Wonderworld Comics #3
Fox Feature Syndicate (July, 1939, as posted to Comic Book Plus)
Again, we have a flurry of comics to review so let’s get to it, lightning round style. Names are given by Comic Book Plus if they aren’t in the story itself so I don’t know where they came from. Also they say some of the names listed in the credits were pen names to make it look like there were more people involved or something. I don’t see the point myself. It’s not getting the writers any more money.
The Flame: “Captain Flagg’s River Pirates”
WRITER: Basil Barod (Will Eisner, according to CB+) | ARTIST: Lou Fine
A pirate on the waters of New York kidnapping a rich man and his daughter seems an odd debut for a man who can teleport through a lit match, had a fire-shooting gun, and calls himself The Flame. We learn nothing about him other than he has all that and is bulletproof, plus he has his own boat and a servant name Jarvis long before Tony Stark. It’s a…curious concept but there isn’t much on display. Curious if he’ll show up again or be a flash in the pan.
Yarko The Great: “Death And The Devil”
WRITER/ARTIST: Will Eisner
Yarko, an American apparently living in London according to this story, returns as he investigates a series of killings. The responsible party is the team of the Devil and Death. This that weird kind of devil, that wears red and has a beard and might as well be a human in a cheap costume for all he does in this story. He wants Yarko dead because of the lives he’s cost the devil to bring to Hell. Interesting that one of the thugs he brings in to fight Yarko refuses to fight him because Yarko saved his life once. Otherwise as a Christian I just can’t get into these stories. The devil is a weak foe, Death just kills by looking into your eyes, but covering Yarko’s eyes is his weakness. I just can’t get into this character.
WRITER/ARTIST: Jerry Williams (S.M. Iger? Which is his real name, CB+?)
Our running story finally reaches a conclusion. Shorty leads the Border Patrol to Tiny’s house where he’s met by Woofy the dog, who escaped Tiny and his boss. Knowing that Suzy and Mr. De Welth is in danger, Shorty comes up with a plan to save them…and somehow the adults listen to this kid the whole time. And it works out. This is kind of a weird inclusion given how more seriously drawn the other stories are but still enjoyable. It’s a good end to this storyline.
Patty O’Day: “The Case Of The Stolen Silver”
WRITER/ARTIST: Adolphe Barreaux, Comic Book Plus thinks
A wedding that Patty and Ham are filming for the news is robbed but thanks to a telephoto lens she gets a shot of the robber, a member of a rival newsservice who tried to run them off the road early and was using the job to hide his theft. It’s frankly the least exciting of these stories thus far. Patty just happens to record the thief and lead the police to it and the loot. Ham gets to punch a guy but that’s about it.
Dr. Fung: “The Charm Bracelet Murder”
WRITER/ARTIST: Bob Powell
Fung and Dan visit an old friend living in Singapore (and given how old Fung is, ALL his friends are old) only to find him murdered and his niece arriving with a charm bracelet he sent her. What follows is more death, more casual racism, and Fung actually getting into a gunfight. It’s not a bad story overall outside of the casual racism.
Tex Mason: “Rounding Up The Counterfeiters”
WRITER/ARTIST: Cecilia Munson (or possibly Munson Paddock)
Because Tex wouldn’t let him ride a saddlesore horse and hurt the poor animal, a counterfeiter decides to frame Tex with counterfeit money. However, the Sheriff trusts Tex enough to prove his own innocence. This is the first time I’ve seen (or been forced to write) the phrase “wood pussy” and I’m only guessing it’s tied to the skunk that factors into this story. It’s a bit hard to follow near the end given the panel design but functional.
Don Quixote: “At The World’s Fair”
no credits listed
Not this again. Remember, this is Don and Sancho somehow leaving a book into the real world. The Flame is easier to believe and we don’t even have an origin for him. This time he disrupts a fair by thinking a dance is an attack and a ferris wheel is a monster, so they lock him in a looney bin. Hopefully he stays there and we won’t have to see any more of this.
K-51: Spies At War: “Hong Kong Assignment”
WRITER/ARTIST: Willis B. Renise, or is it Will Eisner?
K-51 and 2-19 (who actually gets a real name) travel to Hong Kong to stop a group of Chinese spies from taking over the world. Somehow this is both more and less racist than Dr. Fung depending on your perspective. How our lady spy boss Lin Sun recognizes K-51 puts James Bond’s lack of personal security to shame (she just recognizes him even in disguise). Our villains use a sonic machine and there is actual child death, yet for some reason when the machine explodes only our heroes and Lin Sun (her assistant is killed in the blast) has to be taken to a hospital…and they’re sorry she dies! Also, K-51 has a girlfriend out of nowhere. What even was this story?
Mob-Buster Robinson: “Chinatown At War Again”
WRITER/ARTIST: Harold Vance
So apparently we have a location: Capitol City. Of course it has its own Chinatown (all the biggest cities have one) and Robinson want to take on the Tongs next, aided by the head of the Chinese division. Okay. Too bad his cousin is the head of the two tongs at war. Luckily after some shenanigans Robinson gets them to form a truce. A…truce. Shouldn’t someone be going to jail for smuggling through the sewers (and Robinson having to swim in sewer water to track the boat) and, you know, the murders that started this story? It’s somehow the least casually racist of the bunch (yes, I know the time and forgive their outdated ignorance but it doesn’t make it any easier to read when it comes to all the Chinese people in this one anthology issue) and the ending doesn’t work for me, but overall it has positives.
Spark Stevens: “The Scourge”
WRITER/ARTIST: Klaus Nordling, though CB+ isn’t sure he’s the writer…I gave up understanding this
Between the French dancers in the Don Quixote story and the villain of this piece you realize that writing dialog to sound like an accent is a talent not yet learned when this story came out. Spark and Chuck get in trouble (of course, fighting over a girl) but the Island cop is actually working for a pirate called the Scourge who wants to force them to help run his wireless. His usual operator is sick, but the sailors realize he has typhoid along with the area natives. They get a doc with the cure but have to convince the native because our heroes tricked the bad guys…it’s just a lot for one story and it ends with the girl trying to date both of them at the same time.
This…is not a very good showing, at least to me. The flaws in this anthology style, with so many different stories, are on display here. They’re not really good stories, and some of them are really bad. We’ll be ignoring any further Don Quixote stories, folks, but feel free to read them, while the text stories I don’t read because the comics take up so much time as it is. The Shorty Shortcake story was the only decent read otherwise, but only if you read the earlier issues of Wonder/Wonderworld Comics. Overall this was not a good issue to me. New superhero The Flame has potential but the rest…pardon the expression…leaves me cold.