Al “Camy” Camerata
Joined Mighty Crusaders:
In an untold story prior to Archie’s Weird Mysteries #3
Zip Comics #20, November 1941
Jack Jones, a detective who likes to play blackjack at the police station, is captured and presumed murdered by criminals. He escapes and goes undercover as Black Jack.
The magic and mystique of playing cards give birth to a unique hero: Black Jack. Steel Sterling introduced Black Jack on the cover of Zip Comics number 20. From the first panel, the tale of the Black Jack proves steeped in the mysticism playing cards have held through the ages. The story begins with a gypsy in dotage reading the fortune of hoodlum Lucky Lavitto from a deck of playing cards. The first words in the story are hers as she presents the Jack of Spades; “Beware the Black Jack! He will be your doom!” Lucky fails to take the gypsy’s words seriously, to his detriment.
Fate continues to deal her hand when Jack Jones, a detective with a penchant for the game of blackjack, interrogates a dying gangster. The hoodlum uses his last moments of life to relate the location of the gang’s hideout to Jack. The gang is hiding at the abandoned Larson Mansion. Jack heads for the Larson Mansion with two fellow detectives.
Unfortunately, a lookout forewarned Lucky, and the shrewd mobster lays a trap for the policemen. It turns out one of the detectives worked for Lucky as a tip-off man. After he plays his hand and defeats the detectives, Lucky decides to wall Officer Jones up in a wall with a Jack of Spades card.
The gang departs, and Jack awakes holed inside a small room without air. He presses the card through the drying cement to allow a hole for him to breathe. The previous homeowner arrives at the mansion for a look and discovers the card lying on the floor. He subsequently discovers the fresh cement and breaks it open to discover an unconscious Jack Jones. The homeowner, Mr. Larson, informs Jack of his rescue. At his suggestion, Jack decides to let the gangsters think he is dead and return in the costume of the Black Jack! Black Jack quickly dispels his first mission when he surprises Lucky’s gang and hands them over to the police.
Black Jack is truly an interesting hero, though some might suspect the recurring theme of card-game based villains and humor may have worn thin very quickly. Though he had no superpowers, his skills as a fighter and detective proved more than a match for the most cunning foe. Over his career, Jack Jones ensures the gypsy’s warning holds true not only for Lucky Lavitto, but for many other misguided souls; “Beware the Black Jack!”
Powers & Weapons:
An Olympic level athlete, master of hand to hand combat Superior deductive abilities.
Zip Comics 20-35
Mighty & Radio Comics:
Mighty Crusaders 4
Red Circle & Archie Comics:
Archie’s Weird Mysteries 3, 14