Friday, September 6, 2013

World's Finest Comics #8 (Winter, 1943)

"Sink the Japanazis"? Did people really use the word Japanazi? Holy war propaganda, Batman. Yes, it's another gloriously jingoistic World's Finest cover courtesy of Jack Burnley.

"Brothers in Law!"
Writer: Jack Schiff
Pencils: Jack Burnley
Inks: Ray Burnley
Synopsis:  FBI agent John O'Brien is shot dead while pursuing "Little Nap" Boyd (aka the Little Corporal, the Corporal of Crime, Crime's General, the Little General, etc).
His two sons, Tim and Nick, mourn his death and swear vengeance on Boyd. Tim is a state trooper and Nick a private detective, but they refuse to work together because they are in a fight over a girl.
Tim gets a leave of absence from the Staties to go after Boyd (despite this he wears his uniform for the rest of the story while off-duty, which might be illegal?) and Nick closes down his agency for the same reason.
Meanwhile, "Little Nap" has planned his next robbery ("just like a general planning a campaign!" - he also has a painting of Napoleon on the wall in case we really didn't get it). 
Tim hears the police bulletin about a jewelry store robbery on the radio and heads to get Boyd - he joins a police chase already in progress that also includes the Batmobile! 
Boyd's men use a truck to block the roads and deter pursuers, but Tim's on a motorcycle so he's able to slip past and jump onto the car -- where he is promptly knocked out and captured. Turns out the jewelry store robbery was a decoy and Boyd is elsewhere!
However Nick figured that out and tracked Boyd to where he... oh, wait, he's been kidnapped to. Nevermind.
Batman threatens to beat the truck driver, who reveals Boyd's hiding place at the waterfront. The Dynamic Duo busts in and rescues the two brothers, but Boyd and his men escape (by a cunning plan of shutting the lights off and then running!) 
The brothers again refuse to work with each other, so Batman teams up with Tim and sends Robin off with Nick. Because one of Boyd's men mentioned retreating to the "trail of the lonesome pine" in the fight, Tim somehow realizes this is a reference to a trailer park along his old state trooper beat route as opposed to a reference to the John Fox novel or any of its film adaptations. 
Nick realizes the same thing by hassling one of his underworld contacts, and soon they all meet at the camp for a big fight. Unforunately park officials think our heroes are aggressors harassing innocent patrons and restrain them, allowing Boyd to escape again -- this despite Tim being a state trooper, in uniform, who would be known around here and Batman and Robin being nationally famous honourary policemen.
The foursome chase Boyd into the forest, where he uses a variety of diversions, traps and natural hazards to try and elude capture, but is finally brought down by both Nick and Tim in a moving display of brotherly teamwork.
With Boyd in jail (awaiting death by electric chair) and the brothers reconciled, our story comes to a close. (What about the girl they were fighting over?)
My Thoughts: A pretty good story, even if it falls into the category of "Batman story that Batman is just a spectator", a category I've never really liked even if it comprises a lot of classic Bat-stories. My biggest annoyance with the story is the villain, who clearly has a "Napoleon" gimmick in his name and physical appearance, but is otherwise just a normal gangster -- Schiff can't even pick a consistent nickname, going from "the Little Corporal" to "Crime's General" to "Corporal of Crime" and more multiple times in the same paragraph. And why is he called this? Because he plans his crimes like a general? Then why Napoleon? Why "Corporal of Crime" when corporals take orders, they don't give them? It's annoying and a little dumb.
The Art: It's a Burnley bros. story so of course the art is excellent. Jack draws his heroes, the O'Brien brothers, like classic square-jawed men from the cover of a pulp men's magazine. The shadows rendered by Ray are deep and defining, the whole thing looks fantastic. The action scenes are very cool and creative. It elevates the story above it's own level into something more entertaining and stylish.
The Story: Nothing really special, although at least it's got a new gimmick to add to the "chase a crook around for 13 pages" formula. Although I do wonder why, when Boyd has killed an FBI agent, the feds aren't hounding him relentlessly and his capture is left up to two honourary municipal police, an off-duty state trooper and a private dick on sabbatical. Ah well, it makes for a good yarn.

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