Although he first appeared in "Whiz Comics", he would later get a comic with his own name on the cover.

“Top that, Superman!”

Whiz Comics #2

Fawcett Publications (February, 1940)

I’m using DC’s “Millennium Edition” reprint from March, 2000. Like the other two comics I’ve gone over lately, this is an anthology title. But why is the first issue #2? From Wikipedia:

The first issue published of Whiz Comics was issue #2, published with a cover-date of Feb. 1940. Fawcett created two black-and-white ashcan #1 issues to solicit advertisers and to secure the copyrights to the material. The two copies were identical but carried different titles: Flash Comics and Thrill Comics; the Captain Marvel character was called Captain Thunder in a near-identical story. When Fawcett went to press with the magazine, the first issue was retitled as Whiz Comics, a name inspired by the company’s bawdy humor magazine, Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang.[1] Further complicating matters, when they got to issue #3, Fawcett, through either mistake or intent, used the number twice. Thus, if viewed from the perspective of the second #3 (and, therefore, all the issues that followed it), Whiz #2 unofficially became Whiz #1.

Publishing, everyone! As before we will look not only at the most famous title, the debut of Captain Marvel, but the other comics as well, and one of them WAS used by DC as Captain Marvel’s ally. If you want you can read along thanks to the Digital Comics Museum, since all the Fawcett-published Marvel Family stories are in public domain, even though the now renamed characters are owned by DC. The credits come from the back of the Millennium reprint.

Also, Captain…Billy’s….Whiz….Bang. ‘kay.

 

Captain Marvel

WRITER: Bill Parker  ARTIST: C.C. Beck (also the original cover art)

A young boy, Billy Batson, lives on the street selling newspapers (that was an actual job back then, kids, before the internet), having been kicked out by his greedy uncle after his parents’ death. Following a man in a trench coat into the subway (a good message to send the kiddies), he ends up at the home of the wizard Shazam….okay, you should know most of this bit by now. Now with the power of Captain Marvel, Billy tracks the phantom scientist threatening to block all radio signals (that ALSO used to be a big deal, before television). Captain Marvel saves the day and secures Billy a job at a radio station.

Of all the comics I’ve reviewed so far this is the one with the least changes from the Billy Batson we know today…PRE- New 52! Yeah, he does toss one guy into the “radio silencer” and tells the phantom scientist/Dr. Silvana that he’ll see him in prison or dead, the latter seeming kind of harsh under the circumstances, but it’s a story that held up mostly as is for years. It’s easy to see why and I rather enjoyed it.

Ibis the Invincible

WRITER: Bill Parker:  ARTIST: Bob Kingett

Ibis is that character I mentioned who would go on to be friends with the Marvel Family both on Earth-S and the post-Crisis DC Universe. And here’s where he first appeared, in the same comic and with the same writer. In this introduction, Ibis is the mummy of young prince Amentep, but he’s never called that again beyond being mentioned by a guard, so what was the point? Ibis awakens and uses his magical Ibistick to escape and travel the world, helping people while searching for his beloved Taia. He finds and restores her but before he can rescue her from the glass case a thief steals the Ibistick. I checked ahead to the next issue and he does get it back and save her. That made me happy. The story itself is typical of the magical heroes at the time, with the ability to conjure anything, only this time the power is in the stick rather than Ibis himself, which is certainly different. Also my spellcheck seems to recognize the name “Ibis” for some reason. It was a decent story but nothing that stands out among the likes of Zatara and Mandrake.

Golden Arrow

The writer and artist are unknown, one of four stories like that…apparently if Bill Parker didn’t write it there was no info on anyone who worked on it.

Golden Arrow is the son of an inventor who discovered a non-flamable lighter-than-air gas, which I assume is helium. He takes his wife and son on a balloon trip using the gas to prove its effectiveness. However, in the west a bandit has the balloon shot down and steals the formula. Only the baby boy survives and is taken by a mountain lion and then rescued by a prospector who raises the boy. He becomes better than the animals, per usual, and even shoots arrows better than the Native Americans. (They name him Golden Arrow because foster daddy prospector has no use for the gold he finds…what?…and used them to make arrows for the lad. {shrugs})

When the old man dies, Golden Arrow learns of his heritage and takes the formula back just as the crook tries to give it to his sons to sell for the second World War. (For the record, he claims he saved it for his sons. I have no idea why outside of ensuring it won’t be realized it was stolen from the “missing” scientist.) It’s a good story but I’m not sure it’s one to base a series of tales off of, and this wasn’t the man’s last appearance.

Spy Smasher

writer and artist unknown

A Navy admiral is telling his daughter and her fiance about a series of strange occurrences with missing and destroyed ships, and soon Spy Smasher is confronting “Mask”, the ringleader who wears what appears to be a handkerchief with holes in it as his mask. Okay. He recovers a stolen dirigible (presumably using the gas from the previous story because I want to make that connection in my head) and vows to go after Mask. There’s a cliffhanger as to Spy Smasher’s true identity and his face is hidden but if it turns out to be the daughter rather than the fiance, Alan Armstrong, I’ll be darned surprised. Actually, that would be pretty cool but in the 1940s? A bit unlikely. Nope, just checked. I was right, although his daughter would take over the role to fight terrorists. At least the only other superhero story in this book had some legs. He even had his own movie serial.

Scoop Smith

writer and artist erased from time or something

When the hospital’s radium is stolen they naturally go to…the newspaper to find it. You know, I’ve never understood that. Why would you go to a newspaper for help instead of the police or a PI? To get the word out, sure, but to actually find the stolen item? Give Hong Kong Phooey credit, he went to work at the police department. Soon reporter Scoop Smith and his photographer, Blimp Black (a short, overweight man…oh 1940, you scamp) track down Doctor Jim Kirk (snicker snicker), who has created a ray that can restore the dead, but stole the radium to test it. And the machine ends up working, with no discernible side effects. Guess what will NEVER be brought up again in a Fawcett title? This was kind of weak, with Smith’s escape being rather contrived. “Hey look, the bolts holding Scoop to the wall in his cell stick on in my cell. And there’s a wrench on the floor for no good reason and nobody bothered to tie me up or anything.” King Of The Rocketmen has more tension.

Lance O’Casey

WRITER: Bill Parker  ARTIST: Pete Costanza

Stop me if you’ve heard this one…because I’d love to know where. Lance O’Casey is a sailor of fortune whose monkey first mate, Mister Hogan, can operate the boat. They return home from an adventure to find the island was attacked by natives of an island run by Barracuda Brent (whose foot was mangled by a Barracuda…you used to get nicknames like that, shades of Captain Hook), who also kidnapped a white man and his daughter to force the girl to marry him because villains don’t believe in courtship or anything like that. Lance defeats Brent and all the villagers of his island escape or something, I’m not sure. So….this story happened. It needed more Bob Haney to make it work, I think.

Dan Dare

writer and artist….are a mystery…ooooo

Detective Dan Dare and his assistant (girlfriend?) Carol Clews (wow, we’re just not trying, eh?) are called to investigate a murder, although she wants him to take an overdue vacation. I’ll leave the specifics out since I linked to public domain scans above and it’s a pretty good short mystery.

Overall, I wasn’t into Lance O’Casey and Scoop Smith was kind of lame but the others were pretty good. Captain Marvel had a good origin story that still mostly holds up today, and he had some good company in the forms of Ibis and Spy Smasher. It’s a same DC screwed over Fawcett and, even though they won the case, couldn’t recover when public interest shifted and the cost of all the trials caught up to them. I wonder what Fawcett’s comics would have become by now. Maybe instead of a “big two” we would have been talking about a “big three” all these years?

 

 

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About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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  1. […] “Yesterday’s” Comic> Whiz Comics #2 […]

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