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"Newsboy Legion: "The Education of Iron-Fist Gookin"": The Suicide Slum Pleasure Club is where local ne'er-do-wells gather to brag of criminal accomplishments both real and made-up, as well as being the favorite brawling place for Iron-Fist Gookin. Being the toughest guy in town, he's always ha

Quote1.png We haven't been disturbing the peace. Here's a license to have a parade. We're a parade! Quote2.png
the Tarantula

Star-Spangled Comics #18 is an issue of the series Star-Spangled Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of March, 1943.

Synopsis for Newsboy Legion: "The Education of Iron-Fist Gookin"

The Suicide Slum Pleasure Club is where local ne'er-do-wells gather to brag of criminal accomplishments both real and made-up, as well as being the favorite brawling place for Iron-Fist Gookin. Being the toughest guy in town, he's always happy to beat up the regulars. But as he stands over bruised and beaten bodies, he knows that being tough doesn't get you very far when you don't have the brains to back it up. Iron-Fist wishes he could fool the guys into thinking he was smart, educated, well-rounded...

Not too far off from this violent scene, Big Words of the Newsboy League has gathered a crowd as he makes a speech listing the benefits of buying war bonds and stamps. Gookin is drawn to the crowd, and listens in, inspired by the college level vocabulary coming out of the young speaker's mouth. Maybe he can convince the boy to teach him how to talk like a smart person, so he can prove to the guys that he's more than just muscle. Big Words is met by Gookin in the back alley and, after hearing his proposal, agrees to teach him to talk properly -if- he'll buy some war stamps and bonds. A tricky way to make a sale, but it works. Iron-Fist Gookin's "edjication" begins in earnest, learning how to say all sorts of new words and phrases, though never really knowing what any of them mean. It didn't matter as long as he could learn to pronounce it.

Iron-Fist tests some words on the passing patrolman Jim Harper. "Lissen copper... youse supercilious intermediaries is afflicted wid mortification of da grandiloquence." Jim has no idea what he just said, and neither does Gookin, but it sounded smart and that's good enough for him. He returns to the Pleasure Club to show off his new verbal skills. What he doesn't know is that he's about to become a patsy for Sharpy Pierce's mob. An idiot like him could be useful bait for the cops. Sharpy steps in, pretending to be impressed when he spouts off words that he obviously doesn't understand. He makes an offer Gookin can't refuse, to lead the Pierce mob so Sharpy can retire. It was the toughest mob in seven states, a real honor for a man like smart ol' Iron-Fist to head. The best part was they already had a string of jobs set up, so all he'd need do is hang around to "supervise".
Later that day, Gookin faces his first "job", a jewelry store robbery. The gang tell him to stay put to ensure they get away safely. It sounds easy enough. When the police arrive, Gookin swings his fists, showing the officers exactly why he was called "Iron-Fist". Sharpy's gang are even more surprised than the cops were when Gookin walks into their hideout with barely a mark on him. So the idiot was more useful than they thought. Sharpy decides to keep him on the payroll.

