Wrong bug-themed hero, Dan!

The Blue Beetle #4

Fox Features Publications (Fall, 1940)

Well, so much for being easier. Before the break we got a comic that was just Blue Beetle and only a few stories. Now we’re back in anthology mode, with reprints from the comic strips just to add to the page count. That means more comics to read in a row, but it also means I have to review them all and that’s a pain when you have things to do. I’m hoping we get more comics like the previous issue because I stopped reviewing Wonderworld Comics and Mystery Men Comics for a reason, Fox Features!

Oh well, here we go again, folks. Read along and let’s lightning round this.

Blue Beetle: Blitz And The Dynamite Formula by Charles Nicholas

Again, going by the listed credits because Comic Book+ and the Grand Comic Database are guessing half the time who’s borrowing the pen name this story. Spies from “the Fatherland” try to steal a more powerful form of dynamite. Joan gets too close to their operation so they try to bump her off, only for Dan to save her both as a cop and later as The Blue Beetle. The spies do manage to capture our heroes and the inventor of the explosive because Beetle’s helmet seems to be a magnet for blunt objects, but he recovers in time to foil their plans, the lead spy blowing himself up after going crazy. This was a decent story but there’s a surprising amount of decompression for the 1940s. It’s like they wanted to show every step of the spies carrying the unconscious Beetle into the house they were planning to blow up. It’s feels more like modern decompression, where they’re padding out the story…and yet it’s not a reprint and there are a bunch of other stories in this issue.

Blue Beetle: The Drug Smuggling Ring by Charles Nicolas

According to the GCD this is a reprint from the newspaper comic strips (April 18-May 11, 1940). It all starts when a guy named Snow Brody sells a kid a marijuana cigarette…right in front of Dan and Mike. It’s like he wanted to get caught. (Also with a name like Snow you’d think he would be selling cocaine.) Instead he gets shot when his pals try to off the cops. Snow is killed and Dan is seriously wounded, requiring surgery. Dan’s other love interest, Helen, donates blood to save his life and Franz’s Vitamin 2X speeds his recovery so the Blue Beetle can stop the crooks with a gun that fires armor-piercing bullets that even his armor won’t be able to stop. That’s a nice addition, and how Dan tracks them down. Now if the Blue Beetle can stop kissing Helen against her will (because she’s into Dan…it’s Joan hot for the Beetle) he might solve the case. Yeah, that part is kind of off. Parts of this story were adapted from Dan’s radio show origin story and it’s a good tale. For a translation between comic strip and comic book the flow isn’t even interrupted to catch up the audience. It actually works better than the story supposedly made for the comic.

Blue Beetle: The Man In The Black Robe by Charles Nicolas

Another reprint of newspaper strips (June 3- June 29, 1940). We’re going backwards in comic book progression. This time someone is stealing corpses and the Blue Beetle investigates. Twists happen, the lady victim of the week changes hairstyles partway through the story, which at least sets her apart from Dan’s love interests. It is however hampered more by the format that the previous story as it feels more like a series of connected events than a properly flowing narrative.

Still Blue Beetle: The Ghosts Of Denton Hall by Charles Nicholas

And still reprinting comic strips in our final Blue Beetle story (May 13-June 3,1940) but not our final story of the issue, and not our final reprint. It’s a story with fake spooks, a lawyer named John Kent (no relation), and the Beetle’s helmet actually protecting his head for a change. It’s also still broken a couple of times by the format change from strips to book but otherwise a decent story.

K-51: The Three European Dictators by Willis B. Renise

There are three stories left and two of them belong to K-51, our old pal from Wonderworld Comics. This came from issue #9, January, 1940. Three European dictators are preparing to sign a pact to war on their neighbors but K-51 has to find out who killed one of them. It turns out one of the trio is planning to be the only one in charge…which you’d think he’d do AFTER the conquest but as betraying his wife, who claims to have “made him”, he’s not to bright. K-51: Spies At War was one of the few comics I enjoyed in Wonderworld Comics so it’s nice to see again and the story still holds up.

K-51: The Return Of Lin Sun by Willis B. Renise

This one appeared in Wonderworld Comics #8. Good thing there wasn’t continuity back then because that would be a weird choice. I’ve already reviewed this one: “So…something happened. Did I forget who Lin Sun was in this story? Did she show up in a previous story? She’s not very memorable for me. At any rate she’s trying to cause a revolt in the Philippines just as K-51 and Z-23 are there for some reason and she plots her revenge. Too bad one of her thugs has an inflated ego and a murder boner (plus willing to force himself on Z-23 until her fiance stops him). It’s an okay story, which seems to be par for the course here.”

Captain Savage: Captured By Sin Lee by Francis Drake (no relation I assume)

Blue Beetle’s final story features one of his compatriots from Mystery Men Comics (issue #6; January, 1940). So is Savage a “good pirate” or just has issues with the British Navy, who has a price on his head? Definitely bad guy pirate (and Chinese stereotype, though I’ve seen worse out of this period) Sin Lee raids a ship for cargo and captures a missionary just taking a ride with the boat. They call for help and Captain Savage and the crew of the Danger goes after them. Thankfully they didn’t have time for the full hours-long chase between sailboats before Savage save the cargo and the missionary, and then the captain who was robbed decides to turn Savage in for the reward…the jerk. She helps them escape because at least someone is grateful. It’s an okay story but I’m not hankering for further adventures at this point.

I wish this was more like the previous issue of two full-length stories and a text story. What we got was interesting but time consuming to review. I enjoyed the stories for the most part but I don’t want this to be yet another anthology.


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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