Dan’s side job in home renovation hit a snag.

The Blue Beetle #5

Fox Features Syndicate (November-December, 1940)

They’re doing it to me again. Another anthology. Look, Golden Age, not every book has to be an anthology. A couple of issues ago you had two original Blue Beetle stories with no reprints for other characters. It’s a pain to review and I don’t want to ditch this series as well. It was why I started doing the Golden Age comics, to see the classic Beetle stories in action.

I apologize if you folks are sick of me complaining about this. It’s okay to read, and you can do so here, but it’s a pain to review. I like my review format. It’s tough to do with so many short stories and I’m reading The Blue Beetle, not reprints of stories with characters from the anthology comics. Fine, I’ve vented. Let’s get on with this.

Blue Beetle: “Death From Scrag” by Charles Nicholas

Scrag threatens to blow up the city if his ransom demand isn’t met. While trying to stop his men, the Blue Beetle, Mike, and Joan are kidnapped but work together to stop his plans…or at least if there had been more room to the story. I’m not sure when Mike decided to work with the Beetle and his attempts to arrest him are becoming a sad joke. The dialog feels like lines are missing, leading to a few confusing word balloons. Outside of the fighting there sadly isn’t a chance for this story to be much.

Blue Beetle: “Kober’s Lightning Weapon” by Charles Nicholas

The same plot with the same problem. It feels like panels were cut to make the desired length. Nicholas (or whomever is using the name…I’m not going to play that game) seems to want to make more longer stories and I wish they’d let him. The only difference is that it’s Germans with a lightning gun who take offense to Dan and Mike getting people out of danger and decide to capture them, meaning they have to work together to stop the bad guys…and still Mike wants to arrest the Beetle before all the baddies are snagged. Again, the fights are the only interesting thing, only the final fight is cut short without a proper ending. Just cut to Joan, Mike, and Dan with the usual “The Blue Beetle is wonderful” “I’ll arrest that Blue Beetle yet” “oh, you silly Madigan” schtick. So in this case the anthology format is hurting the story.

Blue Beetle: “Case Of The Missing Blueprint” by Charles Nicholas

On the plus side it’s a new plot. On the downside I think that’s all they had. Some guy named Fresno and his goons steal a blueprint for a new explosive (while their old explosive should have destroyed the blueprint along with the creator and his colleagues). Long story short our three heroes get caught, have to work to escape, Mike is mad he didn’t get to arrest the Blue Beetle…now we’re just getting formulaic this issue.

Blue Beetle: “The Beetle’s New Powers” by Charles Nicholas

This one is a newspaper reprint. So we’re doing that again as well. I can see the kids who didn’t read the newspaper strips being confused at this being the first time Dan took the Vitamin 2X we’ve seen in a few comics by now. From what I can tell, and that’s already a problem with the story, The Blue Beetle gets caught up in a gang war and of course has to save a pretty girl who is the daughter of one of the gangs or something. It’s the last Blue Beetle story of the issue and it’s kind of a mess.

Dr. Fung: “The Oasis Of Li-Wang” by Arthur Dean

It’s the same story from Wonder Comics #1 so here’s the same review: “Dr Fung is a detective and Dan Barrister…might as well be the main character as he does all the fighting and getting kidnapped by Li-Wang, who of course wants to take over the world. Dan and Fung uncover his operation and the people he’s turned into mental slaves, and destroys his operation. You might be inclined to write this off as another “evil Chinese” story but remember the hero (or at least the title character) is also Chinese and surprisingly the characters aren’t nearly as yellow in color as you’d expect from the period. So what you get is a story that only doesn’t age well because the white guy is technically the hero but otherwise for the time it isn’t as casually racist so this could just be any old mad scientist villain.”

Lt. Drake Of The Naval Intelligence: “Big-Shot Krad’s Dope Ring” by F. Klaus

Reprinted from issue #5 of Mystery Men Comics. Drake is taking part in an operation to expose opium smugglers, who apparently hide their drugs everywhere possible at the same time. Belt buckles, around a dog, in a shoe…talk about overdoing it. None of it works and they get caught, but it’s kind of unintentionally silly how many drugs they hide on themselves.

Zanzibar: “In The Underworld Of Paris” by Geo Tuska

This story from Mystery Men Comics #4 almost seems to have a name. That or someone in the Paris sewers put up a sign nothing this was the underworld of Paris, but in English. I’d say this is the silliest thing about this comic but Zanzibar and Yarko have weird lives, and it’s no different here. Zanzibar’s friend is killed while investigating a series of murders. Taking on his form he manages to trick the murderers into revealing themselves just as they’re about to get more money “in the usual way”. Tuska can’t even come up with a crime for them to steal money. How does Zanzibar stop them? Turns the lady leading the gang into a skeleton, uses hypnosis to convince her two men to kill themselves, and then turns her back to normal to be arrested, with the lady finally realizing crime doesn’t pay. Seriously, anybody know how to get Sasha from Casually Comics to learn about these two Zatara knockoffs? Their stories are just a new spore of madness every time.

Overall this was not a good issue. The Blue Beetle stories are cut short and come off as incomplete. The reprints from other comics are unnecessary. I did not enjoy this issue, and it isn’t just the way I have to review it or being under the weather influencing my opinion. It’s just a big mess.


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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