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"Star-Spangled Kid: "The Needle"": A new villain, "The Needle", comes to town with a plan. He is sending threats to all the millionaires in town; either give up a set sum of money, or meet their ends. Already there has been one victim, Morton Morrow, who didn't pay, and was killed for it. The St

Star-Spangled Comics #4 is an issue of the series Star-Spangled Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of January, 1942.

Synopsis for Star-Spangled Kid: "The Needle"

A new villain, "The Needle", comes to town with a plan. He is sending threats to all the millionaires in town; either give up a set sum of money, or meet their ends. Already there has been one victim, Morton Morrow, who didn't pay, and was killed for it. The Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy track down his next victim by eavesdropping outside police headquarters. Nick Murdock refused to pay the Needle, and now fears for his life. That night, while officers patrol the grounds of Murdock's home, up in the sky hangs the Star Rocket Racer with the Kid and Stripesy keeping a lookout of their own. A shout comes from inside the residence! Murdock is dead! A long needle pierced his throat. Outside, Sylvester and Stripesy suddenly notice the Needle escaping into his car. A chase begins, the Rocket Racer versus the Needle's getaway vehicle. Stripesy and the Star-Spangled Kid are quickly closing in, so the Needle tries a different trick. He leaves his own vehicle and hijacks an elderly couples auto, sending it careening off the road and into a grove of trees. He escapes unharmed, but Sylvester and Stripesy must halt their pursuit of him to help the couple. Naturally, this distraction means the Needle gets away.

In his civilian clothes, Sylvester visits the scene of the murder where reporters and police are already looking around. He particularly takes note of a strange package with no postmarking, that had already partially been cut open. He doesn't know what this means yet, but Sylvester is sure it's an important clue. Later that evening, a newspaper extra is released with a story on the young child genius' investigation into the Murdock murder. The Needle gets his hands on a copy and becomes nervous. The boy is getting too close to the truth, he'll have to be eliminated!

That night, a package for Sylvester is delivered to the Pemberton Mansion. His butler places it on the shelf in Sylvester's bedroom while he sleeps. The butler then heads to the kitchen where Pat Dugan is already having a late night snack. When he mentions the package, however, Dugan leaps out of his chair and urgently runs to save his pal! Meanwhile, the package starts to stir, and a small blade cuts through the top. A small dwarf pops out of the box, holding a dart gun. Pat manages to change to his Stripesy costume as he runs, rounding the house until he was under Sylvester's window. He blew a loud whistle to try and wake the boy up, but the Needle comes up behind him and konks Stripesy on the head, knocking him out. The signal has worked, however, and Sylvester wakes up in time to dodge the shot. The dwarf hops out the window, to be caught by the Needle, who then escapes off the grounds. They failed to kill the Pemberton brat, but the Needle plans on succeeding with their next target. Sylvester dons his hero attire and goes out to revive Stripesy. They get in the Star Rocket Racer, and chase after the Needle and his tiny partner.

The Needle and his dwarf companion reach the Kennessy residence. He boosts the little man up through the barred window. Stripesy reaches them first, he grabs the Needle! The dwarf aims and fires his needle gun, but fortunately the Star Spangled Kid tackles his pal out of the line of fire, so it hits the Needle instead! Stripesy holds the dwarf man in his grip until the police arrive. The two killers are arrested and Sylvester and Stripesy head back home.

Appearing in Star-Spangled Kid: "The Needle"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Needle (First appearance)
  • Reynauld (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • Nicholas Murdock (Single appearance)
  • Kennessy (Single appearance)
  • Sergeant Murphy (Single appearance)
  • Police Commissioner
  • The Pembertons' butler
  • Sarah (Single appearance)

Locations:

Items:

  • Needle Gun

Vehicles:


Synopsis for Star-Spangled Kid: "Mr. Ghool"

John Pemberton brings his family to visit his old friend, Morton Randall. When they get to his house, they notice how nervous and afraid he seems. When John asks him about his behavior, Morton points him to the closet. Inside was a full-size coffin, with a note attached to it. Sylvester, who had been bored up until now, examines the note. It warns Mr. Randall that he will soon "Be at rest in this coffin", a threat signed by "Mr. Ghool". Morton explains that several officials have received similar gifts from a "Mr. Ghool," and they all have wound up dead! He was hoping that by inviting John and his family over tonight to keep him company, he'd be safe. At that moment Mr. Ghool, a well-dressed man with a ghastly face, enters the home with a crew of deathly-blue-skinned henchmen. His henchmen tie up Sylvester's parents, while Sylvester himself is taken into another room to be killed. The terrifying criminal orders Morton to step into the coffin and drink a mysterious liquid, or else he will destroy the remaining Pembertons. Morton does as he's told. After drinking the vial, his body goes lifeless. Meanwhile outside, Pat Dugan is waiting by the limousine as one of the henchman creep up behind him. They strike, but Dugan notices the man's shadow and steps to one side just as a club comes down. He slams his attacker into a tree! No more waiting. He dons his crimefighting outfit, knowing Sylvester is going to need his help. Stripesy crashes through the front window of the house in a surprise attack. Mr. Ghool nearly drops the vial he was about to force on the Pemberton parents; Stripesy instead vaults over his henchmen and kicks the vial so that its contents splash the villains face.

