Friday, December 6, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

Gunsmoke: "Doc Judge" 9/25/60

While Matt is out of town, someone is plotting to kill Doc. But Chester is still in town and, as we discovered in the episode featured a few weeks ago, if you threaten one of Chester's friends, you had better just run away.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

When Teddy Roosevelt Wants Horses--By Golly, He GETS Horses!

Like most B-movie heroes, Hopalong Cassidy jumps back and forth in time. His movies are always set in the Wild West, but the exact years in which they take place can jump around a bit. In Texas Trail (1937), for instance, the year is 1898, with the U.S. having just declared war on Spain.

It's supposedly based on one of the original Hopalong novels written by Clarence E. Mulford--Tex (1922). I haven't read this one, but I will soon and review it here. The plot description is completely different from the plot of the movie, so I'm curious to see if I can spot whatever similarities might exist between the two versions of the story. I suspect Jack O'Donnell--the screenwriter--simply took the title, expanded it to Texas Trail,  and wrote an original story around it, but I'll find out for sure soon.

Anyway, Hoppy and companions are eager to sign up and serve with the Rough Riders. But the Army has another job for him first. Every attempt to round up enough horses for the Riders has been foiled by rustlers. So Hoppy is asked to bring in 500 wild horses quickly. He's disappointed that he's not immediately being sent out to fight the Spanish, but Hoppy accepts this responsibility anyways.

The mastermind behind the rustlers is a local rancher named Black Jack Carson (Alexander Cross). Why no one suspects the guy named "Black Jack" to be the villain is beyond me. His scheme is actually a pretty clever one. Let others do the work in rounding up horses, then steal them and quietly sell them to a buyer who isn't too particular about where they came from.

What follows is a very straightforward film with a simple plot. This, though, is part of what makes it such a fun film. William Boyd's typically boisterous portrayal of Hoppy continues to make him one of the most purely likable movie heroes ever and director David Selman makes magnificent use of scenery for the location filming.

Carson has some of his men staked out watching Hoppy round up the horses. They move in the night before the animals would have been taken to the army base, capturing Hoppy's crew and gaining control of the herd. Carson had a few horses with his brand mixed in with the herd, so he proceeds to accuse Hoppy of being a horse thief and plans to hang all the good guys from the nearest tree.

Fortunately, Hoppy is currently being hero-worshiped by "Boots," the young son of an army major. Boots has been concerned when Hoppy doesn't show up at the fort as scheduled, so the little scamp skips school and rides out to find out what's going on. This allows him to show up in time to free Hoppy and the other good guys.

The good guys, though, only have a few guns between them. So Hoppy proceeds to weaponize the herd of wild horses, then uses what little ammo he has to hold off the outlaws until the cavalry can put in their obligatory last-minute arrival.

It's all good fun, with Gabby Hayes providing the comic relief this time as a would-be bugler who is less than adept at playing the bugle and putting everyone to sleep with endless stories about riding with Teddy Roosevelt.

I was a little disappointed that the movie didn't come up with a way to give Roosevelt a cameo. Any movie, no matter how entertaining it might be, can only benefit from an appearance by the most awesome president we ever had.

Anyway, the movie ends with Hoppy and his crew now in uniform, riding off to war. Of course, the real-life irony here is that the Rough Riders' horses were never shipped to Cuba. When they went up San Juan Hill, Roosevelt was the only one on horseback. T.R. always was a bit reckless in his bravery. The other Rough Riders crawled up. They took the hill, though, and this movie implies that Hopalong Cassidy was there with them. I always suspected that. But I wonder if, while Spanish machine gun bullets whizzed overhead, if he wondered why he went through all that effort to get those darn horses.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Good Robots, Evil Robots and Swamp Thing

Swamp Thing #6 (Sept-Oct. 1973) begins with the titular character falling out of the back of a truck while traveling through Vermont (after, in previous issues, making an unplanned and rather adventurous tour of Europe and Scotland). And, because Swamp Thing's life is what it is, he tumbles directly into yet another adventure.

He's found by Alec and Linda Holland. Which is a bit weird, because Swamp Thing is Alec Holland--or rather he was before that pesky lab explosion turned him into a monster. And Linda was dead.

