"Newsboy Legion: "The Poor Man's Rich Man"": A mail carrier delivers a letter to "Pop" O'Leary, Suicide Slum resident and nightwatchman for the gasworks plant. Pop opens the envelope and reads the letter. Soon, every resident of the slum witnesses their neighbor's unusual jubilation, as Pop ru
Star-Spangled Comics #28 is an issue of the series Star-Spangled Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of January, 1944.
Synopsis for Newsboy Legion: "The Poor Man's Rich Man"
A mail carrier delivers a letter to "Pop" O'Leary, Suicide Slum resident and nightwatchman for the gasworks plant. Pop opens the envelope and reads the letter. Soon, every resident of the slum witnesses their neighbor's unusual jubilation, as Pop runs through the streets shouting that he's rich. A perusal of the letter reveals that it's a notice of inheritance from his dear departed uncle, who left his entire estate, including the factories and shipyards in New Zealand, to Pop. Rather than moving out and finding a nice mansion someplace, Pop shares his newfound wealth with his fellow Suicide Slum residents. He tells the owners of the local toy store, candy shop, and movie theatre to charge everything to him, so the kids will never have to pay. He showed off his letter to prove he'd be able to pay them back.
A few days later, Gabby, Tommy, Big Words, and Scrapper enjoy their sodas, paid for by Pop, at the soda shop. A group of young boys start talking about how Pop was a fake, which gets on Scrapper's nerves. The tiny Newsboy socks the leader of the young gang in the face, and soon a mini-rumble between the Newsboy Legion and the gang of rowdy smack-talkers occurs. The fight doesn't last very long before the Newsboys manage to send their opponents on their way. The soda shop owner tells the legionnaires that while they did right defending Pop, there was concern among the shopkeepers. It's been almost a week since Pop got the letter, and he still hasn't paid back the debts. If the money doesn't come through, every store in the slums would be forced to close. This depressing thought lingers in the kids' minds. Officer Jim Harper finds them in a funk and advises them to talk to Pop and ask him about the money.
At that same moment, Pop receives a pair of disreputable visitors to his home. They push their way past Pop as soon as he opens the door. Then, Pop is told the truth; it was they who forged the notice of inheritance and sent it to him. There was never any dead uncle, which means no money, and hence no way to repay all his debts. Not unless he agreed to leave the gashouse unlocked tonight so they could rob its safe. They'd split the money with him, which should be enough to pay all the shop owners. Pop refuses, saying he'd rather go to jail. The crooks remind him that it's not just him in debt, all the businesses in town would go under if he can't pay them back. The crooks promise to return later tonight in case Pop changes his mind. From across the street, Tommy and his friends recognize the suspicious hoodlums leaving Pop's place. Big Words recognizes them as Gopher and Throttler, underworld gangsters. Tommy goes to follow the two crooks, leaving Big Words, Gabby, and Scrapper to talk with Pop to find out what's going on.
When they learn about the attempted blackmail, Big Words suggests a simple solution. Tonight, they'd wait at the gashouse and catch the gang in the act.
Tommy follows Gopher and Throttler down the street, trying to stay hidden as best he can. Jim Harper just so happened to be patrolling the area when he notices Tommy following the men. Out of concern, he keeps an eye on his young charge. Apparently, Tommy wasn't sneaky enough, because after rounding a corner he's suddenly hit by a blackjack and grabbed by the gangsters. Jim hurries to the rescue, but when he reaches the alley both Tommy and the crooks were gone. The only place they could have into disappeared so quickly was the abandoned livery stable, so he quickly changes clothes to become the Guardian and climbs up into the hayloft. At that very instant, Tommy is dragged into the room below where Gopher is arguing with a man who had a thick German accent. A Nazi. The plan to break into the gasworks plant turns out to not be as cut and dry as a robbery, they were going to plant a bomb on the gas tank that will cause an explosion big enough to knock down all the surrounding buildings as well. The guardian surprises the group by crashing in from above! He knocks down the thug holding Tommy, but then both of them are hit with a concussive force; a miniature new type of hand grenade developed by the Nazis that neutralizes the enemy. Tommy and the Guardian are tied up.
