Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Saturday, January 2, 2021


 One of the most popular characters of the Golden Age of comics was Crimebuster.  When Chuck Chandler's parents were killed by Nazi criminal Iron Jaw, the teen vows to avenge their deaths.  Wearing his school's hockey uniform and the school's cape, he is Crimebuster.  (The school was Custer Military Academy, but after the war it transformed to Curtis High School, thus allowing C.B. to continue wearing a uniform with the initial C on his chest.  The hockey uniform, BTW, has the requisite underwear on the outside so popular with comic book superheroes.)  With his pet monkey Squeeks (whom he rescued from an organ grinder) on his shoulder, C.B. (as he becomes known) pursues Iron Jaw, who is so named because he has an iron jaw, duh.

Boy Comics #8 start with a dire threat from Iron Jaw (which also includes a bit of back story):  "My son is dead!  I killed him!  I HAD to kill him because he was bitten by a mad disease called Americanism!  For his death, I blame only CRIMEBUSTER!!!  I will kill him too, with more pleasure than I've ever had!"


FBI agent J. E. Loover (with whom C.B. will soon start working) assigns a man to protect C.B. against this threat but our young and sometimes rash hero rebuffs his aid. and soon loses his FBI tail.  C.B. then decides to go to the zoo where Squeeks can meet up with his favorite cousin.  While there, they hear terrifying screams from the lion house -- a lion has a man by the arm and is trying to pull him through the bars of its cage.   The zoo keeper is nowhere to be found and C.B. is too big to squeeze through the cage bars.  It's up to Squeeks to save the day.  The brave little monkey faces off against the lion, attracting him away from its victim, and puts up a mighty fight before jumping back to safety.  It was too late -- the man is dead through loss of blood.  He has no ID on him, but he does have a pocket watch, which Squeeks takes.  Squeeks drops the watch and it shatters, revealing microfilm inside.  The microfilm reveals a plot to bomb two army generals, along with instructions on how to build the bomb.

A little investigation shows that one of the bars on the lion cage is loose.  When removed it reveals a cache where microfilm is hidden.  Knowing that someone will come by soon and try to get the microfilm, C.B. and Squeeks lay in wait for him.  Yep, C.B. does not bother to tell the authorities about this Nazi plot or have the FBI lay a trap.  Nope, he and Squeeks go it alone in true teen hero style.

It's night and a figure creeps to the lion's cage and removes the bar to get to the microfilm.  C.B. and Squeeks attack and discover the villain is Iron Jaw himself!  C.B. throws a punch at the iron jaw and breaks his hands.  (Ah, the rashness of youth!)  Iron Jaw is about to finish off C.B. when the bloodthirsty lion discovers the missing bar on his cage and gets out, attacking Iron Jaw.  In a desperate fight, Iron Jaw killls the lion and tries once again to go after C.B. but collapses from loss of blood.  Iron Jaw is taken to the hospital, where it is decided that doctors will remove the iron jaw that has been responsible for so many deaths.  The Nazi super-agent resists and numerous shots of anesthetic do nothing to put him under.  Using his immense strength, Iron Jaw rips off his straightjacket and escapes, killing a few people while doing so.  During his escape, police put at least six bullets in him.

The fugitive goes to the home of a doctor and forces him to remove the bullets.  In the meantime, C.B. and Agent Loover inform the generals that they have been targeted.  At the airport Iron Jaw steals a plane to head back to Germany and report to Hitler.  The silly super-agent did not realize the plane was the one that contained the bomb designed to kill the generals.  Two Nazi agents try to warn Iron Jaw about the bomb but Loover shoots them ("No need to bring them to trial.  They'll only be shot anyway!" -- pretty typical FBI thinking.)  Iron Jaws plane is blown to bits and that's the end of the villain.

Ha-ha!  Of course not.  Comic book villains just keep coming back and coming back.

There's certainly a lot unpack here.  But while you're doing that, you might want to look at the other stories in this issue featuring Tommy Travers, Little Dynamite, Swoop Storm, Yankee Longago, Daredevil, and Young Robinhood.  There's also a five-page comic biography of Yuri Ivanov, the "Boys Comics Hero of the Month."

When I was very young and had barely started to read, Crimebuster, Squeeks, Iron Jaw, Little Dynamite, and the Little Wise Guys were my favorite characters (along with Dinky Duck, but the less said about that the better).  My much younger self did not give a hoot about some of the problematic aspects of these four color heroes (and villain).  It felt good to go back and revisit some of these characters in this issue.

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