It’s going to be one of those comics, folks.

The Blue Beetle #12

Fox Features Publications Holyoke Publishing Company (June, 1942)

Okay, from what I’ve gathered, Victor Fox was in a lot of financial trouble and filed for bankruptcy. Holyoke was the printer I think of the Fox comics and they got the rights to Blue Beetle in the interim. Fox would be back in charge by issue 31 but this was a Holyoke production from #12 to #30. My guess, seeing as they just took the Fox name off the cover, that this was an issue ready to publish and they just printed it before eventually doing their own. This should be interesting, though it will still be an anthology, at least for a while. You can follow along here.

On the plus side I’m done with Davy The Wish Master and his messed up world. On the down side, of all the Wonderworld Comics characters that could have been put here, who do we get? The Flame? Patty O’Day, Maybe even Dr. Fung? No, it’s Spark Stevens and his fellow girl-chasing moron! I’d have accepted Yarko because it’s at least fun to make fun of, but Dumb And Jerky? Here’s hoping it’s outgrown the formula of the previous comics I’ve reviewed.

The Blue Beetle Tales

Torture’s Serpent Of Terror by Charles Nichols

Well, this comic’s taken a turn for the ghastly. I don’t know if this is a different writer using the Nichols name or if this is a Holyoke original but I can tell you a story with a giant snake draining people’s blood and a scientist gone loopy after contracting a tropical virus using his half-human henchmen to feed it is a bit much for the 1940s kiddies. I guess the comic was starting to include more horror elements last time with the zombie and stuff but…geez. And it’s only continuing that with the next story. Also, Joan Mason is here to be the designated damsel in distress and not much else.

Caravan Of Corpses by Charles Nichols

Is Joan just going to happen to show up in all of this issue’s stories? Franz sees a man dying and gives him a shot of Vitamin 2X, but he turns out to have gone mad (I sense a theme) after being swindled or something. So he goes to get revenge on them using poisoned gas and a coffin. He also stole some of the Vitamin 2X so Blue Beetle has another reason to try to stop him. Kind of anti-climatic that he kills himself. Kind of curious if the giant skeletal hands are supposed to be metaphoric since they only show up twice yet spirit away a coffin.

Murder For Profit by Charles Nichols

Hmm, no Joan this story. Beetle had to rescue some other attractive woman. This story has someone trying to buy up buildings for…some reason, and Blue Beetle has to stop them while falling into numerous traps and getting knocked out a lot. One of those stories. I’m curious when Dr. Franz was recognized as a pal of the Blue Beetle for him to get kidnapped (and you’d think Mike would have run him in for conspiring with the hero he treats like a criminal) and why Mike is surprised the Blue Beetle knows his first name when he’s used it as early as the stories in the previous issue. I know there’s no real continuity but this still feels like it’s in the wrong order.

The Cards Were Shuffled With Blood by Charles Nichols

A criminal gambler is taken out by Blue Beetle, Joan, and two of Joan’s friends so he swears revenge. Curious how he got his murder weapon on the train but at least they explain it’s not the Black Spot from Treasure Island. Plus we actually get to see our heroes stop a bad guy and why he wants revenge.

This issue’s Guest Stars…

The Black Fury & Chuck: “Death Of A Fence” by Mark Howell

This came from elsewhere because you can see where in the “next time” caption they erased something and replaced it with Blue Beetle. So The Black Fury is a crimefighter with a questionable outfit joined by a sidekick who just goes by Chuck and wears the same outfit. Then there’s the fat guy Satch who is part of the team I guess. They’re investigating the murder of a fence, the murderer wanting to get money for the hot diamonds. Black Fury seems pretty smart and the jeweler doesn’t come off as an idiot. It’s an okay story but I really don’t like the costume designs for our heroes.

Spark Stevens: “The Torpedo Tube Theft” by Nordling

Well at least this time the girl isn’t responsible for our boys getting into trouble. Stupidity still reigns but it’s not the dame’s fault. There is one but she just wants to stop Spark from stealing her father’s torpedo tube plans, which he’s being forced to do by Nazis because Spark is not smart enough to make a getaway or warn the girl with the bad guys nowhere in earshot, plus that gets foiled when new character Squaker the parrot spills the beans. Chuck actually has to save Spark and they DON’T spend the story attacking each other. It’s improved since last I read one of Spark Stevens’ adventures…but it still isn’t what I’d call good.

What I think overall: On the plus side the cover doesn’t happen in the story, so no bad Japanese stereotyping. The Blue Beetle stories are okay but that first one was a bit much. Again, I don’t know if these were inherited stories, but I’d bet they were. When Holyoke runs out of those and starts their own tales should be interesting.

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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