"Captain Marvel: "Ghost of the Deep"": A weird, cloaked figure, calling himself The Ghost of the Deep, kidnapped and enslaved a scientist, Hugo, and made him work night and day, for weeks, until he had developed a particular formula, then gunned him down in cold blood. The formula was for an ext
- And here’s something else, Folks. Everything was quiet after the murder of the scientist known only as 'Hugo' but now the wires are buzzing with activity!
America's Greatest Comics #1 is an issue of the series America's Greatest Comics (Volume 1) published in 1941.
Appearing in Captain Marvel: "Ghost of the Deep"
- Ghost of the Deep (First appearance) (Dies)
- four henchmen (all die)
- Scientist Hugo (Dies)
- United States Navy
- one Admiral
- one General
- three MPs
- submersible tractor-submarine three-man warship
- submersible tractor-submarine fast one-man vehicle
Synopsis for Captain Marvel: "Ghost of the Deep"
A weird, cloaked figure, calling himself The Ghost of the Deep, kidnapped and enslaved a scientist, Hugo, and made him work night and day, for weeks, until he had developed a particular formula, then gunned him down in cold blood. The formula was for an extremely durable transparent material called Z-metal, and The Ghost used it to build a heavily armed, submersible, bottom-crawling, ship-killing machine, with a 2-man crew, commanded by himself. He then started sinking U.S. government ships, off the west coast, and leaving taunting notes floating at the scenes, signed “compliments of the Ghost of the Deep.”
A few days later, broadcaster Billy Batson reported on this story, and assured his listeners that Captain Marvel was heading out to the coast to get to the bottom of this mystery. That night, as Sterling Morris, head of Amalgamated Broadcasting and Billy’s good friend, is driving him home, down a road running beside a large river, their car is sideswiped by another large sedan. Two gunmen emerge and kidnap Sterling and Billy at gunpoint, speaking with German accents, and promising to introduce them to the Ghost of the Deep. The second nobody’s looking his way, Billy marvels up and thrashes these hoodlums and hurls them off a steep embankment into the river below. While they’re still sputtering and starting to swim back to shore, a dark hooded figure surfaces behind them. The Ghost of the Deep has no patience for failure; he yanks them both beneath the surface and drowns them.
Captain Marvel drives Mr. Morris home to his swanky apartment building in the kidnap team’s car, then leaves. Just then a dapper, well-dressed stranger walks up and introduces himself, he’s Spriggins, chief newscaster for the Monopoly Broadcasting Company, Morris’s main competitor, and he’s overheard enough to know there’s a big story brewing on the west coast, and he hurries away to go cover it.
Billy Batson is of course there ahead of him, interviewing U.S. Naval authorities, who assure him that steps are being taken to defend ships and harbors against this menace, and Billy goes on the air from a local station to reassure the public. The broadcast is interrupted by the mocking voice of an unknown announcer, who gloats that Captain Marvel has left unguarded an even more vital spot in America’s defenses, and that this is where the Ghost of the Deep will strike next!
As he’s leaving the west coast affiliate’s studio, Billy meets Spriggins, who has been having the same problem on his network, and who proposes that they should team up, take down the Ghost, and get the story. They next meet with the Naval authorities again, and there’s a discussion about where the vital target might be. The admirals and Billy both think it’s probably the Panama Canal, but Spriggins scoffs that it’s more likely the Canadian border, where there are no defenses at all. They go their separate ways.
Later, off the coast of Panama, a U.S. patrol boat spots a weird-looking transparent conning tower breaking the surface and radios in a report, which is interrupted by gunfire as the PT boat is destroyed. Billy Batson is aboard a nearby battleship interviewing the Captain, and is there when the radioman relays this message. The battleship changes course to search the area for enemies or survivors, and as it approaches, we get our first look at the Ghost’s vessel: it’s like a submarine’s hull grafted onto a tank’s chassis, crawling across the ocean bottom, and is transparent. The lurking craft fires a torpedo and scores a hit; the battleship’s hull is damaged. The weird seacraft then surfaces to bring its gunnery to bear on the battleship. Billy ducks behind something and shazams up; Captain Marvel flies out and intercepts an incoming shell, then flings it back at the enemy vessel. It submerges and sails invisibly away like a conventional submarine. Captain Marvel then gets to work on rescuing the battleship and doing some makeshift repairs to its hull. Then he returns to the bridge talks to the captain, getting permission to broadcast this story from the battleship’s transmitter. As he does so, the grating voice of The Ghost cuts in, to taunt the public and the Navy that the Panama Canal is as good as doomed!
