Tag Archives: Irwin Hasen

All American Western 126 – Johnny Thunder, Overland Coach, Minstrel Maverick and Foley of the Fighting 5th end

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All American Western comes to an end, under that name, with issue 126 (June/July 1952).

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Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Sy Barry are the creative team on Johnny Thunder’s final adventure in this book.  Johnny and Kathy Dunbar go for a ride in the desert.  They see a band of Arabian horsemen.  At first they assume this is a mirage, but they turn out to be real.

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They have come to the US on the trail of sacred camels that were stolen from them.  They kill anyone who comes into their path, which makes whatever justification they have for their journey somewhat irrelevant.

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They capture Johnny and Kathy, but Johnny gets them both free.  And just in time, as a sandstorm hits, bringing an ironic death to the Arabs.

Johnny Thunder’s series moves over to All-Star Western.

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Gil Kane and Bernard Sachs end off Tony Barret’s Overland Coach series with a story that sees her change her look to a more feminine style.

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Women of the town come to complain to her about dressing and acting like a man.  They threaten to have their husbands pull their business from her company unless she starts behaving as they demand.  Fearful of the consequences, and thinking that perhaps she is a bad influence on the young girls of the town, Tony does as they say.

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But situation after situation arise, which require her to fight like a man, even in her frilly dresses.  In the end, she goes back to her old way of dressing and acting.  We do see four people cheer this on, but as her series ends, I suspect the ones who were going to boycott her did so anyway, and this progressive woman, too far ahead of her time, was forced to close down her stagecoach line and leave town.  We certainly never see the character again.

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Minstrel Maverick’s final outing is not much to crow over.  A silly little story, by Irwin Hasen and Sachs, which sees Harmony Hayes ride into a town that has banned all singing.  This came about because of a feud between the sheriff and a man who sang satirical songs, and a misunderstanding about alarm bells during an earthquake.

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Harmony does set everything straight before moving on.  There was little to his character, aside from him travelling around and singing a lot.  So I have decided that, shortly after this story, Harmony settled down and married.  He had a daughter, who grew up to marry a man named Sanders.  Their child was Greg Sanders, the singing cowboy hero known as the Vigilante, making him Harmony’s grandson, carrying on the family tradition.

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Dan Foley falls for a feisty redhead in his final tale in this book, by John Broome, Frank Giacoia and Joe Giella.

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Foley rides to to try to evacuate a young woman who refuses to leave her homestead, despite the Apache being on the warpath.  Foley gets captured by the natives, and is on the verge of being thrown from a cliff when the woman shows up to rescue him.

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The two are about to be caught by the Apache (in his case, again) when the rest of the cavalry show and rout the natives.  The story ends with Dan and the redhead kissing.  I would happily have them settle down, except that Foley of the Fighting 5th joins Johnny Thunder in moving over to All-Star Western.

 

 

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All American Western 125 – John Tane to the rescue, Epics of the Texas Rangers ends, and Minstrel Maverick plays roulette

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Johnny Thunder once again comes to the rescue of the father who constantly insults and demeans him in the Kanigher, Toth and Barry story in All American Western 125 (April/May 1951).

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The Hole in the Wall Gang, who actually existed in real life, appear in this tale.  They hide some of their loot in Sheriff Tane’s house, part of  a plan to exact vengeance on the man who has caused them so much trouble.  The loot gets found, with the proper prompting, and Tane gets arrested.  But not until he once mores lambastes his son for being a schoolteacher.

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Knowing his father is innocent, Johnny hunts down the Hole in the Wall Gang, and learns that one of the gang is headed for the prison, to kill the captive sheriff.  Johnny races back to town, but stops to take out his hair dye and change clothes, so that he can rescue his father as John Tane.

Personally, I think the delay is really to give the gang member a bit more time to kill his dad.  After all the non-stop abuse, I wouldn’t blame Johnny at all.

