All-Star Comics #3 – continued

The Hour-Man

all star018Rex Tyler’s boss insists that Rex escort his niece Regina to a costume ball, but finds it hilarious that Rex decides he’ll go while dressed as Hourman. Once Rex and Regina arrive, Rex is surprised to see a number of other men also dressed as the Hourman. It quickly becomes clear that they’re up to no good, as they steal the Durant diamonds and leave Rex to take the blame. Fleeing from the police, Hourman takes some time to search Durant’s house and finds a vital clue. The police walk in on him, but he escapes again and  tracks down the crooks only to discover that Durant himself is the ringleader, having directed some men to steal fake jewelry so that Durant can collect the insurance money.

  • One would think that a quiet theft would serve Durant’s purpose far better than the plan we see executed here. But the crimes are often gimmicks in these superhero stories, and as gimmicks go, this one’s not too bad. It’s only the presence of the genuine Hourman at the party that stops Durant from getting away with the whole scheme.
  • Hourman gets shot, though the bullet grazes his temple. I’m guessing the Miraclo helped protect him from any serious damage.
  • I’ve occasionally cited this story as an example of how Golden Age books were targeted at multiple age levels. There is the superhero in his colorful costume for the kids, and a plot involving insurance fraud for older readers, because what kid is going to understand or care what insurance fraud is?

The Red Tornado

all star019Technically part of the framing story, this short interlude is the Red Tornado’s one and only appearance in All-Star Comics until Ma Hunkel joins the team as caretaker of their museum in the 2000s. And like the Scribbly the Boy Cartoonist strip that Ma appears in, this is a gag page in which the Tornado appears, gets teased a bit, and then leaves. She doesn’t hang around because she ripped her pants on the way in. Ouch. It’s a little bit of humor before we jump back into the storytelling, and I enjoy it.

And if I only had half the books on that two page ad… I could sell them and retire.

The Sandman

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That is one freaky face on the mad scientist.

The Sandman relates how he and Dian Belmont encounter a giant man out in the countryside, who Wes estimates to be twenty feet tall. The man collapses and dies, and his body is later found and described as “a sack of flesh containing human bones”. Wes investigates in a less than subtle fashion, evades the police, and goes looking for a Dr. Faversham, who seems to be a prime suspect. Along the way he and Dian encounter a giant rat and a giant cat, so it’s not just humans being experimented on. Wes breaks into Faversham’s house, rescues the next intended victim and narrowly avoids being shot yet again. He takes Faversham down with one punch to the jaw. And he tells Johnny Thunder that he still has nightmares about the experience.

  • I always enjoy the fact that Dian is in on Wesley Dodds’ secret double life. All the drama that comes with trying to hide his identity is dispensed with, and she just comes along for the ride and helps out. It’s a great setup, and one that the Flash and Doctor Fate share, and eventually Hawkman as well. We often take the Superman/Clark Kent/Lois Lane triangle as the standard formula for superheroes and secret identities, but that’s not always the case.
  • Given the limits on how far they could go at the time the story was published, the writers can’t make it as macabre is it probably needs to be, but some of the details are suitably disgusting. It’s hard to blame Wesley Dodds for having nightmares about the experience.
  • The Sandman gets shot or nearly shot all the time! Why is this guy not dead? He is the luckiest mystery man alive. Seriously.
  • Why does he make such a show of entering the hospital to search for records? Why not sneak in, which is what he usually does in these situations. Stealth, Sandman, stealth.

Doctor Fate

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Two questions: wouldn’t all sorcery be vile, and is there such a thing as a living phantom?

Inza, who Doctor Fate refers to as his “earth companion” enters a shop and ends up buying a box which causes her to dream about a dead Egyptian princess. She is understandably freaked out and goes to Doctor Fate for help. They head out to the coastal moors at Inza’s insistence and are attacked by “dead phantoms” (are there any other kind?). Doctor Fate declares that it’s a trap and he should have known. Doctor Fate returns Inza to her apartment where she begins to suffer nightmares about the Egyptian princess. He makes her sleep and heads to find the shop where she bought the box, only to be attacked there by an octopus. From the Nile. Hmmmm….

He tracks down the wizard causing the problems. The evil sorcerer tries to kill him with more illusions including unicorns and witches, but in the end Doctor Fate kills him by using some judo and tossing him against a wall, which breaks his neck.

  • Doctor Fate’s description of himself differs quite a bit with the origin given in his own series, and I’m not sure which came first.
  • The way Doctor Fate ends the wizard duel reminds me of Multiversity: Society of Super Heroes and the way he took out Felix Faust. Except that Faust fared a bit better than this evil wizard.
  • This is definitely a “throw everything at the hero” type story. From dead phantoms to a river octopus to witches and smoke arrows to unicorns, Doctor Fate is kept pretty busy fighting for his life for much of the story.
  • The phantoms remind me of the creatures the Justice Society fight in the second issue of the modern day JSA series. They aren’t exactly the same, but they’re certainly similar.

Johnny Thunder

The text story for the issue involves Johnny Thunder finding out that his girlfriend, Daisy Darling, has been stolen away by one Edgar Edwell. The plot involves a kidnapping and a ransom demand, and a fairly obvious jerk of a villain, but in the end Johnny and Daisy get back together. Awwww.

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