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Special Comics #1

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Post Thu Mar 09, 2006 2:03 am
Kelso User avatar
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The people at MLJ must have known that they've had a hit character with the Hangman from the onset. So much so that at the end of his very first appearance in Pep #17, they asked the readers if they wanted him in a book of his own. Fortunately they did and in December of 1941, a new quartetly joined MLJ's title lineup. This one featuring the adventures of the Hangman and the adventures of Dusty( the Shield's junior partner) and Roy (the Wizard's junior partner) known collectively as the Boy Buddies. But rather than title it Hangman Comics (which they eventually did), they instead titled that first issue Special Comics since they considered the book something special. After getting past the Harry P. Lucey cover which features the book's three stars, here's what you would find:

"Introducing the Hangman" (THE HANGMAN); The book starts off on the inside back cover with a brief retelling of the origin of the Hangman - which featured the death of his brother, the Comet - drawn by his current artist, Harry P. Lucey (who incidently drew all of the Hangman stories in this book).

"Special Case No. 1" (THE HANGMAN); After the brief retelling of the Hangman's origin, the book gets off to a great start with this story about a femme fatale who lures her victims into a web of death and destruction. Considering that Harry P. Lucey worked on another strip featuring a satanic femme fatale - Madame Satan - before taking over The Hangman strip, doing a story about a femme fatale was old hat to him. But then again. Madame Satan didn't have a green and dark blue clad mystery man waiting to make her pay for her crimes.

"Special Case No. 2" (THE HANGMAN); This next story comes of as a Greek tragedy in circus garb. Here a circus clown kills his girlfriend and his romantic rival (watch for a sequence showing what he does to the corpses) and regrets what he did. This story reminds one of such classic silent films as He Who Gets Slapped and Laugh Clown Laugh (both which starred the legendary Lon Chaney, Sr.), both which were tragic stories involving circus clowns.

"Special Case No. 3" (THE HANGMAN); For the final Hangman story in this issue, we get the sequel to the Hangman stories in Pep #20. Here the Hangman brings the reign of terror of the Jackal to an end. Fortunately this tale lacked the two things that hurt my appreciation of the Hangman's previous two duels with the Jackal; the horrible artwork of George Storm (here the art is by Harry P. Lucey) and the prescence of Anthracite (who forutantely disappeared after the story in Pep #21).

"Special Case No. 1" (THE BOY BUDDIES); Probably inspired by the sucess of Timely's Young Allies strip, MLJ teamed the junior partners of the Shield - Dusty the Boy Detective - and the Wizard - Roy the Super Boy - together in one strip. For their first case together, Dusty and Roy stow away abord a ship in order to investigate a series of ship sinkings by a German U-Boat. Here Paul Reinman delivers the goods on the artwork on this tongue-in-cheek story.

"Special Case No. 2" (THE BOY BUDDIES); For their second case, Dusty and Roy do some ghost-busting as they are asked to investigate the goings on in a haunted castle. Once again featuring the art by Paul Reinmann. Watch for cameos by the Shield and the Wizard in this story.

Put all of this together with a Hangman text story and house ads for Shield-Wizard #6 and Jackpot #4, you get a reason why Special Comics #1 was so special.

Incidently, Special Comics would be the first of four titles this venerable book would bear throughout its 400 issue run. It would become Hangman Comics starting with issue #2 (Spring, 1942). It would morph into Black Hood Comics with issue #9 (Winter, 1944). And in Fall of 1946, it would take on the title it would bear for the rest of its run (which lasted until April, 1987), Laugh Comics.
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