Saturday, February 23, 2013

Newsreel 05/40

From Luxemburg to Dunkirk.
May 15, 1940. UFA Tonwoche No. 506. (English transcript) Against an impending enemy extension of the war in the territory of Belgium and Holland, and with that a drive into the Ruhr by the Allies, the German West Army has undertaken an offensive on a wide front across the German western borders in the early morning hours of May 10. Bridge obstacles have been removed. A Luxembourg customs official is led away.Here, an iron border gate is taken down. The remainder is removed with hammers and torches. In Luxembourg there was hardly any resistance offered. Placards inform the local population. The tanks advance over the cobblestone streets. The columns move forward according to plan. The advance towards the decisive battle in the West has begun. A concrete barrier is unable to halt the column.Rolling stock makes its way quickly through Luxembourg. A security troops keeps a look out.Our brave infantry is greeted by the German border population.Everywhere the German infantry are given refreshments. The advance into Belgium continues at the same time. Here the border barriers are removed in only a short time. The path leads over ruined roads. A tank assists in clearing the roads. Our troops are given a warm welcome by the German population of Eupen-Malmedy, which had been cut off from the rest of Germany. The Luftwaffe has attained supremacy from the first hours in action. Infantry climb aboard a transport aircraft.They are given a special task. In quick flight they are taken to their goal, while marching columns move far below them. In rolling attacks, bombers and Stukas support the the advancing infantry. Enemy defensive installations, defensive positions,marching columns and troop concentrations are attacked from the air. Railroads and bridges are damaged or destroyed.The enemy airbases have been cleared in the first great attack. The result of one German bomb.Thus everywhere railway lines and stations have been reduced to rubble, preventing the enemy from moving supplies. Here, enemy aircraft have bombed the defenseless city of Freiburg in Breisgau (Baden-W├╝rttemberg). Schools,kindergartens and hospitals have been destroyed or heavily damaged. 50 persons have been killed - including 13 children - as a result of this brutal and unscrupulous attack upon this defenseless German city.

Entry #15

Issue #8
Rating: 5

The Flash and the Hawkman are really starting to define their personalities by this issue. Flash, an altruistic defender of justice, is more personable with the citizens.
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The Flash, through a slightly skewed prism, could be Keystone Cities Superman. The counter balance, Superman\Batman Flash\Hawkman is taking shape nicely.

The Hawkman is darker and his good deeds are less known amongst the public at large. The Hawkman stories read like they could be altered slightly and become a Dark Knight adventure.

Gardner Fox is credited for writing the Batman stories in Detective Comics #29 - 32. "The Batman Meets Doctor Death", "The Return of Doctor Death" , "Batman vs. the Vampire, Part 1 and 2"
Sheldon Moldoff for Backgrounds and Lettering on #30 - 34.
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The Witch returns, again, to square off with the King.
I have yet to comment in detail about the other strips in these early issues. They are very good. The early Whip Johnny Thunder, and Minute Movie strips are very wordy and leave little room for art.
The house ad on the last page has a 1/2 page for All-Star Comics #1. The bottom half features a thumbnail image of Batman #1 – ‘Now On Sale’.

Newsreel 05/40

The relative quietness of the War at the beginning of 1940 would soon change. With Hitler invading Eastern Europe, it was believed that the West was safe with the shield of the Maginot Line and the English Channel.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Entry #14

Issue #7
Rating: 5

Flash Comics #7 is one of the earliest examples of the cover art hinting of the actual story within the issue. The ‘Hawk’, as he is referred to in these earlier stories, battles a Frankenstein like creature, the czar. It’s creator, Boris Nickaloff, injects adrenalin into his statue of plasm-clay sculpture. The czar goes on a rampage robbing banks and killing anyone that stands in his way. Shiera’s part in this story is nothing more than the girl that gets abducted and awaits the Hawkman’s arrival to rescue her.
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The Flash story is a variation of the previous one. Instead of the Olympic try-outs, the setting shifts to a 500 mile race. The Flash needs the help of a former college friend – identity revealed again. The bad guy extorts the help of an inventor that has made a gun that makes metal evaporate. It wasn’t really clear why the bad guy decided to use the weapon on fixing the race rather than selling the tech to a foreign country. Without Joan in this one, the story was not that interesting.
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Inside cover has a full page ad for the introduction of the Green Lantern in All-American Comics.
King Standish is the master of disguise, who’s real face has never been seen by the underworld.
‘The beautiful witch has tried to trap him but has always failed.’. Competing gangs race to a lawyers home to steal $100000 in securities. The King also hears of the set-up and is waiting. I like the King because he has the same contacts as the gangsters but can move in and out of the underworld without detection. The beautiful Witch is cleaver enough to learn the Kings existence. Photobucket
You can almost sense the pheromonal exchange between these two. Why does the King let her go? Why does she secretly wish to find the King? There is just enough mystery to make me want to buy the next issue.