While all this had been going on, in the next room Sylvester had been playing the frightened boy role so his captor would lower his guard. Suddenly, Sylvester delivers a knockout right hook to the hoodlum's jaw! He too, then gets in his hero costume. The Star Spangled Kid and Stripesy meet up in the main room as the fighting ensues. Mr. Ghool starts to escape out the window, tossing a bomb back into the house. Sylvester catches it and throws it back outside before it explodes. The henchmen, at least, get rounded up. They couldn't save Morton Randall, but the Kid and Stripesy untie John and Gloria Pemberton's bindings before taking off. In actuality, the duo circle around the house while dressing back up in their civilian clothes, so that Sylvester's parents don't become suspicious of their absence. The police arrive moments later. It's discovered that the henchmen were wearing grease paint, and some are actually wanted crooks.

Morton's funeral and burial are set up later, the Pemberton clan attends. Pat speaks to the cemetery groundskeeper, who tells him how there have been cases of graverobbing lately. That night, the Star Spangled Kid and Stripesy return to keep an eye out for trouble. Mr. Ghool ambushes them with more of his henchmen, this time they are overcome and tied up, forced to follow their creepy host down into an underground chamber hidden beneath a grave. Bags of money were set on a table. Mr. Ghool was using this place as a hideout to place all the cash he and his men stole. Some officials, like Morton Randall, had gotten too close to the truth, so they had to be dealt with. Mr. Ghool points to a coffin in the back of the lair where Morton's body resides and reveals that he's not really dead, just in suspended animation. While Mr. Ghool talks, Sylvester and Stripesy work together back to back on untying their knots. Seconds later, they are free! The ugly gang charge in, but this time the partners in peril are ready for them! Mr. Ghool runs up the stairs. As soon as the last few henchmen are down for the count, Stripesy and the Kid chase after him. They meet up with the graveyard's keeper again, but as soon as Stripesy's back is turned, he is shoved back down the stairs. Mr. Ghool removes the "groundskeeper" mask and comes after Sylvester next. But the boy socks him with an uppercut, then finishes him off with a few more jabs to the chest. Stripesy runs back up the steps ready to brawl, but he's a little too late. All that was left to do was force the ghoulish Ghool to hand over the antidote for Morton's suspended state, which he does.

Morton Randall is awake, and the police are already on their way to arrest Mr. Ghool and his men. The Kid and Stripesy drive off in the Star Rocket.

Appearing in Star-Spangled Kid: "Mr. Ghool"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

  • Morton B. Randall (Single appearance)

Locations:

Vehicles:

Synopsis for Armstrong of the Army: "The Case of the Sand Gun"

Within the past nine months, planes have been crashing around the southern swamplands. The pilots disappear and the only clue left behind is that there was always sand clogging the engines. Lieutenant Armstrong is on a mission to find out what is happening. Soon a sandstorm, an unusual sight in a swamp, surrounds Armstrong's plane and sends it tumbling! Strangely, it seems the sand storm had dissipated immediately after hitting the plane, but the Lieutenant has more pressing problems at the moment. They have crashed in the middle of the swamp, and his copilot's leg is injured, possibly broken. Armstrong carries the injured man to a stilted cabin over the swamp, but when a piece of the plank under his feet gives away, he drops the pilot into the water below, where sharks were waiting. The trapdoor closes, the Lieutenant could do nothing to save him. But now, as Armstrong turns around he sees a man with a gun pointed at him. From out of the cabin, a Japanese man walks towards them and orders the other to have Lieutenant Armstrong brought inside.

The Lieutenant, bound to a chair, is questioned by the Japanese man who identifies himself as Professor Arndt. He shows off his invention, the sand gun, a mounted cannon that fires blasts of sand at passing planes. Now that the army has started investigating, Arndt laments that they will have to move their operations. For now, Armstrong is locked in a side room where he will be made to wait until the sharks are ready to feed again. When he is left alone, Armstrong uses the flame from a lamp to burn through his knots. He climbs out the window and sidles along the cabin side, careful not to fall in the water below. The henchman in the next room gets surprised when the American soldier jumps through his window. He throws his lamp at the lieutenant, who dodges, and the lamp breaks against the wall and starts a fire. The two men fight. It's soon clear that Armstrong is the stronger one and his opponent flees, forgetting about the trapdoor! The henchman gets eaten by the frenzying sharks.

