Dan Garret tracks down the man who keeps stealing Tangent’s backgrounds.

The Blue Beetle #7

Fox Features Syndicate (May/June, 1941)

Outside of one story with Dynamite Thor, the dude who flies by blowing himself up (so basically Team Rocket’s superpower), and another with another forgotten Fox Features hero, Dynamo, all the stories feature The Blue Beetle. So I’ll just mark the two stories with the alternate heroes and as usual the text stories I’ll be going past because there are too many stories to review here and it isn’t a comic story in a comic. Mostly because I only have so much time in a day. That’s one of the reasons these are fun to read (when the story’s good) but hard to review.

You can read along with me over at Comic Book Plus.

“The Death Flowers” by Charles Nichols

Our latest villain is using a special flower wreath to blow up crimefighters. Why? He’s a Golden Age comic villain so don’t ask silly questions. That’s how you get blown up unless you’re a title character. If you’re looking for a major story you aren’t finding it here. It’s just Blue Beetle and Joan running from gangsters and finding the culprit. It’s good action but not much story. Also interesting that Blue Beetle brings the whole gang in front of the officer at the desk IN the police station. Mike would be beside himself since nobody tries to arrest him.

“The Construction Catastrophes” by Charles Nichols

The Mason Construction Company (no apparent connection to Joan) is building a new set of apartments for the poor but with all the accidents–that of course are no accident in these kinds of stories–and the company may have to charge the city more to finish. I won’t spoil the ending but this ties into the boss’s plans, as Beetle and Joan fall into and barely escape from trap after trap. Another story high on action and low on plot. I’ve seen serials with more depth.

Dynamo: “The Tool Dies Robbery” by Harold Weber

Apparently this story is set between Weird Comics #14 and #15, which I have not read. However, with a title like that I’m expecting something along the lines of Yarko or Zanzibar. Anyway, this is BW’s introduction to Dynamo, secretly electrical engineer Jim Andrews, who receives lighting powers after an accidental shock because science used to work that way. Also, he still has to charge his powers on purpose and wears a superhero costume that’s just a helmet, no mask. Unless something happens to his face with his powers charged, like Jay Garrick vibrating his face slightly as The Flash, this is a bad design choice since he doesn’t even wear glasses in civilian garb.

The lameness doesn’t end there but let’s discuss the plot since there’s slightly more than the other stories thus far. The company Jim works for has a government contract to create some new…something, but a competitor wants to make sure they lose it. So he and his gang steals the tool plans from Jim, try to destroy the plane carrying the parts and then go after the plans when Dynamo weakens himself saving the train. And apparently even a shot of static electricity from a drill upon wook as it heads for Dynamo’s own body is enough to charge him up again. Why did the villain even bother putting the wood on top of him when he’s strapped to the table of a big drill since apparently they couldn’t just shoot him? We’ll never know because he’s dead. I did say SLIGHTLY more plot here. Dynamo has not impressed me upon my introduction to him. Thankfully, we’re back to the Blue Beetle for a while.

“Armo’s Secret Weapon” by Charles Nichols

Armo is a dude in a helmet with a secret weapon we only see him use once and never explains how he blew up an armored car. He’s out to bankrupt the Federal Funds Office but Blue Beetle works to stop him, rather clumsily in this outing, and somehow Joan and Mike manage to…take part in events. It’s like the writer gave up on the story partway through and just had Blue Beetle chasing crooks. Also, there’s been a problem through the other Blue Beetle stories this issue where one dialog balloon appears AFTER the comment responding to it. It’s not just one story; it’s all the Blue Beetle stories this issue and it’s distracting.

“The Disappearance Of Zeke Masters” by Charles Nichols

Actually he dies pretty early in the story. Blue Beetle investigates and deals with a masked murderer and his flunkies because by now everybody just assumes the Blue Beetle is going to get involved and has a bunch of flunkies ready to attack him. Also, now Vitamin 2X comes in a pill form for all those times Dan hasn’t run out of strength in previous stories and couldn’t carry the liquid or injectable stuff (whatever he was using before) with him. This issue has not had the strongest of Blue Beetle’s adventures and this story is part of that list. There was a good potential mystery angle but then just went to Beetle escaping death traps.

Dynamite Thor: “The Mystery Ship Plans” by Wright Lincoln

Another hero who not only doesn’t use a mask but uses his last name in his hero name, Peter Thor is back for action as Dynamite Thor. The superhero whose power is blowing stuff up with dynamite to make himself fly (science used to work that way, remember) has a fiance because a lot of them did in the Golden Age and unless you were both spies the fiance was oblivious to the other’s hero life, and that included lady superheroes of the time and their clueless fiances and love interests. Also part of the trend is Glenda wishing the man she was marrying was more like the hero because she doesn’t know he is the hero. Glenda’s dad has some new plans and a thief employed by a foreign government is hired to steal them. Dynamite solves everything…with dynamite. It’s unintentionally silly really.


This was not a great story. In the case of “Charles Nichols”, supposedly a “Many Hand” style pen name in the Fox offices, it’s like a story is trying to get out of his brain but either the writer or editor is forcing it to stick to Blue Beetle gets into death traps, Joan stumbles in, and Mike complains that he didn’t get to arrest the vigilante even when he ends up teaming with him. The comic shouldn’t be afraid to break out of the formula and yet is. Meanwhile Dynamo and Dynamite Thor need to invest in masks (they’re both rich enough) and aren’t the most interesting superheroes of their time. I’m not surprised they’ve been lost to time and I’m not sure either could make a comeback, though if I had to I’d put more money on Dynamo than Dynamite. In the end it’s the kind of story you breeze through rather than get into.


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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