Monday, September 30, 2019

Cover Cavalcade

Jack Burnley cover from 1945. My guess would be Bruce was bought out by Scrooge McDuck.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

The Saint: "The What Not What Got Hot" 3/4/51

Someone steals Simon's furniture. To the surprise of absolutely no one who is listening to this episode, tracking down the stolen furniture soon evolves into a murder investigation.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Daleks Changing History

The original version of Doctor Who ran for a quarter century. The quality of individual episodes during that time varied wildly, with episodes from late in the run featuring the Sixth and Seventh Doctors probably having the highest percentage of poor stories (though those incarnations of the Doctors themselves were excellent).

But the show was good more often than not, which adds up to an awful lot of well-told tales. So the nice thing about its long run is that there always seems to be yet one more four-part or six-part serial that I haven't yet gotten around to watching.

I've just watched "The Day of the Daleks," a four-parter from 1971 featuring John Pertwee as the Third Doctor. I wasn't unfamiliar with the story--as is the case with many of the classic series stories, I had read the novelization. But it was still nice to watch the original episodes.

At this point in the series, the Doctor was stuck on Earth--stranded there by the Time Lords with his Tardis out of order. He's working as the scientific advisor to UNIT, the military organization that's assigned to handle alien invasions, mad scientists and other dangers the regular military isn't generally equipped to handle. Since a lot of the threats they face are annoyingly immune to bullets, having the Doctor around to figure out how to beat the bad guys is advantageous.

This time around, the threat is an unusual one. International tensions are high; nuclear war is a real possibility; and the only person who seems to have a chance to negotiate a peace is a British diplomat named Sir Reginald Styles. So when Styles claims a ghost tried to shoot him, there is reason to be worried. The Doctor is sent to investigate.

What follows is a well-constructed science fiction tale with lots of action and a plot that makes clever use of time travel and time paradox. The would-be assassin comes from a future where Earth, devastated by centuries of war, had been conquered by the Daleks. 

Most humans (those few who survive and haven't sold out to the Daleks) are kept as slave labor, put to work stripping the Earth of its mineral resources. But a resistance group has formed, gathering arms and even stealing plans for a Dalek-designed time machine. 

Well, this gives the resistance an idea. According to their history, Sir Reginald Styles betrayed the other diplomats at a peace conference and blew them up. Though he accidentally blew himself up as well, the mass assassination ended any chance of peace, leaving the Earth easy pickings for the Daleks. So why not go back in time and kill Sir Reginald before he has a chance to put his own evil plan into effect? Won't that prevent war and, in turn, prevent the Daleks from ever taking over in the first place?

The trouble is that the time travel technology they are using is a little wonky, causing the first assassin to blink back to the future before he has a chance to shoot Sir Reginald. Also, the resistance's understanding of history may not be accurate, so killing Sir Reginald might not be a good idea. 

The Doctor and his current companion Jo (not my favorite companion--but you can't have everything) investigate. The Doctor, being the Doctor, soon has an inkling of what is happening. Jo, being Jo, accidentally teleports herself into the Dalek-ruled future. The Doctor ends up there himself before long, where he has to multi-task between escaping from the Daleks and their soldiers (brutal aliens called Ogrons) and convincing the resistance to help fix history properly. 

Various plot points and character arcs are neatly tied together by the end. As I mentioned above, this story is superbly constructed, merging various elements into a satisfying whole.

Special mention should to Aubrey Woods as the Controller, a human who supervises slave-operated factories for the Daleks. He's convinced that the Daleks can't ever be beaten, so helps them while trying to convince himself that he's also helping humanity in the only way possible. His interactions with the Doctor are fascinating and his eventual fate is simultaneously tragic and noble. 

