"Black Condor: "Spy Ring"": The secrecy of a defense appropriations bill ($6 billion!) is compromised, and broadcast on ABC Radio by big-time newsman Kalten Winch. Only two Senators knew the details of the bill: old trustworthy Senator Jones, and that upstart Tom Wright. Some windbag demands a
- Over my dead body you'll leave without me!
- 1 Synopsis for Black Condor: "Spy Ring"
- 2 Appearing in Black Condor: "Spy Ring"
- 3 Synopsis for Spitfire: "Scouting Out the Coastal Artiller"
- 4 Appearing in Spitfire: "Scouting Out the Coastal Artiller"
- 5 Synopsis for Hack O'Hara: "Driving a Taxi in the Big Town"
- 6 Appearing in Hack O'Hara: "Driving a Taxi in the Big Town"
- 7 Synopsis for The Clock: "Meet Butch"
- 8 Appearing in The Clock: "Meet Butch"
- 9 Synopsis for "Jane Arden // Lena Pry"
- 10 Appearing in "Jane Arden // Lena Pry"
- 11 Synopsis for Don Q: "Olga Petroff"
- 12 Appearing in Don Q: "Olga Petroff"
- 13 Synopsis for Tor the Magic Master: "The Bombing"
- 14 Appearing in Tor the Magic Master: "The Bombing"
- 15 Synopsis for Madam Fatal: "The Basket"
- 16 Appearing in Madam Fatal: "The Basket"
- 17 Synopsis for "Ned Brant"
- 18 Appearing in "Ned Brant"
- 19 Synopsis for Alias the Spider: "The Crow Escapes"
- 20 Appearing in Alias the Spider: "The Crow Escapes"
- 21 Notes
- 22 Trivia
- 23 See Also
- 24 Links and References
Synopsis for Black Condor: "Spy Ring"
The secrecy of a defense appropriations bill ($6 billion!) is compromised, and broadcast on ABC Radio by big-time newsman Kalten Winch. Only two Senators knew the details of the bill: old trustworthy Senator Jones, and that upstart Tom Wright. Some windbag demands an investigation, and Wright's life is turned upside down.
That night the Black Condor takes to the skies, zooming directly to radio station ABC, and barging in on Kalten Winch in mid-broadcast. He squeezes two hot facts out of him: 1/ Winch paid Jaspar Crow for the secret info, and 2/ Crow has every committee room in the Senate rigged with midget microphones. Condor immediately flies away to confront Crow, but Kalten, speaking in code, broadcasts a warning to Senator Crow and his lieutenants. Crow activates a deadly electrical apparatus, which spreads electrical charges fan-wise into the air at the 54th-floor level of his headquarters, Shane Tower.
Meanwhile Wendy Foster is pursuing a different lead into Tom Wright's frame-up. She's dating Karle Kurt that evening, at a swanky night club, because she's pretty sure he knows some things about the town's 5th columnists. Indeed he does know all about them. Using misinformation and guile, Wendy dupes Karl into tipping his hand, but in the process gets kidnapped, and locked up at Shane Tower, next door to Jaspar Crows conference room. She overhears Crow gloating about his electrical booby-trap, and crawls out a window, onto the narrow ledge. She inches along the outside wall until she's in a good eavesdropping spot. Crow is closing another dirty deal, with $20 thousand about to change hands, when a henchman spots Wendy, and shoots her!
She falls off the building. The Black Condor shows up right then and catches her, and she warns him about the death trap. He flies her to a hospital, then changes identities and visits Dr. Foster with the news of the shooting. Foster has news too, there's a special meeting on a Priority Bill and Tom Wright needs to be there. He sure does, because everything said in those offices is instantly known to the Nazis. But in his civilian identity, he arrives too late, the whole meeting is over, and all of its details are compromised. Wright leaves the building immediately, which in the eyes of his colleagues makes him look even more suspicious than before.
