The Blue Beetle #2
Fox Features Syndicate (May-June, 1940)
It’s all Blue Beetle all the time this issue folks. As far as credits, well when Comic Book Plus and the Grand Comics Database agree it’s Charles Nichols. Apparently someone at CB+ thought Lou Fine did some pages but now they say that’s not the case, GCD credits a couple to Louis Cazeneuve but with a question mark…this is what happens when you share pen names. Let’s just get into the review. Feel free to read along.
The Ridley Murder Case
A big wig in the business world is murdered on the operating table when someone releases a gas bomb into the operating room. The Blue Beetle investigates (after having to knock out Madigan when the cop actually manages to get the drop on him) and finds it was a plot to mess with the stock market, rescuing a witness in the process. Frankly, the radio drama adaptation did a better job with the story. The obligatory damsel in distress is just here to have a pretty girl who isn’t part of the criminals.
Dr. Hanrahan’s Murder Syndicate
This is not turning out to be a positive issue for the medical community. First a crooked doctor part of a stock market plot, now another doctor working with morally bankrupt wives to get their husband’s money by killing them and having them cremated before they can be examined. Madigan’s appearance is just to have another tussle between the Beetle and Madigan but a decent short story. Imagine what they could do with a full-length story, or even something more than five pages. I’ve read longer mini-comics.
The Marty Kidnapping
Marty gets kidnapped. Okay, there’s more than that, even in a short story like this. Ruth Marty is the daughter of a judge who has evidence against a crooked lawyer so she’s kidnapped for the combination. It’s another good short story, as Blue Beetle does a bit of detective work in this story.
Fiends At The Fair (reprint from Mystery Men Comics #6)
Another story that was adapted into the radio dramas, and better told there. Having time to tell a full story really is an amazing thing, as these Golden Age comics have been teaching me. This time a crooked slot machine racket wants to set up at a nearby carnival but the owner won’t give in. The radio version of the Blue Beetle doesn’t have a wireless telephone and I would love to know how that thing works given how phones functioned in the 1940s. It certainly saves him here. Unlike the previous adapted story it does a better job at being a good short story.
Mass Murder By Radioactive Salt
Since they’re all Blue Beetle stories I thought I’d actually look at the text story this issue. Charley Storm, a reporter who’s role in the comic appearances has been to exist, tells the tale of how the Blue Beetle investigated a scientist ready to sacrifice kids for an experiment. Really, what is with this issue and evil doctors? Also, how did Storm know what happened when Beetle confronted the villain? The framing is him telling…I think his editor to send a photographer though the villain is already in jail and the story starts with a present tense warning that the Beetle is in trouble.
The Plot Of Captain X-13
Another one that was better done after being adapted into radio form. I hope this isn’t a long-lasting trend, and the same goes for random damsel in distress just to have a pretty girl. This time the Blue Beetle tangles with plane saboteurs led by Captan X-13. Given some of the numbered spies in the other Fox comics I’ve reviewed recently it’s sad that there’s one on the other side, trying to keep us out of some unnamed war, though one villain has a German accent. On its own an okay story.
The Arson Ring
Nope, both trends continue, plus Beetle getting knocked out a lot. At least we’ve run out of evil medical professionals. Pretty girl reporter out of nowhere, which GCD suspect might be Joan Mason, a reporter who at least in the radio show may be a love interest for the Beetle, though apparently the commissioner’s daughter on the show at least may be sweet on Dan the cop. Haven’t met her here yet. Arsonists are burning down buildings so the crooked landlord can claim the insurance money on the abandoned buildings. A decent adventure, though it does end with the hero tossing an explosive into the bad guy’s car.
no title on this one, but originally published in Mystery Men Comics #8
This one is a bit more unfocused. Crooks want the city’s power supply shut down and use bombs tied to various building’s electrical system to force him to do it. They also manage to kidnap the mayor’s son while knocking out Mannigan and knock out the Blue Beetle by…shoot him in the head but thanks to his chainmail armor it only knocks him out? What? He also takes off his armor to catch a boat, but leaves the mask on (not that you can tell given how small it is) because the kid is standing there. There’s decent action but the plot isn’t much of anything.
The Charity Race Kidnapping
Our final tale has the “Preyster”–don’t get excited because he’s just some dude– trying to rig a charity race horse event by stealing a champion racehorse and running it as a different horse. Mannigan is here for no reason, Beetle gets knocked out again, but no radio adaptation unless I just haven’t gotten to the episode yet, no damsel in distress out of nowhere, and no crooked doctors plus the story works well enough within the allowed space. Best story on a technical level anyway but pretty standard otherwise.
A decent enough set of stories though the radio adaptations clearly showed these stories could be better with more time. It took comics a while to realize a full story instead of a series of short stories was the better option, even when the comic isn’t an anthology.