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"Newsboy Legion: "Playmates of Peril"": Officer Jim Harper patrols during an unusually quiet day in Suicide Slums. Even his young charges, the Newsboy Legion, are staying out of trouble, sitting around on the corner, with not a paper sold today. It kind of makes Jim feel uneasy, like the calm be

Quote1.png Now that the police have admitted this was a perfect crime, I'll have to talk to Mr. Beerd and sell him a bill of Johnny Law's goods! Quote2.png
the Tarantula

Star-Spangled Comics #15 is an issue of the series Star-Spangled Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of December, 1942.

Synopsis for Newsboy Legion: "Playmates of Peril"

Officer Jim Harper patrols during an unusually quiet day in Suicide Slums. Even his young charges, the Newsboy Legion, are staying out of trouble, sitting around on the corner, with not a paper sold today. It kind of makes Jim feel uneasy, like the calm before the storm. As if on cue, he overhears some not-so-nice looking men talk about a "big job" being planned by Butch Baxter, a known gang boss. Maybe today wasn't going to be so dull after all. But as a cop, there wasn't much Jim could do at the moment, since it's not illegal to just talk about committing a crime. But Jim does have an alter-ego that can skirt the regulations of a police officer.

In Butch Baxter's hideout, the gang of crooks are preparing for the bank job they were going to pull, when through the ceiling crashes the Guardian! They get knocked around by the swing of the hero's shield! While all that is going on elsewhere, the Newsboys were sitting around bored out of their minds when their rivals, the young Gas House Mob led by a roguish youth named Sparky, comes upon them. Some taunting words are exchanged, and then a brawl between the two groups breaks out. That was all it takes to break the slums out of its stupor. Word of the fight is spread around until the police arrive to break it up. The officers notice there was no sign of Jim Harper, though the Suicide Slums were supposed to be his beat. When Jim returns, he is berated by his sergeant, who sends him to speak to the commissioner, warning that he could lose his badge for this. Thankfully, the commissioner lets Jim off with a warning, but puts him on probation. For the next month he'll be joined on his patrol by Sergeant Mulroony. This definitely puts a damper on his activity as the Guardian for awhile.

The next day begins, and Jim begins his patrol with the sergeant. On the other side of town, Gabby tries selling a paper to two goons from Baxter's gang. They push him down, hard, laughing as they talk in loud whispers about the job they were pulling today. Gabby hears this and runs to Officer Harper. But Jim was stuck, since as an officer he couldn't do anything to stop Butch Baxter until the crime had already been committed, and he couldn't become the Guardian with Mulroony watching his every move. He decides to do something unorthodox, and asks Gabby if he and his friends could keep an eye on Baxter's mob, then send word back to him if they do anything crooked. It was a cowardly sounding request coming from the man the Newsboys believed to be the Guardian. Maybe they were wrong about Jim. But, he's done them many favors in the past, so they decide to do as he asked them and trail the gang. Tommy and Big Words follow two mugs carrying a guitar case in which they guess is anything but a guitar, while Gabby and Scrapper follow Baxter himself, until the two groups convene at the bank entrance. Unaware they have an audience, the gangsters start to pull out their guns in preparation. The Newsboys go on the attack! The surprised gangsters drop their weapons momentarily as the kids pile on them with punches and kicks. But the ambush is short-lived, when Butch and one of the other crooks recovers their weapons. The boys would be headed for an early grave, if not for the spying eyes of Sparky, leader of the Gas House Mob. It just doesn't sit right with Sparky, knowing that someone else is messing with his rivals, so he goes to find Jim Harper, to give him the word on what was happening.

