How I feel after trying to review a Golden Age comic with so many stories per issue. You decide who represents me.

Blue Beetle #1

Fox Features Syndication (Winter, 1940)

Okay, the whole anthology comic thing didn’t work, so let’s go with the Blue Beetle’s solo outing…which features numerous short stories…again…but at least it’s only Blue Beetle, a bit of Yarko, and some other one I don’t know. At least we’ve already met two of these characters before in two different anthologies. Yarko is the one from Wonderworld Comics while Blue Beetle appeared in Mystery Men Comics. And some of them are reprints from those comics. That saves me some time, while taking it up elsewhere. Yay. Well, read along with me here.

The Blue Beetle by Charles Nichols because I’m going with the comic’s credit, not Comic Book Plus’s guesses

  • The Origin Of The Blue Beetle: The only original story in the comic. It’s here that we finally get to see the Beetle’s origin after numerous stories in Mystery Men Comics. Even the Superman origin was beefed up between Action Comics #1 and Superman #1. And when CB+ says origin they mean it. We see him get born. The only way you get more origin is seeing the conception, and that’s not happening in a Golden Age kid-friendly comic. Dan’s mother is taken by the flu (more of an issue back then though it still happens nowadays) when he’s still a boy and emulates his police officer father by protecting smaller kids from bullies. After college he becomes a police officer to avenge his murdered father. I mean, if you watched Linkara’s retrospective I posted some time ago you’ve already seen the story, but it is a good read.
  • The Coming Of The Blue Beetle: (reprint from Mystery Men Comics #1, reusing my reviewThe Blue Beetle tangles with bank robbers who killed the manager and wants to force his daughter and secretary to give up the combination. The story itself is kind of meh. What’s interesting is how different this Blue Beetle is. Instead of his chainmail armor he wears a business suit. The name of his friend at the drug shop is “Abe” instead of Dr. Franz (though I guess his first name could be Abe), and his method of stopping the crooks is closer to the Green Hornet’s pretending to be one of the villains than just beating up the baddies. It’s not the Dan Garett from the radio dramas I’ve been listening to on my walks, which sadly I didn’t get enough of in this year, or the comic version I’ve heard about.
  • The Armored Truck Robbery: (reprint from Mystery Men Comics #2) This one was also shown in LInkara’s Blue Beetle retrospective. It’s the one where Blue Beetle has the suit that doesn’t cover his face when he’s captured by armored truck thieves. There really isn’t much room for a full story here, so nothing to add to the summary beyond Blue Beetle fights armored car theives, and yes the costume does look silly with the exposed face and all.
  • The Lone Shark Racket: (reprint from Mystery Men Comics #3) Like the title says, the Blue Beetle goes undercover to foil a protection racket. It’s the same outfit but I think they drew a domino mask on him this time. Madigan claiming he’s close to getting the Blue Beetle, and apparently the only cop who wants to arrest him for his vigilante escapades despite getting evidence and not killing anyone, really feels stuffed in there like a requirement.
  • Protection Insurance For Newsboys: (reprint from Mystery Men Comics #4) This time gangsters are forcing kids to pay protection for their news delivery. Because we all know newsies made tons of dough selling newspapers? It may just be an excuse to have the Blue Beetle give out whistles and beat up bad guys but this is weak sauce even for the protection racket. “Here’s 500 dollars to beat up some kids for their lunch money.” Madigan’s not even part of this story and they still needed to show him sitting a bench with wet paint bragging about how he’ll get that durn Beetle. Weak story overall.
  • A Trap For The Blue Beetle: (reprint from Mystery Men Comics #5) Well, at least I don’t have to dig through all those Mystery Men comics to review these, and I got a bonus one to boot. Our last title character story of the comics (not counting a text story that was adapted into an episode of the radio show) finds crooks wanting to capture the Beetle but thanks to a set of “master keys” he keeps on him he manages to escape and stop them. There’s a page missing somewhere because Mannigan regains consciousness but we don’t see him get knocked out or hit the Blue Beetle at any point.

Yarko The Great by Lou Fine or Wil Eisner or Bob Powell or who knows thanks to reused pen names

I don’t want to read these again, as it’s one of the series that didn’t take with me when reading Wonder/Wonderworld Comics so I’m just going to grab them from the reviews. Oddly they didn’t

  • The Old Hex House (from Wonder Comics #2): Yarko is the obligatory occult hero of this comic, an American who learned the mystic secrets of the East. He needs those skills when his friend Carole’s father is taken over by Yarko’s rival Shabbidah. Not a very exciting story, frankly.
  • Death And The Devil (from Wonderworld Comics #3): 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. The Grand Comics Database says a page is missing from the reprint but I don’t care enough about Yarko to double check.
  • The Judge’s Wife And The Smugglers (from Wonderworld Comics #4): 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.
  • Vladim The Voodoo Master (from Wonderworld Comics #5): Our last reprint, and our last review. Yarko just happens to be driving by a castle where a man is trying, and failing, to escape the evil Vladim, who apparently isn’t just into voodoo, which we rarely see him use, but mutating people. Yarko manages to stop him, a girl is in there just for eye candy because all she does is let Yarko free her from a fire-filled room and drive off, and I don’t even know why voodoo was brought into this. Just have him using evil magic to make slaves. We see one voodoo doll of the girl and it never really comes into play. Outside of Yarko doing more magic stuff there’s nothing to this story, and I swear the only reason he doesn’t use the same trick twice is to show off. Again, GCD says there are pages missing and again I don’t care.

It’s sort of a cop-out using reprints but I’m guessing we’ll get original stories soon. I do wonder if he stayed in Mystery Men Comics after getting a solo title. As for Yarko, I still have no interest. At least I only had to get past one title I don’t like for the one I do instead of a bunch of them. We’ll see how long it takes before this is a pain to review.

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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