The Blue Beetle #9
Fox Publications, Inc (October, 1941)
It’s still an anthology but Yarko and Zanzibar are not in this one. Also no Dynamo or Dyamite Thor. The Blue Beetle actually gets the first four stories in his own title, followed by new heroes (to me, anyway, since they might have appeared in the other books seeing as how all of them are anthologies and I’m considering giving Mystery Men Comics a second shot since Wonder Comics still only has two or three stories worth reading and one of them got his own book) we’ll be introducing later. One of them is a gorilla with a human brain. So we may be missing our occultic heroes but we’re still getting something resembling insanity.
What I’m saying is Casually Comics is really sleeping on these stories. She should click this link and read along. And you, too.
the Blue Beetle stories
The Bank Of Counterfeit Bills
No credits on this one in the comic. Someone is using the bank to pass phony bills. Dan and Mike get called in when an FBI agent is shot, causing a rather dramatic cab crash. Our Ms. Lora Crofte…ah, hindsight…isn’t very good at covering her tracks. It’s a good story overall but seeing poor Mike end up the butt monkey is getting old.
The Crimes Of The Falcon by Charles Nicholas
The Falcon has nothing to do with birds, which is disappointing. Granted this is still the pre-supervillain days of comics, where you got gangsters, spies, would-be dictators, and mad scientists for the heroes to beat up but at least make your nickname mean something. Instead he’s using zombies and a spy at another bank to try to steal a bunch of precious gems. Mike gets to help…in a style that’s only slightly more competent than Jar Jar Binks, but at this point I’ll take what I can get. This is also the time when the police didn’t work with the superhero…no, wait, we’ve seen the Flame friendly with the cops. Maybe Blue Beetle should get him to help his police relations? Still, a decent story.
The Carnival Doll Killing by Charles Nicholas
Hey, Mike gets to arrest the bad guy for a change…after more shenanigans because we can’t let Mike look TOO competent; just enough to explain why he still has a job. Also, while the carnival does play a role in the latest string of thefts because the boss of the gang is a carny, there are no dolls except the one Joan uses to guess the carnival’s involved (because the victim was at the carnival) and the only killing is a guy who came home early. I’m starting to wonder where Dan is hiding his chainmail armor in this issue though. Every story thus far doesn’t have Dan going back to Dr. Franz’s shop and just has him changing near the scene. Chainmail isn’t exactly quiet and you’d think wearing it under his uniform would be uncomfortable and obvious regardless of how light it is. It’s also the only story with Joan making an appearance.
The Deadly Sanitarium Of Dr. Horthe by Charles Nicholas
Our title villain kills one of his patients, props him up, and uses ventriloquism and impersonation talents to try to fake his changing the dead man’s will so he gets all the money. Too bad things start going wrong for him even before the Blue Beetle shows up. It’s not that the villain is incompetent, it’s that he has a lot of bad luck. Even Mike foils one of his plans, and he’s still the target of the writer. It’s a better story than I’m making it sound, folks. Really.
the Guest Star stories
The Gorilla: “The Gorilla With A Brain” by Harry Graves
I was expecting this to be a gorilla crimefighter like Congo Bill but instead it’s a thriller about a man who works for a mad scientist who is experimenting with swapping human and ape brains because…… Because the man keeps hitting on the scientist’s unsuspecting niece and threatens to expose the scientist’s operation in a fit of annoyance the scientist uses his brain in his next experiment and it works. How the gorilla voice box has his voice and can even form human words is because…… The gorilla man, I guess we’ll go with his actual name of Jack Castle at this point, goes to another scientist, who panics and Castle is forced to kill him. Then he goes after the mad scientists’ niece, Elsa, but she wounds him and is also saved by Ken Connors, a guy in the room next door…wait, she’s in a hotel? Ken vows to stay by Elsa’s side (because she’s hot since they just met) and they’re convinced that Castle is the gorilla…and he’ll be back. The story continues next issue and I’m admittedly curious to see where this one goes.
Blackbird: “The Origin Of Blackbird”
No credits on this one, either. Jake Baxter has created a plane that can lift up like a VTOL and flies very fast but the government doesn’t believe him. Nazi spies working at the airfield do though and try to steal it. One of Jake’s friends are killed in the whole situation but the end result is a new hero, The Blackbird! For such a short story it’s a surprisingly good origin. I wonder how this is going to work out? Also, this time we’re flat out calling them Nazis, unlike the Nazi spies from the previous issue’s appearance.
Davy The Wish Master: “Buttercup Alley” by Arthur Pierce
Our final story of the issue. Davy’s origin is no Blackbird’s. He’s a kid living alone in a shack with some jerk neighbors. When they decide to mess with him he wishes he was someplace else and a big puff of smoke flies him off. If it wasn’t for the occultic duo I keep mentioning this would be a very weird story. Instead it’s just mildly weird and they’re going to have to convince me he’s worth caring about.
One dud in a set of rather good stories isn’t too bad for an anthology though. I just hope they let up on poor Mike Mannigan eventually.