As the battleship puts in at port, for emergency repairs, Billy meets Mr. Spriggins on the pier. The Canada story was just a ruse, between competing newsmen, but now that they’re both here, Spriggins can tell that he and Billy are both getting close to what they’re looking for, and proposes a plan: he and Billy should each guard one side of the Canal’s entrance, and stay in touch by portable radio. Billy falls for that, and while he’s rowing a small boat over to his watch station, he’s leapt upon, from a nearby embankment, by the Ghost of the Deep, who drags him below the surface before he can say his magic word. Billy is half-drowned in the process of boarding the submerged war machine and getting tied and gagged. The Ghost gloats that this tank, and others like it, have been made from the new, indestructible Z-metal, and that no explosion can even dent it. He and his organization are all set to tear down America! Then he leaves Billy, still tied up and guarded by the crew, to take “one of the fast tanks” to the Canal’s mid-point, to cave in the banks and block the Canal. While he’s gone, the two crewmen, who also have German accents, taunt Billy with a slice of pie, and remove his gag in the process. So pretty soon Captain Marvel is in charge of the situation, and he listens politely while one crewman brags about how bomb-proof and shell-proof their ship is, then he punches a hole through the hull, and rips it, like cellophane, into a wider opening. The ship is flooded immediately but the two crewmen escape to the surface and flounder about while Captain Marvel flies away in search of the Ghost. Then a transparent conning tower breaks the surface; it’s the Ghost, in a smaller, one-man version of the crawling submarine, and the Ghost still has no use for failures; he shoots these two poor stooges dead with a machine gun, then submerges to gloat about his big plans. This attack on the canal is only the beginning …
But Captain Marvel soon finds the two dead henchmen, and follows the tank tread tracks across the sea floor to shore, where he finds the one-man sub parked and the Ghost absent. He’s busy underwater, planting an explosive next to a key bulwark, when he sees Billy Batson drive past, in his own sub-tank, giving him a Bronx cheer. Billy rams the machine into the Hood, using its prow to scoop him up off the bottom, and then zooms out to sea with him and his time-bomb still on the bow. A good ways out, he says his magic word, and the lightning strike coincides with the bomb’s detonation. The explosion flings the Ghost of the Deep way up into the air, but it doesn’t kill him. Marvel catches him, figures out that he’s wearing Z-metal armor under the cloak, and smashes him against a pile of rocks until he’s busted some of the armor.
The Commander of the Canal Zone runs onto the scene, with three MPs, and Captain Marvel exposits what’s been happening and what’s been figured out, then yanks off the villain’s hood and reveals that The Ghost of the Deep is Spriggins. But Spriggins wriggles loose and grabs a pistol from one of the MPs, then takes a shot at the General, but Captain Marvel is too quick for that to work, he steps into the path of the bullet, which bounces off his chest and hits Spriggins, fatally.
Appearing in Bullet Man: "The Riddle of the Ages"
- Sergeant Kent
- Officer Clancey
- Invisible Man (First appearance)
- at least five henchmen
- Mickey, security rifleman (Dies)
- another unnamed security rifleman (Dies)
- two truck drivers
Synopsis for Bullet Man: "The Riddle of the Ages"
Caption: “Murder lurks in the back streets – and one by one victims disappear into nowhere – never to be found again! What is the incredible mystery of the Invisible Man? Only Bulletman can answer that stirring question – only he can solve The Riddle of the Ages!”
At Midtown Bank at closing time, the sole teller on duty is robbed and murdered by an invisible robber, and calls the police before he dies. At Police HQ Jim Barr and Susan Kent are on hand as the call comes in; they duck out and change clothes and fly to Midtown Bank, where the police are quite stumped: no prints, no weapon, no clues.