Robberies dot the headlines, and each time the reports over the radio come in, it's about how the police are being strong-armed by a single crook with a knack for reciting long, meaningless phrases. Jim Harper gets an idea he knows who the long-winded brute might be. Seemed his shift was about to end, while the Guardian, protector of the innocent, would have to take over from here. Meanwhile, Gookin invites Big Words and the Newsboys over to have another lesson. He was the most hopeless student Big Words may ever have, but he -does- buy more war bonds from the boys than anyone else in the slums. So why not? He starts with the word "incursion" which means a sudden raid or invasion... or like the Guardian crashing through the window of the hideout in a surprise attack. The toughest part about the fight is not getting hit by Gookin's 'iron fists' as the Guardian can feel the raw strength behind each punch. But he's able to match up with his own powerful swings. The fight would be in the shield hero's favor if not for the appearance of Sharpy and the rest of the mob. The real boss shoots the Guardian striking him in the head just below his helmet! Just a graze, but it knocks him out long enough to be tossed back out the window. The Newsboys are moved to the inside of an old watertower on the roof, which the gang uses to store their loot. Now it would also serve as an execution chamber. Gookin protests! He was made the boss of this mob and he doesn't condone murder. Sharpy gives him the cold hard truth, that he was used as nothing more than a scapegoat to keep the heat off the rest of them. And now that he's picked up too much heat, he would be disposed of right along with the boys. Gookin doesn't like that, not at all. He struggles against the ropes holding him until he breaks free, then starts brawling with every gangster and thug he can get ahold of. A bullet ends the mayhem, the mighty Iron-Fist keels over in pain. But the gunshot also hints the Guardian, who was saved by a fire escape, to their location. Sharpy's mob gets another visitor who is ready for Round Two. A dropped knife gives the Newsboys a chance to join in the rough and tumble action once they cut through their bindings. Sharpy is left to meet the police while the Guardian lets the boys know he'll contact Jim Harper to get them out. A few minutes after the costumed hero disappears, Jim Harper coincidently shows up to give his young friends a helping hand. Scrapper can hardly believe that Harper's still trying to pull one over on them.

Because of his help when it mattered the most, Iron-Fist Dookin gets all charges on him dropped, provided he continue his education starting with attending third grade.

Appearing in Newsboy Legion: "The Education of Iron-Fist Gookin"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Iron-Fist Gookin (Single appearance)
  • Sharpy Pierce (Single appearance)
  • Silvie (Single appearance)
  • Trigger (Single appearance)

Locations:

Items:


Synopsis for Star-Spangled Kid: "Stripesy vs. the Star Spangled Kid"

Before they started their crime fighting careers, before they became the best of friends, Sylvester Pemberton and Patrick Dugan were just two strangers. A boy from a wealthy family, and a guy who ran an auto repair shop, who both decided one day to take in a show at the local theater. A patriotic film, to say the least, that warms the hearts of all true Americans in the audience. Not so warmed were members of the Nazi party among them, shouting their false propaganda around. Both Sylvester and Pat decide enough is enough, as they start throwing punches in their respective corners. Sylvester is unable to hold his own for long, while Pat, who does manage to send them running, lacks the insight to decipher a coded message they dropped. But Sylvester, with his genius intellect, figures out that you only needed to read every other word. The Nazis were meeting at the Flower Field Airport tonight! He crashes the family car on his way to the Nazi meet. In what must be fate, he is right in front of Dugan's Garage, where Pat operated a car repair shop. Fate continues to play its hand, as some passing pedestrians who talk about the attack on the theater suddenly give Sly and Pat an idea when they say the American flag should come to life and pound the Nazis... So it happens later that day, in both the Pemberton mansion bedroom, and a garage in the city, costumes are designed with the flag as inspiration. Stars and Stripes. Sylvester, naming himself as the Star-Spangled Kid, in the old Pemberton car; and Pat as Stripesy, with a vehicle he modified to become the Star-Rocket Racer version 1! Of course, with Sly being the only one to properly decipher the message, he arrives at the airport first, while Stripesy drives around looking for an address that doesn't exist.

A plane loaded with explosives, to be taxied alone into the crowd at the landing station. The Star-Spangled hero could not allow it, he strikes at the Nazi terrorists, giving them a taste of American fury! Elsewhere, Stripesy, completely lost and driving around aimlessly, catches a breaking report about a battle with Nazi thugs happening at the Flower Field Airport. Finally! He doesn't even question how they got there, Stripesy is ready to head into action! Unfortunately, there's barely any action left, it seems another flag-wearing bum had beaten him to the punch and left a pile of unconscious Ratzis behind. He considers suing the punk for stealing his idea, until he spots one of the theater goons walking away from the scene. Okay, maybe he could still knock some heads after all, and so he follows behind in the Racer. The tennis stadium is empty at this time, only the sound of Nazi whispers play upon the court. This is where the loudmouth from the theater lead Stripesy. A meeting inside the entrance tunnel, the airport attack had been interrupted by the Star-Spangled Kid, so the explosives in the plane had been moved to this stadium. Stripesy comes out of hiding and charges forward, knocking the closest man out with a fist to the jaw! The other Nazis run away onto the court, giving him a chance to practice his serves. It's a bet that there was no tennis tryouts in Hitler's army, judging by the way the fleeing Nazis just let the balls hit their heads. Pat finishes the game by dropping the Umpire's box on top of his foes! This time, it's Sylvester who is late to the party. Word reaches him about the tennis court, but because of his car's slow speed, the fighting has already ended. Some imitator wearing the stripes of the flag had beaten him to it.