Meanwhile, the Professor is loading the truck at this time. He notices the cabin on fire and hurries into the truck to flee. Armstrong commandeers the sand gun and points it straight at the vehicle, firing a burst of sand that clogs the engine! Arndt steps out and runs into the water in a daze, where the sharks start to circle. The Lieutenant runs in after him and carries the crazed man out of the water and back to land. Professor Arndt surrenders into Armstrong's custody, who plans to bring both him and the sand gun back to the military.

Appearing in Armstrong of the Army: "The Case of the Sand Gun"

Featured Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Professor Arndt (Single appearance)
  • Krogg (Only appearance; dies)

Other Characters:

  • Bender (Only appearance; dies)

Items:

  • Arndt's Sand Gun

Vehicles:

  • Army Plane

Synopsis for Tarantula: "The Blade"

Johnny Law is attending a reception honoring the country of Torono's President Gomez and his daughter Paula. Johnny's just about to leave for the night, when suddenly the party is crashed by three gangsters. Their leader, known only as the Blade, kidnaps President Gomez as a hostage. Johnny is knocked over the head and pushed over a sofa. This makes the perfect concealment for him to swiftly shed his civilian garb and replace them with the garments of the Tarantula! He heads down the side of the building using the suction cups in his boots, meeting the fleeing gangsters and their captive at the entrance. He traps them in his Webgun, but the Blade shoves Gomez into his car and drives off. The Tarantula fires another web at the rear off the vehicle and holds on tight as it pulls him along. He climbs the strand of web, hopping into the backseat. He and the Blade grapple with each other! As the car drives over a bridge, Tarantula tosses the gangster boss over the side into the water below. Now, to drive President Gomez back to his hotel.

When they get to Gomez's room, his daughter isn't anywhere around. A note was left on the desk. The gangsters have Paula! The phone rings, on the other end is the Blade. He tells Gomez that if he doesn't pay the ransom, he'll kill his daughter. Luckily, the Tarantula was able to trace the call to the gashouse district. Off he went, promising Gomez that he'd rescue Paula. First he heads to the jailhouse, to free one of the Blade's men. The crook runs away, headed to his boss's hideout, while Tarantula secretly follows. At first, the gang is happy to see their pal has escaped. But then the Tarantula shows up. They rush him, but because of his webgun, they all get bound up without too much struggle. The Blade goes for Paula Gomez with a knife, but is blocked by the hero and stumbles back. He uses one of the web strands as a rope to escape out the window. The Tarantula leaps out after him, stopping himself behind the criminal leader by securing the suction cups in his glove onto the wall. The Blade, caught in his grip, finally surrenders.

The police arrest the gang, Paula is returned to her grateful father, and the Tarantula continues on to his next adventure.

Appearing in Tarantula: "The Blade"

Featured Characters:

Antagonists:

  • The Blade
  • The Blade's gang
    • Butch (Single appearance)
    • Muggsy (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • President Gomez (Single appearance)
  • Paula Gomez (Single appearance)

Locations:

Items:

Synopsis for Captain X: "Barges in Norway"

The editor of the Tribute wants to find out if the Nazis are planning to invade from Norway. A seemingly impossible assignment, they can't just go ask Hitler, but Buck Dare accepts the challenge. He learns from an Air Force friend that an aircraft carrier is being deployed to sea, which would only be done to stop an invasion thrust. Buck drives to his secret hangar in the cliffside. After changing into his Captain X flight attire, Buck invites Stuffy to come along for the mission, much to the mechanic's delight. They hop into Captain X's plane, Jenny, and take off for Norway's shores.

A row of barges sit in a hidden fjord. Letting the plane hover, Buck climbs down a rope ladder to investigate one of the ships. Stuffy gets his foot caught in a rung, so it's Captain X alone when the Nazi crew come out on deck. He deals with the first wave swiftly, punching them out or flinging them across the deck. But reinforcements arrive in overwhelming numbers, so the Captain starts to climb back to Jenny. Stuffy's foot accidentally dislodges the ladder, however, so Captain X has no choice but to fight. He tosses the rope ladder around the Nazis' heads and jumps into the water with them. Under the water, they all grab hold of him at once until he can't fight back anymore.

The Nazis take their captive to a prison camp where an opera-singing guard gets the Captain's attention. He notes to his captors how he wouldn't mind listening to more of the guard's song before being executed, so they put the man in charge of guarding his cell that night. Captain X convinces the Nazi guard to sing together with him, as a last request before he's executed tomorrow. The guard humbly accepts and joins the Captain in his cell for an opera duet. While they're singing, Captain X nabs the guards automatic and holds it to the man's head! He locks the guard in the cell and runs outside where, luckily, Stuffy was waiting with Jenny hovering above. They climb aboard and fly off to warn the aircraft carrier.

