Jiminy Kill-It

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The “Gentle Giant” era of Dick Briefer’s classic Frankenstein series ended with the 17th issue of the character’s eponymous magazine. It would be three years before Briefer’s take on the monster would appear again, and at that point the series shifted into a pure horror mode to capitalize on the popularity of EC-styled comic books.

Perhaps sensing the end was near, the final issue of the “funny” Frankenstein is a bit darker than previous installments. The stories downplay the goofy surrealism of earlier stories and focus on the “lighter side” of murder and mayhem.

It’s a tribute to Briefer’s talent that he pulls off such a difficult feat. Much like his monstrous creation, Briefer was truly one of a kind.

The Thirteen Days Of Halloween continue with “Voice Of His Conscience.” The story originally appeared in Frankenstein Comics # 17 (Prize Comics, January-February 1949).

The story was written and drawn by Briefer.

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If you’d like to read more of Briefer’s Frankenstein, I dedicated a week to his three distinct takes on the character a few years ago.

Coming tomorrow: Ugliness is skin deep too!!!!

Party On, Garth

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The Thirteen Days Of Halloween continue with the macabre menace of the Vampiric Viking, Garth! The story originally appeared in Strange Fantasy #12 (Ajax-Farrell, June-July 1954).

There are no credited artists or writers for this tale, but it’s safe to assume it was produced by the Iger Studio.

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And they umm… lived (?) … umm … happily (?) ever after?!?!?

Given that the Iger Studio’s only staff writer was a woman, the fate of the tale’s female protagonist is especially  interesting. Is the last panel a barbed commentary on ’50s suburbia? An insight into the paranoia of that particular decade?

It’s worth pondering …

Coming tomorrow: Frankenstein’s Monster let’s his conscience be his guide!!!

Styx And Stones

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It’s that time of year again when yours truly sets aside mortal concerns to celebrate the Thirteen Days Of Halloween! This humble blog will host a Golden Age fright fest every day until Oct. 31, an event that should test the endurance of the staff at Time Bullet Central since we’ve barely managed more than 13 posts all year long.

First up, the inaugural adventure of Dr. Styx, a proto-Phantom Stranger who battled the numerous supernatural menaces that lurked within the pages of Prize’s Treasure Comics. Although the good Doctor’s adventures only lasted six issues, he did brush up against the Cthulhu Mythos and survived to tell the tale.

(Let’s see that Zatara jerk match that feat!)

From Treasure Comics #2 (Prize Comics, August-September 1945), Dr. Styx steps in to save the world when a misguided mystic decides to mess around with the Necronomicon. The writer and artist of this untitled tale are sadly uncredited.

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Coming tomorrow: A Vampire Viking! Or is it a Viking Vampire? I never can tell …

Call Him The Streak

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The Silver Streak, a super-speedster who was beaten to the newsstands by All-American Publications’ The Flash by a mere two months, had one of the stranger debuts in Golden Age history, which is really saying something when you consider the era included such oddities as Speed Centaur.

The story begins with the long forgotten Rhoda Publications, which decided to jump into the comic book game by offering a title named after the owner’s beloved Pontiac Silver Streak. Although the book prominently featured one notable creation, Jack Cole’s monstrous Claw, none of the characters in the comic were particularly silver or streaky.

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After two issues, the title was taken over by Lev Gleason Publications, which decided to introduce a Silver Streak character to headline the book.

That “character,” however, turned out to be a souped-up race car rather than a man or woman possessing super-speed. As detailed in Silver Streak Comics #3 (Lev Gleason, March 1940),  the Silver Streak was owned by a mysterious swami whose efforts to win races were continually thwarted by a mad scientist who sent monstrous insects to destroy the car.

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The Golden Age, right?

Undeterred, the swami mesmerizes an unnamed cab driver to guide the Silver Streak to victory. When the car is destroyed yet again by a giant bug – an attack that also kills the hapless cab driver by the way – the swami stops kidding around and unleashes powers that makes one wonder why he messed around with racing cars anyway.

He raises the cab driver from the dead and gives him a rebuilt Silver Streak to gain vengeance. The story ends with the reanimated driver, who now possesses super-strength, foiling part of the mad scientist’s confusing master plan with the promise of further battles to come.

That “origin” story was drawn by Jack Binder, but when the Silver Streak returned in the fourth issue the feature boasted a new creator – Jack Cole – and an entirely new concept. The race car and swami were gone forever, and the cab driver suddenly became a fleet-footed super-hero bound and determined to bring am end to the mad “Doc” and his giant insects.

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Little changed for The Silver Streak from that point forward, other than the addition of the requisite teen sidekick and a super fast pet falcon. The character’s adventures lasted until 1945, about the time the majority of Golden Age super-heroes sped off into the sunset.

The following story originally appeared in Silver Streak Comics #5 (Lev Gleason, June 1940). The story was written and drawn by Cole, who adds a nice essay about the nature of heroism on the opening splash page.

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Working Girl

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Back in the Golden Age, any average Joe or Jane could fight crime as long as they possessed a can-do attitude and a good right hook. No character embodies this fact more than Kay McKay, Air Hostess.

Not only is McKay tough enough to survive a daredevil leap out of an airplane, she even possesses the moxy to fend off a pack of wild man-faced dog creatures. If the ill-fated Christina Ricci vehicle, Pan Am, had half as much action that series might have lasted an entire season.

The untitled story originally appeared in Captain Courageous Comics #6 (Ace Periodicals, March 1942). The art is credited to George Wilson.

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Return Of The King

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Nothing can get me off my big, fat, non-blogging butt faster than the 97th anniversary of Jack “King” Kirby’s birth!

To celebrate, here’s a classic tale written and drawn by The King himself from Harvey’s post-Code science-fiction anthology, Alarming Tales. Entitled “Forbidden Journey,” the main character of the tale embodies the adventurous spirit that typified Kirby’s own career over the decades.

The story originally appeared in Alarming Tales #4 (Harvey Comics, March 1958).

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The last panel just seems to sum up everything regarding Jack Kirby and his contributions to comics and culture in general. We are all in his debt.

If you would like to own higher quality reprints of Kirby’s (and Joe Simon’s) science-fiction work with Harvey and other publishers, pick up the beautiful hardcover collection issued in 2013 by Titan Books,  The Simon And Kirby Library: Science Fiction ASAP!

All-American Girl

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It’s already been several months since the last post? Time flies when you’re busy catching up on Boardwalk Empire

I recently happened upon a rave review for a new book that celebrates the can-do super-women of 1940s comics, Mike Madrid’s Divas, Dames And Daredevils: Lost Heroines of the Golden Age.

From what I gather, Madrid’s thesis regarding Wonder Woman and other first-generation heroines parallels my own longstanding belief that the original super-women and girls displayed more strength and determination than many of their Silver and Bronze Age counterparts.

(Maybe even a few modern age characters as well, given that none of the Class of ’39 and ’40 were saddled with sexual assault back-stories like Marvel’s Black Cat or DC’s pre-Nu52 Helena Bertinelli.)

Such sentiments, of course, compel me to get off my fat @$$ and post another adventure featuring one of my favorite Golden-Age super-heroines, Miss Victory! The story originally appeared in Captain Aero Comics vol. 3 #11 (Temerson/Helnit/Continental, January 1944).

The art is by Nina Albright, who blazed a few trails of her own as a comic-book artist in the medium’s early days. Here’s “Noric – The Maniac Of The Opera.”

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Who needs Captain America when Miss Victory’s on the job?