Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, April 6, 2019


Beginning in 1939, Lev Gleason Publications put out comic book title which had a profound effect for the next decade and a half.  A good part of the company's success was due to Charles Biro, an innovative cartoonist, who became Gleason's executive editor.  Gleason's comic book title included Daredevil (not the later Marvel Comics character), Crime Does Not Pay, and Boy Comics (which started with issue #3, April 1942, having taken over the numbering of  the short-lived Captain Battle).

The main hero of Boy Comics was Crimebuster, who was really Chuck Chandler, a student at Custer Military School and the son of a well-known war correspondent.  When Adolph hitler ordered the death of that pesky correspondent, it fell to the villain Iron Jaw to carry out the deed and murder Chuck's parents. 

(Iron Jaw was so named because, while serving in World War I alongside Hitler, his jaw was incinerated by a grenade and replaced with (naturally) an iron jaw.  Flash ahead to World War II and Iron Jaw has become Hitler's main agent and the fifth highest ranking person in the Nazi machinery.)

Anyway, back to Crimebuster.  Chuck dons the school's hockey uniform (which conveniently has a large "C" emblazoned on it) adds a cape and a monkey named Squeeks (whom he liberated from a cruel organ grinder) and goes after Iron Jaw.  Over the next dozen issues, Crimebuster has eight encounters with the evil Nazi, beating him every time until he finally presumed killed in issue #15.  Since this is comic book world, Iron Jaw would be resurrected in issue #50 -- this time as a Communist agent, only to have his butt handed to him repeatedly by Crimebuster, now known as C.B. (the newly installed Comics Code forbade the word 'crime').

So much for background.  Turning to issue #11, Iron Jaw is about to go on trial for the murder of two boys.  He fakes insanity and the trial judges orders him to an asylum.  Jeannie Carroll, the beautiful blonde sister of one of the victims, knows that Iron Jaw is faking insanity.  Wanting vengeance, she tries to shoot Iron Jaw.  Iron Jaw turns the tables on her, taking her hostage and shooting his way to freedom.  A love- (or sex-) smitten Iron Jaw decides to take Jeannie to Germany.  He steals a plane which then crashes in the Atlantic.  Iron Jaw and Jeannie are picked up by an Argentine freighter, where no one speaks English.  Iron Jaw speaks Spanish and is able to convince the captain that he and Jeannie are having a lovers' tiff.  Crimebuster takes a Navy torpedo boat and goes after the freighter by himself (well, with Squeeks).  Unfortunately, Crimebuster cannot speak Spanish either and Iron Jaw convinces the captain to toss Crimebuster in the brig.  Iron Jaw then  kills the captain and all but four crew members.  The boat then headed to Germany and, in a twist of fate, is spotted by a German sub, which blows up the freighter.  Aha! but Crimebuster and Jeannie have managed to escape in a lifeboat just seconds before.  But wait!  Squeeks did not make it off the freighter.  Have both he and Iron Jaw perished?  Before the story ends, Crimebuster uses some conveniently locate depth charges to spell finito to the Nazi sub.  Jennie gives Crimebuster a big kiss.  Ah, gee whiz!  Do we have to go into the mushy stuff?

The rest of this issue is filled by stories about Swoop Storm (boy aviator), Little Dynamite (a Brooklyn street kid),  Yankee Longago (a boy of today in the land of yesterday), and Young Robinhood and His Band (the good guys), ad well as a tribute to the "Boy Comics" Hero of the Month," George Holle, a fighting marine who had hid his true age of 13, and a two-page text story about Daredevil.

Some pretty entertaining reading for a dime, if you ask me.