Sunday, August 19, 2018

Retro Review: More Fun Comics #73 (1941) - "Case of the Namesake Murders"

Written by: Mort Weisinger
Art by: George Papp
Cover Price: 10¢
Release Date: November 1941

Doing these retro reviews, I am going to deal with a lot of origin stories and first appearances.  Sometimes characters pop up unexpectedly or in books I never even knew existed.  More Fun Comics is one of those books, however, issue #73 of the series was a doozy!  Along with a Dr. Fate story, the readers back in November 1941 were introduced to both Green Arrow and Aquaman's first appearance.  That, my friend's is crazy.  I am going to review the Green Arrow story here, but something tells me that I will be back for the Aquaman one sometime very soon.  So, let's get into the retro machine and go back to 1941...

The issue opens with a mysterious figure going around murdering rich men in a fashion fitting for their names...George Lincoln is shot, John Hale is hung and Anthony Ceasar is stabbed to death.  It is a very cold open, but then it's off to see Oliver Queen and Roy Harper getting ready for vacation.  If the joke is that Green Arrow is just a Batman who shoots arrows, it is so, so obvious that Mort Weisinger was creating his own Batman and Robin from the very get-go.  This, in fact, is not an origin story at all as we are told that they are "known throughout the world" as they hear about the murders, suit up as Green Arrow and Speedy and race off in the Arrowplane, "the fastest car on wheels".  Okay...

When they get to their destination, the History Club, the craziest, most awesome thing happens.  Speedy hits a trigger and Ollie is catapulted out of the car and crashes through the third story window because it's "faster than using the stairs"!  This isn't Green Arrow surprising the bad guys, but just going into the club to talk to the members about what happened.  What an entrance!

The zaniness continues as Leonard Achilles dies because he's wearing metal boots (it kind of makes sense), Ollie shoots an arrow so he can tightrope between buildings and Speedy uses the catapult himself into the chase.  The dialogue is hilarious throughout.

The pin down the thug they're chasing (with arrows of course) and this guy sings like a canary.  They barely ask him a question and he tells them his name, about his boss, his hideout and when they are meeting next.  He does leave out one key bit of information which leads to Oliver getting caught later when he tries to disguise himself as the thug and infiltrate the gang.

They catch Speedy as well and the two heroes would have been dead right then and there if it wasn't for Green Arrow kicking off his shoe through a window.  Again, it kind of makes sense.  We then get a series of rescues that involve the catapult, lots of arrows and one destroyed water cooler.  You guessed it, it kind of makes sense!

They two heroes finally catch the bad guy (who does look like the Shadow a bit), but he gets away so there can be a car chase.  Unlike nowadays, the chase involves Oliver driving like my wife...shooting arrows while steering with his knees and the bad guy dies in a fiery wreck that doesn't seem to bother Green Arrow or Speedy one bit.  It's all just another adventure for the trophy case for those two!

Yea, this was not a great beginning for Green Arrow.  I'm not saying it isn't fun because it is, but for a lot of the wrong reasons.  Bad dialogue and insane situation rule the issue and you never get a sense of who these characters are.  The art is nothing to write home about and in the end, it is obvious that this story is desperately trying to grab the Batman and Robin fans.  Of course, Green Arrow and Speedy stood the test of time, but it's because it got better, not because of this first appearance.

Bits and Pieces:

This is a paint by numbers introduction to two characters meant to grab the Batman and Robin audience.  The issue is fun to read, but only as a curiosity and luckily, the characters went on to bigger and better things.  First appearances are always fun to check out, but this one if pretty forgettable.


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