Tag Archives: All-American Comics

All American Western 103 – a new sheriff for Mesa, and Overland Coach, Minstrel Maverick and Foley of the Fighting Fifth begin

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With issue 103 (Nov. 48), All-American becomes All American Western, shedding the hyphen along with all the series, except for Johnny Thunder.

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Kanigher and Toth have the people of Mesa turn on Sheriff Tane, feeling that he is too old to perform his job.  I like to see this as a follow-up to the last issue, and have their concern based on his health after being shot.

Johnny Thunder is offered the sheriff’s badge, but turns it down, so he can maintain his other identity as school teacher John Tane.

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The man who does become sheriff immediately takes away everyone’s guns, including those of Thunder.  And, as one might expect, he is part of the gang that Sheriff Tane was dealing with before he got ousted.  Johnny Thunder has to take him down, without using his guns.  Tane gets re-instated as the story ends.

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Overland Coach is the first of the new series to debut in this issue.  Drawn by Irwin Hasen and Frank Giacoia, it has a woman as its main character, Tony Barrett (short for Antoinette).  The town is none too pleased to have a female running their stagecoach,but she proves herself in this tale.

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I found this surprisingly progressive for the era, as she is shown to be fully capable of handling herself.  Few women were portrayed this way in western comics of the time.

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She has a brother, Billy, who is in prison, framed for murder.  She hunts down the real killer, and though she does get captured by him, she manages to free herself and bring the bad guy to justice.

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As the story ends, the sheriff even offers to appoint her his deputy, but she is content to run the stagecoach line, as she came out to do.

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Minstrel Maverick debuts, in a story with art by Bernie Krigstein.  The hero’s actual name is Harmony Hayes, which is not much better.

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I have to admit, I keep rooting for the bad guys in this story.  Especially when Hayes confronts them, not with a gun, but with a song.

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Still, he does pull out his guns when the situation warrants it, and rounds up the Black Rustler and his gang.  Shame that he sings about as he rides into the sunset.

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Joe Kubert and John Giunta are the art team as Foley of the Fighting 5th is introduced, a series about the adventures of a member of the 5th cavalry division.

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As one might expect on a series about the cavalry, the natives are the ones they are fighting against.  Peaceful natives, who allow the white settlers to take their land, are portrayed as good, while the ones fighting in defense of their territory are shows as evil.

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This story does add a bit more depth to it, as the natives who are in revolt, and attacking Fort Desolation, are being lead by a medicine man who is really a white man in disguise, and “Indian agent” who is trying to provoke a larger war for his own benefit.

 

All-American 102 – Sheriff Tane gets shot, Dr. Mid-Nite, Black Pirate and Green Lantern end

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Johnny Thunder gets a very emotional and intense story in All-American 102 (Oct. 48), the final issue of this series under this title, which is also the last issue to feature Green Lantern, Dr. Mid-Nite and the Black Pirate.

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Kanigher and Toth open the story with John Tane taking his students down to the pond for a lesson on how there is always someone bigger and more powerful, preying on the weak.  It’s intended to stop kids from bullying, though I have doubts that it would.

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Sheriff Tane gets shot by an outlaw gang.  John is so upset when he hears that he rides Black Lightning to his wounded father, to the shock of the gathered crowd.  His father may be dying, so takes the opportunity to once again attack his son for being a school teacher.

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Switching to Johnny Thunder, he tracks down the man who shot his father, and the bulk of the story is very intense, much moreso than the previous two stories.  The sheriff does survive. living on to criticize his son even more

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Dr. Mid-Nite has his last outing in All-American in this issue, helmed by Arthur Peddy and Bernard Sachs.

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Dr. McNider is being shown some new surgical instruments, designed to be able to be used in the dark. In case of blackouts, not specifically for McNider.  Crooks burst in to steal the instruments, hoping to find the secret and use it on tools for stealing in the darkness.

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Dr. Mid-Nite tracks them using the chemicals that were used on the instruments, which the criminals stepped in, leaving a glowing trail in the dark.

Certainly not the best adventure for Dr. Mid-Nite.  He continues to appear in All-Star Comics as a member of the Justice Society.

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The Black Pirate has his final outing in this issue, with Peddy and Sachs as the creative team again.

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Jon Valor and his son Justin are pursuing some highwaymen when they see a windmill turning against the wind.  Stopping to investigate, they learn that the mill is believed to be haunted by the ghost of one of Valor’s ancestors.

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Of course, that is not the case.  The innkeeper is controlling the mill.  He is part of the gang of highwaymen, using the mill to scare away curious villagers.  The Black Pirate exposes him and gives the people a stern lecture about superstition.

