Dan, that’s not how you get a taxi!

Blue Beetle #3

Fox Publications Incorporated (July-August, 1940)

“Case Of The Kidnapped Girls”

by Charles Nichols

“The Mastermind Of Crime”

by Walter Swift, but the Grand Comics Database believes that Pierce Rice and Louis Cazeneuve are the artists and they don’t know who wrote any of the stories, thanks to Fox Features’ pen name shenanigans

Yeah, I was surprised, too. Two long comic stories (31 pages according to Comic Book+, where you can read along) and a two page creditless text story we might as well also review. I hope this is the new trend because the anthology thing was getting old. Also, no reprints this issue. It’s all original stories. Curious what they do with a good sized space.

So let’s find out….what the hell was this story? Casually Comics should cover this thing…once she recovers from her new baby. Someone is kidnapping socially prominent girls…and then things get weird. There’s a scene where the bad guys are whipping one of the girls as a lesson to the others to keep quiet, and they’re working for some guy who wants to cut them up to create one “perfect” woman. Did Linkara miss this one in his retrospective? We have giant thugs, sickening thuds, and for the 1940s this is a bit much. I guess Wertham missed this issue. Also, more dumping on poor Mike Madigan even when he helps the Beetle a time or two. This story was just kind of weird. Also, because I stopped reading Mystery Men Comics for the reviews this is the first time I’ve seen vitamin 2X mentioned, though we see Blue Beetle smashing through normal doors but steel doors are still a limit his superhuman strength can’t deal with. Also he gets knocked out a lot and one of the death traps involves him hanging from a ledge being attacked by a giant and rather angry eagle. Well, I wanted to know what they’d do with a full length story and…I found out.

The second story is mostly tamer…if not for the high school kids having an orgy while hopped up on marijuana. Yes, the text story, “The Blue Beetle’s Quiet Night”, is not so quiet. Dan is substituting for another cop who is out sick and rescues a suicidal girl hopped up on marijuana. Learning that this is the fourth attempt and the first rescue, Dan becomes the Blue Beetle and we learn he has to keep taking the Vitamin 2X if he wants to keep his strength. This is where you make the drug/steroid joke. So the Beetle has to break up these criminals holding a drug-induced orgy, which is what drove the girls to want to commit suicide. Of course he wins…by killing the ringleader and the judge who was protecting him by making their car go into the river with them in it. This issue is turning out to be quite the dark tale. Also, the “host” of the event, though not the boss, is named Bugs Carrot and the villain of the previous story was Doc. Were they actually going for a “Looney Tunes” theme or is this a coincidence?

The third story opens with a crime wave, including a warehouse of food for the poor being blown up for some reason. We do get a name for the city, York City, though I don’t know how long that lasts. All of this crime is being perpetrated by the “Mastermind Of Crime”, who wants to take over the city and force the commissioner out of the police department. The radio show had a similar motivation for bad guys, but there’s an actual reason given there…to slowly take over the city from the inside. Here it’s just mayhem to force him out and take over the police department…I think. This is almost all action. There’s a lot of shooting between police and the National Guard versus Mastermind’s men, Dan Garrett disappears so the Blue Beetle can fight this crime wave using gadgets and chemicals so advanced, including special metal for Beetle’s car and plane, you have to wonder why Dr. Franz just works in a drug store. Also interesting is Helen Harmon, the commissioner’s daughter, worried about “that handsome young Dan Garrett”, which is how she refers to him whenever possible. This one has a heck of a body count and the Beetle threatening to electrocute one minion in the electric chair, but overall it’s a good tale.

Thus we go back to my original question: what can the creators do with a full-length story instead a bunch of five-page shorts like I’ve been seeing out of the previously reviewed Fox comics? It turns out they do pretty well. The last one actually expands on the Blue Beetle and his location while still focusing on action, and didn’t need five books and a bunch of tie-in specials and crossovers to have a battle for the fate of the city. The first one, despite some interesting choices, was also a good story and even the text story was a fun read. I’m hoping this will be the rule rather than the exception in the next bunch of stories I read.


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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