From French Foreign Legion to Freewheeling Explorer

By: Kevin Noel Olson

     Debuting in Blue Ribbon Comics #4, March 1940, the soldier of fortune from Texas, Gypsy Johnson joined to French Foreign Legion pits his skills against Sheik Tamah. The forces under the Muslim chieftain forces persist in attacking Fort Le Boeuf.

    After routing the enemy, Gypsy speaks to the radio operator and discovers that the aerial damaged in the attack. This leaves the Legionnaires without hope of outside aid from Legion forces. Gypsy Johnson rides his horse to attempt to sneak by the base of Tamah’s forces and out into the perilous expanse of open desert to attempt to deliver a message to headquarters. Gypsy’s escapade leads to his captivity, awaiting torture and likely death at the hands of Tamah’s men. Gypsy escapes steals a horse, and rides to Camp Cordovo, bringing the full force of the French forces there.

     Gypsy Johnson returns during the battle flying gunner in a biplane. He heroically leaps out and right on the back of Sheik Tamah, taking the chieftain off his horse. This story concludes Gypsy Johnson’s thrills as a member of the Foreign Legion, yet his adventures continue.

    In issue #5, he goes to “French” Morocco where he encounters an attempt to kidnap Dorothy Collier and sell her as a slave. After the daring rescue, he discovers that Dorothy’s ne’er-do-well brother, Leonard, drank and gambled away their money and left them stranded. Dorothy contacted to the sibling’s aunt, who wired them money. Gypsy accompanies the Collier’s on an ill-fated ship that crashes on rocky shoals of an uncharted island.

    Baron Von Krasner reveals himself to be the wealthy reclusive owner of the island. He captures the trio and holds them on his island for a gruesome game of hunting Gypsy and Leonard as live game. With his pack of hunting dogs and his assistant, Solti, Krasner tracks the men across the isolated island. Leonard maintains his cowardice and treachery, Johnson saving him despite all for the sake of Dorothy. After Gypsy overpowers Krasner and changes clothes with the unconscious hunter, Krasner is attacked by the dogs. Solti tries to rescue the baron but is likewise attacked and killed.

     The group is subsequently rescued by Captain Barnacle, whose chartered ship is running guns for a leader of a warring island tribe, Taku Umrat. The seafaring captain’s intentions spoiled when he discovered the weapons would be used to attack innocent villagers. When Taku’s men mutiny and attempt to kill the group, Barnacle and Gypsy manage to overcome them and eject them from the craft.

     Captain Barnacle encourages Johnson and the Colliers to travel to an island off the coast of India, where lives a “crocodile worshipping race” possessing a vast treasure. Gypsy agrees to the terms of splitting the wealth, while Leonard plots to betray Gypsy and the captain. The Colliers hold a rope while the captain and Johnson descend through a hole , the entrance to the underground complex. When the adherents of the reptile god appear, Leonard saves his own bacon by dropping the rope and escaping, despite Dorothy’s protestations.

     Confronted by the Crocodile Worshippers, Barnacle and Johnson Gypsy unconsciously holds a torch next to their crocodile-idol. The cult bows in reverential awe as the statue begins to melt, permitting Gypsy and the captain to escape up a narrow passageway. Gypsy notes that his gunfire caused a vibratory reaction. He uses the weapon to cause a collapse of the Temple, thus trapping the cult long enough to get away. Before leaving, Captain Barnacle and Gypsy Johnson punish Leonard for his treachery by chiding the traitor with a stick. To add insult to Leonard’s injury, Gypsy makes his intentions known to donate the sum of the treasure to the Red Cross. Thus ends the adventures of Gypsy Johnson: