Friday, June 28, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

The Saint: "Hawthorne House Mystery" 4/8/51

Simon and Louie investigate a haunted house and find... a murder!

 Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Not a Whodunit, but a How-Will-He-Catch-Him!

If you ever run across this 1949 anthology in a used book store, snatch it up. It has a really good selection of Golden Age detective stories:

The Purloined Letter - Edgar Allan Poe
The Red-Headed League - Arthur Conan Doyle
The Problem of Cell 13 - Jacques Futrelle
The Case of Oscar Brodski - R. Austin Freeman
The Blue Cross - G. K. Chesterton
The Age of Miracles - Melville Davisson Post
The Little Mystery - E. C. Bentley
The Third-Floor Flat - Agatha Christie
The Yellow Slugs - H. C. Bailey
The Bone of Contention - Dorothy L. Sayers
The Adventure of the African Traveler - Ellery Queen
Instead of Evidence - Rex Stout
The House in Goblin Wood - Carter Dickson
The Dancing Detective - Cornell Woolrich

"The Case of Oscar Brodski," for example, shows us forensic scientist John Thorndyke at his best. This story first appeared in the December 1911 issue of McClure's Magazine.

Those of you who make a point of reading a blog like this might very well know about Thorndyke. He is, in fact, one of the Great Detectives of the Golden Age. Created by R. Austin Freeman, Thorndyke headlined 22 novels and 40 short stories between 1907 and 1942. The structure of these mysteries is interesting, using a method that would most famously be used by Lt. Columbo in the made-for-TV movies starring Peter Falk. Thorndyke and Columbo aren't alike at all in terms of personality and investigative methodology, but their stories are similar in that we (the readers) always know who the killer is. We follow along with the criminal while the crime is being committed, usually in some clever way that leaves him justifibly convinced he'll get away with it. Then we have fun watching Thorndyke gather evidence to prove the killer guilty.

In "The Case of Oscar Brodksi," the killer is jewel thief Silas Hickler, who does not normally employ violence when plying his trade. But when he has a chance to lure diamond merchant Oscar Brodski into his home, the temptation to kill the man to get the diamonds Brodski is carrying quickly becomes irresistable.

The murder is a little messier than Hickler intended, but he eventually manages to smother Brodski to death, then dump the body on a railroad track several hundred yards from his home. A train comes by soon after and Brodski's body is beheaded by the impact. Hickler now has reason to believe the death will be considered an accident or suicide.

And he might have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for that meddling forensic scientist. Dr. Thorndyke is in the area and looks into the case. What follows is a step-by-step and very detailed inspection of the forensic evidence, covering everthing from the materials stuck to the bottom of Brodski's shoes to the the amount of broken glass found near the dead man's eyeglasses. Soon, the evidence and his logical interpretations of that evidence leads him to the home in which the murder occured and the identity of the killer.

It's a wonderfully constructed short story that often seems to be ahead of its time, prefacing the heavy use of forensic evidence that pops up in modern TV crime shows. The Thorndyke stories all build an enormous amount of suspense, despite our knowing who the killer is. Thorndyke's cleverness and use of then-modern forensics keep us fascinated in the process of bringing a murderer to justice.

So pick up that anthology if you ever find it, but make a special point of finding R. Austin Freeman's Dr. Thorndyke tales to treat yourself to the delight of reading them.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

2 Supermen, 3 Luthors and an Ultraman

I always loved how the pre-1986 DC Universe handled their Golden Age and Silver Age characters. When superheroes resurged in popularity beginning in the late 1950s, DC brought back many of their Golden Age heroes, but with altered origins, costumes and alter egos. In fact, the Golden Age versions of these heroes are specifically called out as being comic book characters, so are fictional within the Silver Age DC reality.

But of course we would want to see the different versions of these characters interact. So we were eventually given the DC Multi-verse. The Silver Age heroes live on Earth 1. The Golden Age heroes live on Earth 2, one dimension over.  Through either super-science or a use of specific superpowers, the heroes would often visit each others' realities. There was a Justice League (Earth 1) and Justice Society (Earth 2) annual team-up.

In a few cases, the two Earths had versions of the exact same characters, though the Earth 2 versions would be a few decades older. Superman, for instance, began his career in the late 1930s on Earth 2, but a younger version of Clark came around a few decades later on Earth 1. There's a Lex Luthor on each Earth as well, though the Golden Age one isn't bald--because Lex in his early Golden Age appearances wasn't bald.