(Yes, I know that Alan Moore later retconned this into Swamp Thing being a seperate entity who had absorbed Alec's memories when the human died and thus just thought he was Alec for a time. I've never read Moore's run and do not have an opinion on that--though its a perfectly sound idea. But for me, "real" DC Universe history all took place before 1986, so I'm just sticking with Swampy literally being Alec.)

Anyway, it's understandable that Swamp Thing is a bit confused when he meets both himself and his dead wife, but the human pair continue to treat him with kindness and eventually take him into town. Here, he meets the mayor, Hans Klochmann.

Klochmann, it turns out, is a genius in robotics. He came to what was once an abandoned mining town and populated it with robots, all designed to look like people he'd seen in the obituaries. He's happy running a town full of "people" who are incapable of feeling jealousy, hatred or greed. It's not a bad place to live, though Swamp Thing is having some understandable trouble in adjusting to the "resurrection" of his wife as a robot.

Len Wein's script and Bernie Wrightson's superb art set all this up perfectly. The plot unfolds smoothly, with those of us reading finding out what's going on along with Swamp Thing, allowing us to emphasize with the confusing emotions this is generating in him. The story thus captures the proper atmosphere for the story perfectly, giving a lot of emotional punch to the violent conclusion.

To reach that conclusion, I'm afraid the town will have to stop being a nice place to live. Government investigator Matt Cable has been pulled off the Swamp Thing case to investigate the town, where no one has ever registered with the governement or paid taxes.

That by itself wouldn't be so bad. But a criminal organization called the Conclave (the same guys who killed Linda and supposedly killed Alex) also find out about the town. Soon, a gang of machine gun-toting henchmen led by a killer robot arrive. Matt and his assistant Abigail Arcane are captured and flown in a helicopter to be questioned about his organization.

The Conclave plans on taking Klochmann as well to force him to use his robotics skills for their nefarious purposes. When Klochmann objects to this, a few of his robots are shot down. This includes the Linda Holland Robot.

Well, that doesn't sit well with Swamp Thing. And you don't want to be on the wrong side of an angry Swamp Thing. He destroys the robot in a brief but brutal fight. The henchmen then get ready to open first on him.

By this point in the series, Swamp Thing had been shown to be immune to most physical damage and had even had a severed arm grow back. So there's a brutal irony involved when Klochmann jumps in front of Swamp Thing and sacrifices his life to take the bullets instead. Was Swamp Thing actually in danger? Perhaps concentrated machine gun fire would have shredded him. But its also possible the fire power might have been insufficient to kill him.

But Klochmann does die for him. The robots--supposedly unable to feel vengeance--rush the henchman. The robots are destroyed, but they take the henchmen with them.

So Klochmann's dream of a town untouched by violence and hatred comes to a violent and hate-filled end.

This is one of my favorite stories from the Wein/Wrightson run. As I mentioned above, it does an excellent job of setting up the story and generating just the right emotions to give the climax a sense of real tragedy and loss. Wrightson was an artist who could infuse comic book panels with an extraordinary level of emotion. That talent is definetly on hand here.

Well, there is a dangling plot thread left at the end of this issue, with Matt and Abigail still prisoners of the Conclave. So next week, we'll continue to travel to with Swamp Thing into the next issue as he tracks the Conclave to....Gotham City?

Gee whiz, off all the places in the world to set up the headquarters of your international crime syndicate, Batman's home town seems like a very poor choice.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Friday, November 29, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

Destination Freedom: "Shakespeare of Harlem" 9/26/48

An excellent dramatization of the life of Langston Hughes which effectively incorporates a number of his poems into the story.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Charlie Chan at the Circus

Recently, I read a newly-published book reprinting the first year of a Charlie Chan comic strip originally published in 1938 & 39. The next day, Angela and I visited the Circus Museum located at the Ringling Museum of Art. So, the next step was obvious--we needed to watch the 1936 film Charlie Chan at the Circus. I believe this might actually have been required by law.

It's a Warner Oland/Keye Luke entry, which always gains a Chan movie a few extra points. The films starring Sidney Toler and Roland Winters are all tons of fun, but the Oland/Luke chemistry was never equaled.

In fact, Luke as "Number One Son" Lee Chan gave us the best of the Chan sons on several levels. His "look before you leap" enthusiasm (and, this time, his awkward romantic pursuit of a female contortionist) could generate sincerely funny moments, but Lee was smart and able to spot clues and make reasonable deductions. His dad might nearly always turn out to be one step ahead of him anyways, but Charlie is one step ahead of everyone.