I watched "Day of the Daleks" via a streaming service that shows a version with modernized CGI special effects, so the clip I'm posting below reflects this. I'm in the camp that feels as long as the original story is respected and left unchanged (I'm glaring at you, Mr. "Han no longer shoots first" Lucas), then improved special effects can be a nice addition. I feel the same way about the enhanced TOS Star Trek episodes that were released a few years ago. But an argument that the original special effects should be left intact is a fair one in its own right. I think you can make a case that the technological and budgetary limits on visual effects from that era forced viewers to fill in the gaps in visual realism with their own imagination. On the other hand, a cheesy visual effect might take you out of the story and detract from our enjoyment of it. It is actually a very personal thing that changes from one fan to another.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Killer Skies (World War I Biplanes--Part 1)

"Ghost of the Killer Skies" (writer: Denny O'Neil; artist: Neal Adams) was first published in Detective Comics #404 (October 1970), but I first read it when it was reprinted  in a 1977 paperback:

It was in black-and-white, but Batman stories work well in that format. Of course, the panels were rearranged so that they could fit two or three to a page, but I hadn't read this story before, so I wasn't picky about the poor formating.

I've written before about how I feel the O'Neil/Adams era of Batman gave us the best-ever interpretation of the Dark Knight. There was a dark undertone to Batman and his tragic history, but this wasn't represented by making him a rude jerk. Also, the stories acknowledge all the various skills that make Batman exceptional--he was a Holmsian-level detective as well as a superb martial artist and escape artist.

"Ghost of the Killer Skies" highlights all this wonderfully. Bruce Wayne is in Spain, funding a movie about Hans von Hammer, the German pilot from the First World War who is commonly known as "Enemy Ace."

Why would Bruce Wayne become personally involved in producing a movie? The story has a perfectly reasonable explanation for this that also reminds us that Bruce looked for ways to do good even when he's not dressed up as a giant rodent. He wants to make a meaningful anti-war film and believes a biographical movie about Enemy Ace (an honorable and often reluctant warrior) is the best way to do this.

 But things are not going well on the set. Production is being sabotaged, culminating in the mid-air murder of a stunt pilot.

This sets of a truly excellent story, but I suppose you can nit-pick one part of it. A few pages in, we meet the guy who is charge of maintaining the WWI planes being used for the movie. He's a dead ringer for Enemy Ace and he's droning on about how it is not fated for the movie to be completed. Gee, do you think he might be the bad guy?

Actually, there are two sets of bad guys. A cameraman has been hired by a rival film company to sabotage production, but Batman manages to snag him and his allies when they attempt to dynamite the planes, figuring out how the mid-air murder was committed at the same time.

There's one part of this I love. Batman interrogates on of the saboteurs and scares him into talking. Then he just lets the guy go, telling him to turn himself and his partners into the cops--OR BATMAN WILL COME FIND HIM! The combination of O'Neil's skilled writing and Adams' art work completely convince us that Batman is indeed that scary when he needs to be.

After one more murder, Batman confront the Enemy Ace twin, who--not surprisingly--turns out to be a decendent of von Hammer. His motivation is simply that he views Enemy Ace as a god-like warrior, refusing to accept that he was capable of mercy or respect for his enemies. Thus, a movie depicting the Ace as an actual human being must be stopped.

The two end up in biplanes, fighting a duel. Batman "thought balloons" us the information that he has limited training with antique planes, but he seems to be flying with more skill than should possible for him. The implication, of course, is that the ghost of von Hammer is helping him. Since this is a Comic Book Universe, we can probably accept that idea at face value.

But the bad guy has a gun and Batman doesn't, so soon the Dark Knight is flying a plane that's leaking oil. Batman handles this situation by simply jumping aboard the enemy Fokker. Gee whiz, this story is full of cool-looking panels, isn't it? It's no wonder the story grabbed me even when chopped up to fit in a paperback.

In the ensuing struggle, the villain's scarf is caught in the Fokker's propellor, tearing him from the plane and sending him on a plummet to his death.