I really can’t read Rod Rian. The vignettes are uneven with no coherent tie-in. Apparently this strip was a ‘John Carter of Mars’ quickie. Like the Atom strip years later, I struggle to read these stories. For the sake of perseverance, I’m reading them – very quickly.

A full page house ad alerts readers to look for a new issue of Flash Comics about the 15th of every month.
For those lucky readers of DC comics back in the summer of 1940, here is the line up:
1st of the month More Fun Comcis – the Spectre
5st of the month Detective Comics – the Batman
7st of the month Adventure Comics – the Sandman
15st of the month Flash Comics – the Flash
20st of the month All American Comics – the Green Lantern
23st of the month Action Comics – Superman

Also advertised on the last page is the ‘coming soon’ issue of All-Star Comics.

Johnny Thunder gets fired as a G-man and tries being a superhero – ‘The Thunderbolt’. His SAY YOU hour of power helps him catch a beautiful secret agent. Photobucket Photobucket

Friday, February 15, 2013

Newsreel 05/40

President Franklin Roosevelt's address to the nation, delivered May 26, 1940.
Responding to Hitler's invasion of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and France, Roosevelt attempts to prepare Americans for increased support for Great Britain. The President also seeks to reassure the public of America's readiness to deal with any threats to the nation, and he notes particularly the nation's expanded military production.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Entry #13

Entry #13
Issue #6
Rating: 5

Joan Williams character is established here. Technically, she couldn't be called a forties feminist. She still leans on the support of a man too much for that label.

Jay doesn’t feel it necessary to keep his identity a secret.

The 1940 Olympics trials is a good story line for the Flash to catch crooked organizers. Due to the outbreak of WWII, the Olympics were cancelled. They were scheduled to be held in Finland from July 20th – August 4th. An ad at the back of this issue places the street date of this issue at mid-April.

Here is an unrelated youtube tribute to Jesse Owens

The Hawkman story completes the 2 part try-out of the rescue of Ione Craig. Craig, a government agent, transforms into a helpless waif in need of a hero. Feedback for this story line must have convince the editorial staff that they need to move in the direction of creating the Hawkgirl. The artwork is so great that Moldoff used it as inspiration for the cover on issue #19.

The King once again squares off with his nemesis the Witch. It works, I like it. Cliff Cornwall features another team up of Fox\Mordoff for a spy thriller. The story is loose and not as tight as the Hawkman stories that these two are best known for.

Ed Whellan’s A Flash “Picture Novelette” is able to translate his audience’s juvenile anxiety of atomic energy into a satirical space-comedy. This story foreshadows the anxiety I felt as late as the 1980s with Ronald Reagan’s tough talk on first strike nuclear weapons. It’s easy to laugh about it now, but Ed Whellan was going deep into the mass psychosis play book with this story.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Entry #12

Issue #5
Rating: 5

Flash stars in “Menace of the Vandal”
King in “Get the King”
Hawkman in “The Kidnapping of Ione Craig”
Johnny Thunder in “G-Man Johnny”
Rod Rian
Cliff Cornwall in “The Snow King”
“You Can’t Get Away With It” Flash picture novelette
The Whip in “Judge Frawd’s Court”

Gardner Fox must have been experimenting with omitting Joan and Shiera from the main features. Although the stories in this issue are top notch, without the regular inclusion of the female support; the solo superhero stories would not have survived the decade long run. The Flash story continues to develop the character as a whimsical superhero that has fun in frightening criminals into confessoins.

Shelly effectively creates the right mood for the adventure that the Hawkman is led on in helping the mysterious Ione Craig.
The back-up stories really do not hold up through the test of time. It is unknown how they rated with the readers of the day. Since Johnny Thunder was a member of the All-Star Society, he must be considered a headliner for the series. Perhaps it’s the artwork that is not of noteworthy quality, along with retread story lines. As difficult as it is to read sometimes, the stories are just not interesting. In particular in these early issues -- the Whip, Rod Rian, and Johnny Thunder. Maybe they are just holdovers from the previous decade. I like the King. He is paired with his beautiful arch-enemy in the works, the Witch.
In many ways, she is the proto-Black Canary.