Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, September 17, 2016


From Fawcett's Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940) comes the mystery man who strikes fear in the hearts of enemy agents determined to bring down the United States -- Spy Master.  The airplane goggle-wearing hero with cape and jodhpurs is in reality Alan Armstrong, well-to-do Virginia Horse farmer (who also happens to be a scientific genius and martial arts specialist).

Created by Bill Parker and C. C. Beck, Spy Master -- along with Captain Marvel -- became one of the most popular characters in Whiz Comics.  He gained his own comic book in 1940 which lasted 11 issues, while still appearing in Whiz Comics, and also appearing in America's Greatest Comics.  Spy Smasher was "retired" in 1946 with Whiz Comics #75, only to reappear in #76 (since the war was over) as"Crime Smasher."  Crime Smasher continued in Whiz Comics until the following March (#87), returning briefly for the one and only issue of Crime Smasher in 1948.

In 1976, DC Comics gained control of many of Fawcett's characters, including Spy/Crime Master, but Alan Armstrong appeared only briefly in that year's Justice League of America.  In 1995 and 1997, he showed up in three issues of Shazaam!

Spy Master was reimagined in 2007 by Gail Simone as anti-terrorist agent Katrina Armstrong, a Jack Bauer-like character who knows no bounds in achieving her goals.

The link below takes you to Spy Master's first six episodes.  We meet recurring villain The Mask, as well as Admiral Corby of Naval Intelligence and his daughter Eve -- who happens to be engaged to the dashing Alan Armstrong.

There's a bit of xenophobia here, beginning on the second page, when the Admiral, Eve, and Alan are discussing how Navy secrets could be getting to the enemy:

     Alan:  What about that Filopino houseboy of yours?
     Admiral Corby:  Zambo?  Not a chance.  He doesn't speak a word of English.  Besides, he isn't           clever enough.

And we learn early on about Alan Armstrong's scientific gifts.  From page 4:

     -- Spy Smasher quickly climbs back to the roof where he had landed his gyrosub -- a super-craft          combining the functions of an airplane, autogyro, speedboat, and submarine.

(And the gyrosub is completely silent!)