Tag Archives: Adventures in the Unknown

All-American 25 – Green Lantern and the saboteur, Red Tornado teams with the Cyclone Kids, Hop Harrigan becomes the Guardian Angel, Dr. Mid-Nite debuts, and Adventures in the Unknown ends

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Another new hero debuts in All-American 25 (April 1941), but Green Lantern retains his cover dominance.

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Alan Scott investigates sabotage at a steel mill, and the resultant kidnapping of Irene Miller, in this story by Finger and Nodell.

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Although this is not an isolationist tale, the villain does not turn out to be a foreign agent.  But his motive is simply greed rather than trying to force a war.

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The Red Tornado’s billing is now larger than that of Scribbly, as Sheldon Mayer continues to put the spotlight on Ma Hunkle.  Gangsters kidnap Scribbly, figuring that, as he drew the picture of the Tornado, he must know something about the hero.  Dinky and Sisty see this, and get into their Cyclone Kids costumes.  Ma spots them changing, and joins them as Red Tornado.

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Together they free Scribbly and whup the bad guys.  But while Ma now knows who the Kids are, they remain ignorant of her identity.

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Ikky and Prop Wash get recruited by the Secret Service to help expose a spy ring in this story.  Why Hop Harrigan was not included is not clear, but it turns out to be a good thing that he wasn’t.

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The two men find themselves hopelessly outclassed and outgunned, and get shot down.  They are rescued by a mysterious masked flyer, the Guardian Angel.  We see that the Angel is really Hop, but he feels it necessary for some reason to conceal this from his friends.

Really, this is just a case of pushing the Hop Harrigan series towards being about a costumed hero.

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Charles Reizenstein and Stan Aschmeier introduce Dr. Mid-Nite in this issue.  Charles McNider is a noted physician, who is called upon to save the life of a witness in a mob trial.   The killer, Maroni, tosses a bomb into the room, which blinds the doctor.

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No longer able to see, McNider decides to begin a new career as a writer. He tells Myra Mason, his former nurse, now his secretary, that he is writing to benefit the public at large, by warning them about the crime rife in society. But we see that he writes for pulp magazines, so McNider is really just being a bit pompous about this.

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In a scene ripped directly from the Batman origin, McNider ponders taking more direct action against criminals when an owl comes smashing through his window.  But this owl brings more than just inspiration for a name, McNider discovers that he is not blind in darkness.  Grateful, he adopts the owl, naming it Hooty.

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McNider creates a costume for himself, and the hood contains dark glass over the eyes, giving him the darkness he needs in order to see. He also creates blackout bombs, to further give him an advantage.  With Hooty on his shoulder, Dr. Mid-Nite goes into action, capturing Maroni, and even performing surgery in a blackout.

But Dr.Mid-Nite would continue to feel like a second-tier Batman for much of his original run.

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Rescue on Mars, the final storyline of Adventures in the Unknown, comes to a conclusion in this issue.  Professor Lutyens continues to pretend to work on behalf of the Martians, while really trying to find a way to overthrow them and escape.

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Jack, Alan and Ted, as well as the professor, would all have been beheaded for their brains when the plan gets revealed, if not for another helpful Martian-bot.

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They make it back to Earth, this time wearing space suits.  Which once again makes me wonder why they didn’t need them for the voyage out.  Returning to Earth, they are confronted by the foreign agents who had been chasing them earlier, but the professor uses his paralyzing ray on them.

None of these characters ever appear again, but I am certain they were all pulled into some secret scientific government work a few months down the road, when the US entered the war.

 

 

 

All-American 23 – Green Lanterns wipes minds, Red Tornado goes ape, Hop Harrigan and the spies, Joe Morgan drugged, and a Martian telephone

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Everett Hibbard joins Bill Finger on the Green Lantern story in All-American 23 (Feb. 41).

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The story deals with an actress who is secretly the daughter of a jailed mobster, who is being blackmailed into marrying a gangster.

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Finger gets a bit more creative with the ring in this story.  Green Lantern uses it in more flashy ways, and also wipes the minds of the bad guys, keeping the actress’ secret safe.

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The Red Tornado joins the logo with Scribbly in this Sheldon Mayer story.  Ma beats up a kid who has been harrassing her daughter, dressed as the Red Tornado.  The police are now pursuing the hero, for fairly obvious reasons.

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But it’s all still played for comedy.  The police chase the Red Tornado into a zoo.  Ma gives her costume to an ape, and the police spend the rest of the story chasing around the gorilla in the Red Tornado outfit.

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There is some very nice on the Hop Harrigan story in this issue.  The tale itself is pretty standard.  Hop winds up flying a wealthy and arrogant European couple, who are really spies and saboteurs, trying to wreck their factory.

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There are good, if small, roles for Ikky and Miss Snap in this.  And certainly the most sartorial villains that Harrigan has faced.

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O’Connor, Flinton and Sansone have Joe Morgan victimized in this Atom story.  Joe gets drugged, and used as an unwitting thief.