The boys were in danger, and only the Guardian could save them. So Jim has to take the risk. He ducks behind a corner while the sergeant wasn't looking and removes his uniform, revealing his Guardian attire underneath. Then he dresses up a post in his police uniform to create a terribly crude dummy standing in front of a pay phone, good enough to fool someone at a distance. He had a little time, at least, to save the boys. At that very instant, a playground for children is where the boys will soon be victim to a deadly playtime. Planning to make their deaths look like an accident, Butch Baxter tells his gang to give them a good whack while sliding them down the slide, swinging them on the swing, and so forth. But before Gabby can slide head first into death, the Guardian tackles Baxter! While a crooks back is turned, Tommy cracks him in the head with a swing, while Guardian finishes him and his thuggish pal off with a face full of see-saw. With gang knocked out, the Guardian doesn't even stay to chat, he needed to hurry back to his patrol as Jim Harper! The ruse has been discovered before Jim gets back, but he comes up with as good an excuse as any, showing Sergeant Mulroony that he had just been arresting Butch Baxter and his gang. Of course he leaves out the part where he did it all as the Guardian, but it's enough to impress the sergeant, and get him off his parole.

The next day, Jim brings Sparky over to get him and the Newsboys to shake hands and let bygones be bygones. A feat, it seems, not even the Guardian could accomplish.

Appearing in Newsboy Legion: "Playmates of Peril"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Butch Baxter (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • The Police Commissioner
  • Sergeant Mulroony (Single appearance)
  • Mrs. Slattery (Single appearance)
  • Tony the fruit seller
  • The Gas House Mob
    • Sparky (Single appearance)

Locations:

Items:


Synopsis for TNT and Dyna-Mite: "The Log of the Lucky Lode"

Tex Thomas and Dan Dunbar drive up to the northern country after hearing about a series of bank robberies being committed in the area. Oddly enough, there've also been reports of lumber theft, logs being stolen right out of the river when there were plenty of trees they could just cut down. Laziness, perhaps? They stop to admire the river, when Dan overhears a lumberjack yelling something about Dynamite. It wasn't his superhero identity the man was yelling about, but a box of dynamite that was stolen. He needed it to clear up the log jam downstream. Tex offers for him and Dan to help with the obstruction, to which the man is thankful, though skeptical they can do anything without explosives. Tex and Dan run to the area of the jam and step out onto the logs. Together, they make contact with their Dyna-Rings. The resulting explosion that turns them into TNT and Dyna-Mite also destroys the stuck logs. Gold starts raining down on them, bars and coins. That was how the bank robbers were getting the loot past the authorities, by floating it down the river inside hollowed out logs. The destruction is seen by an old hermit, who lambasts the cutting down of trees, and decides to do something to stop it. He takes the buckets of stolen dynamite to the Lucky Lake Dam and sets it to blow!

Meanwhile, a truck drives into a hidden garage located in the trunk of a large gnarled tree. It is the secret hideout of "Brainy" Beggs, the one who oversaw all the bank robberies. His boys then collect the marked logs with the loot inside, so he can ship it to his fence in the states.

Another explosion rings out, coming from the direction of the Lucky Lake Dam. The whole area will be flooded if TNT and Dyna-Mite can't stop it! They quickly climb onto a large overhanging boulder on a hill and make contact again. Creating a counterblast that causes a rockslide which forms a new makeshift dam. The path of the thundering waters gets blocked, to the relief of the stricken lumbermen below. The duo's blast also uncovers an old mine tunnel beneath their feet. Tex and Dan find themselves landing in a chamber where the bars of gold are being stored. The money bags scattered on the ground confirm that it's the gold stolen from the bank! Someone walks in and, upon seeing them, pulls out his gun! Dan rushes the crook, tackling him before he can take aim. In the next room, Tex interrupts "Brainy" Beggs and the rest of his gang as they're sitting around in a small lounge area. They don't even get a chance to stand up, it takes only moments for TNT and Dyna-Mite to take the crooks out.

Back at the lumber yard, the angry old hermit has his hands on a detonator, threatening to blast every one of the lumberjacks gathered below. He gets grabbed from behind by TNT, who explains that those men weren't just chopping down trees for fun. After hearing how the wood is used o build homes, make chairs. and cribs, the old man has a change of heart. He was wrong about the lumberjacks, and promises to show them an area called lost valley, where they can have all the wood they want.

Appearing in TNT and Dyna-Mite: "The Log of the Lucky Lode"

Featured Characters:

Antagonists:

  • "Brainy" Beggs & his gang (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • Old Ned (Single appearance)

Locations:

Items:

Synopsis for The Tarantula: "Tarantula Turns Thief"

In order to prove a point to his publisher Samuel Beerd, Johnny Law undertakes to commit a "perfect crime" by changing into his Tarantula identity and stealing some bonds from a notoriously crooked lawyer, named Gunch, (who allegedly stole them from an orphanage himself). He does all this on the say-so of two train passengers whose conversation he overhears on the evening commuter train.