The Flying Detectives cruise around the tougher parts of town, looking for any kind of disturbance, and land in an alley, where the Invisible Man just happens to be. He mocks them, and Bulletman dupes him into briefly appearing before them, as a ghostly, radiant outline, then vanishing again. Stymied, the Bullets fly away to work on a plan for trapping this guy. After they are gone, the same strange glow again radiates, takes on the form of a man, and now appears to be a man in a 3-piece business suit, gloating like a maniac about how invisible and uncatchable he is, then turning and fading into the shadows of darkness.
Back at Police HQ, Jim Barr reads (in “The Kingston Daily” newspaper) that the Invisible Man has been doing more crimes, and that a $10,000 reward has been posted for him by the State Government. Jim has a plan which he whispers to Susan. In the next day’s papers is a fake press release about a shipment of gold being trucked into town over a particular route. When he reads this story, the Invisible Man fades himself from sight, then has a conference with his boys. Five well-dressed gangsters file nervously in and get their marching orders for tomorrow’s truck robbery.
The next day, on the road into town, over the North Mountains, the two-truck convoy stops, and one driver impulsively breaks regulations by picking up a married couple of elderly hitch-hikers. Further on up the road, a large number of gangsters opens fire on the truck, and Mickey the security rifleman is shot dead. But the elderly hitch-hikers turn out to be Bulletman and Bulletgirl, and one short melee later the bad guys are mostly beaten and fleeing on foot. But the Invisible Man is here! He moves next to the second truck, shoots one guard dead and knocks out the second with a pistol handle. He gets into the gold truck and drives away with it, and soon is pursued by the Flying Detectives. Then the truck seems to vanish. For the moment, they’re stymied again. That’s twice now he’s gotten away from them.
Back at Police HQ, Sergeant Kent and Officer Clancey are also stumped. Kent calls in Jim Barr, and Barr seems to get an idea right there on the spot, but doesn’t tell Kent what it is, before he runs out of the room. In the lab, he tells Susan all about it, and according to Barr’s theory, the I-man has to use sunlight to make his invisibility gag work, so he proposes to lure him out at night.
So that night Bulletman and Bulletgirl fly back to the scene of the gold-truck hijacking, out in the secluded mountains. Then they watch the road, a pedestrian comes along and knocks at a particular spot in the steep escarpment on one side of the road. A giant rock slab hinges upward and admits the man, then begins to close. The Flying Detectives swoop down but the enormous door has already slammed shut. Inside, the Invisible Man is mightily displeased to learn that his secret HQ has been found, and deploys three henchmen (Butch, Tony, and Croaker) into positions from which to ambush Bulletman, who would certainly be along very soon. Next thing you know, the Flying Detectives have crashed through the door and are ready to mix it up with the gangsters. The Invisible Man, now appearing as a radiant area of white light, orders his guys to open fire. Another short melee ensues and at the end of it all of the gunsels are strewn about, only the Invisible Man remains. Bulletman throws something at the only light fixture in the room, breaking it. Once the room is dark, the Invisible Man is relatively more visible, so Bulletman can see him whipping out his pistol, and punches him out before he can even shoot it once.
Then he finds the invisibility-rendering invention, and either it’s already destroyed when he finds it or he destroys it himself. Either way, Bulletgirl thinks it’s a shame that this device couldn’t be put to some good use. Then as usual they fly away before the police arrive.
Appearing in "Minute Man Meets Mr. Skeleton"
- General Milton
- U.S. Army Intelligence, G-2
- Mr. Skeleton (First appearance)
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (Cameo)
- an Army camp
Synopsis for "Minute Man Meets Mr. Skeleton"
The President has a secret conference, in a secluded spot in the country, with some foreign diplomats. A sniper takes a rifle shot at him, but misses, and is quickly caught by federal troops, including Private Weston, and turned over to General Milton for questioning. Milton seems to believe the shooter’s ridiculous story, and releases him, then takes Pvt Weston aside, and instructs him to change to Minute Man and follow the gunman, who quickly leads him to Joe’s Pool Room. But as the One-Man Army is returning to make his report, he is accosted by four gunmen. Only one shot is even fired before he thrashes all of them. Returning to the Army base, Minute Man finds the general missing from his quarters, which has been the scene of a violent struggle, and while he’s examining the place, he receives a very ominous telephone call, from the general himself, warning him not to try to save him. (The caller never identifies his kidnapper and doesn’t say where he is.) Without being told, Weston already knows that Mr. Skeleton is behind this, and vows to defeat him. Then he sprints out into the night, and seems to already know which way to go.