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Epics of the Texas Rangers concludes with a three page story by Kubert.

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The story deals with a thieving mass murderer, John Freitas.  A Texas Ranger makes himself look like a successful prospector in order to lure Freitas out, and captures the man.

Never a particularly epic series, Epics of the Texas Rangers was at its best when Kubert was drawing it.

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Minstrel Maverick gets a good story in this issue, even if the tale, by Hasen and Giunta, is only four pages long.  Harmony Hayes stops off at a casino in a town he is visiting, and plays some roulette. He winds up on a winning streak, leaving the town with tens of thousands of dollars.

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In fact, the money is the loot from a bank robbery.  Hayes was being used as a pawn to carry the money across the border, as he was not being watched the way the rest of the gang were.  They step in to get the money back, but Hayes fights them off.  He even returns the stolen money.

 

 

All American Western 104 – Johnny Thunder faces the gun, Tony Barrett helps the boy, and Foley vs the Mysterious Marauder

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The climax of the Johnny Thunder story makes the cover of All American Western 104 (Dec. 48).

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Kanigher and Toth relate this tale, in which a gang lead by Raze plots to attack Mesa because the sheriff is so old.  Curiously, even before his gang rides in, Raze tells them that Johnny Thunder protects the town.

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Sheriff Tane is busy insulting his son.  John, ever patient, once again tries to explain the benefits of education.

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When Raze’s men grab the sheriff, Johnny Thunder takes to his horse, Black Lightning, and tracks the gang down.  He loses his gun in the battle, but that does not stop him from walking right up to Raze, lambasting him the entire time for being weak.  Raze just stands there amazed, and Johnny takes the opportunity to knock him out.  Sheriff Tane actually concedes that his son was right, but only to Johnny Thunder. I doubt he repeated it to John.  Of course, the two are the same anyway.

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Hasen and Giacoia have Tony Barrett come to the aid of a young boy in this Overland Coach story.

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The boy’s parents were murdered by a man who wanted their property, and who is now taking advantage of the child’s lack of paperwork to move on the land.  With no real help from any man, Tony finds and captures the killer, ensuring that the boy gets to keep his property.  Some really nice art on this tale.

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Kubert and Giunta have fun with the Foley of the Fighting 5th story in this issue, as Dan Foley has to chase down a masked thief, the Mysterious Marauder.

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It isn’t too difficult for either Dan or the reader to determine that the robber is the British emigre, Mr. Torbin, who keeps a portrait of a nasty looking ancestor on his wall.  When questioned about it by Dan, he dismisses it as being no one of importance, which is really about as suspicious as it could be.

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Dan recognizes the painting as being of the notorious British highwayman Dan Turpin, which clues him in that Torbin has changed his name, but kept up the family business.

The only negative thing I have to say is that Giunta quashes Kubert’s pencils.

 

 

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 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 94 – the Harlequin’s beauty pageant

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Kanigher, Hasen and Belfi bring the Harlequin back in All-American 94 (Feb. 48).  The story picks up right where the previous issue left off, as Alan Scott discovers that the Harlequin has escaped from prison.

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When Molly tries to draw attention to her new bracelet, Green Lantern gets the inspiration to lure the Harlequin out with a beauty pageant, figuring her ego demand that she enter.

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Although it is not shown this way, one has to assume that the Harlequin uses her illusion-casting power to appear somewhat different than she does as Molly Mayne.  It gets improbable that Alan would not recognize her during the pageant.

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This story also has a really good demonstration of the illusions she can cast, which are effective at decoying and delaying Green Lantern.  As he tries to stop a non-existent tidal wave, the Harlequin steals the opal that was the prize for the contest.  But Alan had planned for this, and the opal conceals a small camera, with which he hopes to learn her identity.

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After the requisite scene that has the Harlequin aiding Green Lantern against her gang, she shows that she is no fool, returning the opal, but with the pictures destroyed.