And, though any of Charlie's kids would put their lives at risk to save their dad, it's Lee who never fails to jump without hesitation to put himself between Charlie and danger. This time around, though clearly terrified, grabs a pistol and pegs a cobra to save his father. Seriously, don't ever threaten Charlie Chan when Lee is around. It won't end well for you.

The movie itself starts strong, with a tracking shot of circus sideshow posters, that does a superb job of establishing both setting and atmosphere. Then we get to see Charlie's entire family--all twelve kids and his wife--for the first time (and one of the few times) in the series, as they visit the circus. Charlie was given free passes by one of the circus co-owners (played by Paul Stanton), who wants Charlie's advice about some threatening letters he's received.

And it's no wonder he's getting poison-pen letters. The guy is a jerk and we soon learn that at least a half-dozen circus workers and performers have reason to hate him. So it's really no surprise when he's found murdered, strangled while inside his locked-from-the-inside business wagon.

The body is found, by the way, when a sideshow midget climbs in through a ventilator. This part is played by George Brasno, who (with his sister Olive) had a popular music act and occasionally took roles in films. Brasno and Keye Luke later have an hilarious scene together when they are tailing a suspect, with Lee dressed as a mother and Brasno's character dressed as a baby (while smoking a cigar) while Lee pushed him around in a baby carriage.

Charlie agrees to help the local police, so he and Lee travel with the circus. Clues are uncovered, there's an attempt on Charlie's life, an attempt to murder someone else, and eventually a clever trap set to catch the killer.

The plot is solid and (within the confines of a B-movie universe) unfolds logically--yet another example that the B-movies of this era consistently provided us with straightforward, entertaining storytelling.

Also, Angela told me she was going to take a nap while I watched the movie, but ended up watching the whole thing with me. She's awesome.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Giant, Undead Brains and Three-Headed Dinosaurs

Auro, Lord of Jupiter, is a rather bizarre character. He first appeared in Planet Comics #41 (March 1946), ruling Jupiter with his consort Dorna. He's murdered by a rival.

About the same time, an American scientist named Chet Edson builds a prototype rocket ship, but a saboteur knocks him out, shoves him into the rocket and launches him into space. He crashes on Jupiter, but he can't survive in the atmosphere there.

So Dorna transfers Chet's mind into Auro's body. After a few adventures, Auro's personality reasserts itself and Chet is able to only subconsciously influence the big dope into taking intelligent action when in danger.

And there's a lot of danger on Jupiter. In Planet Comics #47 (March 1947), scientists are experimenting with the brain of a master criminal named Zago, King of the Underworlders. But Zago's brain is "struggling for freedom"and soon forces one of the scientists to drop him.

Soon, the brain has grown to gigantic proportions and is mind-controlling nearby people and animals. When Auro/Chet and Dorna fly in to investigate, they run into a gauntlet of various dangers.

It looks as if they are going to be overwhelmed, but Chet influences Auro to run from the fight and get to the nearby lab, even though this mean temporarily abandoning Dorna.

Zago rewards his underling for capturing Dorna by killing them, because he's decided that everyone ought to be dead just like he technically is. He doesn't kill Dorna right away, but rather begins tormenting her with the illusion of three-headed dinosaurs. Zago might be evil, but he comes up with some pretty cool illusions.

Fortunately, Chet has influenced Auro into inventing a device that destroys Zago, ending the threat and saving Dorna in the nick of time.

This is the first Auro, Lord of Jupiter story I've read and it is delightfully goofy, jumping wildly from one plot point to another with gleeful abandon. It might arguably have benefited from some more coherent world-building, but--then again--not every work of fiction needs to have strong internal logic. Sometimes, it's nice to just go with the flow and have fun.

You can read this story online HERE.

Next week, I think we'll return to Earth and visit with Swamp Thing.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

Suspense: "The Long Night" 11/18/56

Frank Lovejoy is an air traffic controller who has to talk down a lost and inexperienced pilot during a bout of bad weather. It's a plot devise that has become cliched over the years, but here is used to generate incredible tension.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Make Sure She Loves You BEFORE Running Off with Her!--The Pusadian Tales, Part 4

Read/Watch 'em In Order #107

The fourth tale in L. Sprague de Camp's Pusadian Cycle appeared in the December 1953 issue of Universe Science Fiction, about a month after "The Stronger Spell" appeared in another magazine.

