The Blue Beetle #8
Fox Publications (August, 1941)
For those of you seeing this and thinking it’s that teen from the movie trailer where George Lopez insults Batman, sorry. This is rookie patrolman Dan Garret, the first Blue Beetle. He just wears chainmail armor and uses a special “Vitamin 2X” and a few gadgets to fight crime. His comic was an anthology, like many comics in the 1940s. How did he end up as a Latino teenager with a robot bug on his back at DC Comics? That’s a long story. See if you like any of these, though. You can read along at Comic Book Plus because these comics are public domain.
“Radium Threat” by Charles Nichols
Our first villain is named Porky Hog. And Linkara made a big deal about “Big Dix”. Porky steals radium from a hospital delivery and kills the doctors waiting for it. (It was a different time.) Blue Beetle goes after him, of course Joan gets involved, and Dix tries to frame Blue Beetle. The story is kind of a mess, like they had a plot but not a full story. We have another case of word balloons out of order as well. Also, the newspaper gets the story out rather fast and Blue Beetle is blown into the air like he was Dynamite Thor, who will be showing up later. Not a great story.
“Dr. Krug’s Exploding Gorillas” by Charles Nichols
Okay, Grand Comics Database. If you’re going to give it that name (none of these stories have actual names in the comics) it better deliver. It starts with a fainted Joan being carried by a gorilla. Do not ask for an explanation because there isn’t one here. Also he’s apparently bulletproof as Dan and Mike shoot him a bunch and all it does is make him drop Joan. A Doctor Krug comes by with a sedative for the gorilla, who then explodes as they get him to police headquarters. Well, title confirmed. We have exploding gorillas, though I’m curious why he was brought to the police station. Then again I don’t know what he’s doing in the middle of the city carrying Joan. Dr. Krug has coated his gorillas with dynamite…I thought dynamite included the stick and not just the powder? That explains Dynamite Thor’s use of the stuff I guess…and he’s going to use them to blow up the city. Instead he gets blown up with the gorillas. I’d say this is the strangest story that’s appeared in these books since I started the Golden Age stuff, but we have two mystics whose adventures made even less sense.
Dynamo: “The Crime Dealer” by Harold Weber
Science takes it hard on this one. Jim’s company make a light beam machine and he’s curious so investigates as his electrical alter-ego Dynamo. He find a gangster forcing businesses to pay protection money, claiming his machine is a death ray. Instead he’s sending electricity through the phone lines and into the phones to kill his prey. I’m not an expert but…what? Also Dynamo uses his electricity to stop a building from falling by fusing girders despite being across the street. The story is okay but the science is dodgy as heck, even for the Golden Age. Though not the weirdest form of “science used to work that way” I’ve seen in these comics.
“The Murder Miniatures”
Back to the Blue Beetle but no credit given. Charles Nichols was allegedly a pen name but I question the “real” credits GCD gives for these stories because sometimes they question it themselves. It looks like it came from the newspaper strips. The Blue Beetle gets involved when a man is seemingly drowned in a car accident, though they can’t find the body. All they find is a painted miniature. What follows is a fairly decent mystery by newspaper fare but not a good mystery since it lacks clues for the reader. No Joan in this one, so the “victim” has a pretty niece and even her brother tries to rescue her at one point. It’s an okay story.
“Gagon’s Explosive Device” by Charles Nichols
A lot of dynamite and exploding and we haven’t even gotten to this issue’s Dynamite Thor story yet. Gagon has a device that makes things explode. How? Stop asking logical questions, this is the Golden Age. Another case of misplaced word balloons that will make you think the letterer was Japanese if you’ve read manga. It’s mostly fights and Mike failing to capture the Blue Beetle, just with a few more things going boom. And speaking of things going boom…
Dynamite Thor: “The Remote-Controlled Death Device” by Wright Lincoln
A group of we’re-not-saying-they’re-Nazis-but-they-do-speak-in-a-German-accent use a remote controlled truck to blow up an explosives factory…I think. It is the only time we’ll see this tech in use unless you count the detonator on a boring machine that Dynamite Thor, who still doesn’t wear a mask and is just replacing his first name with “Dynamite”, ends up getting put in after he’s captured by the villains. The dude who flies by explosions. And what is the purpose of Glenda the fiance who is completely clueless that explosives maker Peter Thor is Dynamite Thor? Just to make some joke about his secret identity issues? I don’t get this story.
Technical issues, confusing timelines, and explosions that shouldn’t work that way but somehow do, and a lot of them. Overall this was not a stellar issue.