Writer Marv Wolfman and artist Rich Buckler has a lot of fun with all this in the first DC Comic Presents Annual (1982). This was a team-up book, in which Superman teamed up with a different person each issue. This time out, he teams up with himself.

The story starts off on Earth 1, with Superman having to take down his version of Lex Luthor, who is up to his usual shenanigans.

Superman, though, had to cut short a date with Lois to deal with Lex. He apologizes later, but also explains that the world needs him. He simply doesn't have proper time to handle relationships.

That leads up directly into one of the themes of this issue, which Wolfman handles nicely with well-written, intelligent dialogue. When the action jumps over to Earth 2, we see the older Superman there dealing with a threat from his Lex. He also takes down the bad guy, but, we are also reminded that this Man of Steel has married his Lois. So, by golly, you can save the world and still have time for a relationship!

As an action-adventure superhero story, this is a strong issue, which expertly juggles multiple versions of three major characters across three different realities while mixing in lots of exciting action. But the juxtaposing of a hero who has resigned himself to never having time for a wife with a hero who is happily married gives the tale a solid emotional backbone.

Anyway, you have to wonder why the authorities on either Earth bother putting their Lexes in jail. Soon, both have escaped and switched places. Earth 1 Lex goes after Earth 2 Supes and visa versa.

Both fail, with Earth 2 Lois getting a Crowning Moment of Awesome when she saves her husband. This leads to the one part of the story I'm not comfortable with. The two Supermen decide the only way to stop the Luthors from escaping again and causing more havoc is to put them both in a formless Limbo dimension. This bit of extra-judicial action doesn't fit Superman's M.O.

To be fair, I do get that they are aggravated with the perpetual escapes and sincerely concerned with innocent bystanders being endangered. And besides, the Luthors figure out how to escape from Limbo in no time flat regardless.

All this allows for a brief pause in the action as the two Supermen have a discussion about relationships, with the older hero making some great points in favor of allowing time for marriage.

The Luthors, in the meantime, have escaped to Earth 3, where Superman is a bad guy called Ultraman and the local Luthor is a good guy. So we soon have two evil mad scientists and one evil Kryptonian fighting one good scientist and two good Kryptonians.

The action sequences that follows is enormous fun, with the good guys using their powers and scientific devices in clever ways to defeat the villains and stop an off-the-rails Earth 2 Lex from destroying several Earths.

There's a nice but if characterization for Earth 1 Lex here in his shock over Lex 2's plan to destroy their respective home worlds. He doesn't want to go that far, in part because of his sister and in part because he's not quite evil enough to go along with genocide. But when presented with a chance to kill Superman, he puts his concerns on the backburner. Killing Superman will always be his driving force.

With the bad guys defeated, Supes 2 returns to his wife. Supes 1, though, loses a chance to talk to his Lois when she leaves for Europe on a assignment. Poor Earth 1 Superman can't catch a break.

This really is a great tale. It's well-constructed and we never lose track of the different characters or on which Earth any one of them is occupying at any one time, while the exploration of whether a Superman has time or the right to have a life outside of being a hero is fascinating.

Next week, it's back to World War One to fly with the Phantom Eagle.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

Gunsmoke: "The Guitar" 12/26/53

The Civil War on Old-Time Radio (Parts 15 of 17)

The war is over, but the bitterness between North and South lasted for years after the fighting officially stopped. Matt Dillon has to intervene when two men decide to lynch a man born in the South because he served in the Union cavalry.

Click HERE to listen or download. 

This is the 15th of 17 episodes from various series that will take us through the Civil War and its immediate post-war legacy. I'll be posting another Civil War episode every three or four weeks.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Mayberry and Star Trek co-exist!!!

In the original Star Trek episode "City on the Edge of Forever" (aired April 6, 1967), Jim Kirk travels back in time to Depression-era New York to stop a drugged-out McCoy from somehow changing history.

He meets social worker Edith Keeler, falls in love with her, then finds out he has to allow her to get run over by a truck to preserve history.

It's a superb episode, despite some arguably unnecessary changes from Harlan Ellison's original script. But aside from being excellent drama and intelligent science fiction, the episode also establishes that Star Trek and The Andy Griffith Show share the same reality.

