We’ll see some new stories as well as some continuations and conclusions from the first issue in Detective Comics #2, published in April 1937.
Slam Bradley: Skyscraper Death
Story by Jerry Siegel. Art by Joe Shuster.
In this second installment, Slam is implicated in a murder. With the help of Shorty, he clears his name and catches the bad buys.
There’s not much to say about this one. If you read the first Slam Bradley story, you’ve as good as read this one. Just replace the evil Chinese with evil racketeers. However, do take a good look at that title image. I have no idea which one is supposed to be Slam. They could be twins. In the next frame, they look like they’re about to kiss:
Overcome by the power of their own manliness, I assume.
Really, I think that Slam Bradley is one of the worst sorts of heroes–he’s nothing but glorification of bravado and hypermasculinity. Not the kind of person I’d want to meet.
Buck Marshall, Range Detective: The Sage City Bank Holdup
By Homer Fleming.
Buck Marshall is asked to investigate a dam that’s been blown up, and uncovers a criminal gang.
This one is similar to the first Buck Marshall story–Buck investigates, and the real bad guys turn out not to be the ones originally implicated. It’s the same formula, but I think this one is a little better done.
Gumshoe Gus: The Disappearing Duck
By Bill Patrick.
Another comedy bit, of course. Gus is sent to investigate the disappearance of a man’s beloved pet duck, Gloria. As it turns out, she’s run away to be with the duck of her dreams–Donald Duck.
This Gumshoe Gus story is even more absurd than the first one, and the jokes fall a bit flat.
Bret Lawton: The Peruvian Mine Murders Part 2
Bret traipses around for a while, and at length discovers that the supposed Inca chief is actually Spider Malone, from the United States.
This is a disappointing conclusion to the Bret Lawton story from the first issue. Bret just suddenly reveals, in the last panel, that the Inca chief who’d captured them was Spider Malone, from the United States. How did he deduce this? The ‘chief’ made a (very weak) joke, which Bret identified as “a good old American wise crack”. Bret also manages to miraculously draw a circle of cyanide around the area where he’s buried up to his neck in sand, in order to fend off an army of ants. In fact, he does one right after the other:
A rhyming comedy story about a large group of men who check into room fifteen at a hotel.
This one’s weaker than “Eagle-Eyed Jake”, from the last issue. Not worth a second look.
Bart Regan, Spy: The Balinoff Case Part 2
Story by Jerry Siegel. Art by Joe Shuster.
Picking up where the previous installation left off, this story sees Bart rescue Sally from her fix, only to drop her off at her home and tell her he hopes never to see her again. Incensed, she calls up an old suitor, and arranges to marry him the very next day. Will Bart stop the wedding? To be continued…
Once again, I think that the Bart Regan story is superior to the Slam Bradley story. Bart is still a jerk, and Sally is definitely going a bit far in arranging a sudden wedding in hopes that Bart will stop it, but you can’t help but feel for her, at least a little.
Mail Order Murphy
A two-page comedy piece about a detective with a mail-order diploma who ‘detects’ a pie, and is jailed for stealing it.
The illustrations are a little silly, but the only joke is at the very end, where he is caught stealing a pie–the story’s not worth it.
Mr. Chang and the Narcotic Ring
Mr. Chang, master sleuth, is called in to investigate a narcotic ring. He threatens a laundry man to tell him who sells him drugs, then follows the dealer to his hideout, where he rescues two reporters that the criminals had kidnapped. With the help of the police, who arrive just in time, the gang is brought to justice.
This story is too straightforward. Mr. Chang is given the case, investigates, fights the bad guys, and wins. End of story. There are no twists or surprises of any kind, and there’s nothing interesting about the crime. On top of that, Mr. Chang and his servant are pure stereotypes, and it’s uncomfortable to read, used as I am to modern works with modern sensibilities. Take the final panel, for example:
It’s nice that there’s a story with a Chinese hero, rather than villain, but this one isn’t exactly a progressive dream of an egalitarian society, either.
Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise: The Olive Oil Counterfeiters
Illustrated by Sven Elven.
Frustrated by counterfeiters, the police call in Cosmo. Between a bit of sleuthing and a clever disguise, Cosmo discovers that the counterfeiters have been transporting the fake bills in olive oil boxes, and captures the crooks.
Like the first Cosmo story, we see Cosmo pitted against a criminal who also disguises himself. Our hero is cleverer, though, and he gets his man. The story’s not bad–better than the first one, I think. Still nothing to write home about, though.
The Claws of the Red Dragon Part 2
In this installment, Nelson is driven by his captors to a remote location and left to his own devices. Upon making his way back to civilization, Nelson notifies the police of what happened, and decides to try his hand as an amateur sleuth, seeking out the men who had abducted him. He seems to be always one step behind, until he comes upon an estate where he believes the criminals have hidden themselves, upon entering, he’s confronted by a man with an automatic weapon. What will happen to him?
This story is leagues better that the first part. Nelson is still a bit ridiculous, though. For instance, he rewards a milkman who directed him by buying some milk from him: “Thanks, just for that I’ll have one of your best bottles of milk.” Wow, Nelson, you’re a real hero, buying that milk. Still, this story is a big improvement, so perhaps the whole thing will turn out to be worthwhile, when it concludes.
Just as in the first issue, this is a single page with a few jokes on it. They’re not great, but they’re okay.
I am disappointed by the art in these comics. There are a few scenes that catch my eye–Shuster’s comics are quite well done–but most of them seem like they’d be about as good without the art. Still, this issue is, overall, an improvement over the first. Most of the stories were at least as good as the ones in the first issue, with a couple of marked improvements. The Bart Regan story continues to be fairly interesting, and I’m looking forward to the conclusion to “The Claws of the Red Dragon”.