So Batman gets to be a great detective and a skilled martial artists AND he gets to fly a World War I biplane. Even in context of Batman's eventful life, that's a pretty cool day.

Next week, we continue with our World War I Biplane theme in a Man from U.N.C.L.E. story that tosses the Spirit of St. Louis into the mix as well.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

Suspense: "Pigeon in the Cage" 8/11/57

Lloyd Bridges plays a man who overhears a murder being planned and committed while he's stuck in an elevator. If the killers realize he's there, he may never get out.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Red Skelton and Buster Keaton

Actually, the title of today's post is a cruel joke of sorts. Buster Keaton and Red Skelton do not actually appear together in the 1950 comedy The Yellow Cab Man.  In fact, Keaton isn't in the film and doesn't appear in the credits.

But, according to the information I got from Ben Mankiewicz' nifty introduction to the film when it recently aired on TCM, Keaton was involved in the movie as an uncredited consultant. It's easy to believe this is true. The sight gags in the film come one after another at a rapid fire pace and every single one of them is hilarious. The climatic chase scene, which involves scrambling around a rotating house and taking to the air in hot air balloons, is comedy gold. Red Skelton was already a superb comedian. Add input from the funniest guy who ever lived and you are bound to end up with an incredibly funny movie.

Skelton plays Red Pirdy, the world's most accident-prone human being. In fact, he's gotten to expect to be periodically hit by a car or take a sudden fall down a flight of stairs. He even keeps his doctor's contact information printed on his undershirt.

When he accidentally walks in front of a Yellow Cab, he ends up meeting Ellen Goodrich (Gloria De Haven), an employee of the cab company. He also meets a sleezy, ambulance-chasing lawyer named Martin Creevy (Edward Arnold), but he decides he'd rather talk to the pretty girl.

Pirdy is also an inventor and Ellen arranges for him to demonstrate his unbreakable glass to the cab company's owner. The demonstration goes awry, but results in Pirdy working as a cab driver.

After a few minutes on the job, he's accidentally kidnapped a bratty little boy, inadvertently convinced a crowd of people that a bomb is ticking inside a mail box, and pretty much guarantees that a bride and groom are not going to make it to Union Station in time to catch their train. It's a scene that literally drips with Keaton-esque comedy.

In the meantime, Creevy and his cronies plot to steal Pirdy's formula for the unbreakable glass. One of his men, played by Walter Slezak, pretends to be a psychiatrist who eventually convinces Pirdy that he might be a murderer.

A more detailed description of the plot would almost be beside the point. There is a plot that progresses in a more-or-less logical manner, but the main purpose of the story is to give a structure on which the sight gags can be built. And that is exactly how it should be.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Back to 1942 (Again!)--Part 2

Cover art by Jack Kirby and John Romita
Last week, we looked at 1976's Marvel Two-in-One #1, in which Ben Grimm traveled back to 1942 to recover some time-lost Vibranium and thus prevent the Nazis from winning World War II.

In that issue, Ben didn't get a chance to punch many Nazis, with the Liberty Legion (made up of various relatively obscure Golden Age heroes) handling most of the action. But as the story spills over into Marvel Two-in-One #20 (October 1976), writer Roy Thomas and artist Sal Buscema toss Ben right into the middle of the action.

Using a flag pole as a catapult, Ben has boarded a giant flyng swastika that was attacking New York City. And may I just take a moment to say that I love being able to type that sentence. A Comic Book Universe is a wonderful thing.

The Liberty Legion had been fighting various Nazi super-villains that had been recently introduced in The Invaders. Roy Thomas continues this trend as Ben discovers the Nazi disembodied brain known as the Brain Drain (also part of the Invaders' Rogue's Gallery) is controlling the giant flying swastika.

I love that sentence as well. I have a good life.