At his hide-out, the monstrous Mr. Skeleton has got four high-ranking military officers tied up, and they all get to watch as the sniper who missed is dragged into the room, fastened to a pulley, and lowered into a large boiling cauldron of liquid. When he’s pulled back out, only a skeleton remains. And Gen Milton is next. Just then Minute Man walks into the room and talks some smack. Five gunmen charge at him; he thrashes them, while Mr. Skeleton gets ready to dunk the general into the boiling tank. Minute Man makes an amazing leap and knocks Milton safely to the floor, then dukes it out with Mr. Skeleton, and is winning, when Skeleton knocks over the cauldron to kill them that way. Minute Man grabs the general, makes another amazing leap and swings on a chain, breaks a window, and escapes. The general returns to camp for reinforcements while the One-Man Army returns to the hideout, but it’s already too late for the other three officers, skeletons now, with mocking notes pinned to their ribs. Minute Man vows to avenge their deaths, then returns to camp and resumes his normal identity, in time to stand sentry duty.
Mr. Skeleton shows up at the camp and attacks another sentry, Grouchy Mike, who puts up a spirited fight, but is losing, when Skeleton accidentally fires Mike’s rifle. This noise draws out a bunch of soldiers, plus Minute Man, who changes clothes as he runs from his sentry post towards the fight. Mr. Skeleton seems much larger than before, is easily defeating about a platoon of infantrymen, plus turns out to be bulletproof. Minute Man charges in and smacks the monster around for a moment, but Skeleton grabs him up in one hand and flings him a long distance down the parade ground. He looks dead; all the soldiers think he is. Then Mr. Skeleton re-kidnaps Gen. Milton, and another general, and flees the scene. Quietly and in great pain, Minute Man rallies himself up and follows them.
Out in the countryside, Mr. Skeleton, who is now about 30 feet tall, gloats and threatens, until Minute Man again shows up and rushes him. They have a third fistfight, and at the end of it, the One Man Army has smashed Mr. Skeleton into a pile of loose bones, then sprinted away without even waiting around for any thanks.
Appearing in Spy Smasher: "The Coming of America-Smasher"
- Eve Corby
- Admiral Corby
- America Smasher (First appearance)(Apparent Death)
- Wolfgang, and two other henchmen
- Schultz, a butcher
Synopsis for Spy Smasher: "The Coming of America-Smasher"
From her own apartment building rooftop, a pair of gangsters drops a concrete gargoyle onto Eve Corby and Alan Armstrong. Alan spots it and knocks Eve out of the way but in the process falls down a manhole. Alan gets a scolding from some workmen, who help him out of the manhole, but the workers turn out to be gunmen, who are hiding something. Alan disarms one of them with a kick, but doesn’t pursue as the three of them escape down the manhole, and fasten it behind them. That night Alan shows up as Spy Smasher, pries open the manhole, and investigates the sewer tunnel. He overhears a loud scolding, which leads him to a secret room, where a short fat nazi-uniformed monocled boss-villain is berating and abusing three subordinates (Wolfgang and two others). Amazed, Spy Smasher looks closer: “America Smasher! And he’s not dead after all!” But then Spy Smasher slips on the wet floor and falls down loudly. Wolfgang steps out of the room, shoots a rat between the eyes, and shows it to America Smasher, but this only fuels the villain’s tantrum. America Smasher’s big plan involves capturing a local butcher named Schultz, whose son is in the Secret Service, for extortion.
