Once more we return to that tried and true well of battling blondes, Peter Cannon aka Thunderbolt and John Raymond Jr aka the Web, for one more round of our stylish superheroes of the sizzling sixties. This time, each faces an international threat and gangs that are low-tech. So let's inspect this tale we're about to dissect!
For the Web, we advance to the eighties for his first (sorta) solo tale of that era, backed up half way through by his just then revealed brother-in-law, the Jaguar. This story is from Blue Ribbon Comics #14, a MLJ / Mighty Comic's Red Circle's anthology title as its swan song. Now under the doomed Archie Adventure Series banner.
And in a major case of deja vu (say isn't that an Eastern thing?), and we don't mean the repeated head shots and lightning bolts on the cover, Thunderbolt goes back to the Himalayas for issue 58th issue. And like the 54th issue, he faces an assortment of dinosaurs on the cover. For this go around, he's saving someone other than Tabu, and could it be the love bug might finally bit our hero? Nah.
What an awesome intro that shows a quiet confidence that was quite lacking during Web's silver age run. In an interesting twist, no doubt to differentiate himself from his legendary father, John Jr. is no longer a criminology instructor but now changed careers to become a superhero CSI! He and Barry Allen could've had a rip roaring CSI-DC, couldn't they? Forensics would never be the same!
Meanwhile, Thunderbolt harkened back to his fictional roots way back in the 1940's, wherein his creator Pete Morisi attempted to replicate the nostalgia of the golden age Daredevil aka Bart Hill. Both were raised in foreign societies, acquire great physical prowess, have similar fashion sense and have a long emnity with foes from the East, for double D it was the Claw... for T-Bolt it was the Hidden One. In this very issue we see the rivalry reignited.
In the opening scenes of his adventure, Web tracks down aspiring athlete Washington Hayes, who has turned to the wrong side of crime. This of course is a prelude to Web's battle with a South African terrorist for hire, the Freelancer, complete with a full scale battle suit and a plan to extort millions by sending a ferry boat into Staten Island using it as a moving bomb! This decades before 911! Very odd!
In what seems to be a regular ritual over at the Cannon-Tabu household, our dynamic duo are once more engaged in a no holds barred smack down to see who dominates once more! And yet again, Tabu ends up doubled over for all his futile efforts at camaraderie. And for once, Pete is already involved in tracking down a missing girl lost near his homeland! Tabu is getting slow in his old age. Or rather, he's slowly becoming less a character and more of a tired plot point.
After this confrontation with a common criminal, John sheds his costumed persona and reveals the creampuff underneath! Berated by his supervisor in the coroners office (Quincy was always a bit cranky before his morning coffee), we learn the young man Web cornered the night before was found dead... victim to a mysterious shadowy man who also stalked the zoo where Jaguar's civilian identity Ralph Hardy was employed at the riles the animals.
Now assuming his colorful garbs, Thunderbolt tracks the missing girl Lori Carson to a secluded fortress ran by the Hidden One (guess if you were a mayor named Hidden One, you'd pick an out of the way town) where she's merely bait for the mastermind to lure his limber rival into a series of death traps. Which he, of course, manages to circumvent with his fists and his feats of flying fanciful footwork. He always did make it look effortless, sorta like a 60's Jason Borne without all the angst and armaments, you know?
Battling Blondes Rating
1.) Story Drama: Regrettably, Blue Ribbon #14 was the last issue, but not due to the content in this or most past issues, at it was a remarkably strong run for a minor publisher in the superhero genre during this period of time. And this particular story focused on a gripping dilemma wherein our heroes Web and Jaguar face an implacable foe that tests their limits. For Thunderbolt, it seems a tad broiler plated from issue #54 of his title. No contest Web wins!
2.) Imaginative Use of Abilities: While Thunderbolt operates with his usual athlete flair of mid-air somersaults and seemingly endless stamina, it is the Web who seems to exert an unnatural ability, as in sticking to walls while merely holding a line while forming complete thoughts without a pant of breath! You go boy!
3.) Adversary: The Hooded One is once more implementing his machinations through agents, deception and some of his knowledge derived from the scrolls which Cannon ultimately obtained. Why does he complain so much he practically memorized the whole things before he had to hand it over to blondie. Anyway, he doesn't have nearly the hardware that Freelancer is equipped with... so he wins this for his arachnid adversary.
4.) Intangibles that Worked: The interpersonal plot points interspersed in the Blue Ribbon story, including Rose reading about her husband's soon-to-be foe's path of destruction in the local newspaper... as subconsciously goading John on to right wrongs. Of course, as is true to form, Rose in the end objects to hubby's involvement in the case (while not carrying one wit about her superpowered brother's well being, nucleon belt notwithstanding). And the conversation between brothers-in-law Ralph and John, wherein they both walk away looking down on each other (John thinks Ralph is a womanizer and Ralph things John is a doormat...yes on both points!) .Not much in T-Bolt #58 that hasn't been recycled from earlier in the series.Once more, make mine Red Circle!
And so the Web has a clear cut victory in this round, and the score is now 2-2-2 with 2 wins for both blondes and 2 ties! Will a seventh battle lead to a knock out? We have one more round to go!