The remaining Newsboys wait with Pop at the Gasworks Plant that night. When a car pulls into the lot, it becomes apparent that the kids were outnumbered. The gangsters put Pop out with a hard knock to the head, which given his age, could be a fatal blow. The Newsboys are gathered and tied up, then thrown into the plant's tool shed where the Guardian and Tommy were also being held. Once they're alone, the Guardian acts fast and smashes a window using a shovel he grabs with his feet. He tells the boys to use the broken shards to cut through their ropes. It seems that Pop still has some life left in him, as he slowly crawls to the front gate of the gashouse and locks himself and the gangsters in, hoping that the fear of being caught in their own blast will make them disable the bomb.
The Guardian rushes out of the shed with the Newsboy legionnaires. The second ambush begins, and this time the gangsters are truly surprised to see them. The confusion turns to fear when it's discovered that Pop locked the gate, and the bomb was set to blow at any moment! Guardian climbs up the high ladder to defuse the bomb, while Scrapper finishes off the last no-good thug with a running kick. Lucky that the shield bearing hero makes it in time to break off the fuse. When he returns to the ground, he tells the kids to keep an eye on the unconscious gang while he fetches the police, and an ambulance for Pop.
The next morning, Jim Harper, back in his patrolman clothes, let the boys know that the hospital thinks Pop will make a full recovery. What's more, for his heroic actions taken to save their tanks, the gas company has given Pop a large reward, which is enough to pay back all the storekeepers.
Appearing in Newsboy Legion: "The Poor Man's Rich Man"
- Gopher Finchley (Single appearance)
- Throttler (Single appearance)
- Conker (Single appearance)
- Nazi Saboteur (Unnamed)
- Pop O'Leary (Single appearance)
- Johnny (Single appearance)
Synopsis for Star-Spangled Kid: "The Mirror of Madness"
Midnight in Sylvester Pemberton's room finds the boy genius asleep in his bed while a shadow creeps toward him. He wakes with a start to find his pal and partner Pat Dugan about to whack him with a wrench! Through Sly's shouting, Pat seems to regain his senses, with no idea what just happened. Sly reminds him how he was injured on their recent case, which began with a challenge from a week ago...
Streetlamps all over the city had been painted with a message from the criminal mastermind Mr. Gadget; next Monday he was planning to "borrow" the star emerald from the Facet Gem Market, and he challenged his enemies, the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, to stop him!
A week later, they drive down to Mr. Facet's shop, and are immediately met by Mr. Gadget and his cohorts! The gang had just arrived as well, and now it was a about to be a fight for the gem. The Kid and Stripesy start swinging, knocking down the men closest to the car. When Mr. Gadget climbs onto the hood of the racer, Stripesy drove it into reverse, sending the crook sliding off. But when the car hit the curb, Stripesy bounced out of his seat and hit his head hard. Gadget makes his escape with a smoke grenade while Sly checks on his friend. The gem shop owner, Mr. Facet, comes running out while shouting that the star emerald was gone. But since they got here at the same time, Gadget's gang couldn't have possibly had time to swipe it during the fight.
Sylvester's debrief concludes. Pat suddenly recalls something else; a light was flickering in his eyes during the ordeal. Sly makes a mental note of that.
Meanwhile at the hideout of Mr. Gadget and his gang, the genius criminal removes his "Mr. Facet" costume. There had never been a Facet Gem Market, nor was there a star emerald. It had all been a ruse to make the police think he could pull of miracles, keeping them baffled and off their guard. Mr. Gadget muses that eventually his plan will also bring about the downfall of the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy.