Twice now the Nazis have been thwarted by vigilantes dressed in the American flag. A trap would need to be set to deal with them before any other plans can be made. Pat and Sylvester hear a new bulletin reported over their respective vehicle radios; suspicious activity sighted in the brewery. They both take the bait. Stripesy is the first to enter, his prize being clubbed on the head. The Star Spangled Kid gets the same, and soon the two American avengers meet for the first time when they wake up, bound in ropes, sitting next to a boiler the Nazis are feeding coal. It will soon explode, ridding the fifth columnists of the two nuisances forever. The Kid and Pat form an immediate rivalry between them, thinking the other is just a phony imitation. But neither one of them can break through their ropes alone, while the boiler was getting hotter by the second, so they set aside their differences and work together. By standing on Stripesy's shoulders, the Kid can just reach the water gauge. He smashes the glass with his chin, releasing the water into the boiler to relieve its pressure, buying them more time. Now they can the shards of broken glass to cut through the ropes, leaving them free to insult each other once again. Outside, Stripesy chuckles at Sly's bad luck when they see his car was stolen by the Nazis. Guess he'll be walking. But the kid won't give in, he hops in the passenger side of the Star-Rocket Racer, telling Stripesy that he'll tell where the Nazis are headed if he takes him along. Blackmail. Not much choice, since Stripesy can't figure out on his own where to go, he has to agree.
Central Park Lake.

The crowd gathers, soon the fireworks show will begin. It'll be an explosive performance for sure, especially after the Nazis pack the fireworks with dynamite! The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy try to outpace each other, both wanting to be first in line for some Nazi pounding. While Sly is having face to fist time with the thugs, Stripesy fires off some rockets at the rats heads to demonstrate American patriotism. Together, their teamwork holds off the Third Reich's finest until the police show up. They realize all the good they can do together, that they weren't so different in their ideals. A friendship is formed as they start making plans for future crimefighting endeavors.

Appearing in Star-Spangled Kid: "Stripesy vs. the Star Spangled Kid"

Featured Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Nazis
    • Unnamed Lieutenant (Single appearance)
    • Heinrich (Single appearance)
    • Hans (Single appearance)

Locations:

Vehicles

Synopsis for Tarantula: "Granny Get Your Gun"

One midnight, Tarantula's uneventful patrol is interrupted when a little old lady sneaks up on him and covers him … with an umbrella. She claims to be Cynthia Agatha Donk, and to have recently inherited a lot of money, and to crave a career of excitement and adventure, as a criminal. But she also doesn't want to do anything illegal, so she proposes to hire the Tarantula, for $10,000 up front, to keep her out of trouble. Despite his misgivings ("Y-you're Cynthia Donk? B-but that's impossible!") and resolving to turn the money over to the Police Fund, Tarantula goes along with this preposterous scheme. She hands him $20,000 (the extra $10K to cover expenses) and a list of the places she plans to rob tomorrow; they resolve to meet again at midnight at this same vacant lot.