Meanwhile at Shane Tower, Jaspar Crow is already in the process of selling a transcript of the Priority Bill, for $50 thousand. The Black Condor is approaching, but cautiously throws a metal spike at the tower; sure enough this causes a giant spark to light up the air. Condor lands, changes clothes again, and walks into the building as Tom Wright, and takes the elevator to the 54th floor. But he's greeted by a gunman, disarms him with a kick, retreats into the elevator, changes clothes yet again, leaves via the car's top hatch, and resumes the attack from a new angle. With his Black Ray pistol he smashes the spy nest's radio transmitter, then he grabs Jaspar Crow. They'll now be on their way to the Senate, where Crow has some confessing to do. Wait, the phone rings ...
Meanwhile Kalten Winch is on the air, spreading calumny and defamation against Senator Tom Wright. In her hospital room, Wendy can't stand it any more; she needs to warn Tom and Doctor Fosterabout all this. She's pretty delirious but does manage to escape out the window, and sets about doing that. But very soon she's nabbed by some of Crow's henchmen. News of this gets telephoned back to Crow, and it now complicates the negotiations in a bad way: Crow's men, location unknown, will kill Wendy if the Condor busts Crow, or even tells on him. Condor's counter is to grab Jaspar Crow and Karle Kurt, fly them to a construction site, perch them atop a vertical girder, then weaken the girder with his Black Ray. They will need to stay very, very still until he gets back.
Black Condor spends the whole rest of the night searching for Wendy, and eventually finds her at one of Crows old hideouts. Three gunmen are guarding her; Condor makes short work of them, then flies her back to her home.
Jaspar and Karle are still in the same predicament, until a low-flying airplane arrives, trailing a rope-ladder, which Crow grabs, but this potential escape is doomed. Before Crow can warn the pilot not to climb too high, this close to Shane Tower, the electrical deathtrap is triggered, and the plane is destroyed in an enormous electrical arc. Jaspar Crow plunges earthward! Some time later the Black Condor arrives and retrieves Karle Kurt.
The next day's newspapers are all about the smashed spy ring, with Kalten Winch implicated (but no mention of Sen. Crow's involvement). Tom visits Wendy in the hospital, and she is quite dismissive of him, and quite smitten with the Black Condor.
Appearing in Black Condor: "Spy Ring"
- Wendy Foster
- Dr. Foster
- Kalten Winch
- Senator Jaspar Crow (Apparent Death)
- 2 hench
- pilot (Dies)
- Karle Kurt
- Crow's illicit info customers, 2 or more
- Washington, D.C.
- Radio Station ABC, studio B
- Shane Tower, 54th floor
- Club Continental
- Condor's Black Ray Pistol
- light airplane (Destroyed)
Synopsis for Spitfire: "Scouting Out the Coastal Artiller"
The RAF has been failing to scout the locations of the German long-range coastal artillery batteries, due to very heavy Luftwaffe fighter patrols. Tex "Spitfire" Adams volunteers to snoop around in a captured German Me-110; Chuck rides along to man the rear gun. They find the well-hidden big guns, but are themselves spotted as a phony, and three Me-109 pursuit planes are sent after them. Tex heads for England at top speed, but their top speed is higher; they shoot down the stolen fighter/bomber over the English Channel. Tex and Chuck survive the crash landing, and the shot-up Messerschmitt floats for a while, but they are wounded. An English crash boat crew finds them, retrieves their sketched map of the artillery positions, and gets them to a hospital.
Appearing in Spitfire: "Scouting Out the Coastal Artiller"
- Eagle Squadron C.O.
