for having several embarrassingly large plot holes (which Isaac Asimov largely closed in his excellent novelization), but it's enjoyable enough to convince us to overlook those holes.

The comic book condenses the story skillfully, leaving out a lot of character interaction that wasn't vital to the plot and dropping one self-contained action sequence--in the movie, the sub gets into quite a bit of trouble while traveling through the ear canal. The comic simply skips that part entirely.

Also, I really appreciate the fact that, even though Gold Key counted a high proportion of kids among their readers, the story isn't dumbed down at all. The problems the sub encounters and the solutions the crew comes up with often require an explanation about some aspect human anatomy or physiology. The comic trusts its readers to understand these explanations while following along with the story. I wish I knew who the writer was--he deserve kudos for his skill in plot construction and his trust that his audience is actually smart. The same plot holes are there as are in the movie, but that's the fault of the screen-writers, not the comic writer.

The Grand Comics Database lists Dan Adkins as the artist and both Wally Wood and Tony Coleman as the inkers, though an interview with Adkins you can read here gives more detail on who did what. The finished art is very strong and does a great job of catching the same wonderful visuals that makes the movie so much fun.

Fantastic Voyage is a great example of how the same story can be told in different ways via different media.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cover Cavalcade

Like last week's comic cover, this one uses perspective and point-of-view to excellent effect.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday's Favorite OTR

The Mercury Theater on the Air: "Around the World in Eighty Days" 10/23/38

This very entertaining adaptation of Jules Verne's novel has Orson Welles assaying the role of Phileas Fogg. Inspector Fix, the cop who pursues Fogg around the world because he's incorrectly convinced Fogg is a bank-robber, is played by Ray Collins.

Collins was getting in practice at arresting suspects who turn out to be innocent. He'd later play Lt. Tragg on TV's Perry Mason, where he would arrest an innocent man or woman pretty much every week.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"The first time it happened, he nearly went insane."

Read/Watch 'em In Order #43

Captain Zero is the last of the pulp magazine heroes. In 1949,  Street & Smith was cancelling its entire pulp line (including The Shadow and Doc Savage). Other pulps were vanishing as well, or converting to digest-format magazines. The competition from comic books and paperbacks was just too much.

But Popular Publications decided to give a pulp hero one last try. Captain Zero was only around for three issues, but those issues gave us three entertaining and well-constructed stories with a fascinating protagonist.

Lee Allyn was blind for twelve years before he volunteered for an experiment involving radiation. The experiment worked, giving him back his eyesight (though his vision remained weak), but there was an interesting side-effect. Every night at midnight, Allyn turns invisible. He reappears at dawn. He soon discovers that tight-fitting clothing made from animals--such as wool or rawhide--will turn invisible along with him. So at least he doesn't have to go the traditional Invisible Man route and walk around in his all-together.

But having invisible clothes doesn't make the experience any less disturbing. Disappearing from view rather understandably freaked Allyn out the first time it happened. But he gradually got used to it, though he lives in perpetual fear that one morning he won't reappear.

Being invisible has its advantages and its disadvantages. Allyn works as a newspaper reporter in a town run by several mobsters, so using his power when he investigates the rackets is a definite advantage.

But there are annoying disadvantages. Remember his weak eyesight? He has to wear contact lenses, which occasionally reflect light and threaten to give him away.

And, by golly, exactly how do you get around town when you're invisible? You can't drive a car--an apparently empty vehicle making a left turn onto 2nd Avenue would raise an eyebrow or two. You can't hail a cab. How do you get from Point A to Point B? Especially when you are on a strict time limit. Allyn has no control over the transformation--when dawn comes he'll reappear no matter where he is.

Allyn is a great character. He's just a regular guy, subject to normal fears when facing danger; competent and intelligent, but prone to mistakes and bouts of pure terror.

That's what makes the first Captain Zero tale ("City of Deadly Sleep," November 1949) so much fun. The writer, pulp veteran G.T. Fleming-Roberts, creates a likable Average Joe character who happens to have a super-power, then plops him into a serious of dangerous situations that essentially obligate us to empathize with him.

This is counterpointed by the novel's hard-boiled story. There's a corrupt police chief protecting two gamblers and their respective organizations, with a third small-time gambler (controlled by an unknown boss) who is trying to move in on the other guys. There's also a serious of murders--three well-to-do men are killed right after wracking up significant gambling losses. Who's responsible for that? What was the motive? How does it tie into the pending gang war?

It's a straightforward crime story with a solid mystery, unfolding in a logical manner. It's realistic in every way other than a main character who turns invisible.

Allyn uses the name Captain Zero when invisible, but as the book progressing, Captain Zero is made to look guilty of one murder, while Allyn is soon wanted for another murder. With the only man who knew his double-identity dead at this point and a beautiful lady reporter kidnapped, Allyn is on his own as he desperately tries to figure out who really killed whom.