The next night, the Kid and Stripesy respond to another challenge, this time at the Gould estate. Mr. Gadget and his gang are already there, with two members disguising themselves as Mr. and Mrs. Gould, then running out to the police while screaming they've been robbed. Now that the cops were distracted, Gadget and the rest of the boys can sneak in and start the actual robbery. They come across who they think is the real Mr. and Mrs. Gould staring at them in shock. Once the thugs move in on them though, the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy rip away their disguises and rush to the attack! A sock to the jaw on one thug, and the Kid gives Mr. Gadget a solid left hook. But then Gadget issues a sharp command, ordering Stripesy to attack the Star-Spangled Kid! In a trance, Stripesy does as he's told. Sly tries talking to his pal, and even tries giving him signals for their various maneuvers, to no avail. On his own, Sly is no match for Mr. Gadget's gang and his hypnotized partner, so he's overwhelmed. At that instant, the sound of running footsteps in the house put a halt to the robbery. The police must've heard them fighting and were coming to investigate. The gang drops the Star-Spangled Kid down a hatch to the wine cellar with Stripesy, telling him to finish his partner off. Gadget leaves a flashlight with him so he can see. Before he departs, Gadget gloats about his next target to his soon-to-be-dead foe; he's going to steal a million dollars in radium from the Wannafeller Foundation. Finally, to buy them more time, Mr. Gadget rigs a machine gun on a tripod to automatically fire to make the police think someone was firing at them. Down in the wine cellar, the flashlight illuminates the battle between Stripesy and the Kid. Remembering what his pal said earlier about a flickering light, Sly grabs a broken shard of a mirror and reflects the light into Stripesy's eyes. He issues new orders, to ignore the commands given before and remember that they're friends. This snaps Stripesy out of it, finally. The duo climb out together and return to the Star-Rocket Racer. Before they go anywhere, Sly smashes the glass on the front windshield to Stripesy's confusion. An explanation isn't given at the moment, for they had to hurry to the Wannafeller Foundation.
A crowd of people gather outside the Wannafeller science building. Mr. Gadget was up on the steps giving a phony lesson in how criminals work. As his henchmen break in through the window, he has the crowd believing it's all a show. Even when the police show up, the people only watch with interest as the gang knock out the uniformed officers. Then, out of the night screams the Star Rocket, with carrying the American flag decorated heroes. The crowd gasps and disperse as the Star-Spangled Kid chases the fleeing Mr. Gadget. Gadget finds his commands no longer work on Stripesy, continuing to run through the prehistoric studies exhibit. His henchmen are caught when Stripesy kicks them over to Sly, who receives them with a knockout punch. Mr. Gadget is frightened back by a walking ape-man heading towards him, which is actually Stripey in a costume, and is met by a blow to the jaw by the Kid.
After the police step in to wrap things up, Sylvester discovers the answer to Pat's hypnosis. A device that flickered a light was installed on their car's windshield during the first fight. It used coded messages to bring him under Gadget's sway. But now with the crooks captured, and a new windshield to be4 installed on the Star-Rocket, there was no longer a need to worry. Still, Pat decided he's going to wear sunglasses in the car for a while, just in case...
Appearing in Star-Spangled Kid: "The Mirror of Madness"
- Mr. Gadget
- "Mr. Gould" (Single appearance)
- "Mrs. Gould" (Single appearance)
- New York City
- Pemberton Mansion
Synopsis for Penniless Palmer: "The Cruise to Nowhere"
Penniless and his friends enjoy a relaxing getaway on a boat bound for Pine Cliff Island. Oxie plays a tune for the other passengers on his banjo. A good song turns comedic when a mischievous monkey grabs the instrument and tosses it overboard to the laughter of the crowd.