The Black Pirate does not appear again until he guest-stars along with other historical characters in an issue of Justice League of America in the late 70s.  His son Justin has to wait a few more years, showing up in a DC Comics Presents in the early 80s.

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Broome and Hasen are joined by Bob Oskner for Green Lantern’s final tale in this book.

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It’s not one of his best.  Doiby Dickles helps out as Green Lantern deals with thieves who prey on conventions.  Alan Scott is broadcasting from the first one they hit, which gets Green Lantern on the case.

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The last couple of pages, as Green Lantern makes the crooks airplane go haywire, are kind of fun, but otherwise there is little to commend this outing.

Green Lantern next appears in his final solo story in Comic Cavalcade the following month.

 

All-American 101 – Johnny Thunder defends John Tane

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Kanigher and Toth continue with the Johnny Thunder series in All-American 101 (Sept. 48).

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A couple write to Johnny Thunder, begging him to come and convince their son to attend John Tane’s school.  The boy wants to be a gunslinger, but Johnny gives the boy a (relatively uninspiring) speech about the importance of school.

He also stands up for the school, and his alternate identity, to Sheriff Tane.  The Sheriff dismisses his son as doing woman’s work, and Johnny does a better job arguing about the importance of getting an education.

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The meat of the story deals with some roughnecks trying to drive the couple off of their ranch.  Kathy’s brother Kit overhears their plans, and dresses up as Johnny Thunder to try to scare them off, but gets shot for his efforts.

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Johnny stops the bad guys, and demonstrates the power of his temporary hair dye, which does not wash out when he winds up going into the river with them.  Makes one wonder how he removes it normally, which he does with rapid speed.

 

All-American 100 – Johnny Thunder begins, and Green Lantern vs Knodar

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Green Lantern retains his bullet image, but loses the cover and the lead spot to Johnny Thunder, a new western hero, created by Kanigher and Toth, who debuts in this issue. Despite sharing his name with a hero who had only recently stopped appearing, there is no connection between the two Johnny Thunders.

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The series is set in the old west town of Mesa, and deals with the son of Sheriff Tane, a schoolteacher named Johnny.

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The Sheriff is very displeased that his son has chosen such a meek profession, and frequently insults and upbraids him in public.  Even in front of Kathy, the girl he clearly likes, and her younger brother Kit.

The horse is also central to this series.  Named Black Lightning, despite being white, the horse will let no one ride him, except for Johnny (although no one realizes this).

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The story in this issue deals with rustlers who keep preying on the ranchers herds.  John Tane convinces them to band together to move their cattle.  He waits until everyone leaves, puts some black dye in his hair, and gets on Black Lightning to keep watch.  Sure enough the rustlers hit the herd, and he rides in to save the day.

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It’s Sheriff Tane who gives him the nickname Johnny Thunder.  His eyesight, as well as that of the rest of the townspeople, must be just awful, as they see him close up, but no one realizes that John Tane is Johnny Thunder.

The story also leaves it unclear as to exactly why Tane chooses to adopt a secret identity, rather than just acting as himself, though an explanation does come eventually.

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Green Lantern’s strip moves to the back of the book as he has his third and final encounter with Knodar, the villain from the future, in a story by Broome and Hasen.  Knodar’s first two appearances had occurred in Green Lantern’s own book.

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Knodar escapes from his prison in the future, and comes back in time to try once again to defeat Green Lantern, this time planning to work with the “Black-Eyed Bandit” that he had read about.  He mistakes a woman for this, and she goes along with it, in hopes of stopping him.  No actual person using that name appears in the story.

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Knodar has his main weapon, a metal-producer, with which he can transform and create various objects.  His suit, covered with the letter P, is prison gear from his era.  Doiby Dickles and Streak both have small roles in the story, but it’s Green Lantern vs Knodar for the bulk of it.

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Ironically, the one who actually captures Knodar is the woman he has been dragging around with him, who turns his metal-producer against him, while Green Lantern and Doiby are being held captive.

This is Knodar’s final appearance until the 80s, when he returns in an issue of Infinity, Inc.

All-American 99 – Streak saves the day, and Hop Harrigan ends

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Streak, the Wonder Dog gets the starring role both on the cover of All-American 99 (July 1948), and in the Broome and Toth Green Lantern story inside.

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Streak even narrates this adventure, as Alan Scott takes the dog for a vacation in the mountains.  Molly Mayne has a small role at the beginning of the tale, one of the very few times she appears in a story without becoming the Harlequin.  She informs Alan about a dying prisoner who refuses to reveal the location of his $2 million hidden loot.