Take a look at the photo above. Kirk and Edith are walking by Floyd's Barber Shop, a staple business in Mayberry.

(No fair pointing out that the barber shop is there because the episode used the Mayberry set when it was filmed. This is purely an in-universe theory.)

But this episode takes place in New York, not Mayberry. So what's the explanation?

Well, it's all very simple:

Let's say that the Floyd who owned a barber shop in Mayberry was a second-generation barber. His father (also named Floyd) owned a barber shop in New York. This is the one seen in the ST episode.

The Depression forced him to sell out, though the new owner kept the same name for the business. Floyd Sr. became a hobo and later disintegrated himself with McCoy's phaser by accident.

Floyd Jr., sad because Dad just mysteriously vanished one day, left New York and moved to Mayberry, where he eventually opened a barber shop identical to the one in New York.

So there you have it. Star Trek and Mayberry co-exist in the same reality. It is incontestable. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tales of the Pony Express, Part 4

cover art by Sam Savitt
 It's really too bad that the last of the four stories featuring Pony Express rider Craig Garrett is the weakest of the four. Craig is about to vanish into Pop Culture Limbo, never again to ride into an adventure. It would have been nice if he had gone out on a high note.

But the story is still a good one when taken on its own. Written by Eric Freiwald and Robert Schaefer, it features effective art by Nicolas Firfires that helps move the story along at a brisk pace.

Appearing in Four Color #942 (October 1958), the story  opens with Craig discovering that a particularly fast horse--named the Colonel--has gotten over a bout of illness and is ready to ride again. Craig is determined to use the horse to make a run across the desert in record time.

But a pair of outlaws interfere with Craig's plan. They lure him off his saddle and slug him unconscious. When Craig regains his wits, he finds his saddle and the mail pouch left behind, but the Colonel is gone.

Craig tries to walk to safety, keeping possession of the mail pouch he is responsible for. He can't make it to safety on his own, but a search party finds him before its too late.

Craig heals up and then immediately requests a leave-of-absence to track down the horse thieves. A clue might be the fact that a horse race with big cash prizes is being held nearby. The thieves left the saddle and mail pouches behind, so it's clear that their motivation was the need for a fast horse. That they might be planning on running in the race.

 So far, the story has been great. Firfires' artwork, especially the desert landscapes, has been strong and Craig's deductions about the thieves is perfectly sound. But once Craig gets to town, we run into a painfully contrived situation.

Craig just happens to run into a father and daughter who had paid the ten dollar entrance fee to get into the race, but their horse has since gone lame. This is particularly bad, because the man's wife is sick and they needed the prize money for an operation.

I'm often first in line to defend the use of cliches and literary tropes as often legitimate ways to move a story along. But this is not an effective or proper use of a cliche. This is contrived to the point of being painful and its inclusion in the story is simply annoying. It is meant to serve a legitimate purpose--to give Craig an excuse to eventually include his horse in the race and to show him to be a compassionate man willing to help those in need. But, by golly, it is awkward and brings the story to a screeching halt for a page or so.

Fortunately, things pick up again when Craig finds the Colonel. When confronted, the horse thieves claim the horse is theirs and Craig has no immediate proof that the Colonel belongs to the Pony Express. But when Craig gets into a fist fight with one of the thieves, the Colonel loyally defends his true master. The thieves are panicked into confessing. Craig allows the Dad to ride the Colonel in the race, winning the money needed for the operation.

So the cliched middle is book-ended by a strong start and a strong finish. Overall, Craig Garrett's brief career as a Pony Express rider within the pages of Dell Comics was an honorable and satisfying one. It's a pity he's not better remembered than he is.

You can read this issue online HERE.

Next week, we'll take a look at Superman teaming up with... Superman?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Mysterious Old-Time Listening Society

The podcast The Mysterious Old-Time Listening Society was kind enough to use a suggestion from me for one episode and also to plug my books.

Here it is.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

My books on sale

My publsher, McFarland, is having a 40th Anniversary sale. If you use the code ANN2019 before the end of the month, you can get 25% off anything you order directly from them.

Here's direct links to my books:

Storytelling in the Pulps, Comics and Radio

Radio by the Book

Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

The Black Museum: "The Straight Razor" 1944

The straight razor displayed in Scotland Yard's Black Museum isn't a murder weapon, but was a clue towards catching a murderer.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

A Man Named Yuma

It's always fun to encounter a pretty standard plot that is elevated above the average by vivid prose and exciting action. A Man Named Yuma (1974), by T.V. Olsen) is one such novel.

In this one, a half-Apache has to deal with distrust and bigotry while escorting survivors from a wrecked stagecoach across a searing hot desert, pursued  along the way by Apaches on the war path.

Much of the novel is a Last Stand situation, with Yuma and his charges forted up at a water hole while the Apaches surround them, pinning them down with occasional sniper fire and launching full-on attacks. This is bad enough, but what makes matters worse is that the leader of the Apache band is Yuma's half-brother and very much wants to reduce the number of siblings he has by one. He's been wanting to kill Yuma all his life and now it looks like he has a chance.

Yuma knows this and considers striking out on his own. But its too late for that. His half-brother would kill the whites anyway (he's lost too many men to them to do otherwise) and the whites couldn't possibly get through the desert without his help anyways. He has to stay to help them, even though this also makes them more of a target.

That one of those in the water hole with them is a vicious outlaw who might just be as dangerous as the Apaches is yet another problem Yuma must deal with.

The Last Stand scenario--the trek through the desert--the Apache uprising--the diverse personalities forced to work together--all these are well-used tropes in Westerns. Variations of these plot elements  have been done countless times, but good writing all the difference. Olsen's prose puts us right there in the searing desert with the main characters, giving us a real sense of the hardship, danger and tension they are all enduring. Olsen's characters are realistic and well-drawn. All this makes A Man Named Yuma a fun and memorable read.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Iron Man and the Champions

cover art by Al Milgrom
Iron Man Annual #4 (August 1977) does just what an annual or giant-sized comic should do. It tells an entertaining adventure story featuring characters we enjoy, but one that stands alone, not concerning itself with whatever ongoing stories might be taking place in the pages of those characters regular series.

Writer Bill Mantlo and artist George Tuska start off the story with a bang. Iron Man, who has just learned that villain MODOK is still alive, is smashing into an AIM base in search of the big-headed bad guy.

I don't think I read this one when it first came out and I'm pretty sure I'd remember it if I did. The cover, drawn by Al Milgrom, is great. MODOK's visual design is unusual and effective--he should be silly-looking, but in the hands of a good artist, he is always creepy looking. So featuring him on this effectively composed and action-packed cover would have been a selling point back in the day when paper-route money would have been enough to make it a viable impulse buy. The slam-bang opening would have added to book's appeal had I thumbed through the first few pages.

Iron Man trashes some robots and other booby traps, then realizes that MODOK is already gone, taking along a power source that is undoubtedly meant to power a super-weapon.

This is all taking place on the West Coast, so Iron Man decides to seek out some West Coast help to track down MODOK. Since this is before the West Coast Avengers, then the Champions become Iron Man's go-to hero team.

But this plan gets off to a bad start when Tony sees Ghost Rider and automatically attacks the scary-looking guy.

This leads to a brief tussle between Iron Man and the Champions before Black Widow orders everyone to shut up and platy nice. I think this largely entertaining issue is open to some criticism here. The cause of the fight between Iron Man and the Champions is pretty contrived and seems to be there simply because is obligatory for heroes to briefly fight each other before teaming up against the villain.

But Iron Man and the Champions do calm down and start playing nice. Iron Man explains the situation and briefs them on SHIELD intel about three different AIM hideouts in the area. Iron Man fights a mook who has been turned into a powerful robot, but he realizes all these battles are just a decoy.

Figuring that MODOK and the super weapon are at one of these spots, they divide into teams. Three Champions apiece check out two of the sites, while Iron Man investigates the third.

It's here that my other criticism of the story comes into play. It would have been nice to have Iron Man directly interacting with the Champions during a battle. For most of this story, he and the super-team are battling bad guys separately. Gee whiz, this is a team-up story. Let 'em team-up!

Anyway, it looks as if Black Widow, Hercules and Angel are about to get beaten by AIM agents, while Iceman, Dark Star and Ghost Rider are about to be eaten by sea monsters.