The cruise continues on for another few hours. Pen starts to get suspicious, it's strange how they were three hours out and hadn't reached the island yet. When he glances over the side, he sees Oxie's banjo floating in the water. Surely it can't be following so close behind the boat at the speed they were going. He heads up to the bridge and into the wheelhouse to ask the captain what was going on. But what he finds is the boat's wheel fixed with rope to steer on a circular course with no captain in sight. Suddenly, Pen's hit on the head from behind by one of the boat's officers. He gets locked in a cubbyhole with the captain. When the regular crew didn't show up, the captain explains, he had to quickly hire some new faces. He didn't realize they were criminals until they locked him up and took over. There was a maintenance hatch that opened into the smokestack. Pen removes his shirt and uses it to make smoke signals. If they were lucky, his friends would spot the message. Otherwise, the smoke will pour into the room and suffocate him and the captain before rescue can come.
Oxie and Bunny are relaxing on deck, watching the seagulls, when the smoke signals catch their attention. "Help" "Bridge". In another few moments, they free Pen and the captain from the smoke-filled room. Next, they go after the thugs that locked them up and hijacked the boat. The crooked crewmen are outmatched, Pen's flying fists takes out one goon, the captain hits another with a belaying pin, and Oxie smashes a third with a folding chair! There are still five more to deal with, and the captain is laid out to be tended to by Bunny. Two against five was easy enough for the diminutive detective and his oversized pal. Pen makes a dive into the group, snatching a box that one of them was holding, causing the group to give desperate chase. He leads his pursuers beneath one of the cargo booms. Oxie then cuts the rope that holds it up, and the boom drops on top of the thugs! Later that day, Pen, Oxie, and Bunny visit the captain in his cabin to show him the box filled with shining jewels! The crooks stole it earlier that day, knocked out his regular crew, and took his boat, planning to leave the country.
The next day, Pen and co. return the gem box to the jewelers where it was stolen. The shop owner explains that even had the crooks gotten away, the jewels they had were worthless imitations used for display purposes. The real jewels were still tucked away in the backroom safe. As a reward, the shopkeeper lets them gaze upon the real gems, which are never seen by customers. Naturally, they can only look and not touch.
Appearing in Penniless Palmer: "The Cruise to Nowhere"
- Jewel Thieves
- Captian Kuttle (Single appearance)
- Pine Cliff Island
- S.S. Carefree
Synopsis for Liberty Belle: "The All-American Way"
On a plane bound for South America, Rick Cannon and Libby Lawrence discover they're coincidentally on the same flight. Libby was headed to San Colon to report on a United Nations conference that was bound to get ugly, while Rick was sent to seek out and capture secret agents from the Axis. During their flight, a dashing young man sitting in front of them suddenly gets up and introduces himself as Alberto Castillano. Apparently, he was a huge fan of Libby's radio show. He shakes her hand while showering her with compliments on her beauty, leaving her blushing. After Alberto leaves, an older gentleman on the other side of the aisle grumbles a warning for Libby and Rick not to get involved with the Spanish heartthrob. Mr. Chester Jameson tells them he's had a lot of experience with foreigners, to which Rick reminds him that even the people from down south were still Americans. But Jameson pays it no mind, and starts talking about his daughter, his business, his home. Libby sits and listens, thinking the poor guy had just been waiting for someone to talk to. And so, the rest of the flight is spent forming new friendships.
