Wally And Wilma

wilma west

Wilma West may not be an unrepentant @$$-kicker like The Crimson Rider, but as illustrated by the late great Wally Wood she definitely possesses other *ahem* attributes that fans undoubtedly found serviceable.

(Nudge, nude. Say no more …)

Wild West Week Month finally, unbelievably concludes with “Wilma West” from Western Crime Busters #9 (Trojan Magazines, February 1952).

The story is penciled and inked by Wood; the writer is uncredited.
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Wow … from a strategically concealed Wilma West to an ending that makes Treasure Of The Sierra Madre look like a Warner Brothers Looney Tune. Wally Wood, ladies and gentlemen!

Golden Archers

Golden Arrow
The Time Bullet continues to defy the boundaries of the Fourth Dimension! It’s Day Four of Wild West Week, a mere two-and-a-half weeks after Day Three!!

Emerging today from the mists of history is the Golden Arrow, a second-tier Fawcett character that enjoyed a 13-year run in Whiz Comics and even managed to headline his own title for a handful of issues.

Created by Bill Parker and Pete Costanza, the Arrow’s origin was familiar to anyone who followed Tarzan or the Lone Ranger. Roger Parsons orphaned and left for dead in the Wild West after his father – a noted inventor – and mother were murdered by a greedy businessman.

Raised by a kindly prospector, Parsons developed exceptional strength and reflexes as he grew and became an expert archer. The young man dubs himself the “Golden Archer” and with the help of his mighty steed, White Wind, avenges his father’s death and becomes the “Robin Hood of the Wild West.”

Although Parsons’ adventures were supposedly set in the Old West, Golden Arrow did manage to team up with Captain Marvel and Spy Smasher a time or two. It seems Fawcett creators scoffed at the time and space continuum as much as we do …

From Whiz Comics #30 (Fawcett, October 1942), here’s “A School Of Justice.” The Grand Comics Database guesses the artist was Al Carreno.

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Bedridden and insane! Golden Age justice!!

Coming Next: Believe it or not, there’s one more to go!!

Red Rider

Crimson

It’s no mystery that time has no meaning at The Time Bullet, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that day three of Wild West Week falls about 90 hours after day two.

At the very least, we have a true Golden Age obscurity to offer our understandably befuddled Time Bulleteers.  The headliner of today’s post is “Wilton Of The West,” a standard-issue cowboy that appeared in the first 24 issues of Fiction House’s Jumbo Comics, the book that was also home to a much more famous jungle queen named Sheena.

Aside from the fact that Wilton was an early creation of Jack Kirby’s that was later drawn by Golden Age great Lou Fine, there isn’t much to note about the two-fisted cowpoke.

Nearly one-third through the strip’s run, however, Wilton met a mysterious “Lone Ranger” type named the Crimson Rider who – much like Racer X decades later – would appear out of nowhere to either offer sage advice or outright save the day before disappearing once more.

The Crimson Rider was unique among Lone Ranger analogues, however, because the masked vigilante’s true identity was a woman named Mary Benton who sought vengeance against the men who murdered her father. Since comic-book storytelling was incredibly compressed at the time, Benton accomplished all of her goals in her first appearance (Jumbo Comics #9).

Crimson Rider

Benton’s crusade continued through five more appearances before she finally rode off to comic-book limbo in Jumbo Comics #18. It’s too bad, because her character was far more interesting than poor Wilton and was an early example of the sort of kick-a$$ heroine Fiction House would soon highlight throughout all its titles.

Today’s story, the Rider’s penultimate appearance, is easily the strangest adventure featuring the duo and is drawn by one of the Time Bullet’s favorite artists, George Tuska.

The untitled tale originally appeared in Jumbo Comics #17 (Fiction House, July 1940).

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And you thought ’90s heroes were extreme!

Coming tomorrow (probably): The Golden Arrow!

Holt And Catch Fire

Tim Holt

So by theme “week” you didn’t expect five consecutive days of posts, did you?

Heh. Well… errr…ummm

Sadly Time Bulleteers, my best-laid plans were waylaid by a now-dead Toshiba laptop.  Guess those “Imminent hard drive failure” notifications weren’t just a bunch of gobbledygook after all!

Like the Wild West heroes of old, however, the Time Bullet is back in the saddle and ready to proceed with the six-gun action and tumbleweed terrors promised earlier this week.

Today we have the comic book adventures of Tim Holt, a star of the classic Western film era who appeared in such notable works as Stagecoach, The Girl and The Gambler, My Darling Clementine,  and – perhaps most famously – The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre.

Comics based upon the fictionalized adventures of Holt and other film stars (including such A-Listers as John Wayne) were the Star Wars titles of their day, and publisher Magazine Enterprises upped the ante by giving Holt a Lone Ranger-esque alter-ego known as the “Red Mask.”

Many of the Red Mask’s adventures showed the same pulpish flair as Magazine Enterprises’ premier Western star, The Ghost Rider, probably because the great Gardner Fox worked on both characters.

“The Death Wheel!” features the menace of the wonderfully named “Lady Doom” and originally appeared in Tim Holt #30 (Magazine Enterprises, June-July 1952). The art is by Frank Bolle and is thought to be scripted by Fox.

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Golden Age justice!

Coming Monday (I’m almost totally sure … ): The Crimson Rider! She’s not what you expect!

Rider Of The Purple Prose

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The Time Bullet is wrapping up April with a week of Wild West themed posts because … well, why not?

First up is Atlas’ Black Rider, a Lone Ranger expy distinguished by the fact that he was later retconned into Doctor Strange’s back-story.

Many of the Black Rider’s adventures were illustrated by the legendary Syd Shores, but Atlas Tales guesses this particular tale was ghosted by Chris Rule. “The Spider Strikes” originally appeared in Black Rider #27 (Atlas, March 1955).