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While Green Lantern is involved in the story, it’s Streak that is given the focus, and much of the action, as he fights off wild animals and killers, rescues people when a dam bursts, and tries repeatedly, and without success, to inform the Lantern of what is going on.

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In the end it is even Streak who finds the stolen money.  Green Lantern is all but reduced to a supporting character in his own series.

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Hop Harrigan’s long running series comes to a close in this issue, with a fairly unremarkable tale by Howard Purcell.  There is a female pirate, Jolly, who takes over the airplane Hop and Tank are flying across the Atlantic.

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Her base is on an old pirate ship, floating in the Sargasso Sea, amid other abandoned vessels.  Hop and Tank find the pirates, and free the kidnapped passengers.

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Jolly escapes, and though Hop expects her to return, the story ends with the announcement of the new series that will be replacing this one.

Hop Harrigan had been a popular enough character during the war to appear in two books, a movie serial and a radio show, but after this story he made only one more appearance, a cameo in an issue of Young All-Stars.  Although the series began before the war, and he went back to his aerial adventures afterward, it was only during the war years, when he was flyer in battle, that the series really took flight.

All-American 98 – Green Lantern competes against the Sportsmaster, and Dr. Mid-Nite vs the Sky Raider

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The Sportsmaster, last seen a few months earlier in the pages of Green Lantern, returns to challenge the hero in a story by Kanigher and Toth in All-American 98 (June 1948).

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The story opens in the Gotham City Athletic Club, where a man named Corck makes an unusual bet that neither hockey team will win the game they are playing that evening.

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Alan Scott is a member of the Club, and was there when the bet was placed.  He saw Corck face to face, but does not connect him with the Sportsmaster, which is really sort of ridiculous.  It is easy for the reader to tell they are the same man.  But Green Lantern is surprised to hear that the Sportsmaster is on the loose.

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Corck continues to place his bets against anyone winning competitions, while the Sportsmaster keeps sabotaging sporting events.

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The Sportsmaster challenges Green Lantern to a series of athletic games, and the Lantern agrees.  They prove fairly equally matched, although Green Lantern winds up having to deal with various traps that Sportsmaster has set up.  The last contest takes place in a pool.  The Sportsmaster and Green Lantern fight underwater, and the villain escapes through the open drain.

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When Corck shows up with the imprint of Green Lantern’s ring on his jaw, the Lantern is able to finally identify him as the villain.  Aside from the silliness of not recognizing the villain he has faced before, this is a decent tale, with very good art.

The Sportsmaster returns in the pages of All-Star Comics, as a member of the Injustice Society.

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Dr. Mid-Nite gets one of his better villains in this story by Rudolph Palais.  The only real drawback to the tale is its brevity.  The Sky Raider uses a flying dogsled, and looks like a Mongol raider dressed as Santa Claus.

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He pulls off some impressive aerial crimes, and has a gun that sprays a quick hardening plastic, which he uses to trap Dr. Mid-Nite.  The action is fast and furious.  Mid-Nite guesses that the sled is kept in the air by helium, and deduces Sky Raider’s identity by checking out helium purchases.  He shows up at the man’s lair, while Sky Raider still thinks that Dr. Mid-Nite is dead at the bottom of the lake.  A blackout bomb, and Mid-Nite takes down the Sky Raider and his ersatz Mongol horde.

 

All-American 96 – Green Lantern rescued by Streak the Wonder Dog

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Green Lantern’s canine sidekick, Streak, the Wonder Dog, recently introduced in the pages of Green Lantern, makes his first appearance in All-American Comics in issue 96 (April 1948), in a story by Kanigher and Toth.

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Doiby Dickles and Alan Scott notice that the girl living in the apartment next to Alan is distraught, but it’s Streak who comes to her aid, and hears her whole sad story.  She was working with a criminal gang, getting a job as a maid at the Whitehall residence so that she can learn how to get to their jewels.  But she fell in love with the son of the family, and no longer wants to be part of the plot.

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Streak wears no costume or anything, but he is quite smart for a dog, using Doiby’s Lantern-signal to alert Alan when Doiby gets caught by the thieves.

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Later, Streak tries and fails to warn Green Lantern of an attack from behind.  Streak actually rescues the hero twice during the course of the story.

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It’s not a bad story, and Green Lantern does get to save the day in the end.  The final panel asks readers to write in if they want to see more of Streak.  Clearly they did, as Streak returns in a few more issues.