Later, at the Palatial Hotel in San Colon, Rick and Alberto sit in Libby's room listening to her play the piano. After awhile, Alberto excuses himself to go attend to some business. Elsewhere in an assembly hall, the U.N. begins its conference to an audience of various delegates. Suddenly, a group of Nazis storm the hall and takes everyone in it as hostages! Meanwhile, Libby is ready to head to the conference, when she is stopped at her door by Mr. Jameson from the plane. He tells her to stay in her room for her own safety, as there's been some excitement in the city and it may be dangerous. He assures her that a guard will be posted outside her door to keep her safe. Confused, Libby obeys and shuts her door. Moments later, music from inside the room drifts into the hall, and Jameson relaxes a bit. He tells the Nazi trooper who meets with him that she'll be no trouble, she's spending her time playing the piano. But actually, Libby spent the time changing into her Liberty Belle duds as the piano played the music roll on its own. All dressed and ready for action, she slips out the window to the fire escape. Looking through the window below hers, she sees the Nazis have broken into Rick's room and were holding him up. Chester Jemeson was leading them! He knew who Rick was since the plane ride, an intelligence officer sent to pin down any infiltrators from the Axis. The delegates would be captured and flown to Axis countries as hostages. After revealing the plan, Chester gets a surprise haymaker to the head courtesy of the superheroine Liberty Belle! She kicks gun out from under another Nazi, breaking his hand. Rick joins the action, delivering another punch to Jameson. A bullet zips through the window and hits the ceiling! Fighting in the streets meant the people were resisting the Nazis. Jameson escapes outside as the piece of ceiling collapses on Liberty. Rick carries her to safety. After she comes to, they head outside to find Senor Castillano with a unit of men all wearing Nazi uniforms, firing at a second unit of Nazis. Castillano explains before Rick shoots him; he's loyal to the Allies, the uniforms were just to create confusion and initiate a surprise attack on the invading fifth column. After a few minutes of shooting, groups of Nazis on the other side were already surrendering. But Jameson wasn't among them. Suddenly, they remember the kidnapped delegates, figuring out that they'd be taken to the military hangar for transport.
Castillano follows along with Liberty Belle and Rick, who drive down to the airplane hangar currently being guarded by Nazis. A transport plane is seen taking off, they were too late to stop it, but there may still be time to catch them. Still wearing the fifth column uniform, Castillano tries to pull rank to get the guards to let them pass, but they're under strict orders from Jameson not to let anyone in. So, Rick and Liberty initiate Plan B; knock the guards out and borrow a military fighter. Castillano pilots, while Rick and Liberty keep an eye out. The plane full of delegates is spotted, but what can they do? Shooting it was out of the question with the members of the UN aboard, and Rick was positive Jameson would crash the plane rather than surrender. It left Liberty Belle with one option left. She tells Rick to find a length of rope in the plane's supplies. He knew what she was planning, but it was crazy. Nevertheless, he helped her tie the rope tightly on one side and watched as she lowered herself down in mid-air. Castillano carefully guided the plane until they were right on top of the transport, then Liberty dropped down.
The Nazi's on watch never expected anyone to actually sneak on board their plane while it's in flight. Which is why Liberty Belle found little resistance when she crawled in through a hatch and knocked the watchman senseless. Jameson appears with more Nazis. But high above and in cramped space, fighting one opponent isn't easy, even if she was outnumbered. The Nazis, including Jameson, are all beaten up and knocked out in a nice little pile. At the other end of the plane, the delegates sat, held by manacles. Liberty frees them, as they speak to her; now that all their eyes have been opened to the threat Hitler's Reich creates, they are all willing to join together as allies united in stopping the Axis.
Somehow, Liberty Belle made it back to the hotel and managed to change back into her regular clothes before Rick and Castillano returned. She played another piece for them on the piano, except now instead of her, both men were focused on when they shall next see Liberty Belle. Libby can only sigh, a girl just can't win.
