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Blue Ribbon #3

Reviews for the various Mighty Crusaders Comics.

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Post Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:21 pm
Kelso User avatar
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Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA
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In the final page of Blue Ribbon Comics #3 (cover dated January, 1940), the editors launched a contest in which the readers picked the best features of the book with the prize of a $5 bill for the best letter. Editors Harry Shorten and Abner Sundell - who took over from original editor Joe Simon - clearly needed the readers' help in picking which strips stayed or went because Blue Ribbon was in deep trouble sales wise and the book's survival practically depended on trying to find the right features for the book's 64 pages. In this review of Blue Ribbon #3, I will give my view of what strips should have stayed and which should have went as if I was participating in a editorial conferance. Not to mention what the editors had decided. So here's my views on Blue Ribbon #3:

RANG-A-TANG; The book gets of to a start when Rang-A-Tang and his master Hy Speed go after a gang of bank robbers who have taken Hy's girlfriend hostage. Will Harr (story) and Jack Binder (art) contributed on this story. Watch for a sequence in which Rang-A-Tang tries to dispose of four sticks of dynamite that he has in mis mouth (which would be ruthlessly parodied in the 1976 film Won Ton Ton, The Dog who Saved Hollywood) and would rate a rare full-page panel with Rang hold the dynamite in his mouth pencelled and inked by Binder.

Reviewer's Opinion: Keep Rang-A-Tang in the book but at the first oportunity, move it to the back because it's not a strong enough strip to be a lead feature.

Editor's Decision: Rang-A-Tang, the Wonder Dog was kept in the book, but with some changes (notably a steady writer/artist team). And would eventually relinquish the lead spot to another feature - Mr. Justice - in issue #9.

MYSTERY THRILLER OF THE MONTH (STUART LOGAN); This story introduced Stuart Logan, a Philo Vance type detective. In this story he solves the murder of aprominant political boss.

Reviewer's Opinion: OK feature, but detective strips are a dime a dozen. And this Philo Vance clone isn't going to cut it in an age of supermen and hard boiled detectives.

Editors' Decision: This would be Stuart Logan's only apperance as he would disappear into comics limbo.

THE SILVER FOX; For his second appearance, the detective nicknamed the Silver Fox solves the murder of saloon owner Mr. Baston. Maurice Gutwirth drew this story.

Reviewer's Opinion: Another one of those minor detective features that just didn't cut it.

Editor's Decision: This would be the last case for The Silver Fox.

SCOOP CODY; In his second case, Scoop Cody covered the theft of the Pope Diamond and went after the thieves with the help of the mystery man known only as the Marvel.

Reviewer's Opinion: The concept of having a mystery man who helps out a reporter is an interesting one but limiting because it should be the mystery man who should be the main character and the reporter as the second banana. Didn't MLJ do further experimenting with this concept with The Press Guardian feature in Pep Comics #1 in which a hero called the Falcon assisted a reporter?

Editor's Decision: This would be the final appearance of both Scoop Cody, Ace Reporter and the Marvel. But the concept of having a mystery man guarding the Freedom of the Press would be revisted more sucessfully by MLJ with the introduction of the Press Guardian in the strip bearing his name in Pep #2.

CORPORAL COLLINS; For his second appearance, the good Corporal tries once again to win the war single-handedly as he captures an enemy fighter plane, bombs a munitions dump, and free a group of French prisoners from an enemy prison camp. Charles Biro delivers the goods on the story and the art.

Reviewer's Opinion: As good of a strip as Corporal Collins; Infantryman is, one can realize that the "super-soldier" bit could only go so far. This strip could continue, but should be changed because the 'super-soldier" bit will get tiring after a while.

Editor's Decision: Corporal Collins; Infantryman was kept in the Blue Ribbon strip lineup, but Biro gave the strip a radical makeover.

DEVILS OF THE DEEP; In this story by the team of writer George Nagel and artist Ed Ashe, a pirate named Red Dugan forces a Dr. Cardo to create a super monster that allows him to get revenge against a gang of pirates who tried to deep-six him.

Reviewer's Opinion: The concept is interesting but somewhat limiting. Having a criminal gain control of a super monster to do his bidding is offbeat. But it will not suceed unless they decide to pit the criminal and his monster against a strong hero. So the feature isn't going to cut it.

Editor's Decision: Devils of the Deep would among the strips that would be dropped from the book.

SECRET ASSIGNMENTS; In another story drawn by Maurice Gutwirth, independent adventurer Jack Strong investigates the sinking of three cargo ships and goes after the gang of pirates responsible for those sinkings.

Reviewer's Opinion: A decent adventure strip. One that should be kept in the book.

Editor's Decision: As good as Secret Assignments was, it wasn't good enough to stay in the strip lineup and was dropped.

BOB PHANTOM: In his second appearence, Bob Phantom goes after the new-organized mob of Snaky Simms. And he does it by eliminating them one by one. Featuring artwork by Irving Novick.

Reviewer's Opinion: Bob Phantom; Scourge of the Underword is hands down, the best strip in the book - not to mention the only superhero - and should definately be kept in the book.

Editor's Decision: Bob Phantom was dropped from Blue Ribbon, but was moved to a different book. Starting with issue #3 (March, 1940), Bob Phantom would begin a 22 issue run in the pages of Top-Notch Comics.

CRIME ON THE RUN: Here writer/artist Jack Cole tells the story of how the Los Angeles Police Department smashed a gang of bank robbers who terrorized LA during the Summer of 1932.

Reviewer's Opinion: The Crime On the Run feature comes off as the Must Read feature in the book. Considering the popularity of the Gang Busters radio series at the time, the Crime On the Run would be an excellent strip to have in the title.

Editorial Decision: Despite the high quality of the feature, Crime On the Run was dropped from the Blue Ribbon lineup. But the concept would return to comics big time when publisher Lev Gleason and editor Charles Biro transformed one of the titles published by their publishing company, Silver Streak Comics, into the first true-crime comic Crime Does Not Pay!.

SUGAR, HONEY, AND HUGGIN'; A strip that in both mine and the editor's opinion didn't fit in.

So there you have it, my opinions on what should have stayed and/or went in the pages of Blue Ribbon Comics and what the editors eventually decided. I don't know if I was being hard in my assesments of the contents of this book, but they were on the level of the decisions the editors eventually had to make in order to ensure the title's survival. That when Blue Ribbbon Comics #4 (cover dated April, 1940) hit the stands in February of 1940, it was a completely different book.
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Post Fri Nov 27, 2009 2:28 am
leonmallett User avatar
MightyCrusaders.net
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Posts: 523
Location: West Midlands, UK
Thanks for the insights Kelso. It was certainly a different time for comic books when one looks at today's book format, underscored by the variety of both content and apparent quality (or lack of the latter).
Discovering new superhero worlds through the MLJ/Mighty Crusaders legacy...


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