The captain of the carrier receives a transmission from the legendary Captain X. The location of the barges and the Nazis plan to invade. Soon a formation of bombers are deployed, led by Captain X piloting Jenny. But the Nazis filled the barges with enough explosives to destroy the divebombing planes before they can pull back up. And the singing guard who allowed Captain X to escape was tied up on the deck of one of the barges. As soon as he notices something funny, Captain X orders the other pilots to hold off on their attack. He swings down on the ladder and picks up the guardsman. When the man is safe, he tells the other planes to drop their bombs from high up so as not to get caught in the explosion. The barges are destroyed, the Nazis' invasion plan is stopped. Back at the secret hangar, Buck leaves the Nazi guard with Stuffy to do with as he pleases, the mechanic is glad to have someone who will listen to his corny jokes. Buck rides back to the newspaper office and hands the story to his editor.

Appearing in Captain X: "Barges in Norway"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

  • Stuffy

Antagonists:

Other Characters:

  • J.J. (The Tribute Editor)

Locations:

Vehicles:

Synopsis for Star-Spangled Kid: "The Flying Buzz Saw"

Sylvester Pemberton, boy prodigy, sits on the panel of a quiz show at WKLB Radio. His fellow quiz takers were shocked at his knowledge, answering every question correctly and without hesitation. A round of applause erupts from the studio audience when he wins the prize: Fifty silver dollars! Suddenly, the coins turn to lead in Sylvester's hands. And so do several objects of gold and silver in the audience's possession, a lighter, a watch, a ring. A sinister voice sounds over the speakers, one which Sylvester recognizes all too well. From a secret location, Professor Stanton speaks into a microphone, threatening to remove the wealth in the United States, reducing it to the poorest country in the world! As soon as he ends his broadcast, Stanton drinks from a vial and becomes the monstrous Dr. Weerd. Sylvester runs outside to meet Pat Dugan, who was waiting by the family limousine. Together, they change into the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy. At the press of a button, the limo is transformed into the Star-Rocket Racer. It takes flight with Stripesy at the wheel.

Soon, the dials in the Racer stop working, indicating an ionic electrical field of some sort nearby. They discover a remote hillside tower, where there is so much electrical energy emanating from the structure that it creates a spectrum of colors in the air around it. They land on the tower parapet and enter the doorway leading to a control room. Dr. Weerd clearly wasn't expecting them, and he's unprepared for the Kid's charging jab. The monstrous doctor fights back at first, but the odds are against him, so he tries to turn tail and run. Stripesy tackles him sending both combatants tumbling down the long stairway. Sylvester rides the side railing down after them, but Dr. Weerd knocks Stripesy out with the butt of his gun before the Kid reaches them. The mad doctor flees out of the tower, headed toward the cliff edge. He jumps! As Sylvester watches, Weerd releases a parachute hidden under his jacket. He escapes, for now.

The Kid revives his sleeping pal and they get back in the racer. Steelite cables are wrapped around the tower, and with the might of the Rocket Racer's pull, the structure is ripped from its foundation and sent hurtling over the cliff edge into the water. With the ionic field destroyed, all the gold and silver that Dr. Weerd affected should go back to normal.

A few weeks later, Dr. Weerd finishes designing a giant flying sawblade. He pilots it like a deadly flying saucer, cutting through the city. Wood, steel, nothing can resist the blades. Sylvester and Pat witness a building being cut in two and suit up! Once again, the Star Rocket Racer takes to the skies as the duo chase after the rampaging sawblade. In a risky move, Stripesy maneuvers the Racer right above the spinning saw so that Sylvester can leap into the cockpit in the center. He gets into another fight with Dr. Weerd. Sensing he's lost, the mad doctor sets the sawblade on a collision course with a munitions plant and bails out. Sylvester has only a minute to take the wheel and save himself! But the controls have been electrified, he can't touch them, not with his bare hands anyway. He takes off his silk tunic and, because silk is an insulator against electricity, covers the steering wheel with it so he can guide the blades away from the factory and down to land at the airfield. The authorities arrive to take care of the flying doom machine, so Sylvester and Stripesy take off in the Racer again for home. Dr. Weerd gets away, but at least they have saved the city.

Appearing in Star-Spangled Kid: "The Flying Buzz Saw"

Featured Characters:

Antagonists:

Locations:

Items:

  • Weerd Formula

Vehicles:

Notes

  • Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy:
    • The Needle punches out Pat Dugan, with one punch.
    • Dugan later gets head-konked unconscious with a pistol butt. That's two concussions in 13 pages.

Trivia

  • Stripesy never wears a mask, yet Mr. Pemberton has a hard time recalling where he's seen his face before.


See Also


Links and References

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