Appearing in Liberty Belle: "The All-American Way"
- Rick Cannon
- Alberto Castillano
- Chester Jameson (Single appearance)
- Grubner (Single appearance)
- Alberto Castillano (Single appearance)
- South America
- San Colon
- Transport Plane
- Military Fighter Plane
Synopsis for Robotman: "The Mobster and the Millionaire"
A great charity ball is held in the city, with Robotman as a special guest. Throngs of people show up, mostly to see the famed metal hero. Still, there are more than enough businessmen and wealthy socialites to fill the pot with donations. One such man was Bosley Lawrence, the owner of a bank that's been recently robbed. He, however, isn't upset by the theft. As he tells Auburn Archie, who happened to be the leader of the gang of bank robbers, the boys did quite a shoddy job breaking into the vault. Mr. Lawrence goes on to tell how he'd be able to clean up fast if he were a crime lord. Archie laughs, it wasn't such an easy racket, and he doubts Bosley really had any idea what he was talking about. Bosley Lawrence takes this as a challenge and tells Archie he could rob several houses without even Robotman being able to stop him. To prove it, he drives out with Archie and some of his boys to his home neighborhood so he can demonstrate. Of course, Mr. Lawrence had no intention of actually robbing anyone, he would just break in and out. He begins by severing the wire attaching the burglar alarms to the police station. His clever strategy makes Archie think he may not be all talk; he whispers to one of his boys to go fetch the rest of the gang...
Meanwhile back at the charity, Robotman realizes that he hasn't seen either Bosley Lawrence or Auburn Archie around since he saw them talking together. Fearing something was up, he takes leave of the gala to go searching for them. While searching near Lawrence's house, he hears voices whispering, and when he investigates, there was Lawrence and Archie. They were tampering with a neighbor's window, which he overhears Lawrence say was because it was the furthest from the sleeping quarters and therefore they're less likely to be heard. Robotman thought there may be a good explanation for the bank owner to turn to crime, but for right now he had a duty to stop him. He rushes in, grabbing two of Archie's boys! Archie shouts at Bosley to do something. Still believing it was all just a demonstration purposes, Lawrence pulls out a gun that shoots an electric current and sends a jolt throughout Robotman's metal body. The hero is completely paralyzed as the charge scatters over his body. Bosley wants to explain to Robotman that the whole thing was just pretend, but Archie convinces him to do it after the series of demonstrated robberies were completed. Left alone, Robotman struggles greatly to move forward. The exertion is almost too much, but he finally manages to reach a rain spout on a houses side and touch his finger to it. Sparks fly as the metal spout conducts the charge away from his metal frame, setting him free. He chases after Bosley Lawrence and the crooked Archie again. This time, he grabs Archie right away and uses him as a shield against Lawrence's stun gun. Suddenly, an entire gang of thugs and lowlifes come out of the woodwork; Archie's boys, who he called to help rob the neighborhood. One look at Robotman and the fight goes out of them. They all flee like rats. Some try escaping in a truck, but Robotman lifts it up and throws the vehicle onto the roof of a house. The man of metal then cleans up the rest of the gang. Soon, a circle of unconscious goons, with Robotman standing victoriously in the center, greets the police officers who arrive on the scene. But there was one more matter to settle. Bosley Lawrence is shown the loot that was taken from each house is being stashed in the truck. The result of what he thought was just a fun hands-on lecture to crime. Archie had tricked him!
Later that morning, after Robotman gets him out of trouble with the cops, Bosley leaves a wiser man. He promises the hero that he'll stick to being a banker from now on, and quit with the crime lectures.
Appearing in Robotman: "The Mobster and the Millionaire"
- Mr. Bosley Laurence (Single appearance)
- Auburn Archie (Single appearance)
- Lefty (Single appearance)
- Mr. Williams (Single appearance)
- Published by Detective Comics, Inc..
- This issue also contains:
- "Jerry the Jitterbug"; a one-page humor strip, and "Gags", a half page of joke panels, both by Henry Boltinoff.
- "Buddy", a one-page humor strip, author unknown.
- "Motive Revenge", a two-paged written story by Greg Browne.
- "Handy Andy", a one-page humor strip by Jack Farr.
- "Prof. Pip", a three paged strip by Jack Farr, about a wacky professor who addresses the reader with his predictions about the near future, based on the placement of the planets. The predictions include the invention of a long-distance camera capable of taking your picture as you'll look ten years from now, an architect who builds an elevator house, which rises and descends to whichever room you need, and a new species of bird being discovered that's a cross between a pigeon and a parrot.