Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

Two parallel universes from two silver age comic book publishers examined ad naseum!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Battling Blondes: Round 4 - Facing Fiery Fiends

We have been remiss in revisiting the duel between Peter Cannon, aka Thunderbolt, and John Raymond, aka the Web. So we present for you consideration (and consumption) Round 4. While this could just as easily have been slotted into "Friday Fiends", we'll have a different type of entry in that slot this week. So without further ado, let's get under way...are you READY to RUMBLE? Our blondes  are.

We had previously considered today's adversaries, the Dragon (or Dragon Master) and Inferno, in our last entry Round 3 - Cover Boys, and how each stacked up. Let's consider them more in depth as they go mano-y-mano with our battling blondes.

Interestingly enough, Web's tale begins while accepting an award alongside fellow crime fighter Inferno...from a crook as it turned out! Despite this apparent death trap of a ticking time bomb, what really concerns our masked marvel isn't impending death...but impending nagging from his fairer half Rose. Poor professor... he can never seem to catch a break where she is concerned. As a result, she takes a position at a museum as an assistant, leading to jealous feelings consuming Johnny.


Peter Cannon is the antithesis of John... and he would be the ideal mate for Rose formerly Wayne. Ah if only they had met across dimensional barriers! In any event, while on an international flight, Pete's plane is hijacked by the Dragon Master and his thugs, threatening to nuke their prey if their demands are not made. And to make good his threat, old D.M. turns on his mini blow torch and burns cigar chomping chump... showing all present that he means business. Thankfully Tabu had packed his pals suit.

"Down with culture. Up with barbarism"! "He's one of the town's swingingest playboys". You just can't make this stuff up! Well, Mighty Comics can and did so on a regular basis. Thankfully, Web's possessive nature leads him in the right place and time to confront...his old friend whom he JUST hung out with! Has his life turned topsy-turvy or what? More importantly, how will swingingest playboy Tom Alexander handle that portable blow torch that old "flaming carrot-top" insignia is flashing his way?

Over at Charlton, Thunderbolt is making the rounds in his introductions to this issues prime baddie, that Master of Dragons wearing that babuska hat (is this Chinese dude a fan of Russian styles or what). Watch it Petey, you almost ended up on the business end of that flame thrower like your tubby buddy above! Fancy footwork helps him sidestep a grilling from Mr. Fu-Manchu and quickly he out maneuvers his foe... leading to animosity that will lead to another confrontation a few pages later.

Now Web can impress all three.. his sly wife, his sinister enemy and his swinging rival... at one time. Using the element of surprise he quickly gets the drop on Inferno and soon his criminalist instincts leads him to conclude something ain't right in Smithsonian-town. He no doubt is aware of  Inferno's former criminal past, if not from Inferno's own mouth than from Steel Sterling (when they were paling around the back pages of Mighty Comics together). Still, since when did his former heroic colleague need to rely on a weapon
Returning to his secluded mansion outside New York City, he learns that Dragon Master as ascertained his duel identity and taken his loyal manservant Tabu hostage. Nothing gets Pete's lather up than when his buddy is in trouble, and he quickly tracks down both prey and predator. This leads to a trap set by the Master which he hopes will finally seal the doom of the red-and-blue action-hero. A sealed room transformed into a ready made coffin for the pair. Is this the end? Well, it is the last issue of Thunderbolt's 60's run... his creator the enigmatic writer known at the time only as P.A.M. had since vacated the title. So anything is possible.


Finally the real Inferno reveals himself and aids teh Web to take out his imitator and the generic gun wielding henchman that was all in vogue in the swinging 60's. Eat your heart out, Tom Alexander... this is how REAL men take out the trash. While you're dusting off those crusty old artifacts, our spandex supers are dusting off the criminal element in the city! To bad clueless hag Rose doesn't get the point... she goes ape over hubby varnishing the wood finishing at Raymond Casa. Sigh such is a lost art.


Steely willed resolve isn't just a mantra... it is literally a way of life for Mr Can... Must... Will. Finding a handy battering ram and the strength to swing it relentlessly despite blazing temperatures that would cause a mere mortal or patsy (read: Tabu) to faint in the presence of...Thunderbolt after two pages of indoctrinating us readers with the "can-do" pep talks all teens need to get out of bed in the morning...evacuates himself and his old ally. And not a moment to soon, for Dragon Master is making a hasty getaway!

And so ends yet another adventure of the Wonderful Web. Talk about "caught in a web of your own making", he knew this was going to happen and yet he still has to suck it up. It might help his cause if he changed out of his work clothes and back into his civvies, it no doubt irked dear Rose to see her love drapped in that wacked out garb. And so ends the silver age run of Professor Raymond... he would not return in a fresh adventure until the 1980's. Two decades didn't soften up Rose nor her stance to much.


Once more our Bolt of Thunder sidesteps a dreadful end at the end of his Asian adversaries barrel, and nearly allows gravity to grab hold of himself instead. Thankfully it is Dragon Master's own arrogance at his booby trapped weapon which cause a grisly end to both he and his own generic henchman (again...they were IT back in the day). And so wraps up the last silver age case of Mr. Raymond and not a moment to soon, as on a previous page he mentioned how every day of life as the Thunderbolt was one more day that Pete died a little more. Rest in retirement, pal.


Battling Blondes Rating

1.) Story Drama: Definitely the thrill of international intrigue lends this category in T-Bolt's direction. Still, how can you beat henpecking by a relentless antagonist that is close to the protagonist's heart? This is almost unheard of in comic book fiction and is a niche that Web fills nicely. However, a novelty doesn't replace a terrorist threat manifest in Thunderbolt #60. So Pete gets this one.

2.) Imaginative Use of Abilities: Thunderbolt and Web both used equal portions of physicality although Bolt tops him in the endurance department. Web just wilted under the scorching heat of his desert Rose. This goes to Thunderbolt.

3.)Adversary: As previously mentioned in our last entry, Dragon Master wins this item for Pete due to the scope of his scheme. The faux Inferno is strictly small potatoes in his scheme and in his organizational structure...although he's got a WAY cooler costume than D.M. Of course, he stole it so points for originality go to Dragon.

4.) Intangibles that Worked: We must reflect back to Tabu and Rose...and which intangible actually didn't hinder the hero as much as the other? Tough call... Tabu despite his years of training never seemed quite able to defend himself. The monks that raised him must've wanted their money back. Rose, however, was one tough cookie that rarely cracked under pressure. And she never sweated when facing near death by faux Inferno. So Web gets away with this category...if we skip the ending of Mighty Comics #50.

Thus Round 4 is Thunderbolt's victory by a score of 3-1. We have one or two more rounds to go before we find out who ends up the all time winner. Besides, of course, you their readers!

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