The next morning Schultz is lured away from his shop with a fake accident report, involving Mrs. Schultz, to Decatur Avenue, where he is abducted down a manhole. America Smasher demands that he write a dictated letter to his son, or else be stuffed inside an iron maiden; Schultz faints, and is tied up for later. America Smasher now goes forth, personally, with a great deal of preliminary bluster, to get Eve Corby. So he calls her house with a fake accident report, involving Admiral Corby, who is sitting right there in the same room with Eve. Corby directs the operator to trace this call. Then he and Eve and two Secret Service agents plus some city police all converge on America Smasher’s hiding place, in a phone booth in a store. He escapes anyway; the booth’s floor is a trapdoor. Eve learns this the hard way, by falling into the badguys’ secret tunnel. She gets grabbed by America Smasher, and dragged away, while Corby’s forces search for her in vain, just one cellar room away.
Admiral Corby tries to contact Spy Smasher by sending up a skywriting airplane. Then he goes home and emotes, until Spy Smasher charges into his study and asks some questions. Once he has the facts, Spy Smasher smashes his way out, through a closed window, and dives headfirst into the same manhole as before. Meanwhile, in the enemy’s lair, America Smasher proposes to slice Eve into a thousand pieces; this prospect horrifies his other prisoner, Schultz the butcher, so much that he offers to write to his son in exchange for her momentary safety. But America Smasher decides to stick her into the iron maiden anyway, just before Spy Smasher bursts into the room, knocks over the heavy metal torture device onto America Smasher, pinning him to the floor, and frees Eve and Schultz. Despite America Smasher’s threatening and boasting, he mercifully frees the little villain, who then tricks him by asking for a glass of water, then throwing it onto the two candles lighting the room, escaping, locking everybody in the room, and using a pick-axe to chop open a water line, to flood the room and drown them all. Spy Smasher mercifully frees the doomed henchmen, and Wolfgang jumps him, but gets punched out. As the waters rise, Wolfgang goes mad with fear, grabs some dry sticks of dynamite, and crashes himself into the iron door, and dies in the door-bursting explosion. Spy Smasher finds Eve and Schultz and escapes. The other two henchmen are no longer seen on panel; America Smasher’s arm (wearing its distinctive glove) juts from under a pile of masonry rubble.
Appearing in Mr. Scarlet: "The Death Battalion"
- Death Battalion (First appearance)
- Senator Hiram Dean (Dies)
- Defense Secretary Kudson
- Kudson's aide (Dies)
- FBI Chief Doover
- Doover's butler Rastus
- State Secretary Simpson (Dies)
- General Dodd
- "Dollar-a-Year Man" Philips
- El Catraz Penitentiary
- The Thorn's "mummy ray"
Synopsis for Mr. Scarlet: "The Death Battalion"
Blurb: “As though back from the grave, six sinister criminal masterminds return in an unholy alliance to prey upon civilization! Merciless murder strikes from all sides, in a colossal cabal of death! But the same champion who before smashed them, strikes back - - - Mr. Scarlet, Man of Mystery!”
Six dangerous prisoners escape from El Catraz prison; Loomis the warden resigns in disgrace. Mr. Scarlet goes out at night to investigate; Pinky wants to join him, but Miss Wade forbids it. A week goes by. Senator Hiram Dean gives a speech urging Americans to be alert for fifth columnists, then is ambushed and murdered by Dr. Death. He and his henchmen brag, aloud, about how silently this was accomplished, while Mr. Scarlet watches them from a rooftop, then attacks. He punches out Death and one of his two henchmen as the second draws a bead on his back, but Pinky shows up at the critical moment and beats down this gunman. But while that happens, Dr. Death leaps into his car, activates a smokescreen, and escapes. Pinky finds a clue, a list, on swastika letterhead, with Sen. Dean’s name at the top, crossed off. The next name down is “FBI Doover.” Scarlet sends Pinky to watch Doover’s house while himself going to check on Defense Secretary Kudson.
Meanwhile and elsewhere, in a swastika-festooned secret hideout, the six escaped felons (the Black Clown, Dr. Death, the Ghost, the Horned Hood, the Laughing Skull, and Thorn), now calling themselves the Death Battalion, are swearing their allegiance to their new boss, The Brain. Each of them has his assigned assassination, and off they go.