Before the action really gets started, though, we are treated to a couple of pages recapping the events of the recent annual. This has been a chronic problem with this story arc--the FF Annual, Two-in-One Annual and this issue all get bogged down in relatively lengthy information dumps needed to bring the readers up to speed. There's also a painfully contrived moment in which the Nazi villain Skyshark publicly and nonsensically announces that he's carrying the Vibranium on his person. But, just as with the two annuals, the pacing eventually picks up and the story becomes enjoyable.

MTIO #20 is pretty much just a non-stop brawl. The swastika lands at a secret base and Brain Drain's allies put in an appearance, bringing together enough raw power between them to give Ben a pretty tough fight.

Sal Buscema knew how to effectively choreograph a superhero fight and we have a lot of fun watching Ben trade punches with the bad guys. Ben handles himself well and comes close to winning, but he's simply outnumbered. Fortunately, the Liberty Legion arrives.

The conclusion of the fight continues the fun, as the Liberty Legion uses their powers together in tactically interesting ways to finish off the villains. Brain Drain and Skyshark get away, but the remaining Nazis are captured, the Vibranium is recovered and New York City is saved. Ben returns to the present to find out that history has unfolded correctly.

I do wish that Ben's two-issue trip into the past had allowed him more time to directly team-up with the Liberty Legion members. Part of the fun of the FF Annual that kicked off this story arc was getting to see modern heroes interact with Golden Age heroes. Here, Ben is either on the sidelines or unconscious when the Liberty Legion is around.

But the story is a good one regardless, with Nazis getting beaten up and obscure heroes getting their moments in the sun.

Next week, Bruce Wayne produces a movie, solves a murder and gets into an aerial dogfight in what will be the first of three reviews of stories featuring World War I aircraft.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Cover Cavalcade

From 1963, with cover art by Sheldon Moldoff. Any comic book universe worth its salt is filled with Tarzan-inspired Jungle Men.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

Suspense: "Frankie and Johnny" 2/3/57

Margaret Whiting plays Frankie, who eventually decides to murder her no-good, cheating boyfriend Johnny. What makes this particular episode fun is that Whiting sings a lot of the story in the form of a blues number. It's something Suspense had done a few years earlier in an episode staring Rosemary Clooney.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

You Can't Think of Everything--The Pusadian Tales, Part 2

Read/Watch 'am In Order #105

The second Pusadian tale (stories set in a mythical Bronze Age written by L. Sprague Dr Camp) was published in the November 1951 issue of Imagination.

Get out your Pusadian Tales scorecard and remind yourself about the setting. Pusad is a slowly sinking continent that is analogous to Atlantis. Lorsk is the predominant nation on Pusad. In this story, we meet Gezun, a 14-year-old boy who originally came from Lorsk. The ensuing tales will follow Gezun's life as he eventually rises from slave to king, largely through his cleverness and his innate ability as a con artist.

In this story, he's been a slave for about a year, having been captured by pirates, taken away from Pusad and sold to a wizard named Sancheth Sar.

Fortunately, the wizard is a relatively benevolent master and Gezun has not been unhappy. In fact, as the story opens, Gezun is awkwardly trying to seduce a girl he's befriended, though being only fourteen, he's not quite sure what he'll do if she says "Yes."

 Gezun's first adventure begins when his master sends him to attend an auction of magical items, with orders to obtain a specific manuscript.

Before he gets home again, Gezun will need to be clever, make important spot decisions, deal with a pair of bandits, and resist the lure of o shape-changing sprite. But while he's on guard against these threats, he's not necessarily watching out for more mundane ways of getting the manuscript away from him.

The story is a delight on several levels. The characterization of Gezun is excellent. He's clever and capable, but de Camp never forgets that he is still a young boy, who sometimes reacts to the world in childish manner.

Also, as is true with all of de Camp's Pusadian Tales, Gezun's world view, such as his attitude towards slavery or the casual ruthlessness of his tactics when dealing with bandits, accurately reflect a Bronze Age culture. The story is a fantasy, but de Camp's thoughtful inclusion of period-accurate details give it verisimilitude and makes the setting and characters seem real.