- Chuck Bolton
- Eagle Squadron airfield, England
- English Channel
- Northern coast of France, between Calais and Boulogne
- Hawker Hurricanes
- Messerschmitt fighter/bomber (Destroyed)
- 3 Messerschmitt fighters
- English "crash boat"
Synopsis for Hack O'Hara: "Driving a Taxi in the Big Town"
Appearing in Hack O'Hara: "Driving a Taxi in the Big Town"
- Hack O'Hara (First appearance)
- Officer McCarthy
- 3 thugs
- diamond merchant (Dies)
- O'Hara's boss
- (big city with waterfront)
- 1007 Fort Washington Avenue
- false teeth w/ concealed diamonds
- O'Hara's hack
Synopsis for The Clock: "Meet Butch"
One night, the Clock traces "Cokey" Coen's drug smuggling gang to their waterfront hideout, and wades into them with his bare fists, knocking three of them right out. Coen is half stunned but rallies himself up, finds his cowardly henchman "Mouse", and lays a deadly trap. Coen draws the Clock in close, with some lies about how he wants to confess before he dies, then shoots him in the abdomen, at very close range. Mouse steps in and also shoots the Clock, a lot of times. Already arguing about how to split the credit for the kill, Cokey and Mouse leave hastily, without checking the body.
Moments later the Clock lurches up and staggers away, disoriented and half dead. He blunders into a deserted shack, which is not so deserted after all. There's a squatter. Adolescent tough-girl newspaper-vendor orphan "Butch" Buchanan is inside, changing clothes. Clock collapses. She puts him to bed and spends the next few months nursing him back to health.
Eventually O'Brien recovers, and finds out about her life story. She has now decided that whatever kind of gangster The Clock is, she wants to be his moll, and she argues and manipulates and wheedles him into going along with this. Actually he volunteers to adopt her but she scorns that deal. Also she has valuable information for him, so they should team up. These past few months, Butch has been snooping around, finding out about Cokey Coen, and she's worked out where he's likely to be, and leads him there. With strict instructions to Butch to stay outside, the Clock barges into the joint, and beats the daylights out of Trig, Mouse, Cokey, and all their pals.
Butch of course sneaks into the place, and is helpful at first, knocking out some half-stunned felons with her shoe, but she becomes a distraction when one creep tries to kill her with a knife. Clock knocks him out also. Leaving these losers for the police, Clock and Butch leave quickly and walk to O'Brien's place, arguing the whole time.
Appearing in The Clock: "Meet Butch"
- Butch Buchanan (First appearance)
- Cokey Coen
- The Mouse
- 3 more thugs
- New York City
- O'Brien's Park Avenue home
Synopsis for "Jane Arden // Lena Pry"
(newspaper strip reprints)
Appearing in "Jane Arden // Lena Pry"
- Jane Arden (across top halves of pages)
- Lena Pry (across bottom halves of pages)
Synopsis for Don Q: "Olga Petroff"
At night, in Vastipole Square in the capital of Vastavia, Don Q is ambushed with machinegun fire, while en route to a secret meeting. He catches one bullet in his arm, but escapes, and reaches the underground meeting place. One man patches his bullet wound and he's introduced to Petroff, leader of the Vastavian Republican Army, and Olga his daughter. He's there to prevent a bloody civil war by negotiating between the rebels and the dictatorial government. But the rebels are themselves divided; one faction wants to throw in with the Axis, but Petroff's faction recognizes them as an even greater enemy. Don Q's priority here is to keep Vastavia in the war, against the Dictator Countries. The splinter group's leader makes his move, yanking out a pistol and shooting down old Petroff. Don Q punches him twice without knocking him down; he and Olga leave with haste. The pro-Axis rebels pursue him on foot.
Once they're gone, old Petroff, not quite dead, lurches to his feet, and staggers away. Meanwhile outside, Little Pierre is waiting with a car. Petroff finds him, and asks for help getting to a doctor, but just then the Secret Police arrive on the scene. There is a fight, with Little Pierre knocking down several secret cops, protesting his national neutrality the whole time, and amid all this, old Petroff escapes. Pierre is eventually subdued and taken to the Leader's headquarters. Don Q and Olga are already there ahead of him. The Leader himself takes charge of the room, and some negotiating takes place. Don Q tells the Leader about a (made-up) midnight meeting of the VRA's leaders, at the arsenal by the harbor, that very night. He then leaves, shakes the secret police following him, and returns to the rebel hideout. He tells the pro-Axis faction of rebels a similar story, about a meeting that the Dictator is supposedly holding, same arsenal, same midnight.