The following midnight, Miss Donk shows up dressed up as a rootin' tootin' cowboy-style bandit, with a sawed-off shotgun, and they proceed to Schmidt's Butcher Store, where she shoots out the lock and they ransack the place, stealing some big hunks of meat which they carry away in a sack. Next stop is the Jersey Grocery Store on Sixth Avenue, then a fish peddler's shop, and she shoots her six-shooter into the air at random as they go. Soon Tarantula is pulling a wagon loaded with stolen rubbish from these stores, and they haven't even gotten to the candy store yet. Finally some cops show up, and it's time for Tarantula to do his part. He shows the cops the deeds to the robbed stores, and tells them that Miss Donk had bought all of them yesterday. They buy this, but they still need to do some arresting, on account of all the gun-shooting that's gone on. Tarantula pulls out a parade license, and tells them that he and Miss Donk are a parade. So now they're off the hook except, wait, is that a peddler's wagon? You need a license for one of those, so they have to get it off the streets or they're under arrest. Tarantula wheels the cart to Miss Donk's house, her strident protests notwithstanding. He leads her to a place that turns out to be the wrong address, then tries again, and they and their cart full of heisted groceries go to an elegant mansion. But once they're inside, they stumble upon a safecracking burglary, in progress!

There's a web-pistol-shooting and peddler-cart-toppling and chandelier-swinging melee, in which Tarantula underperforms so badly that he ends up on the floor and the two burglars get away, plus they abduct Miss Donk. But once they're a safe distance away, "Miss Donk" turns out to be the boss of these two mooks, and a man. This whole scheme has been an elaborate ruse to steal the bonds inherited by the real Cynthia Agatha Donk, which, the impersonator has learned, were earlier sent to a broker at 10 Grand Street. He learned this by peeking inside the cracked-open safe while the other two were fighting the Tarantula. So now they're headed to the broker's office, but before very long the Tarantula catches up to them. While "Miss Donk" yells for help, one thug gets behind Tarantula and knocks him out with a pistol butt, then both goons leave for the broker's office.

Tarantula comes to, and "Miss Donk" goes into her act, but Tarantula has no interest in pursuing these other bad guys, and proceeds to Myers' Candy Shop on St. Paul Street. "Miss Donk" doesn't get it, but "she" plays along; any place but Grand Street is okay with "her." But by what seems to be an unfortunate (for "her") coincidence, (and is really some clever planning by the Tarantula), the Candy Shop is on an arcade, whose other end opens onto Grand Street, and they arrive just as the henchmen are coming in at the other end. Only now there are three of them. This time around, Tarantula does much better, and the three are quickly subdued. He then uses his web pistol to truss up the fake Miss Donk as well, finally revealing the suspicions that he'd formed much earlier. He knew Miss Donk was a fraud, and a man, from some tell-tale clues (none of which would be apparent to the reader), and because he knew that the real heiress, Cynthia Agatha Donk, was a cat. Also that "wrong address" that he'd led her to earlier was actually the back door of the Donk mansion, which "she'd" have recognized if "she'd" really lived there. The only reason he'd kept the charade going along this long was that "she'd" paid him a pile of money to help with the robberies, so now, in good conscience, he could keep it, and pass it along to the Police Fund.

Appearing in Tarantula: "Granny Get Your Gun"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Cynthia Agatha Donk impersonator
    • three accomplices

Locations:

Items:

Synopsis for Penniless Palmer: "The Mystery of the Phony Sneeze"

Mr. Ironsides is suffering from a case of hay fever. Not usually the kind of case a detective like Pen would take on, except that it appeared every one of his workers at the Tea Strainer factory is suffering from a series of sneezing fits. Suspecting an inside job, Pen and Oxie sneak in after hours to see if they can learn anything. The culprit reveals himself to be Judkins, Ironsides' secretary, using a timer inside the air conditioning vent that blows out a pinch of ragweed pollen every six hours. He invented a cure for hay fever and wanted to create a line of customers to get rich off of. A few days later, Ironsides sends Pen's payment to the detective office... six boxes of tea strainers should cover the debt.