This one is called "The Hungry Hercynian" and it may be my personal favorite in the series. It brings back the young and ambitious Gezun of Lorsk, who debuted in "The Owl and the Ape," along with Derezong Taash, the wizard who was the protagonist of "The Eye of Tandyla." The two meet up in this story.

It's not a happy meeting, though. Gezun is now a free man, released from slavery and given a number of magic items when his master died. But things have not been going well for him and he is out of work, on the run from the angry father of a pregnant daughter and with only a single magic ring (a protector from charms) remaining in his possession.

He arrives in the Tartesian empire and immediately develops a crush on a pretty slave girl he sees on the auction block. Darazong buys the girl and, since Gezun and Darazong are both originally from the same country, the younger man manages to wheedle an invitation for room and board for the night. But, after drinking a little too much wine, he impulsively grabs the girl (named Yorida) and runs off with her, eventually hiding out in a cave outside the city, scrounging for enough food to keep the two of them fed.

In retrospect, it would have been wiser if he'd asked Yorida if she actually wanted to run off with him before taking any action.

What follows is both a well-constructed fantasy tale and an hilarious screwball-esque comedy. Another man, a local lord named Noish, had also been bidding on Yorida. This is because he's made a deal with a Hercynian wizard. The wizard wants to have a plump young girl for dinner. (And that should be taken literally--the Hercynians are cannibals), while Noish wants the wizard to dispose of a rival to the king's favors.

So Noish's men are still looking for the girl. When they manage to get hold of her, Gezun contacts a local magician for help in getting her back for himself. The magician, though, actually isn't very good at his job, so he sub-contracts Derezong Taash for help, unaware that Derezong also has a claim on the girl.

The various plot threads and character motivations come together beautifully at the end. Lord Noish, the guy who was willing to let a slave girl be eaten to get what he wanted, ends up getting eaten himself. Derezong gets Yorida back. Gezun at first seems to have lost both the girl and his magic ring, but after mugging the local magician, he at least gets his ring back, along with some money. He sets out for richer pastures, where we'll meet him again in the next tale in the Cycle.

I really enjoy the skill with which de Camp constructed this particular story, milking it for a lot of laugh-out-loud humor while still making sure it made internal sense in regards to its mythical Bronze-Age culture. His dry sense of humor is very much on display here. For instance, here's a scene in which Gezun first encounters Derezong's apprentice while still a guest in the wizard's home:

Zhamel set down the jug, looked at Gezun, pulled out a knife big enough to split kindling, and began trimming his fingernails with it.

"A fine bit of bronze," he said. "I keep it sharp in case some young springald should try to worm himself into my place with Derezong."

"I understand," said Gezun, wondering if there were not some way by which he could safely murder Zhamel.

A scene in which Lord Noish disposes of his rival by slipping him a drug that forces the rival to tell the truth when speaking to the king is equally hilarious.

The story is available to read online HERE.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Enter The Dragon Lady

For the first couple of years of its existence, Milt Caniff's Terry and the Pirates ran separate story lines in daily and Sunday strips. The first daily strip ran on October 22, 1934, with Terry and his guardian Pat Ryan arriving in China in search of a gold mine left to Terry by his grandfather.

That initial story arc ran through January 1935. But, in the meantime, Terry and Pat began to have a completely different adventure in the Sunday strip, which began on December 6, 1934.

For those of us who are obsessed with continuity (probably due to a refusal to completely admit that such adventures aren't actually happening in real life), you can line all this up with a coherent internal chronology. If you own the superb reprint volumes that were published a decade ago, then you read the first daily adventure through the January 25, 1935 strip. Then read all the Sunday adventures that were independent of the daily strips. Then jump back to the January 26, 1935 strip and read chronologically from there. With only a few minor continuity issues, it all lines up nicely.

So you see? Terry IS real! It's all real! I KNEW IT!

Anyway, it's that first Sunday story arc that we're looking at today. Terry and Pat book passage on a freighter to Shanghai. But the it's pretty much impossible for those two to go anywhere without running into trouble. That first evening, the ship is stalked by pirates.

There's a brief fight when the pirates attack, but Terry and Pat are soon overwhelmed and captured. We saw the helmsman of the freighter gunned down by a pirate and presumably the rest of the crew are killed as well.