He rounds up the Champions, who had regained the upper hand in their own battles, and brings them back to the secret base he had raided at the beginning of the story. Iron Man has figured out MODOK's double-bluff in pretending to abandon his original H.Q., only to later return to it.

But MODOK has finished building his new power source into his chair, which greatly enhances his mental powers and allows him to essentially drop a mountain on top of the good guys. Hercules, though, manages to hold the mountain up long enough for Iron Man to Macgyver some of MODOK's equipment and boost his own power enough to blast everyone free.

MODOK's chair is damaged in this blast. Iron Man does try to save him, but the villain crashes to an apparent death despite this.

I've pointed out a few minor flaws--the contrived but thankfully brief fight between Iron Man and the Champions and the relative lack of interaction between the Avenger and the West Coast team. But overall, this is an exciting and well-constructed adventure tale. I enjoyed the Marvel superhero comics from this decade and appreciated extended story arcs, but I also enjoyed those annuals that effectively told a self-contained story that could be enjoyed entirely on its own. Comic Book Universes are big places. There's room for both long and short tales with their borders.

Next week, we ride one last time with the Pony Express.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Cover Cavalcade

Jim Steranko gave us some awesome covers for the 1970s Pyramid reprints of the Shadow novels. This one is from 1976.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Where's Melvin?

A mistaken click erased my banner illustration. I have a copy stored on my work computer, so the illustration will be back up on Monday.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

Challenge of the Yukon: "Klondike Queen" 3/16/49

A scheme to cheat a father and son out of a gold mine involves luring the son to an Indian burial ground to get him killed by the Indians. Sgt. Preston comes up with a counter-plan to out-con the con artists.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Spock Plays Chess with Paladin

cover art by Boris Vallejo
Recently, I was in the mood to read a Star Trek novel. I know from experience that this is a very hit-or-miss proposition. There have been so many ST novels published over the last few years that it's quite impossible to grab one at random and take it for granted that it will be good. There have been a number of bad novels, or at least novels that I didn't care for on a personal level.

So I posted  on a ST Facebook group and asked for fellow fans to reply with recommendations, along with the reason why they liked a particular novel. As soon as someone mentioned the plot of 1985's Ishmael, written by Barbara Hambly, I knew I had to read that one.

Spock has sneaked aboard a Klingon ship to investigate suspicions of some sort of anti-Federation shenanigans. He's captured, put through a Mind-Sifter (see the original series episode "Errand of Mercy") and left with almost total amnesia. Despite this, he manages to escape. But the Klingon ship has, in the meantime, has gone through a time warp and is orbiting Earth in the year 1867. Their mission is to kill a particular human, which will start a domino-effect that will leave the Earth open to alien conquest before the Federation is formed.

Spock ends up on Earth working as an accountant for a guy who owns a sawmill near Seattle. The guy's name is Aaron Stempel--and this is where the book really gets fun.

Stemple is one of the main characters from a Western titled Here Comes the Brides that ran on ABC from 1968 to 1970, overlapping with Star Trek. Mark Lenard played the role of Aaron Stempel on that series. Lenard, as all good geeks know, also played Spock's father Sarak in both the original ST series, several Next Generation episodes and several of the movies. He also played a Romulan commander in the original series episode "Balance of Terror" and a Klingon in the first ST movie. To add to his geek cred, he was the gorilla military commander Urko in the 1974 live action TV series version of Planet of the Apes.

So Here Comes the Brides lets him play a human. In this series, he is a sawmill owner who wants to gain ownership of a lumber-rich mountain. The three brothers who own the mountain have recently imported thirty women (a rare commodity at the time) as potential wives for the local men. Stempel bets the brothers that they cannot find husbands for all the women in a set period of time. He gets the mountain if they fail.

I haven't seen the series, but my understanding is that Stempel is the antagonist early on, but by the show's second season had mellowed out and become at least a slightly nicer person. According to the novel Ishmael, this is in large part because of Spock's influence on his life. Ishmael, by the way, is the name Spock uses when pretended to be Stempel's nephew (hiding his ears behind a long haircut) while desperately trying to remember his own past. He knows he's an alien, but he doesn't know he's displaced in time or what his purpose is. He doesn't know that two Klingon assassins are trying to track down Stempel with the intent of killing him.

Meanwhile, back in the 23rd Century, Spock is presumed dead. But he was able to leave clues behind that allow Kirk and Company to do some detective work and gradually figure out what the Klingons are up to.

