Sunday, January 09, 2011

Retro-Review: Phantom Lady #13, Part 2

phantomlady13_09The second story in this issue features Phantom Lady in “Knights of the Crooked Cross,” by “Gregory Page” (pseudonym for Ruth Roche?) with art by Matt Baker. The story itself doesn't have a title on it, so I'd imagine that the title was given by the indexer who put this issue in the Grand Comics Database! As you can see, the splash involves Phantom Lady training her black light ray on a pair of crooks, blinding them, with her special car parked in the background (which I can now see strongly resembles a seaplane with wheels on the wings).


Our story opens with Sandra Knight arriving at a radio station, where Gary Burgess is just about ready to direct “The Gruesome Twosome,” a radio drama sponsored by the Vito-Vitamen Products. But in another part of the city, a pair of Bundists are preparing to use their own device! It's quickly apparent that this device blocks out all radio transmissions throughout the country! Mayhem ensues, especially at a military air field, where the planes can't get instructions from the ground. Back at the radio station, as the cast and crew discuss what's going on, Sandra slips out, thinking that maybe there's a scientific explanation for the situation, “sunspots or something.” She runs into Professor Harper, who tells her that his invention for the army has been stolen... and Sandra quickly learns that his invention would cause the same effect that's been occurring! Arriving at her home, she finds a note stuck to the front door held by a dagger!

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Changing into the Phantom Lady, Sandra goes off to take advantage of the invitation. She spots someone whom she decides must be the person she's there to meet, but the guy's spooked, and starts to run off, Phantom Lady following him. Unfortunately, someone was posted as a lookout, who hits the Phantom Lady from behind! The lookout and the guy (named Schatz) flee the scene, but fortunately for the Phantom Lady, she'd taken her car! She arrives just as the two men's car starts up, and follows them! She arrives at the hideout, but she has another stroke of bad luck, for as she emerges from her car, the two men draw guns on her!
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Once again, though, fortune shines on the Phantom Lady, and she trains her ray gun (in this story referred to as a “black flash”) on the men, blinding them. She rushes into the headquarters to phone the police, but before she can give the location to the desk sergeant, the two criminals enter, and start shooting at her! Unfortunately, the Phantom Lady has dropped her black flash! Kind of amazing she's stayed alive for so long, isn't it? Still, she manages to hide behind a desk until the two crooks approach her more closely, and then lets them have it with some ju-jitsu! Then she takes the gun from one of the men and holds them at bay until the police and the inventor of the machine arrive!

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Overall, I'd have to say this was a better story than the first one! For starters, there's none of those major plot holes like the first story had... although the coincidence of her running into Professor Harper, the inventory of the device, is stretching things a bit, isn't it? One has to wonder why, if Harper was working on something so valuable for the war effort, he wasn't protected by army guard or something similar?

Also in this issue is the two-page Minit Mystery, with art by Paul Parker. In this two-pager, Nancy Medlo is suspected of the murder of her brother-in-law, Roger Medlo, who lived with them. Her husband, his secretary and the servants had been out the entire evening, and Nancy said she found the body at 11 pm and called the police. Nancy's fingerprints are on the murder weapon, a silver letter-opener, and the coroner put time of death at 8:30 pm (he also deduced that the wound was inflicted by the weapon held in the left hand). Since Nancy was at home the entire evening, she looks guilty! The next day, Nancy entered her husband's study as his secretary is tidying it up, just before they were to leave for the inquest.

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As you can see by the panels, Nancy figures that her husband's secretary, Lorna, has something to hide!At the inquest, the servants' alibis were verified, so only Richard Medlo, Nancy, and Lorna are left to be questioned. The inspector notes the evidence points to Nancy, but there's no motive! Lorna tells the inspector that Nancy objected to the friendship between her husband and brother-in-law, and that once Nancy said she wished Roger was dead! Nancy points out that her husband has been after her for a divorce for months so he could marry his secretary! Then she suddenly recalls that a week ago, she found that letter opener in her make-up kit, picked it up, and tossed it aside. The three start to argue amongst each other, but the inspector stops them, saying that he's spotted the killer... it's Richard Medlo, the only left-handed person present! They were all smoking during the questioning, and Nancy and Lorna were both holding theirs in their right hands, while Richard held his in his left.
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Fortunately, when this is pointed out, Richard confesses all! And it's a good thing, too, because I don't think which hand one holds one's cigarette in has much bearing on whether one is right-handed or left-handed, and any defense attorney worth his salt would've had that evidence tossed out of court!

Next time: The Blue Beetle!

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