Appearing in Penniless Palmer: "The Mystery of the Phony Sneeze"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Mr. Judkins (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • Mr. Ironsides (Single appearance)
  • Jarvis (Single appearance)

Synopsis for TNT and Dan the Dyna-Mite: "Dealer of Doom"

An old man in peril of drowning gets rescued by Tex N. Thomas and taken to an area hospital. It's too bad that he can't tell Tex or Dan Dunbar anything, having lost his memory from being knocked on the head. He was found with a newspaper clipping in his pocket that mentioned a woman, Mrs. Leland Strong, buying a $76,000 painting, so Tex and Dan pay her a visit. However, they don't get any answers to the identity of the man from Mrs. Strong, who doesn't know anyone fitting that description. The art dealer, Phineas Smythe, claims with indifference that he knew nothing about an old man. Though he almost seems to dodge the question entirely.

Returning to the hospital, Tex and Dan notice some suspicious men going into the old man's room with chloroform! Time to make contact. The explosion that supercharges Tex and Dan, allowing them to act as TNT and Dyna-Mite, gives quite a start to the would-be killers in the room. A gun is revealed, but TNT releases atomic energy from his gloved hand that burns the thugs hand. The weapon falls near the bed where, because of all the fighting, nobody notices the old man stoop down to pick it up. When the explosive duo turn around, the bed is empty and the window is wide open. Something more was going on, and Tex has a feeling they should pay Phineas Smythe a visit at his home.

Through a window in to the study, the heroes find Smythe waiting for them. He stands by, expectantly, as TNT and Dyna-Mite find that they can't move their bodies. A drug spread upon the fabric of the curtain they brushed against was paralyzing them now. Smythe ties them to some chairs, just as the old man from the hospital enters the room holding a gun. Shocked, Smythe calls him by name, "Raznick". As for the reason they know each other, and why Raznick faked amnesia to get close to the art dealer, was because he was a painter who was forced by Smythe to create an exact duplicate of a painting that was then sold to Mrs. Strong. During the heated, the drugs affecting TNT and Dan the Dynamite were wearing off. Smythe calls for his goons to help, but the combined might of the recharged pair, with a little extra help from Raznick, sees that Smythe and his hired hitmen are left only with bruises. In thanks, old Raznick promises to leave Smythe for the police to deal with.

Appearing in TNT and Dan the Dyna-Mite: "Dealer of Doom"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

  • Raznick (Single appearance)

Antagonists:

  • Phineas Smythe (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • Mrs. Leland Strong (Single appearance)

Locations:

Items:

Synopsis for Robotman: "Worth His Weight in Gold"

It was an ordinary day in the lab when Robotman loses control of his right hand! As if it had a mind of it's own, his hand writes a message on a piece of paper. "Robotman. Do not be alarmed. Come to my lab at once. There is a fortune at stake." signed by Professor Izra Yenver. The message was sent using a short wave broadcaster that was attuned to the metal in his hand. By a one in a million chance, a mechanical fortune teller machine at a carnival intercepts the same message, printing it out to a confused customer, and seen by three crooks who happened to be there...

Professor Yenver greets the man of metal after apologizing for his intrusive method of making contact. He came up with a new method to refine the precious metal Iridium, and Robotman is the only one he can trust to deliver it to the government plant.

Appearing in Robotman: "Worth His Weight in Gold"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Bonzo (Single appearance)
  • Killer (Single appearance)
  • Cookie (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • Professor Izra Yenver (Single appearance)

Locations:

Notes

  • Stripesy vs. the Star Spangled Kid:
    • Story begins a few days before July 4, 1941.
    • Shortly after this story, Pemberton's parents hire Dugan as a chauffeur.
    • The story's date is established in the captions and later reconfirmed by Roy Thomas in Secret Origins v.2 #9, Dec 1986.
    • Sylvester Pemberton is only 11 or 12 at this point, per Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E. #9 April 2000.
    • Pat and Syl both get konked on the head in this story, the first concussions of their careers.[1]
  • Tarantula
    • Miss Donk and Tarantula begin their crime wave on foot, then suddenly they have a peddler cart. We never find out where they got that cart.
    • Miss Donk has two henchmen, then at the arcade she has three. We never find out how the third henchman showed up.
    • Tarantula gets head-konked unconscious with a pistol grip, for at least the eighth time of his career.[2]



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