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Joe gets caught, and the police do not believe that he has no memory of his crimes.  But Al does, and gets into his Atom gear to track down and catch the ones behind it.

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Ted and Alan get separated from Jack by the Martians in this chapter of Rescue on Mars.

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There is still no sign of Professor Lutyens, and Alan and Ted are about to have their brains removed by the Martian robots.

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Jack, meanwhile, escapes from the cell he has been held in. He tries on a Martian head, just for fun.  Then he discovers an Earth-style telephone on Mars.  The different shape of the Martian’s heads ensures they would never be able to use it comfortably, so you have to wonder why it is even there.  But Jack uses it, and finds Professor Lutyens on the other end.

All-American 22 – someone else wears the ring, a picture of the Red Tornado, and Rescue on Mars heads into space

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Green Lantern winds up in a boxing story by Finger and Nodell in All-American 22 (Jan. 41).

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It’s the fairly standard tale, with a young and honest boxer hassled by gamblers and mobsters.  They kidnap his wife to force him to lose the match.

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The most interesting element of the story occurs when the Lantern gets captured.  Lots of wooden sticks being used by gangsters in this strip. One of the hoods removes Green Lantern’s ring, and puts it on himself.  The ring then burns him alive.  An extreme security measure.  Need I mention that Alan Scott captures the guys, frees the wife, and the boxer wins the match?

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Scribbly gets an assignment to draw a picture of the Red Tornado for his newspaper in this Sheldon Mayer story.  Ma Hunkle is delighted to pose for the boy, who still thinks the Tornado is a guy.

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When Scribbly complains to Ma about his rate of pay, and the way he is treated at the office, she puts the pot on her head and the Red Tornado pays a visit to the editor, beating the crap out of him.  It does get Scribbly a raise, but it’s a bit much.

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All freed from their kidnappings and gassings, Ted, Alan adn Jack set sail for South America to finally head off to Mars.  They are very concerned about hiding their trail in case anyone follows, even lying to the ship’s captain.

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At last they get the ship ready and take off, making it all the way to the other planet in the space of less than a page.  They seem to have fixed the heating problems, and no one wears any sort of space suit at all.  But no sooner do they land on Mars then they are taken captive.

All-American 21 – Green Lantern and the missing heir, Red Tornado’s identity revealed, and Rescue on Mars has rescues but no Mars

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Finger and Nodell put Green Lantern into a standard missing heir story in All-American 21 (Dec. 40).

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Alan becomes suspicious when the missing heir to a fortune shows up in the care of a shady lawyer.

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The boy is aware of the scam, but comes to care for his supposed mother.  When the lawyer gets greedy, things get violent.

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In a completely unsurprising twist, the boy turns out to be the real heir.  Nothing special here.

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The Red Tornado carries the story in Sheldon Mayer’s Scribbly story this issue.  She finishes off the hoods, and turns them over to the police.

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While Dinky and Sisty rave about the Tornado’s heroics, the police chief takes all the credit himself.  Ma Hunkle hears about the chief’s claims, and then the Red Tornado bursts into the police station to set things right.  It is apparent that Ma is the Tornado, but because of her form, and presumably the vocal distortion caused by wearing a pot on her head, everyone assumes the Red Tornado is made.

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Rescue on Mars winds up feeling a lot like The Infra Red Destroyers, as Ted hunts out and frees the kidnapped Jack.

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Alan winds up getting gassed by foreign agents who want his research.  Nothing science-fictiony in this chapter at all.

All-American 20 – Alan Scott gets a new job, the Red Tornado debuts, the Atom goes to the dance and Rescue on Mars begins

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Green Lantern gets the cover of All-American 20 (Nov. 40), a dramatic scene that does not appear in his story.

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Finger and Nodell relate this tale as a radio announcer gets gunned down in the streets, muttering the words “tops” as he dies.  Green Lantern gets on the case.

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Alan needs information he simply cannot get on his own, and mulls getting a job as an announcer, thinking that he could get the news faster that way.  But when he applies, he is told there are no positions.  But what about the announced just murdered? There has to be an opening, so clearly they are just lying to him.  Makes sense.  He’s a railroad engineer with no radio experience.

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As Alan is leaving he runs into Irene Miller, who already works at Apex Studios.  She suggests that the word tops refers to a toothpaste company that advertises with them.  Alan and Irene got to check them out, and are promptly taken captive.

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Alan changes to Green Lantern, but without using his ring for some reason.  Good thing he’s left alone. We also see that the ring is concealed beneath a roll-top covering.

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He whups the bad guys as Green Lantern, and then changes back to Alan to free Irene.

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Alan’s efforts do not go unrewarded, as he gets the announcer job he had applied for.

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Ma Hunke’s troubles with the mob had continued over the last few issues, culminating with the kidnapping of her daughter, Sisty, and Scribbly’s brother, Dinky, in this Sheldon Mayer story.

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The kids are such terrors that one fears for the safety of the kidnappers.

