Wonderworld Comics #4
Fox Features Syndicate (August, 1939)
After missing a few Saturdays for holiday or illness it’s time to get back to this anthology. I won’t be discussing the text stories or that stupid Don Quixote story about him and Sancho coming out of a book into the real world for no good reason, and the other short gag comics because they aren’t funny. In the case of the text story there’s so many comic stories to read that I need some kind of break, and since I don’t discuss the articles in the Star Blazers magazine I might as well make it the text tale. This is “yesterday’s” COMIC after all. 🙂 I’ll also ignore the one-page stories because this is going to be a long enough list for you, the reader. Comic Book Plus also credits the ads but naturally I won’t go through those.
The Flame: “The Dreaded Doxol” WRITER: Basil Berod (Will Eisner according to CB+) | ARTIST: Lou Fine
Okay, somebody explain this guy to me. Now he has a plane too, and he still has the power to teleport through flames. Even Wonder Man (what happened to him?) had an origin story and he was lame. Anyway, the Flame deals with Doxol, a guy who looks like the Cryptkeeper’s younger brother who has a formula that turns people into his slaves…until he dies in a dogfight with the Flame. And another girl shows how hot she is for him…pun very much intended. The action is fine but I want to know where these powers come from and where he gets his vehicles. Also curious what he’ll have next time. His own rocket?
Yarko The Great: “The Judge’s Wife And The Smugglers” WRITER: Will Eisner | ARTIST: also Eisner but CB+ also adds Bob Powell with a question mark, though I don’t seen any credits on the page
This time our dime store Zatara happens to be friends of a judge whose wife has been smuggling jewels into the US. However, her conscience is getting the better of her and the people she’s been working for aren’t happy about it. Yarko works with police detective Gail Martin, a rarity back then to see a girl in the NYPD, to clear the wife to not only protect her but the judge’s name. Also out of nowhere Yarko has to stop the judge from killing himself. This was a bit harder to follow. Did Yarko capture the wife’s kidnapper or just another member of the gang when he grew to Ultraman size? It’s a story with a decent plot but some hiccups in execution. I’m curious if Gail will return as they hint some romantic interest between our heroes.
Shorty Shortcake: (no title) WRITER/ARTIST: Jerry Williams, though for some reason CB+ is convinced it’s S.M. Iger as artist but not sure as writer. Records back then are questionable because nobody kept track and some creators would use pen names to make it look like they had extra creators or something
A new story arc begins as Mr. De Welth is worried about trouble at his diamond mine in Guatemala. So of course he sends two kids and their dog to investigate. Geez, where are Shorty and Suzy’s parents? They meet one sailor who hates kids but likes playing with Woofy and another that is part of the plot to do whatever they’re doing at the mines and already knows Shorty is spying on them. De Welth is no Scrooge McDuck, folks. Suzy and Mizzen, the kid hating sailor with the obvious pun, end up rescuing Shorty from the bad guys, but this is only the start of their adventure. It’s a decent start once you get over the idea of two kids going to South America to investigate a mine.
Patty O’Day: “The Case Of English Eddie” WRITER/ARTIST: Adolphe Barreaux
Spies pretend to be from Patty and Ham’s newsreel group to get pictures of a new Navy battleship. Not liking his company’s name being used like that the editor asks them to get that fake film, which leads to another meeting with Lord Mike, the guy who saved Patty in the previous story. It seems he is going to be a regular and quite mysterious as well as Patty’s love interest. It’s actually a pretty good story.
Dr. Fung: “The Council Of Vampires” WRITER: Arthur Dean (or possibly Bob Powell) | ARTIST: Bob Powell
This is a bit unusual. Sure there was a cult in a previous story but this issue has Fung and Dan tackling with a vampire in search of a ruby that will grant her a return to life. It just feels out of place in this series thus far, and even in a book that includes a white mystic and a dude to teleports through fire. At least there isn’t as much outdated casual racism this time. It was the 1930s.
Tex Maxon: “Ambushing The Smokey Hill Stage” WRITER/ARTIST: Cecilia Munson, or Munson Paddock–dang it, 1939, get your credits straight. As it is CB+ has to make up titles most of the time.
Tex’s friend and fellow ranch hand Bud needs money for his father’s operation. At first he considers being a lookout man for a stage coach robbery but his conscience changes his mind. Good thing, as young Johnny (another kid hero) overhears they’re planning to double cross him anyway. Together the trio stop the robbery. It’s a good story and they’re getting better at the accent dialog.
K-51 Spies At War: “The Battleship Disasters” WRITER/ARTIST: Willis B. Reese, possibly Will Eisner again
Well, since we last saw K-51 and fellow spy Z-19 Clare, they got engaged. That was fast. Eh, I’ve seen it work. Anyway Z-19 (anyone else getting Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 vibes?) is already investigating a series of exploding ships in the Panama Canal and K-51 is sent to help her. Our newest villain is blowing up ships with his Radium Ray cannon. Why? Don’t know, but our Z-19 pulls off a good ruse that allows them to defeat the bad guys. How is it that a 1940s comic is doing a better job at making strong women characters without killing off their femininity or making the men look like chumps to do it? You being beaten by supposed chauvinists, 2022!
Mob Buster Robinson: (no title) no writer credited and CB+ isn’t sure if penciler Harold Vance and inker George Tuska is the same man or not
After a disguise fails to trick some mobsters he’s trying to overhear, Robinson is captures by a mob boss who may have been inspired by Edward G. Robinson (no relation). With Robinson out of the way they somehow take over the city until our hero escapes his cell off-panel and captures the crook. This is an idea not served by the necessarily low page count.
Tom Barry Of The Royal Mountie: WRITER/ARTIST: I want to say George Tuska but CB+ has me not trusting credits.
It’s a one page story but unlike the last story works within the space provides as Barry goes after a criminal, shoots the man’s brother when he tries to kill the mountie, and then is forced to kill the first criminal in a shoot-out. A decent enough tale.
“Spark” Stevens: “Down In The Gold Mine” WRITER: Klaus Nordling maybe ARTIST: Klaus Nordling uncontested This is why writing credits for this book is a pain!
Spark and Chuck are at it again, fighting over a girl. Their fight leads into trouble at a mine (probably not Mr. De Welth’s) that they have to fight out of because they know too much…but all they know is that some shenanigans were going on and some guy got flogged. Then the girl leaves with some other guy after showing up and disappearing like some kind of ghost. She’s somehow both important to the plot and insignificant to the same plot. Plus “listening” to these two argue is getting on my nerves.
Most of the stories are quite enjoyable or at least serviceable. Not much more I can say about it. Kind of sorry the knights on the cover never showed up.