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Golden Age justice! As a bonus, here’s the cover of Black Rider #27 as illustrated by the legendary Joe Maneely.

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Coming Tomorrow: Silver screen star Tim Holt, alias The Red Mask!!!

Dog Devil

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With the much deserved success of the Netflix Daredevil series,  yours truly thought it high time to revisit the Golden Age Daredevil, one of the most popular super-heroes of the era.

While comic-book historians (yes, there’s such a thing) have made much of Daredevil’s unique costume design, brief status as a mute super-hero, splashy first issue as a headliner and epic battle against The Claw, this time I’d like to take a minute to discuss the man who guided the character’s adventures for nine years: Charles Biro.

Without a doubt, Biro was one of the greatest comic-book writers/artists/editors to ever put paper to pen. Not only did he spearhead the original and (arguably) greatest crime comic of all (Crime Does Not Pay), but created/co-created such memorable and popular characters as Airboy, Iron Jaw, Crimebuster, the Little Wise Guys and Mr. Crime among many others.

He also had a special knack for self-promotion that undoubtedly taught a young Stanley Lieber a thing or two about the power of hyperbole. In today’s story alone, both the narrator and Daredevil take time out from the adventure at hand to pump up an upcoming issue’s storyline. The covers of Daredevil Comics, which were usually drawn by Biro, routinely sported the legend “The Greatest Name In Comics.”

And heck … who can disagree with Biro? Daredevil often enjoyed some of the more memorable adventures in Golden Age comics, a contention borne out by “The Human Beast.” The story originally appeared in Daredevil Comics #6 (Lev Gleason, December 1941).  It was written and drawn by Biro.

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His ‘N’ Hers

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For every Captain America there is an American Avenger; for every Wonder Woman an Amazona.The pages of Golden Age super-hero comics were rife with would-be supermen and women who received one chance at stardom but instead faded immediately into obscurity.

Sometimes the reasons for a character’s failure were woefully apparent (Centaur’s “The Buzzard,” a non-powered crime-fighter who disguised himself by donning a fake, bird-like nose) while other concepts worked well enough on paper but for whatever reason plummeted out of favor (“Ghost Woman,” a spectral heroine who fought werewolves. What’s not to love?).

Scarlet Nemesis and The Black Orchid were a crime-fighting duo that definitely deserved better exposure than a one-and-done. The set up was simple: a smug, condescending private eye and his hyper-competent Girl Friday fight crime as costumed mystery-persons.  Although Nemesis and Orchid frequently team up, both are unaware of their partner’s true identity.

It’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” decades before the fact!

If we’re being honest, however, the Black Orchid is the true star of the story. She has a better codename, costume and “calling card” (a floral dagger!) than the generic at best Scarlet Nemesis.

Perhaps that’s what held the duo back, or maybe it was the simple fact that the publisher already had a darkly clad female vigilante who readily captured readers’ imaginations: the Black Cat.

Judge for yourself. From All-New Short Story #2 (Harvey, March 1943), here’s “The Case Of The Crumbling Skyscrapers.” The art is credited to Ken Battlefield.

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Now that I think of it … there’s a slight similarity between the Harvey Black Orchid’s costume and the look of DC’s Black Orchid, who debuted in the 1970s.

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Is it possible? Probably not, but then again …

U.S. Male

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In the most recent issue of Multiversity, Grant Morrison once again brought his unique sensibilities to a well-worn comic-book theme – in this case, super-heroes versus Nazis – and uncovered new and interesting twists.

The most obvious hook, of course, was casting Superman and the Justice Leaguers as defenders of Truth, Justice and the Aryan Way. While it was intriguing to see how easily Batman fits into the fascist mold, the conceit wasn’t necessarily original. Heck, Saturday Night Live aired a Nazi Superman sketch way back in 1979.

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The more interesting aspects of the story – in my mind, at least – include Morrison’s depiction of Hitler, which ranges from Golden Age buffoonery to the true horrors of his sick ideology; the re-imagining of Uncle Sam as the charismatic leader of a super-powered terrorist cell comprised of Quality Comics characters; and, of course, a slant on “weeping Superman” that actually makes sense for once, as the Last Son Of Krypton finds himself unable to look past his adopted land’s bloody past.

Morrison also fulfills his “meta” quota, as there are several scenes depicting Nazis – including Der Fuehrer himself – reading and commenting on real and imagined Golden Age comics starring Superman  and a Captain America Expy called “American Crusader.”

American Crusader

Coincidentally enough, there was an American Crusader who battled Nazis in the pages of Nedor’s Thrilling Comics. The character, who owed as much to Superman as Captain America, also held the distinction of being one of the earliest atomic-powered super-heroes and even enjoyed a brief revival in Alan Moore’s “America’s Best Comics” line.

The Crusader was mousy astronomer Archibald Masters, who found himself blasted by atomic radiation in one of those comic-book science experiments that inevitably go awry. Instead of dying on the spot, Masters found he possessed super-human strength, speed, agility and resistance to injury as well as the power of flight.

Masters predictably donned a costume and decided to fight crime and tyranny as the patriotic American Crusader. His success at that endeavor can best be judged by the following tale …

“The American Crusader versus The Black Vulture” originally appeared in Thrilling Comics #26 (Better/Standard/Nedor, March 1942). The art is credited to Max Plaisted, whose work may be primitive but is still preferable in my eyes to Multiversity’s Jim Lee.

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In case you’re wondering about the Crusader’s battle against the wonderfully named “Mr. Eyes,” it can be summed up pretty easily.

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For a mild-mannered sop, Archie is pretty adept at clocking radios.