The person responsible for this carnage is the most memorable of the many reoccurring characters that Caniff will eventually introduce into Terry's universe. This is the Dragon Lady, the beautiful but ruthless pirate and bandit chief who will pop up again and again, often as a enemy and sometimes (especially when fighting the Japanese) as an ally.

At this early point in the strip, Caniff's art was still maturing, so the Dragon Lady doesn't quite generate the "Hubba Hubba" vibe she and most of the rest of Caniff's ladies soon will, but she's still pretty darn close. He also has her speaking in a stereotypical "Chinese" accent, though this started to fade away even before this initial adventure was complete.

But even so, the Dragon Lady is a striking, memorable character right from the start, with the potential romantic tension between her and Pat building almost immediately.  In fact, it's not long before she's trying to seduce Pat into joining up with her, though Terry manages to run interference for his buddy.

The situation changes rapidly when a rival pirate captain named Fang attacks the Dragon Lady's ship. This nearly gets Terry and Pat killed, but quick action on Terry's part saves their lives, though they (along with the Dragon Lady) are captured by Fang.

Fang keeps the Dragon Lady alive because he wants to find out where her hidden loot is kept. He keeps Pat and Terry around because he plans to force them to pretend to be in distress and lure a British passenger ship in close enough to capture it. This forces a reluctant team-up. In return for a promise to help her escape, she slips the boys a mirror, which they then use to secretly send a Morse code message to the British ship. This warns off the ship before it can be attacked and sets the American Navy on Fang's trail.

A Navy gunboat soon arrives, resulting in a desperate fight, with Terry getting a chance to take care of Fang personally.

So the pirates are dead or captured. And the Dragon Lady? Well, Terry and Pat did promise to help her escape. So they tell a fib to the Navy, identifying the Dragon Lady as an innocent hostage. She goes free to continue her own career looting and pillaging.

It's actually an interesting moral dilemma. Pat and Terry do what they think is right to keep their promise. I get that. On the other hand, the crew of the freighter they had been on--one of whom was an old friend of Pat's--were all ruthlessly killed on her orders. Now she escapes justice and is free to commit more murders. So we can legitimately argue that the boys dropped the ball here.

But I suspect the primary motivation for their decision was Caniff's desire to keep the Dragon Lady available for future appearances. He was already building a vibrant and exciting universe in which Terry would battle pirates, bandits, spies and (eventually) the Japanese. It's likely he had recognized the Dragon Lady's potential for future adventures and simply needed a way of keeping her out of the hangman's noose.

But what am I saying? Didn't we establish earlier that Terry and the Pirates are real? Isn't Caniff merely an historian recounting their adventures? So I guess my last paragraph is just so much gibberish. Sorry about that.

Next week, we fly off to Jupiter to meet and giant, evil brain and a disembodied Earthman.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Friday, November 15, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

Gunsmoke: "Ex-Urbanites" 5/30/61

We think of Chester as Matt Dillon's not-so-bright sidekick. But when he stands in front of a friend who is in danger... well, Chester can be someone you simply don't want to mess with.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Those Darn Escaped Convicts Ruin it for Everyone

Godzilla Raids Again (1955) was rushed out pretty quickly after the success of Godzilla. As a consequence, it's a flawed movie. The first Godzilla (especially the unchanged Japanese release) is a true horror film, with the monster's destruction of Tokyo working as a brutal and heartbreaking metaphor for the atomic bombings that ending World War II.

The sequel has the city of Osaka destroyed, but this is rather casually shrugged off by the human characters, who often act like they are in a romantic comedy. The monster stuff is great, while the human stuff is a bit sub par.

But, despite this, the movie's strengths outweigh its weaknesses. It's the only other film aside from Godzilla in the series that was filmed in black-and-white, which helps give it a more appropriately serious ambiance. The special effects are excellent. And it introduced another monster to what would soon be a very crowed Kaiju universe. 

The movie begins with two pilots stranded on a remote island, where they spotted Godzilla and Anguirus fighting each other. The two monsters fall into the ocean, vanishing for the time being.

This isn't, by the way, the same Godzilla that appeared in the first film. That guy was clearly dead after getting hit by an oxygen destroyer. So this Godzilla (the one who will appear in all the remaining Showa films) is Godzilla #2. But the first film also set this up, with a character musing at the climax that continued atomic testing might awaken another Godzilla.