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As the story ends, the Red Tornado shows up to rescue the two, and face off against the bad guys.

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O’Connor, Flinton and Sansone have Al Pratt continue to try to win Mary James’ affections in this story.  There is a big dance at the college, but Mary has a date and Al doesn’t want to go.  Joe Morgan makes up a story about thieves planning to hit the dance to goad Al to attend.

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Al is almost the definition of a wallflower at the ball.  But fortunately, some thieves do actually show up to rob the place.

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The Atom gets into costume for the first time, fighting the hoods and saving Mary James.

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How exactly this is supposed to win her over remains unclear.  While Mary admires the Atom, she has only contempt for Al at the end of the story.

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Adventures in the Unknown begins its final storyline, Rescue on Mars, as Alan and Ted search for a rocket fuel that will allow them to travel back to Mars and rescue Professor Lutyens.

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Because they are being spied on by others interested in the fuel, they recruit Jack, a boy Ted wrestles with at the gym, to hunt out anyone who might be after them.  Jack does a good job at this, I guess,because he gets kidnapped as the chapter ends.

All-American 18 – Green Lantern at the World’s Fair, The Infra Red Destroyers ends, Ma Hunkle stands up to gangsters, and Ultra-Man gets deposed

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Green Lantern heads to the New York World’s Fair on the cover of All-American 18 (Sept. 40), and in the story inside as well.

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Alan Scott meets Irene Miller in this story by Finger and Nodell, coming to her aid after stopping her from shooting a man.  Her brother has been framed by gangsters, and she has been driven to desperate measures.

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Green Lantern sets out to prove the boy’s innocence.  He uses his ring to “read” the thoughts of one of the gang members.

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The story does not use the World’s Fair location very much, but does reach a climax as Green Lantern fights a mob boss on the roof of the Perisphere.   The Lantern gets a confession before the man dies.  Irene Miller sticks around, becoming the romantic interest in the series.

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The Infra Red Destroyers reaches its conclusion in this issue.  Alan and Ted quickly whip up a spray that neutralizes the Venusians.

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With the spray, they have little trouble taking out the alien snake creatures.  So little trouble that it is clear that the kidnappings were in the story simply to fill it out.

Adventures in the Unknown takes a break next issue, but returns after that with their final serial.

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Ma Hunkle gets the spotlight in this issue’s Scribbly story by Sheldon Mayer, as a protection racket tries to move in on her store.

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Ma shows not the slightest bit of fear when faced with these goons, and actively picks a fight with them.  She displays all the courage and mettle that will later come to define her super-hero career, even if this story is played for comedy.

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Gary Concord, Ultra-Man begins his final storyline in this issue, as an evil Asian nation is plotting against his country.  Ginger has a cameo towards the beginning, but is not important to the tale.

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Gary wants to take action against them, but without using his country’s forces, and prompting a potential war.  So he allows himself to be framed and slandered, and is forced to resign his position.  He heads East, to the nation he suspects, and takes up life as a privileged exile.

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Gary uncovers the female American biographer who is working as the go-between, passing messages from the Emperor and his men to the spies back home.  Ultra-Man dons a slightly different costume at the end of this story, one with pants, as he pursues the Emperor’s ship, which has already left for the US.

The story, and the series, concludes next issue.

 

All-American 17 – Green Lantern’s first case in costume, battling Venusians, and Gary Concord unmasks the Face

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Green Lantern is now the unchallenged star of All-American Comics, with both the cover image and inset bullet on issue 17 (Aug. 40), as well as the lead story.

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Alan Scott, still working as an engineer, becomes suspicious when a contract goes to a rival, even though Alan is sure that his bid was lower.  Investigating as Green Lantern, he scares the men into attacking him. Now, to be fair, the rival company is corrupt, but Alan is running roughshod over the law in the story by Finger and Nodell.

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He gets knocked out by wood, again, bound and thrown into the river.  Of course Green Lantern escapes this, and returns, scaring the men even more, now that they think he is a ghost.

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The story makes much of the “sign” of the Green Lantern, the impression of his ring on the face of a man he hits.  One must assume Alan willed the ring to do this, as it also leaves behind a green colour.

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“The Infra Red Destroyers” gets some action in this chapter.  Ted finds and frees Alan, but they have to fight the Venusian snake-type aliens.

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They do not manage to defeat them, but they do get away.  As the story ends, the tallest building in the US (the Empire State Building I assume, for the time) crumbles due to the evil scientist and the invisible aliens.

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Gary Concord, Ultra-Man deals with the Face, who plays on the fear of a rival nation, Litonia, to try to draw the two countries into war.

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The Face destroys a number of buildings with the “spinning death,” but a young boy survives, and has seen the real face of the Face.  The Face speaks with a Litonian accent, but is really Murdo, one of Concord’s own people.  Gary exposes the man, and averts a needless war.

There is an over-riding anti-war sentiment in this series.  While likely part of the concept of an ideal future, without war, these stories also clearly reflect the isolationist feeling in the US, as World War 2 grows.