The Tarantula visits Gunch's mansion, and flings a smoke bomb in through a window, then grabs the bonds from Gunch as he flees the house. Along the way there, he encounters and thrashes a gang of four hoodlums, but one gets away, then returns and frees his pals while Tarantula is robbing Gunch. On his return trip, they ambush him and knock him unconscious, planning to kill him when he wakes up, but they hear a news report about the robbery at Gunch's house, figure out what's up, take him to their hideout, in a dental office, and try to threaten, sweat, and beat the loot's location out of Tarantula, for a day and a night. None of that works, and they decide he hasn't got the bonds after all, then stupidly withdraw to another room, leaving the Tarantula unguarded, and still packing his web pistol, but strapped to a dentist's chair. Tarantula flips some toggles with his chin, activates a drill, and uses it to cut his bonds, then steps into the room where the hoods are, and escapes out the window, using his foot-mounted suction cups. The crooks pursue him, but he picks them off one by one with his web gun and his fists.

The next day the Tarantula surprises Mr. Beerd at his office by jumping in through the window, describing his "perfect crime," and pulling the stolen bonds out of the "reject" basket on Beerd's own desk, thus proving that there is so such a thing as a "perfect crime," which in turn convinces Beerd that he should publish Johnny Law's newest book.

Appearing in The Tarantula: "Tarantula Turns Thief"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • four thugs (Lefty named) (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • Samuel Beerd, famous publisher (Single appearance)
  • Gunch, crooked lawyer (Single appearance)

Locations:

Items:

Synopsis for Star-Spangled Kid: "The College of Crime"

Sylvester and Pat get a lead on a "Crime College" that's been operating in secret. The art of cracking safes, planning heists, and resisting arrest are all taught exclusively by a specialist, Professor Leeds. But Leeds doesn't have a criminal record for himself, because there was never enough evidence to convict him on. Sylvester and Pat would have to go undercover, dressing as troublemakers Kid Starr and Paddy Stripe-o, and enroll in the crime college themselves. According to Sylvester's tip, a pile of scrap at the city dump hides the entrance. A door opens, granting the two thuggish-looking partners entry. Before they are allowed to start classes, they go through a grueling enrollment process with other hopefuls, beginning with a written exam, then a physical check up. At the end, "Kid Starr" and "Paddy Stripe-o" are two of only six participants who pass.
The class begins, with Professor Leeds starting with proper safe-cracking procedures on the chalkboard. Sylvester already shows off his genius pupil status when he volunteers to make a few adjustments, showing the class, and Leeds, a better and faster way to open a safe. Leeds is impressed. Next, the class will be taught how to resist arrest, using three of Leeds own men dressed as cops to practice on. Pat refuses the offer to use a blackjack, opting for fists instead. To Leeds amazement, he manages to knock all three of the "coppers" out, something no student had ever done before. Then, the professor brings out a dummy wearing a suit, with bells attached. Their goal was to pick the pockets clean without ringing a single bell. Each of the student try and fail. Once Kid Starr is called to try out, he slyly tells Leeds to check the pockets again. The swag had all been replaced with his classmates own pocket watches and wallets. Amazing!

Weeks pass, Sylvester and Pat bide their time. They wanted to wait until Alumni Day, when the old graduates come back to visit, before tearing down the operation as the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy. The class is taken on a field trip to rob a pet shop. Obviously there was no way Sylvester and Pat could let that happen, so they'd have to perform the ol' outfit switcheroo as soon as possible. Professor Leeds calls on Kid Starr, his prize pupil, to lead the way inside. It's fortunate that it was dark enough inside for Sylvester and Pat to change. The class is taken aback when the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy leap at them out of the shadows. Leeds and the class take a hurried recess, running away before they are caught! The duo still needed to keep up appearance, so they switch back to Kid Starr and Stripe-o, joining the escaping mob.