You can find the story online HERE.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Back to 1942--AGAIN (Part 1)

cover art by Jack Kirby
Marvel Two-in-One Annual #1 (1976) follows up on the story from that year's Fantastic Four Annual, in which the FF had to travel back to 1942 and recover some Vibranium to keep the Nazis from winning the war. But they only managed to recover half of the rare and powerful element.

I have a pet peeve about stories crossing over between titles, which I talked about when I reviewed the FF Annual a couple of weeks ago. I was giving these titles a pass, because--though both involve traveling back to 1942 to recover missing Vibranium--they are independent enough of each other to read and enjoy seperately. 

I still feel that is true, but its connection to the FF Annual does get this issue off to a really slow start. A number of pages are needed to recap the events of the earlier book, which is followed by Ben Grimm playing 20 Questions with the Watcher, who wants to help Ben preserve history but won't overtly violate his non-interference oath by actually speaking. All he can do is smile or frown slightly when Ben asks questions.

Even in the context of a Comic Book Universe, this is a little silly. The Watcher is still interfering--he's still violating his oath--he's just doing it without talking. Maybe according to Watcher Law this gives him a legal loophole, but it's still a goofy way of getting in exposition and setting up the plot.

Anyway, Ben eventually realizes that the Vibranium was split in half when it fell back in time, so the other half still needs to be found. And it needs to be found quickly, because New York City (starting with the most recently constructed buildings) starts to vanish. Ben hasn't seen Back to the Future, which won't be made for another ten years, but he still realizes that history is being altered and he needs to do something about it fast.

Sal Buscema's art is fun to look at, though, and writer Roy Thomas does use the exposition to remind us that Ben is a really smart guy, not just a bruiser who likes to clobber stuff.

Anyway, Ben eventually uses the time machine to travel back to 1942 and the story rapidly gets more interesting. A nice touch here is having Ben meet a young John Romita and befriend him. 

But his new friend will have to wait. A flight of Nazi dive bombers attack New York, which confuses Ben since he knows that the Germans don't have any aircraft carriers. How did the planes get to the United States?

A couple of recent issues of Marvel Premiere (which did cross over directly with the Invaders--GRRRRRR!!!) had introduced the Liberty Legion to the Marvel Universe. This is a group of obscure Golden Age characters who band together to protect the home front while the Invaders are taking the war to occupied Europe. They show up again to take care of the Nazi planes, though the Nazi leader--a brutal pilot named Sky Shark who made a name for himself by strafing civilians--gets away.

Ben doesn't get to do much here, since he's stuck on the ground while the fighting is going on in the air. Also, the Liberty Legion is understandable suspicious of his story that he's from the future. In fact, Ben gets left behind again while the Legion divides into sub teams to fight superpowered Nazi sabateurs.

This bad guys are all villains who had been introduced in recent issues of The Invaders. So Roy Thomas is once again being a Triple Threat: he's indulging in his love of Golden Age characters, using this story to promote characters from other books, and telling a fun story.

That last one is the important part. Using one book to promote another is perfectly legitimate, as long as the story being told is still entertaining.

This one isn't quite as good as the FF Annual, because Ben (one of the Marvel U's best characters) gets left on the sidelines for pretty much the entire tale. But he gets his chance to join in on the last page, when a giant flying swastika attacks the city. He uses a flagpole as a makeshift catapult to fling himself up towards the strange craft and into the next regular issue of Marvel Two-in-One. We'll look at that issue next week.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Friday, September 6, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

The Falcon: "The Case of the Big Talker" 4/29/51

A mobster forces Mike Waring to help clear him of murder. The mobster is undoubtedly capable of murder--the question is whether he's guilty of this particular one.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Different Studios---Same Idea--Same Year

Famous Studios (formally Fleischer studios before being taken over by Paramount) was based in New York  in 1951. The Fleischers had moved their studio to Miami, but after things went bust for the brothers, Paramount had moved operations back to New York by 1943.

