Sunday, May 01, 2011

Retro-Review: Startling Comics #10, Part 2!

The second story features Captain Future, with art by Kin Platt. This untitled adventure helpfully tells us how Dr. Andrew Bryant gained his powers to become Captain Future in a blurb on the half-splash.
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The tale proper opens at the Agatha Detective Agency, operated by a Agatha Adams and her niece, Grace. Dr. Bryant shows up, noting how bored (But pretty!) Grace looks. She tells him it's been so slow they may as well fold up, which Andrew approves of, but Grace calls him an old maid, and says if they get in a mess, Captain Future will always help. Andrew (who is, of course, Captain Future) warns them one day Captain Future won't show up, and then... Yeah, it's all very Lois Lane/Clark Kent. Andrew even wears glasses! Meanwhile, at the War Department, Mr. Craven delivers plans for a new cannon-sight that will make artillery operations a mathematical certainty! Craven requests the help of four men, Adams, Loft, Henty and Green to perfect it, and the idea is approved. Soon, the five men meet to work on the cannon-sight. However, that evening, Adams is kidnapped by two toughs (probably German spies, as one is named Otto)!

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The next day, the War Department assigns a G-Man to protect Mr. Craven due to Adams' disappearance, although Craven thinks it's not necessary. One G-Man is assigned, with the remainder of the task given to the local police. Later, at the Agatha Detective Agency, Agatha and Grace learn about this, and decide to volunteer their services to the police. The police aren't thrilled at getting the assignment, but agree to take on Agatha and Grace as deputies. Meanwhile, at the cannon-sight project, Loft decides to take his work home with him. At midnight, however, Loft gets a call from Craven, asking him to come down right away. En route, Loft's car gets run off the road, and he's captured! The following morning, Andrew and Grace read that Green has been taken, too!

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Since Grace won't listen to Andrew, he decides to take action as Captain Future (it's about time, too!). Donning his uniform, the Captain takes a dose of his Infra-Red-Gamma Ray to renew his powers! At that moment, at Craven's home, the G-Man is knocked out, and Agatha and Grace are captured and brought into Craven's house! A few minutes later, Captain Future lands in the yard as the G-Man wakes up! The G-Man says the women were brought inside, so Captain Future smashes his way inside. The Captain wades into the crooks, using fists and electric-bolts!

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Captain Future prevents Craven's kidnapping as well as Henty's, but isn't able to stop the crooks from escaping. The next day, Grace points out to Craven that the kidnappers all seemed to know the movements of their victims, and when they'd be off guard. Craven replies he's worried about it, especially since he wasn't even supposed to be at the lab yesterday. He also says he's suspicious about Henty, who insisted that he be at the lab just at the time the gang attacked. Craven lays on some more news that makes Grace and Agatha decide to follow up that lead. However, on their way, Grace spots one of the men who tried to kidnap Craven, and they follow him!

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They follow the man to a waterfront dive, where they hear that Henty's been put aboard the Limited, and that Henty's got the evidence that he's the brains behind the snatches. Grace and Agatha decide to stop the train, but not before Grace calls Andy to let him know to watch Craven's place. After Grace hangs up, Andy changes back into Captain Future! Meanwhile, at the cab of the Limited, the train is taken over by the criminal crew, and of course, the train then won't stop for Agatha and Grace, who are pursuing the train in Grace's car. One of the crooks recognizes the women, and the gang figures they can get the women at the crossing. Above, Captain Future is flying in, and sees Grace's car heading for the crossing at the same time the train is! The Captain rescues the ladies just in time!

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Depositing the ladies safely on the ground, Captain Future flies after the train. However, down the line, at the railroad bridge, two more of the gang blow the bridge up with dynamite! The Captain flies into the train's cab to find nobody at the controls, and sees the bridge is out up ahead. Captain Future stops the train, and heads to Henty's compartment, where Henty is dead of an apparent suicide, with a note revealing he's the brains of the operation. Captain Future doesn't believe Henty committed suicide, however. The next day, the ladies figure with Henty dead, the case is finished, and they head over to Craven's place to congratulate him on his safety. Of course, when they arrive at Craven's house, the door is open so they waltz right in, where they find that Craven is the man behind the gang! The ladies are captured immediately. At that same moment, Andy realizes that Henty was tortured to write that letter, and that the train-wreck was to cover the poisoning and signs of torture. Changing to Captain Future again, he realizes that Craven is the man behind the plot! It only took him about five more pages than the rest of us did, eh?

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Of course, when Captain Future arrives at Craven's house, he's met by a few members of the gang, whom he defeats easily. But the house appears deserted! Then he spots Grace's handkerchief sticking out between the floorboards, revealing a secret passage. Just as Otto is about to machine-gun the ladies, Captain Future bursts down into the subterranean hideout, and tackles the crooks! Craven, realizing he's failed the fatherland, tries to commit suicide, but Captain Future stops him! The next day, Andy and Grace discuss the case, and after all the excitement, Andy asks Grace if she's ready to settle down with a quiet chap like him, but of course, Grace only has eyes for... Captain Future!

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Well, where to begin with this story? Obviously, neither Agatha, Grace, or Captain Future are the greatest detectives in comics, given that none of them could figure out that Craven was the real head of the operation all along! Still, there was plenty of action in the story, and a remarkable lot of characterization, for that matter (even if it was short-hand characterization, mostly being Grace berating Andy for being so peaceable). A fun story, if you ask me! I know that Captain Future was revived recently, revealed as really being the Greek God Zeus all along (in Project Superpowers), but that doesn't fit at all with what was shown in this one story!

Next in the book is a full-page house ad for The Black Terror, who was appearing in Exciting Comics!

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Next time: The Masked Rider!

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