Safe back in the classroom, Professor Leeds is fuming. He can't continue his class, not until the two superheroes are dealt with. Ironically, the task of capturing the Star-Spangled brat and his Stripey oaf of a partner is assigned to his best student, Kid Starr. But how was Sylvester supposed to catch himself? A he pondered this conundrum after class, one of the college thugs approaches Pat. As Paddy Stripe-o, he got the lowest scores in school, meaning he failed. And failures are taken to be executed swiftly. Alone in his dorm, Sylvester quickly changes to the Star-Spangled Kid and searches for his pal before the end. He hears Pat's voice coming from inside a safe, which should be easy enough to open using the very technique he described earlier. Together they run towards the exit so Stripesy can escape for now... but the door they open lead to the arsenal room, where Leeds and some of his crooked students were hanging out. Nothing to do but fight their way through. The professor isn't completely unprepared, though, as he tosses a tear gas bomb, and suddenly the fight is drained out of the duo. As they're about to get shot, the Star-Spangled Kid tries a bluff, saying that they kidnapped Kid Starr, Leeds favorite student, and if they are killed here he'll never get Starr back. It's a dangerous gamble that pays off, Leeds really does want his "Starr" pupil back. He agrees to let the American avengers go, with the promise he'll have Starr back within the hour. Stripesy leaves for the Star-Rocket Racer while Sylvester returns to his guise as "Kid Starr".

Alumni Day, where gangster and crooks of past graduations come back to meet the new potential criminals. A big problem presents itself, as Leeds introduces Sylvester to the Needle, the Star-Spangled Kid's old foe! The Needle recognizes the Pemberton boy immediately, calling him out in front of everyone! It was time to make a run for it, out of the room, and out of the college. Once outside, Sylvester blows the whistle to signal Stripesy, who drives up with the Rocket Racer. A quick change, and the Star-Spangled Kid is ready to break up Leeds "educational" institute. A garbage truck is nearby, so he and Stripesy knock the entire alumni, one by one, into the back of the truck. The driver happily takes his reluctant passengers to the police station. Thus, the final term of the Crime College has ended...

Appearing in Star-Spangled Kid: "The College of Crime"

Featured Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Professor Stuart Leeds (Single appearance)
  • Jones (Single appearance)
  • Smith (Single appearance)
  • The Needle (Cameo)
  • Red Kelcy (Single appearance)
  • Bo Duker (Single appearance)
  • John Bloodgood (Single appearance)

Locations:

Vehicles:

Synopsis for Penniless Palmer: "Case of the Haunted Hams"

Pen brings his friends Bunny and Oxie to a theatre play that he paid for. But then why couldn't he just buy them a nice meal instead? They soon discover that the production is haunted. Not by ghosts, or by the frustratingly terrible performances, but by a gang of treasure hunting crooks looking for the rumored fortune of old Quintus, the hermit. When the theatre troupe rented out the old barn house, they didn't realize that Quintus never left. He was held in a secret room backstage by the crooks looking for his stash. Unfortunately for them, the rumors are just that, rumors. The old hermit was poorer than Penniless Palmer on a bad day. Even Pen, who rescues him from imprisonment, refuses any reward because he knows Quintus has nothing. A frustrated Oxie strikes at the ground with a pickaxe. To their surprise, and most certainly Quintus' glee, a geyser of oil sprouts from the ground! Oh well.. Pen had already refused a reward but the theatre troupe still give him free tickets to their next show. Maybe if the gang is lucky, they'll have gotten better by then...

Appearing in Penniless Palmer: "Case of the Haunted Hams"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • A gang of crooks (Unnamed) (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • Booth Binns (Single appearance)
  • Quintus the Hermit (Single appearance)

Synopsis for Robotman: "The Trial of Robotman"

Sam Slugg was a shyster lawyer with dreams of making a name for himself among the criminal underworld. Looking at all the newspaper headlines praising Robotman's fight against crime gives him an idea. Surely, the one who takes down the robot hero will have members of the underworld begging to join his mob? With his knowledge of the law, he could do it using legal means. All that was needed is to prove in court that Robotman was a danger to society and must be dismantled.