- At a military hangar, Defense Secretary Kudson is inspecting a shipment of warplanes when the Black Clown, and his gorilla Garganta, attack, killing his aide. Mr. Scarlet intervenes, and the Clown escapes while Mr. Scarlet is busy punching out the gorilla.
- At Chief Doover’s mansion, his butler is frightened into fleeing the house by the arrival of The Ghost, who almost stabs the sleeping Doover, before being jumped by Pinky. In the following scuffle, the Ghost manages to escape.
- At a tense cabinet-level meeting, State Secretary Simpson is exhorting a roomful of important officials to take action against fifth-column activities when the Thorn starts shooting them all with his Mummy Ray while two henchmen prevent their escape. (It looks as if the Secretary gets killed.) Mr. Scarlet shows up and punches out both of the henchmen, but gets knocked out by the Thorn, and is captured, and taken away to the Battalion’s hideout, with Pinky following their car, unseen. The Brain has a tarantula hanging on a string from a stick and prepares to inflict it on Scarlet, when Pinky jumps into the room, starts a melee, and frees Scarlet; they escape.
- At a nearby armory, General Dodd is stalked by the Horned Hood, who kills one sentry with a bayonet, then gets behind a machine gun and sprays lead at the general, but gets punched out by Mr. Scarlet before he can zero in on him.
- At the home of “Dollar-a-Year Man Philips,” the Laughing Skull and two henchmen have abducted Philips. Pinky jumps them, knocks out the henchies, then gets clubbed unconscious from behind with a great big bone. He wakes up, about to get buried alive at a nearby cemetery, when Mr. Scarlet shows up, and beats up the Skull and his assistants.
- Back at the Death Battalion’s hideout, the Black Clown, the Ghost, and the Thorn have straggled in and rejoined Dr. Death and the Brain, exchanging bad news, then Mr. Scarlet and Pinky, disguised as the Laughing Skull and the Horned Hood, show up, and start another melee, at the end of which all the villains are beaten senseless, and The Brain is exposed as Warden Loomis, of El Catraz Penitentiary.
- Marvel Comics has an ad in this issue.
- Captain Marvel:
- "Ghost of the Deep" is reprinted in The Shazam! Archives Vol. 3.
- We don’t find out what happened to the rest of the Ghost of the Deep’s high-tech tanks, or how many more of them there were, or the plans for their construction, or the forumula for Z-metal. One copy of the "fast" version was captured by Billy Batson, who would probably turn it over to the military authorities. What became of this technology afterwards is unknown.
- Bulletman: "The Riddle of the Ages"
- The newspaper at Jim Barr’s office is "The Kingston Daily (something)".
- "Minute Man Meets Mr. Skeleton"
- The first time we see him, Mr. Skeleton is about fifteen feet tall, and extremely deformed. He gets larger as the story goes on, and this is never explained.
- Spy Smasher: (The Coming of America-Smasher)
- We readers are meeting America Smasher for the first time, but Spy Smasher has apparently clashed with him before this. At the end of that encounter, America Smasher was left for dead, in a crashed airplane; at the end of this one he's left for dead under a pile of rubble.
- America Smasher also has a preexisting deadly grudge against Admiral Corby.
- America Smasher looks just like Virman Vundabar, only in a gray uniform, with a black sash. He’s never called anything but “America Smasher” in this story.
- Admiral Corby’s high-rise apartment building, and the manhole in front of it, are on Decatur Avenue, presumably in Washington DC. The store with the phonebooth is at Plott and Green Streets.
- Mr. Scarlet: "The Death Battalion"
- Miss Wade now knows Brian’s and Pinky’s identities, and apparently lives at their house.
- A grotesquely stereotyped African American house servant, named Rastus, appears in The Death Battalion, with an extremely cartoonish speech pattern; Pinky calls him "darky", which was common slang for African Americans at the time. He was never seen or mentioned again.
- Discuss America's Greatest Comics Vol 1 1 on the forums
- Cover gallery for the America's Greatest Comics series
- Images from America's Greatest Comics Vol 1 1
Links and References
- Read the complete issue at the Digital Comic Museum.
- America's Greatest Comics #1 1941, entire issue.