Sunday, April 10, 2011

Retro-Reviews: Zago, Jungle Prince #1, Part 2!

Next up in this book is Toni Luck in “Jet Junction”! This story is credited to Glenn Dale – and again, I don't know if that's supposed to be the writer or the artist. The splash page pictures a gigantic Toni leaping through an even more gargantuan ring while she grabs at a bunch of jet aircraft!

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In case you can't read the text, it says, “Shortly after our elation May 8, 1945, better known as V-E Day, the fate of major American Cities dangled on a weakening thread that was being woven into the somber pattern of DESTINY. At this same perilous time our plucky, TONI LUCK bravely started out with a sealed assignment from her editor... a mission too dangerous for government agents to fulfill... here is a breathless account of a one-gal invasion at JET JUNCTION!” Talk about your purple prose!

The story proper begins as Toni asks her mechanic, Mac, if her plane is in order. She's got sealed orders from her editor for her next assignment, a secret one. A soldier approaches, giving her a note from a fortune teller, inviting her to come at once. Since Toni has an hour to kill, she accepts the invitation. Toni arrives at Alora's home, where Alora tells her she knows Toni's off to Nicobar, and that she's in great danger! Alora also asks Toni to return a ring to Alora's brother in Nicobar. When Toni looks into the crystal ball herself, she sees the Japanese flag!

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Not too shaken by the experience, Toni heads back to the airfield, and deciphers her orders before boarding her plane for takeoff. Meanwhile, in Nicobar, a local warlord (I'm assuming that's what he is) named Leroc consults Zeno, the snake god priest, about the location of a sacred ring (yeah, I know already it's got to be the same ring Toni's bringing to the fortune teller's brother). Zeno tells him it will be returned to their land in the hands of a white woman who flies on the wings of a bird. Naturally, at that exact same time, Toni's flying directly over them (where was she flying from? I have no idea). Leroc's power in his tribe has been challenged, and he has until the new moon to recover the ring – two nights away. Meanwhile, Toni's set up as a torch singer in a hotel on the island coastline as a cover.

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Naturally, there's stuff afoot in this hotel! Two men discuss the imminent arrival of their captain to check their work, and one of the men muse that even the singer (Toni) could be a Yankee agent! Leroc approaches the men, and he's asked if his tribesmen are going to finish the work they started for them. Leroc says perhaps tomorrow. Later that same night, Toni goes to return the ring to Daro, but as she begins to hand the ring over, a poisoned dart (shot by Leroc) strikes Daro in the back, killing him instantly! Toni leaves with the ring.

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As Toni tries to flee the scene, she is captured by Leroc and his men, who demand the ring, but Toni can't produce it for them (earlier in the story, it's mentioned there's a hole in the lining of her purse, presumably the ring's fallen through that and is hidden inside). Leroc believes the ring is hidden by magic, and orders Toni brought to the priestess Teeoi to break the charm. Teeoi leads Toni to a pit where sacred snakes are kept, and Toni is told the snakes will destroy her and break the spell used to make the ring disappear! Meanwhile, Leroc has other things to do, and he leaves. As Teeoi begins the ceremony to break the spell, Toni is left tied up, but she escapes!

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Meanwhile, Leroc has met with the men from the hotel, and they are still insisting that Leroc get his people to finish the work they're paying Leroc for! Leroc then learns that Toni has escaped (magic is blamed again), and a full-fledged search gets under way. Toni is unaware of this, however, and as she tries to find her way out of the jungle, she stumbles upon an enemy encampment, complete with a launching platform for rocket bombs! (I should note that “enemy” is obviously an edit, replacing the original word in the artwork, probably “Japanese”) Toni is discovered by one of the men from the hotel.

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Held at gunpoint, Toni is led to the base, and learns that the rocket platform isn't quite finished yet (the work the natives were doing, no doubt). Leroc tells them that she must still have the sacred ring, but they don't care about that. They prepare to launch some of the rockets when Leroc's people spring from the bush! Since Leroc has yet to produce the ring, they've decided that he's brought evil to their tribe, and the strangers must die to appease the snake god! Leroc says that Toni is the one who should be sacrificed, but thinking and acting quickly, Toni searches her purse again, and discovers the ring, proclaiming herself the new snake god priestess! She's accepted as the new leader immediately, and she orders them to take the two men from the hotel prisoner. Later, Toni leaves with the prisoners to “the white man's court” to be tried, and leaves the ring with the natives. Back home, she provides her editor with a run-down of her adventures!

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Well, one thing you can't say about the stories in this issue is that they're short on action, can you? I thought Lois Lane got into some interesting situations in pursuit of a story, but I think Toni Luck's got her beat for the most part here! The art on this tale isn't too bad, although Toni's hairstyle almost looks more like someone glued some shag carpeting to her head. There's rarely an opportunity missed to show off Toni's legs, as well (including a stockings seam running up the back of her legs when appropriate).

This is followed by “Poky Ridge Gold,” the two-page text feature that nobody ever read back in the day, and was required by postal regs.

Next: The Blue Beetle in “The Cobra's Kiss!”

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