Terrytoons, in the meantime, was founded by Paul Terry in 1929 and stuck around New York until they closed up shop in 1972. Terrytoons were released by 20th Century Fox.

So the only thing they had in common was having studios in the same state. I don't think they were close enough for their to be a common restaurant or bar where they would have hung out with each other after work. I initially wondered about that, because in 1951, both studios independently produced cartoons featuring the same general idea. Famous' Little Audrey and Terrytoons' Heckle and Jeckle both made unwise wishes on a rainy day, causing severe draught and causing them to have to take action to resolve the problem.

The characters also had respectable comic book careers beyond their cartoon origins.
Little Audrey's "Audrey the Rainmaker" begins with the precocious girl stuck inside on a rainy day. Bored and annoyed, she makes a heartfelt wish that it would never rain again. When this wish actually comes true, Audrey is tasked by a sentient drop of water to make amends. This requires her to make a trip up a rainbow and visit the Rainmaker.

Written by Isadore Klein and directed by Izzy Sparber, "Audrey the Rainmaker" is a wonderful cartoon, full of imaginative images and giving us an effective "be careful what you wish for" moral.

Terrrytoons' "The Rainmakers," written by Tom Morrison and directed by Connie Rasinski, starts with a near-identical premise. Heckle and Jeckle, fed up with their picnic being ruined by a rain storm, also wish that it would never rain again. This also leads to a drought, repleat with some downright frightening surreal images of the consequences of this. The cartoon goes off in its own direction at this point, with the two magpies taking flight in a plane to capture a rain cloud. Unfortunately for them, the cloud they try to capture is a "little girl" whose much larger dad is less than pleased with her captors. Like the Famous Studios' cartoon, it is full of imaginative and surreal images that make it a joy to watch.

As I said, both cartoons were released in 1951. So that's what made me think perhaps there was a common watering hole for New York animators and perhaps this general idea was discussed by guys working for the different studios, with each studio then taking the premise in different directions. But, as I said, I don't think the studioes were that close to each other.

Then again, Heckle and Jeckle's cartoon was released in May, while Little Audrey's cartoon wasn't released until October, so maybe someone at Famous Studios saw the H & J effort and lifted the basic idea. I have no idea what the production times were for either studio, so I don't know if that's possible.

Or maybe it was merely a coincidence--probably the most likely explanation. In any case, the end result was a pair of cartoons that literally drip with imagination and creativity.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Tarzan's Son Needs a Good Spanking, by Golly!

 Attentive readers of my blog may have noticed that I've reviewed a number of Jesse Marsh-illustrated Tarzan comics by Dell recently. The reason for this is simple. A short time ago, the digital edition of a 700-page omnibus of these comics was on sale for just 3 bucks. Though my ideal for comics is physical copies rather than digital, the explosion of e-comics does allow me to acquire and read comics I never otherwise would have experienced. It's a more than fair trade-off.

So as I read through the omnibus, I keep running into particularly cool stories on which I want to comment. The team of Marsh and writer Gaylord Du Bois were coming up with a pretty high percentage of winners. Thus--a lot of Tarzan reviews in a relatively short time span.  If you are reading this in the far future because you are compiling a biography of me as the savior of our culture, please make note of this.

I want to write about "The Beasts in Armor" (Tarzan #16, cover dated July/August 1950) for several reasons.

First, it reminds us that Tarzan's Africa is stock full of dinosaurs. In fact, in this issue we learn that the dinosaur-infested Valley of Monsters (first encountered a few issues earlier) is within reasonable travelling distance of the dinosaur-infested land of Pal-ul-don.

To be frank, this annoys me. I've been to Africa a half-dozen times. Granted I'm in a war zone and largely confined to a guarded compound, but all the same you'd think I'd at least occasionally see a dinosaur. They're apparently all over the place. But, no. Not a single dinosaur sighting so far. It's very upsetting.

