The Eve of Marvel's entrance to World War 2
With over a year under its belt, Marvel Mystery Comics moved into a new era with issue #13. This would be the year that the US entered the second world war and would create the basis for the Marvel Comics that we know today but first, Marvel had to get over a fairly rocky issue.
The Human Torch segment in this issue suffered for two reasons. First, it looks like Carl Burgos had to rush this one or someone else was helping him pencil. The detail that he normally puts into his artwork was noticeably lacking. The second problem was the storyline. The idea of some thugs wrecking subway trains to rob them and kidnap the women seems a little silly to say the least. There seems like there'd be a lot more straightforward methods to rob with less chance of attracting attention. Then there's the fear that everyone has that the torch will somehow melt the subway tunnels. How hot is this guy supposed to be? I think of him being like a flame, not being like the sun. Then he can melt bullets in his "low heat" sans-flame persona. If that's the case then how come he hasn't killed people who have been near him when he's been flaming which means he's even hotter than necessary to vamporize bullets an inch or so away from his body. They also gloss over how he gets Reiss out of his handcuffs. Presumably he melts them but melting handcuffs would have severely burned the man's wrists AT LEAST. So although nothing in this segment was painstakingly bad the confluence of all of these problems had me thinking this was not one of the better installments of the Torch's adventures.
The Submariner story has Namor once again feeling his wanderlust and now his curiosity has taken him to Europe to see what is going on in the Second World War. Once again we see Namor making snap decisions about friend and foe and once again we see his conflicted side. As an outsider he is able to comment on what is going on around him but it rings somewhat hollow after he himself has caused so much destruction because of how a mood has struck him. Namor remains a fascinating character but there wasn't much that was interesting in this tale. It basically follows the normal "War in Europe" format that pervaded Daring Mystery Comics and now Marvel Mystery Comics.
The Vision is a very interesting new story, which isn't a surprise since he comes from the legendary creative team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. He's a being from another dimension pulled into our dimension that can appear and disappear from smoke, as well as cause halucinations, and appear as human to any but those who are "about to die". Although the villain in this story is your typical mobster and isn't very interesting the story itself is very atmospheric with good use of shadowing to make the story spooky. The Vision is depicted well and you can imagine why a character like this would create fear in the "cowardly and suspicious" criminals that he encounters. I certainly think this is a welcome replacement to the Masked Raider intros.
The Terry Vance story is as painful as ever. Once again he outsmarts adults both in knowing that there is a crime going on and in bringing the criminals to justice. I don't think that this brings anything "new" to the Terry Vance segments and is pretty much the same kind of tale that we've had in the past so I won't really say much more about this.
The Electro story this time shows that Dahlman is already having a hard time figuring out what to do with the invincible robot. Dr Zog and Electro have already been taken up into space once before and thus ended the most interesting storyline possibility for Electro. After fighting a lot of pedestrian menaces on Earth (except for zombies, what the heck was that about?) once again we decide that for Electro to face a challenge he must be in space. The only difference is that this time Zog has taken Electro up with an inventor friend of his to find the moon. The story is interesting enough even though even in the 1940's their telescopes were powerful enough to know that there are no giant castle-fortresses on the moon. In the end I'd say that this Electro story is better than most. Hopefully Dahlman will figure out ways to keep him interesting in the next issue as well.
The Angel story this time sees the Angel out for vengeance when a mobster who went straight is gunned down by the mob. This may add a level of dimension to the Angel but the problem is that we don't really get a feel for why this particular hit has put him in such a mad-on. We also don't get an explanation again for how he just happened to be in the right place at the right time to see this happen. Even worse, they draw attention to the fact that the Angel's face isn't covered and criminals can recognize him easily even when he isn't in his costume. These issues really need to be addressed but so far they haven't been. Still, this is one of the better Angel stories so far, getting more back into the mold of the first story, when he seemed like a man with a vengeance against organized crime so hopefully there will be more stories in this vain.
The Ka-Zar story this time found a way of getting out of the rut that they'd been in by transporting Ka-Zar and Zar to New York. I suppose it was to much for me to hope that they'd run into the Human Torch and give us another crossover story but Ka-Zar out of his element at least made it a little more interesting than his normal adventures and the story was left at a real cliffhanger with Ka-Zar's life in danger as the police are ready to gun him down for letting Zar free. I look forward to see where this story takes us.
So in the end Marvel Mystery Comics had some lackluster or bad stories with the normally good Human Torch segment this time being a bit pedestrian and a little silly. The prose story this time was another good one so I hope that those continue to maintain a higher level of quality than the first few issues. The replacement of the Masked Raider with the Vision was the right move. After the first issue, the Raider never had an interesting story and they were always a variation of the same plot. The Vision shows some real promise and I think that his stories may hold our interest for a while to come. All-in-all this one is worth reading and I continue to have a high level of interest in how this book will change once it gets into World War 2.