"Patrick Kelly was originally an ace fighter pilot in World War II who fought in the Pacific Theater under General Stilwell, as a member of the Avenger Corps. He was from Brooklyn. He was later transported to the future, where he explored the galaxy and continued to defend freedom as a rocket pilot. He was called to another planet where he became the Keeper of the Flame of Democracy, the flame being a mystic energy felt by the free people of the universe. Kelly was accompanied in his adventures by his World War II gunner Punchy (originally called Wacky) who was a former Brooklyn cab driver, and a beautiful nurse named Sue Andrews (she was later replaced by a girl name Diana). Kelly's enemies included Indus, Vengo and Diablo, who was determined to extinguish the Flame of Democracy." [pdsh.fandom.com]
Rocket Kelly first appeared in The Bounce #10 (dated Fall, 1944, but published in 1945), first with a two-page intro, "It Happened to Me," in which Kelly is fighting a number of Japanese (that's not the word they used) planes and outflying and outsmarting them all. The next page begins the first full Rocket Kelly story, "Atom World of Selura." He's now in the the future -- no explanation given -- piloting a rocket ship with Wacky, Sue Andrews, and the dwarf Sibio aboard. Rocket Kelley appeared in five issues of The Bouncer and at least one issue of Everybody's Comics before starring in his own title; perhaps some of the back story was revealed there. Perhaps not.
Kelly was created and drawn by Ted Small. Who or what was Ted Small? Dunno. A brief jaunt through the internet revealed nothing. If anyone has any information, please let me know.
Issue #1 features two Rocket Kelly stories. The first, "When Mountains Trembled," has Rocket and the crew back on Earth and somewhat in the present. Don't ask, 'cuz they didn't tell. Rocket's father is concerned because he has not heard from his eccentric inventor friend Professor Maynor, whose laboratory is located on top of Bleak Mountain somewhere in Asia. Flying to Bleak Muntai, Rocket and pals discover the Professor's body, guarded by his distraught pet ape. Maynor has been shot and his scientific instruments have been smashed! Punchy takes some photographs and discovers the last thing Maynor saw -- recorded on his retina! (Yeah. Evidently that was still a thing back in 1945.) It's the image of Nihil, a villain who had supposedly die in an escape attempt after being convicted by the World Court of crimes against humanity! Rocket soon locates Nihil's "Fortress of Treachery," where he, Sue, and Punchy are captured. Can they stop Nihil's evil plan to destroy the world? Well, can they?
In "The Vengeance of Vengo," time has become topsy-turvy and the people of Earth are beginning to age rapidly -- including Rocket, Sue, and Punchy! Turns out this is a plot by Vengo -- another villain presumed dead after escaping prosecution for murders caused by his time experiments. Can an aged Rocket and gang find Vengo, stop his evil plans, and somehow inoculate the entire planet before it is too late? Well, can they?
Also in this issue: A tale of Illuso, the world's greatest magician who has been given magical powers by a Tibetian lama. with the understanding that Illuso will use these powers for the benefit of mankind. Here, Illuso investigates the disappearance of a policeman who has been accused of robbing a warehouse. The villains are really fingers Crowell and his gang, who are holding the policeman prisoner. Magical powers and illusions (a la Mandrake, without Lothar) save the day.
And, in "Forty-five Feet of Murder,"star reporter Betty Boyd meets up with the world's largest python, now accused of killing the curator of the local zoo. Well, the python is innocent and it's the bad guys, including a punch-drunk ex-fighter, who try to throw Betty into the alligator pit. They should have known better than to have gone against a plucky young girl reporter!
The issue ends with a one-page "Minit Mystery" featuring Inspector Trent. The (sorta) obvious solution is revealed in the last panel, which is printed upside down.
Rocket Kelly, both as a comic book and as a character, did not last long. Wonder why?
Give it a whirl.
I have definitely heard of Ted Small, but have no specifics. I suspect his slightly odd name helps. (Gerry Conway given b-day greetings in FILE 770 today with no mention of his DC work, much less his tv career. Blinkers?)ReplyDelete
Rocket Kelly wasn't related to me or my family, but I'm always interested in a plucky young girl reporter. Bill Crider would have loved that alligator pit!ReplyDelete
I was thinking of Bill when I read that part, George.ReplyDelete
Ted Small seems to be just one of the dozens of pen names used at Fox Comics, the purpose of which I think was to get across the idea that Victor Fox had more people working for him than there actually were. It’s a shame, because Rocket Kelly had some of the more interesting art to come from that publisher. None of his stories appear to have confirmed art credits though.ReplyDelete