Godzilla is soon approaching Osaka. The Japanese Defense Force comes up with a pretty nifty plan. The city is blacked out and planes begin dropping parachute flares, slowly leading the monster back towards the sea. It's a wonderfully atmospheric moment. 

But then a group of convicts being transported in a truck jump their guards and make a break for it. Several of them steal a gas truck, but then end up smashing it into some gas tanks. The resultant fire brings Godzilla back to the city. Who thought it was a good idea to transport dangerous criminals while the city is blacked out and threatened by a giant monster is not explained.

At the same time, Anguirus shows up and the two are soon fighting, leaving a trail of destroyed buildings behind them.


The fight is the highlight of the film. It's exciting and well-choreographed. Eventually, the Showa universe would give us many, many monster vs. monster battles, but this one still stands out as one of the best.

Anguirus is killed,with Godzilla using his atomic breath to disintegrate the body. Which, I guess, means Anguirus' future appearances are actually a second Anguirus. And, despite the two monsters being mortal enemies here, they will be the best of friends in future movie appearances. Maybe Godzilla #2 felt guilty about killing Anguirus #1, so made friends with Anguirus #2.

With Osaka trashed, Godzilla returns to that remote island. The Japanese come up with a plan of setting off an avalanche and burying Godzilla in ice, but accomplishing this plan will first require one of the main characters to sacrifice himself. It's a great ending, representing the only moment in the film in which the human characters generate any real emotion.

Godzilla Raids Again can be said to point the fledgling film series away from serious themes & meaningful metaphors, turning it towards the spectacle of giant monsters slugging it out. In a way, that's too bad. As entertaining as the Showa film are, the original is the only one that is a true classic, with a clear message and a sincere sense of tragedy. But, at the same time, the sequel set the stage for monsters like King Ghidorah, Mecha-Godzilla and Gigan. The world would be a sadder place without them. And, despite its flaws, Godzilla Raids Again is a fun film when taken on its own. If you get a chance to watch it, though, make sure its the Japanese cut. The American cut, titled Gigantis, the Fire Monster, is poorly done and only adds to the movie's existing flaws.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Being a Genius Despite a Lack of Resources

Gyro Gearloose, created by Carl Barks in 1952, was a wonderful addition to the Duck Universe. A genius inventor, his many gadgets could be used to further the plot, provide a solution to a problem, or go awry and cause a problem that needed to be solved.

Usually, Gyro had access to his workshop and his tools, allowing him to design pretty much anything that Scrooge or Donald might need. But a really fun story from Four Color #1184 (June 1961) deprives Gyro of all his usual resources, which in turn allowed Carl Barks to highlight just how inventive Gyro can be.

"Brain-Strain" starts with a shipwreck, caused because Donald didn't think things through and build his new boat using thumb tacks to hold it together. In the confusion of abandoning ship, Donald floats off in a raft while Gyro is floating helplessly with the paddle.

So Gyro has to deal with a desperate situation without any resources to speak of. Well, actually he has that paddle, doesn't he? He uses this to enhance his swimming ability and he soon reaches a small island.

Donald has made it to the same island. He's still in "just wasn't thinking" mode and soon lets the raft float away while burning the paddle as firewood. So now the two are trapped on the island without any resources at all. 

Except Gyro is able to find resources even on that barren landscape. I suppose it shows how much of a Trekkie I am in that the above scene, in which Gyro gathers up the stuff he needs to make gunpowder, makes me think about the Star Trek episode "The Arena," in which Captain Kirk did the same thing.

You know, a version of Star Trek in which Gryo serves as the Enterprise's science officer rather than Spock would be... illogical, but a lot of fun. 

Gyro's first effort to signal passing airplanes with a gunpowder explosion can't be seen through the flocks of birds that hover over the island. So, with Donald's reluctant (and hypnotised) help, he gathers up enough feathers to fill the cone of the small extinct volcano that tops the island. Setting this off with gunpowder causes a rain of feathers, which does catch the attention of a passing airplane. A rescue boat soon arrives.

The story brilliantly highlights just how brilliant Gyro Gearloose is, as well as showing off Barks' usual skill in smoothly combining slapstick comedy with a real sense of adventure. But Gyro's genius does fail him for the story's final gag. Tired of Donald "just not thinking," he makes the grouchy duck a thinking cap. But his results in Donald soon running a competing invention business!

Next week, we'll visit with Terry and the Pirates during Terry and Pat's first encounter with the Dragon Lady.
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