A process server delivers a summons from the office of Sam Slugg to Paul Dennis, whom is believed to be the front man and chief maintainer of the android Robotman. The note says he is to junk the metal menace, or there will be legal action taken. Since Paul is Robotman, being "junked" isn't very appealing. It's obvious what Slugg was trying to do, so Paul excuses himself from the room for a moment. In a few moments, the server gets to meet the man of metal in person, albeit not in the way he intended, as Robotman lifts him up and carries him out. Down the street, drawing a crowd of witnesses, he holds the man above his head all the way back to Sam's office! Sam isn't as surprised to see the walking machine break down his door as he is when Robotman throws the server on top of him! A direct assault! Now they had even more reason to take the case to court. Chuck can't understand what had gotten into his friend. Paul played right into the lawyer's hands, and now he's got an assault and battery charge hanging over his head to boot. But this was all part of Paul's plan, for sooner or later the courts would have to make a decision regarding his humanity. Be he a man, or a machine? If he wins the case, he'll finally be able to take back his place among society. Chuck reminds him that if he loses, he'll be scrapped. It was a risk, but Paul felt it was worth taking. The police are already here to arrest him, and he surrenders peacefully...

News of Robotman's court date sweeps across the nation. Public opinion is split on whether he's innocent or guilty, man or machine. Sam Slugg keeps busy paying off phony witnesses to testify against the defendant. Robotman, meanwhile, has been using his cybernetic strength to slip out of the bars on his cell every night, so he can plan out his case with Chuck and the defense attorney. The damages to Sam's office are no concern, Paul is prepared to pay whatever fees needed on that count. To him, the real importance is a court decision on his status as a human being. That is the argument he wants to fight for.

The awaited hour has come, the trial of Robotman will commence. Police have to form a barrier to keep people away, while the inside of the court is already packed over capacity. Robotman, the defendant, is brought in wearing chains, to the objection of his attorney. But he, as the defendant, tells the judge that he'll accept any and all precautions the prosecution wants to take on him. The court officially goes into session, with the defense pleading guilty to the charges of assault and battery, however noting that in order for sentencing to be carried out, the court must first decide whether Robotman is a human being who is subject to the law of the land. On that point, the first witness is called, Chuck Grayson. For the first time, Chuck openly admits to transplanting the dying Bob Crane's brain into a robot body. At last, Joan Carter, sitting in the audience, discovers that her former love Bob was still alive. She approaches and embraces him in his steel shell, relieved that she was still able to fall in love with him even in his new form. A touching moment, but as Sam Slugg argues, it was irrelevant to the case. The prosecution calls it's witness, a medical doctor, to debunk the idea that such a brain transplant could work with the brain still functioning normally. More witnesses are called, those who Slugg paid to say they were attacked by Robotman, to say he's a threat. When it comes time for the defendant to speak he tells those in courtroom that while they may not have heard about the lies told about him until today, he trusts they know of all the good deeds he's done. The crime he's fought, the people he saved, things that he would like to continue to do, as a human, with a human brain.

Just at that moment, a crack of wood interrupts the hearing, as the upper balcony seats begin to collapse from the weight of the crowd. Reacting quick, Robotman breaks his chains and holds up the collapsing structure while the police place temporary struts to hold it in place. Sam Slugg's heart gives out from the shock, putting him in dire need of medical attention. Robotman carries his opponents body to the nearest hospital, where the doctors are able to save him in the nick of time. Robotman rushes back to the courthouse where he is greeted outside with cheers from the crowd. The judge meets him out on the steps with a final verdict. After witnessing such a selfless act, risking his own existence to save the life of an enemy, the court has enough evidence to legally pronounce Robotman a living human being and a free man.

Appearing in Robotman: "The Trial of Robotman"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Sam Slugg (First appearance)
  • Brutus Bane (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • Jefferson Smith (Single appearance)
  • Dr. Bosch (Single appearance)

Locations:

Notes

  • Robotman's true identity as Bob Crane is revealed to the public.
  • Tarantula gets head-konked unconscious. This is at least his seventh concussion.[1]

Trivia

  • The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy created special "maneuvers". These moves are mostly illegal for anyone who isn't a costumed crimefighter to use.
    • "Maneuver LG-29": Playing a game of catch by punching criminals towards each other.


See Also


Links and References

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