That night the rebels get to the arsenal first, and set up an ambush, then before long the Dictator marches some troops to the arsenal. But the wary Leader detects the set-up. He calls in a warplane, which drops a bomb at the arsenal but misses. Don Q pulls out his pistol and kills the pilot with one shot; the plane crashes in the harbor. Seeing this, the rebels charge out of the arsenal, into a shoot-out with the Leader's forces, and win it.
The next day, old Petroff is in charge of Vastavia, and announces to an assembly of citizens that he owes his success entirely to Don Q.
Appearing in Don Q: "Olga Petroff"
- Little Pierre
- Vastavian Republican Army
- Olga Petroff
- bearded pro-Axis rebel
- many more
- Vastipole Square
- Leader's Headquarters
- Vastipole Arsenal
- Vastavian dive-bomber (Destroyed)
Synopsis for Tor the Magic Master: "The Bombing"
Jim Slade visits London to photograph the air raids, then amid some fresh rubble he changes identities. Tor the Magic Master neutralizes some bombs, changing one into a banquet for some air-raid shelter refugees, and animating another bomb to fly him up and at, and thru, several German aircraft. After rescuing one RAF fighter plane, and chasing away the rest of the air raiders, Tor turns this bomb into a very large live rabbit. Tor then changes back into Jim Slade and snaps some more pictures, then flies back to the U.S., and hands them off to his editor.
Appearing in Tor the Magic Master: "The Bombing"
- Slade's editor
- many Messerschmitt fighters and fighter-bombers (some destroyed)
- some Dornier bombers (some destroyed)
- 1 Supermarine Spitfire
- civilian commercial clipper plane
Synopsis for Madam Fatal: "The Basket"
A set of Defense Plans gets stolen, then lost, by a spy ring. The plans are in a basket in a vacant lot, in which Scrappy Nelson and Tubby White are building their small, crude, "Sure Fire Detective Agency" office, and they show the basket to their old friend Richard Stanton. They all recognize the basket as belonging to their other friend, Pop Hudson, but Stanton has also noticed something else about the basket, and quietly leaves. He goes home, changes identities, and returns to the clubhouse as Madam Fatal, volunteers to walk the basket back to Pop Hudson, and is gone again. This time Tubby and Scrappy follow him, into the bad neighborhood where Pop lives. There Madam Fatal is braced by two gun-brandishing spies; he and the basket are marched in to meet the spy boss, who turns out to be Pop Hudson. But the stolen plans that should be in the false bottom of the basket are missing!
As things start to look bad for Madam Fatal, Scrappy and Tubby show up with Officer Ryan, and shots are exchanged. Roxi the top spy goes down, but Pop and his two henchmen run upstairs to the roof, and then onward to some more roofs, and escape, for the moment. But the astoundingly athletic Madam Fatal takes a roundabout rooftop route and heads them off. There's another fight, in which the henchmen get beat up but not knocked out. Madam punches Pop off the edge of a roof; Pop returns the favor with an accurate gunshot, as he falls from sight.
Ryan and the kids get Madam to a hospital in a taxicab. The emergency surgery is successful, and afterward the surgeon discreetly conceals Stanton's true gender from the boy detectives. He passes them the stolen defense plans, which they plan to take credit for returning, and they boast of their agency's first successful case.
Appearing in Madam Fatal: "The Basket"
- Sure Fire Detective Agency
- Scrappy Nelson
- Tubby White
- Roxi, spy boss (Dies)
- Pop Hudson, spy underboss (Apparent Death)
- Mike, hench spy
- other hench spy
- Pop Hudson, spy underboss (Apparent Death)
- Officer Ryan
- stolen defense plans
Synopsis for "Ned Brant"
(newspaper strip reprints)
Appearing in "Ned Brant"
- Ned Brant
Synopsis for Alias the Spider: "The Crow Escapes"
The Crow kills four guards and escapes from the Death House; the Spider finds out about it and gets after him in the Black Widow. Out on a twisty mountain road, at night, police are chasing the Crow, in his stolen prison car, and a lot of shots are exchanged. The cop car crashes thru a guard rail and off a steep embankment, just before the Black Widow roars onto the scene. After a short pursuit and some sharp maneuvers, the Spider leaps onto the Crow's car, and slaps the window, startling the Crow, and sending this car, too, thru the guard rail and over the side. But the Crow escapes the plunging car, unseen by Tom or Chuck, and quickly scrambles back up the escarpment, gets behind Chuck, clubs him unconscious, and steals the Black Widow!