Second, "The Beasts in Armor" is simply a great story. Du Bois and Marsh were drawing elements from both the Tarzan movies and the original novels to craft their own version of Tarzan's universe. As in the novels, Tarzan has learned to fly airplanes. As in the movies, he has a young son called Boy (as opposed to his adult son Korak from the novels). These elements come together when Tarzan does a fly-over of the Valley of Monsters, checking on a friendly tribe that lives near the valley and had helped him in the past. Tarzan doesn't know that Boy has stowed away on board.

 In the ERB universe, it is rarely a good idea to fly over a dinosaur-infested territory. An encounter with a pterodactyl is pretty much inevitable.

Tarzan's plane is lightly damaged and he manages to come in for a safe landing. He heads for the friendly village for help, which allows Boy to crawl out from the cargo space and go fishing. He catches several large spiny fish, which will be a plot point later on.

A couple of baby T-Rexes show up and eat the fish, then chase Boy up a tree. When the Daddy T-Rex puts in an appearance, Boy is in real trouble.

That panel above is magnificent, Jesse Marsh's figure work is always a little lacking in my opinion, but panels like this are a true strength and one of the reasons he was such a great storyteller despite his weaknesses.

Anyway, a native of Pal-ul-don (and a friend of Tarzan) shows up on a gryf, which dispatches Daddy T-Rex. A gryf, by the way, is a almost-domesticated triceratops used by the natives of Pal-ul-don as riding beasts.

The story structure here is interesting, essentially dividing events into two entirely different plots. The encounter with the T-Rexes is pretty much just a prologue to have Tarzan meet his friends from Pal-ul-don, tossing them into another, unrelated adventure.

Tarzan learns that a half-dozen thugs armed with Tommy guns have flown into Pal-ul-don, taken the prince of the city of A-Lur captive and are ruling as dictators. 

I really enjoy the way the prince is portrayed, maintaining a stoic dignity even while the thugs mock him. The comic book version of Pal-ul-don natives were more human-looking than those in the novels, with cat-like ears, but no tails. I don't know if this was intended, but the result of this is a story written in 1950 that shows a dark-skinned clearly-human man remaining dignified and unbroken while being abused by white men. Quite a remarkable statement for the time.

I also enjoy the visual variety among the thugs. The story never gets around to giving them individual personalities in terms of their dialogue or actions, but the top panel above kind of does this for us. Among the six, we have, for instance, a hairy-armed big bully and a dapper con artist type. The visuals alone gives each of them a degree of individuality.

Tarzan arrives to attack the thugs. A nifty action sequence follows, which includes Tarzan tossing the sub-machine guns out a window and forcing the thugs to run for it. They recover the guns and try to get to their airplanes, but natives riding nigh-invulnerable gryfs attack. The thugs' plane is damaged when it tries to take off and the thugs all die in the ensuing crash.

Boy has been stashed out of the way during this part of the adventure. When Tarzan re-unites with him later, he reminds the snotty little brat that his stowing away on the plane has probably left Jane sick with worry. Add to this the fact that his shenanigans also nearly got him and his dad eaten by dinosaurs and... well, Tarzan lets him off with a stern talking to. But, boy-o-boy, did Boy ever deserve a good spanking. Kids gotta learn right from wrong, Lord Greystoke. Sparing the rod is probably why Boy is a broken and forgotten figure today.

They get back to their own plane and discover that the young T-Rexes have died of indigestion after eating the spiny fish that Boy had caught early in the story, which ties up that plot thread. The good guys all get happy endings, though I hope that Boy at least got a time-out when he and Tarzan got home.

Let's end this review with one more example of Jesse Marsh's magnificent art. I do tend to be critical of his figure work, but he was indeed a great artist:

You can read this story in its entirety HERE.

Next week, we'll visit with Ben Grimm again as he again time travels back to World War II.

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