The Blue Beetle #11
Fox Publications Inc (February, 1942)
Fox must have been building up their superhero library. There’s an ad for another anthology comic, because that’s how the Golden Age ran–just a bunch of anthologies with the same casts, even in a comic with a title character like Blue Beetle. This comic opens with an ad for Weird Comics, and when Yarko and Zanzibar aren’t in it how weird can they be? Included are The Eagle and Buddy, The Dark and Ace (because sidekicks were also a thing; even Dan will get one eventually), The Sorceress of Zoom (who I have to assume is going to be the girl version of Yarko and Zanzibar and will bring the weird based on their adventures and Davy over here), and The Black Rider. It also boasts the story of some guy named Varnoff, trying to rescue his wife and his country from presumably the Nazis. Maybe we’ll get to meet them someday, but now that the homepage is padded let’s get to Beetle and his pals.
Blue Beetle Adventures by Charles Nichols
- “Claws Of The Cat”: I guess we’re getting titles for every story without using the Grand Comics Database. If so, it’s about time. An attempted jewel robbery goes wrong thanks to Joan snapping a picture and distracting them long enough for Blue Beetle to distract them with his skull (dude gets knocked out more times than Hal Jordan, but Hal isn’t wearing a helmet) until the police arrive. One of the crooks at the next attempt tries to snag the jewel for himself but is killed by claws. Joan gets that picture too so “The Cat” comes for her. It’s just a dude with a metal three-pronged claw for a hand. It’s not very impressive, Mike gets to be a hero and still manages to be the butt of the joke, and the layout needs work for better reading. It’s kind of meh when it’s all over. Also, how does Joan know that Dr. Franz can contact the Blue Beetle?
- “The Octopus Of The Underground”: I’m kind of digging the opening splash panel (not a full page) but we didn’t get a giant cat and I’m not expecting a giant octopus with a man’s face in this one either. Instead the Octopus uses a one-man submarine with robotic tentacles. Eh, I’ll take it. Joan serves no real purpose that Blue Beetle’s Vitamin 2X strength couldn’t have dealt with but at least this time Mike is the hero without everyone laughing at him outside of his usual “I almost had the Blue Beetle” bit that’s getting old. Kind of insults himself when the cop claims his superhero alter-ego is a “real crimefighter”.
- “Dead Men Don’t Kill”: Ignore last issue’s zombies I guess. Although there’s a whole lot of dying going on. Everytime someone has information they end up dead. If you saw Linkara’s Blue Beetle retrospective he made a running gag out of one villain called “Big Dix”. Well, this story has a doctor just called “Doctor Dix”. I couldn’t really get into it since it was just everybody getting killed and Mike back to being a goof. Adding credence to the “shared pen name” of Charles Nichols is how Dr. Franz in this story looks nothing like the man we saw in the previous two.
- “Cargo Of Doom”: I see Blue Beetle loves giant swinging bad guys into walls this issue. Dan Garret is on patrol when he comes across a robbery and actually tries to stop it as a police officer, and gets shot. I’m guessing this is why he wears his chainmail armor under his uniform these days. What follows is The Blue Beetle bungling his way to getting captured and knocked out a lot trying to protect a secretary and the evidence she has on an author’s criminal activities. It’s actually kind of pathetic watching him in action. Even Mike looks more competent and he’s still a joke in this story.
And The Others
- Davy The Wish Master by Arthur Pierce: This again. So now our…protagonist…wishes for money and suddenly everybody in the neighborhood wants to steal it. Maybe he should wish for a loving family that will get him away from this place. The Krogans continue to make deals with Satan to also steal the money. Why do they keep punishing me with this character?
- The Gladiator: “King Of The Chess Killers”: No credits listed in the comic. This is new to me but I guess he’s been around in other comics. The Gladiator is art dealer Dan Kenneth. I guess “Dan” was a name someone really liked. Fox has a few of them fighting evil. The Gladiator’s outfit? A gladiator’s helmet, trunks, and bracers. No shirt, no pants, no armor, nothing to conceal his identity except for the bad guys laughing too hard to look at him before he punches them out. Sometimes you can tell why a hero never stuck. Dan and his doctor friend visit a curio shop to see an old chess set, which the doctor apparently thinks is so good that nobody can make a wrong move. Even I know that’s not how that works, but the shop owner had a bad experience with a doctor making a wrong move and hurting him and kicks them out after being triggered. So our real villain messes with him and gets him to kill his enemies for him. Nothing about this story impressed me at all.
So there were some okay but not great Blue Beetle stories, and the guest stars are kind of lame. Overall not the worst issue I’ve read but nothing really holds up today in this one.