Three weeks go by, during which Hallaway maps out a series of police reports of mysterious crimes and sightings of the Black Widow. He also supercharges his specially-built back-up car. After he works out the likely location of the Crow's hide-out, the Spider and Chuck go hunting. They spot, then trail, the Black Widow to an old mill. Chuck stands lookout while the Spider sneaks inside and busts the Crow. A local motorcycle cop, looking for the Spider AND the Crow, is bamboozled by Chuck into riding away empty handed.
Appearing in Alias the Spider: "The Crow Escapes"
- two cops (Apparent Death)
- bike cop
- New York City
- Tom Hallaway's house
- Route 107A
- Hallaway's customized "Spider Seal" arrows
- The Black Widow
- police car (Destroyed)
- stolen prison car (Destroyed)
- Spider's souped-up back-up car
- Black Condor:
- Secret legislation goes on in the Quality Universe version of the U.S. government.
- Karle Kurt wears a monocle.
- Wendy Foster gets kidnapped, and gets shot, in this story.
- This episode is Jaspar Crow's ninth clash with the Black Condor. At the end of it, the evil old scoundrel is plummeting towards seemingly-certain death. Next issue, without explanation, Sen. Crow is still at large and still a U.S. Senator.
- The Clock:
- First issue for the Clock's second sidekick, Butch Buchanan.
- Last issue for the Clock's full-face mask.
- The Clock gets shot at least three times, and it could be seven times.
- "Days turn into months" in this story, as the Clock recuperates from his wounds.
- Butch's dialog in this story makes Brian O'Brien very uncomfortable.
- Butch breaks the Fourth Wall and makes an aside, directly to the reader, noting how easy it is to manipulate men, when you "turn on the weeps".
- Don Q
- Don Q gets the first and only bullet wound of his short career, in this story.
- Little Pierre is described in this story as Don Q's faithful valet. Next issue he is missing completely. In Crack Comics #23, he is working in Lisbon, Portugal as a charter pilot, and in Crack Comics #24 he is back to being a valet.
- The never-named Leader Of Vastavia looks very much like Joseph Stalin, and the not-named leader of the Dictator Countries looks just like Adolf Hitler.
- The Vastavian flag, flying over the arsenal, is yellow with a large black five-pointed star in the center. The flag in the Leader's palace is the same, plus a black silhouette hammer across the star.
- First issue for Hack O'Hara.
- Madam Fatal gets a bullet wound in this story.
- Alias The Spider:
- The Spider's bulletproof, silent, super-charged, wall-climbing car, the Black Widow, is housed in a secret garage under Tom Hallaway's suburban mansion. It enters and leaves this secret garage via a large trap door set in Hallaway's driveway.
- At this story's end, the Crow is in custody of the Spider, who has already passed up one chance to turn him over to the law.
- Tex Adams smokes a pipe.
- Tex gets one or more bullet wounds in this story.
- The Magic Master is famous. British civilians and German aviators all recognize Tor.
- Tor's animated bomb, in addition to flying, also could talk. After the air battle, Tor turned that bomb into a live rabbit, which did not speak. (This was an odd recurring feature in Tor's magical style; last issue he conjured up some talking seagulls, and in Crack Comics #24 he used a talking giant turtle against some soldiers.)
- Also appearing in this issue of Crack Comics were:
- Tor, the Spider, and Hack O'Hara are the only three (out of eight) action heroes in this comic book who don't either get shot or have a sidekick get shot.