Sunday, December 19, 2010

Retro-Review: Daredevil #9, Part 3!

daredevil09_019The next feature is a text story, featuring Crimebuster in “On Mystery Mountain,” scripted by Wood with illustrations by Biro. Crimebuster was the headlining character in “Boy Comics,” and I'm guessing that the reason that he was the featured character for the text feature was to promote Boy Comics! In fact, the first page after the text feature shows Crimebuster being welcomed by Daredevil!

The next feature is “Houdonnit the Great,” written and drawn by Bob Montana, who's probably best known for doing the Archie newspaper comic strip. This gag strip features Houdonnit, “the great miss-tic muffer” traveling to India on a camel. The whole gag here is how his magic spells come out wrong. Needing a break from the heat of traveling through the desert, he tries to conjure up a desert oasis, but ends up flooding the entire desert! When he tries to do the Indian Rope Trip, he first conjures a cigar (known also in the day as a “rope”) in his mouth, then does it successfully, but when he climbs the rope and announces he can see into a harem, he's joined by what looks like eight or nine people! The Sultan notices the peeping Toms and slices the rope, causing everyone to fall except for Houdonnit, who floats in the air.

daredevil09_021With arrows flying at him, Houdonnit decides to transform the arrows into sparrows, but changes them into eggs instead (which still works to keep him from being punctured). The eggs end up hitting the sultan, who, exasperated, yells out “Who Don' It!” Which is, phonetically, the same as Houdonnit's name, and when the magician takes a bow, apparently it doesn't help his case with the Sultan, as we see Houdonnit next riding away furiously on a bicycle away from the Sultan and his crowds.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention, the guy speaks entirely in rhyme. As a comedy story, I think this works much better than the Sniffer story... the art has an appealing style to it, almost like a Fleischer cartoon. This story would've worked even better with an extra page to expand on some of the gags.

daredevil09_022Next is Real American #1 in “The Bronx Terror,” by Dick Briefer. Yes, the artist best known for Frankenstein! The splash page introduces Real American Number One (“Jeff Dixon, prominent lawyer and full-blooded Indian”) aka “The Bronze Terror” (his alter ego appears to be dressed as a red Indian wearing a white skull mask).

The story opens as Jeff Dixon watches Lilly (apparently Jeff's sister?) practice her archery, but then moves on to Jeff's office, where a telegram is received asking Jeff to come to New York to prosecute Lippy Louie, the Bronx Terror! Jeff invites his dad and Lilly to accompany him, and while Lilly asks her father, Jeff packs his Bronze Terror costume (an identity his sister is unaware of). Arriving in New York, Jeff's prosecution seems to go pretty smoothly – we have one panel of him delivering his summation, and then in the next panel (five minutes later), the jury finds Lippy Louie guilty! But as the press photogs take pictures, Louie decides it's the best time for him to escape!

After crashing through the window, Louie lands in a truck filled with sand driven by his accomplice, Steve, and escapes. Meanwhile, Lilly and Jeff's father (referred to that way, so apparently Lilly isn't Jeff's sister after all, but “dad” is Jeff's dad) are taking in the sights of New York. While Lilly checks in with Jeff, Jeff's father is trying to strike up a conversation with a cigar store Indian, and then tries to mark lampposts with his tomahawk so he won't lose his way! The two separate, Lilly going to a movie, and Jeff's dad (now referred to as the chief, apparently of the tribe Jeff and Lilly belong to) goes to visit Mr. Dawson, who had once visited the reservation and invited the chief to visit when he's in New York. Dawson is rather nervous, and asks if he could visit the reservation again... and why? Because “Blackie” Dawson helped put Lippy Louie in the hands of the police, as we find out when Louie arrives at Dawson's apartment! Meanwhile, Jeff overhears the police say they figure Louie will go after Dawson, so Jeff gets in his car and heads there himself! Meanwhile, at Dawson's apartment, Louie makes quick work of Dawson before threatening the chief!

The chief disarms Louie with his tomahawk, but Louie clobbers the chief in return. Suddenly, the Bronze Terror arrives on the scene and takes on Louie! And while the fight is going on, Lilly arrives to give the chief some cash before she gets to the movie!

Thinking Louie is finished off, the Bronze Terror chats briefly with the chief, but Louie was faking unconsciousness, and is about to shoot the two Native Americans when Lilly steps in, taking off one of her spike heel shoes and clobbering Louie with it! The Bronze Terror takes advantage of this to punch Louie again, sending the Bronx Terror flying out of the window to his doom! Later, Jeff, Lilly and the chief relax in their hotel room (presumably) while Lilly muses about how much the Bronze Terror helps them out.

Wow, where to begin? I suppose first they should be applauded for having a Native American hero starring in a strip, even if it's marred by the characterization of the chief. The art is pretty crude stuff, although with a bit of zest to it here and there... it's definitely not Briefer's best work in comics! So far as the story... My best guess is someone accidentally wrote or typed “Bronx Terror” instead of “Bronze Terror” sometime, and figured there could be a story behind it... but it's kind of forced, if you ask me. Having to bring Jeff from wherever he lives to head up the prosecution is really contrived (and I've watched enough “Law & Order” episodes to figure that the prosecutor would've needed to have been involved long before this went to trial), and the coincidences are ridiculous, even for a Golden Age story!

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