"City of Deadly Sleep" would be my pick for the best of the three Captain Zero novels, but the subsequent novels were also excellent. We'll be taking a look at each of them eventually.

So it's really too bad Captain Zero arrived on the scene when he did. It would have been nice to keep him around longer and hear a few more of his adventures. Darn you, paperback novels. You ruined everything.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Last Stands and Cowardly Captains

Sgt Fury and the Howling Commandos was created when Stan Lee bet publisher Martin Goodman that he and Jack Kirby could create a successful book even if it was given the worst title imaginable. He was right--Sgt. Fury ran for nearly 20 years and also led to the creation of SHIELD. Without the Howling Commandos, we wouldn't have helicarriers--which would make the world a much poorer place indeed.

Marvel Comics seems to have gotten stuck on the idea that their World War II books needed to have long, cumbersome (though undeniably awesome-sounding) titles, though no other book had the success that the Howlers enjoyed. Captain Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders (later changed to Battlefield Raiders) had a 19-issue run starting in 1968. In 1972, Combat Kelly and the Deadly Dozen began a 9 issue run.

Combat Kelly is an interesting book. Most of the Dozen were introduced in Sgt. Fury #98 (May 1972), when Fury's second-in-command, Dum Dum Dugan, was given command of his own unit. When Combat Kelly premiered a month later, though, Dugan was sent back to the Howlers and we meet Corporal Kelly.

The premise (and title) were rather shamelessly lifted from the 1967 movie The Dirty Dozen.  Kelly was an ex-con, a boxer who had been convicted of manslaughter after killing a man in the ring. Most of the dozen had been recruited from prison as well.

The book was created by Gary Friedrich and artist Dick Ayers, who were also handling Sgt. Fury at the time. I really admire Friedrich's work. His dialogue was consistently overwrought, but he handled the themes and emotions of war with intelligence and compassion. He did great stories about cowardice, loyalty, honor, courage, and the tragedy of war balanced against the necessity of confronting evil.

He delved into these themes in Combat Kelly as well. One interesting aspect of the book was that the regular characters were not immune to death. By the time the book was cancelled, most of the original dozen were dead. (I've always wondered what the future plans for the book would have been if it had been commercially successful.)

Combat Kelly #3 (October 1972) consists mostly of a flashback filling in Kelly's back story. It also sets up a two-part crossover between Kelly and Fury's respective books. Kelly and his men are on the front lines, attached to an infantry company that's about to be overrun by a larger German force.

I'm philosophically opposed to crossovers that force readers to buy something they don't normally buy, but there's no denying the quality of the ensuing story. The tale picks up again in Sgt. Fury #104 (November 1972) and concludes a month later in Combat Kelly #4. Kelly has called for help and Fury answers the radio. Soon, the Howlers are on their way to the front as reinforcements.

But there's trouble afoot in the form of Captain Conner, the scion of a military family who is in charge of the
company. Incompetent and on the edge of panic, he makes a series of bad decisions that place his men in grave danger.

It's an interesting problem for Fury and Kelly. As soldiers, they are obligated to obey an officer whether they agree with him or not. But as veteran soldiers who know what they are doing, they recognize that Conner is going to get them all killed.

It's a honest dilemma. A military force simply cannot operate without a definable chain-of-command. But if one link of that chain is dangerously incompetent, then where does a soldier's duty lie? At what point, if ever, can he refuse to obey an order?

Fury's dilemma is sort of solved when Conner panics completely and becomes a blubbering wreck. Sending him to the rear, escorted by two of the Deadly Dozen, Fury takes command and uses a "don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" tactic to win the battle.

But in the meantime, the two soldiers with Conner are shot by snipers. Conner, now completely mad, abandons a wounded man and returns to the front with the intention of executing Fury and Kelly for mutiny. Only a rifle shot from the dying soldier saves them.

But that's not the end of it. The general arrives on the scene and assumes that Conner was responsible for the victory. He gives Conner a posthumous medal and gives a speech about how proud the Conner family will be. Kelly wants to object to this, but Fury stops him. It doesn't matter, Fury says. They know the truth and that's what's important.

It's a great story, full of strong action backed by an equally strong story. Like many war comics of the time, the action and dialogue are often over the top--running on Rule of Cool rather than realism. But Friedrich and Ayers (like Lee and Kirby before them) infused Sgt Fury and Combat Kelly with real emotion and some honest-to-goodness humanity.

Facebook Group: DC and Marvel World War II-Themed Comic Books

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A new YouTube video

Here's the latest video on my YouTube channel. It's a review of an early Doc Savage story:

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cover Cavalcade

Great use of perspective here to enhance the suspense inherent in the scene.

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