“Exact change, my foot!”

Crimebuster Free Comic Book Day Edition

Comic House (May, 2023)

COVER ART: Guy Perez

LETTERER: Andrew Thomas

EDITOR: Keith WTS Morris

“The Jaws Of Destruction”

STORY: Keith WTS Morris & Adrien Benson

SCRIPT: Sam Macdonald

ARTIST: Giulia Gualazzi

COLORIST: Mario Lucas Morales

“The Crimebuster”


I’m going to start with the second story as it’s a reprint (I think) of the original Crimebuster story from Boy Comics #3 (April, 1942). It will make sense when I review the first story after. Chuck Chandler is a good kid, even saving a monkey from an abusive organ grinder at one point. His dad,  is brave enough to stand up to the Nazis and deliver a warning about one of their submarine operations. This ticks off Iron Jaw, a Nazi agent who tries to use Chandler’s wife to get him to tell a false story as she was in France when the Nazis took over. He refuses and is shot for it, then Iron Jaw manages to kill him on the operating table. Chuck is told to get his mom out of France and he yells at the monkey for hanging around him. He feels bad about it later but he’s off to save his mom.

What they got right: Iron Jaw, who like the name says has his mouth replaced with metal like Trap Jaw, is a good villain for this starting story. Chuck’s “superhero costume” is just his sports uniform and a cape back when that was a fashion trend outside of superheroes. (Wish that had lasted.) We get a good introduction to the hero before he becomes Crimebuster.

What they got wrong: Did they redo the colors? I hate when reprints do that and this looks like a fresh coloring job. On the plus side they aren’t updated colors, which never works with old comics.

Story two features a whole new take on Chuck. Living in Boy Community Home, Chuck wants to find his own missing mother, who disappeared investigating a pharmaceutical plant with some very high tech security. Aided by his tech-savvy young friend Swoop, Chuck finds a way in but doesn’t want to risk the kid. However, Swoop is determined to help and even calls in two superhero friends of his, Giant-Lad and Gee-Gee (short for Girl Genius). They give Chuck the codename Crimebuster as they sneak into the lab, finding a lot of animals being experimented on, including one monkey he names Squeeks. Chuck and friends set them free and the heroes agree to take Squeeks in. Meanwhile, Chuck found evidence that his mom might be in New York, and that’s his next destination. But watching the whole thing is clearly a new take on Iron Jaw.

What they got right: Homages are all over this story. Squeeks was the name of the original Crimebuster’s monkey. The sign on the community home has the Boy Comics logo. Swoop, as in Swoop Storm (another Charles Brio character), was also a character in that same issue of Boy Comics. I can only guess Giant-Lad, who wears an outfit similar to the original Crimebuster, and Girl Genius are also references. And of course the villain at least resembles Iron Jaw. None of these homages take away from the story so if you don’t get them (and I didn’t my first way through during Free Comic Book Day) you can still enjoy the story, but if you know the history it’s a nice bonus.

What they got wrong: On the other hand, homages are all you have as far as connecting to the original. This Chuck is nothing like the original and turns the cape down when Giant-Lad offers it. There’s no war involved, we don’t know what happened to Dad, and the mom’s name is Laura, not Joan like in the original. Frankly you could literally have called this anything else, kept the homages, and nothing would have changed. It feels like Chuck is codenamed Crimebuster by Giant-Lad just to use the name. You’re going for an audience who never heard of Crimebuster and this comic has no connection to it, so what was the point of making a namesake of a World War II teen superhero the readers wouldn’t remember anyway?

What I think overall: Call this “Chuck’s Quest” or something and nobody would have noticed the difference. That’s a sign of a bad adaptation. The story, however, is actually quite good and I do want to read more.


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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