The novel's plot (though probably not fitting cleanly into regular ST canon) is very well-constructed, with a reasonable explanation for why Stempel is a key to history gradually explained to us. It is Spock's interaction with the various Here Comes the Brides characters that really gives the novel its sense of fun, though. Without his memory, Spock allows himself to become emotionally attached to his new friends (while still remaining something of a "cold fish" in their eyes--he's never completely out of character). As I mentioned, I've never watched Brides, but the author does a good job of explaining the backstory and catching me up. She is obviously a fan who gives life and likability to all the characters, while using Spock's growing friendship with Stempel to realistically influence the sawmill owner into eventually making more ethically-sound decisions.

Hambly has a ball with the novel in other ways. There are references to Poul Anderson's Hokas and unnamed cameos by characters from Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Bonanza, and Maverick, as well as a few I probably missed. Spock also gets to play chess (and win) against Paladin, the protagonist from Have Gun, Will Travel. It's all great fun--a plot that sounds like it should be fan fiction, but written with the skill of a professional novelist.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tales of the Pony Express, Part 3

After resting for a tad over a year, Pony Express rider Craig Garrett appeared in one more issue of Dell's Four Color FC #942 (October 1958) recounted two more of Craig's adventures before he faded into Pop Culture Limbo.

This time around, we know who wrote the issue: Eric Freiwald and Robert Schaefer were writing partners at Western Publishing (which created the comics distributed by Dell) throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Most of their scripts were Westerns (at least the ones we know for sure they wrote) and most of those were TV show adaptations such as Gunsmoke and Wagon Train. But here they prove they were equally adept at crafting adventures for original characters as well. It's very possible--perhaps probably--that they had created the character of Craig Garrett in Four Color #829. If not, they certainly formed a solid grasp of the character when writing for him in this later issue.

Nicholas Firfires drew, inked and lettered this issue. He does an excellent job, but I do have a quibble. In FC #829, Dan Spiegle drew Craig with a sligthly over-sized nose and a vaguely "I ain't that good-lookin'" face. Firfires, though, gives us a more conventionally handsome Craig. That's really my only quibble with Firfires art. The less tradional look to Craig in the first issue made him more unique.

Well, whether handsome or butt-ugly, Craig manages to have some pretty exciting adventures. "War Paint," the first story in FC #942, opens with him being chased by Indians, depending on his superior Pony Express horse to keep him ahead of his pursuers.

The Indians would love to have one of those horses. So far, all they've done is give chase to passing Express riders. But tensions are high and a more serious incident might bring on a war.

Sadly, that incident happens when Craig is sent to an Express station named Thirty-Mile. Gold has been delivered there and Craig is supposed to meet a horse dealer at the station, using the gold to buy good animals for the Express.

But word about the gold has leaked out and something happens before Craitg even reaches Thirty-Mile. Three white men, using flaming arrows and keeping out of sight, attack the station. They leave one man dead and another unconscious before grabbing the gold and making a getaway.

I like the way this fight is laid out. First, we get several panels that make it clear the stable is a seperate building from the Express office, which helps with a plot point a little bit later. Also, a shifting "camera" from panel to panel and layouts that allow us to logically follow the action generate both tension and excitement.

When Craig arrives, he realizes that Indians would have taken the much-envied Pony Express horses rather than the gold. He correctly deduces that the culprits must be white men who are framing the Indians to allow themselves to make a clean getaway with the gold.

With that idea in mind, Craig eventually traces the three outlaws to an Indian village. But one of the outlaws is a good friend of the chief, who at first refuses to believe he's being betrayed.

The otherwise well-constructed story hits a bit of a snag here. In a scene that can't help but seem contrived, the chief walks in on his "friends" just as they are musing aloud to each other about how thoroughly they've fooled the whole tribe.

Since the jig is now up, the outlaws slug the chief and make a run for it.

But Craig had brought a couple of extra Pony Express horses along as gifts for the Indians, so he and his friends have no trouble running down the bad guys.

The gold is recovered and war with the Indians is averted. But we have one more Craig Garrett adventure to look at as he deals with yet another gang of outlaws. We'll return to the Wild West for that in a couple of weeks.

Next week, though, we'll visit with Iron Man while he visits with the Champions.
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