Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Retro Review: Stuntman #1 & #2

 Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's first non-DC or non-Marvel work after they returned from World War II was Stuntman, a character they created for Harvey Comics.  Former circus Acrobat Fred Drake stops a criminal ring at his failing circus, taking the moniker of Stuntman, complete with colorful costume and cape. The first two issues of this comic were published in April and June, 1946.

Drake's resemblance to actor Don Daring (who fancies himself an amateur detective) gets him a gig as Daring's secret stuntman on set -- though he does later become Daring's official stuntman. Daring finds himself getting into trouble on a regular basis, and Drake comes regularly to his rescue, sometimes as Daring's double, sometimes as the costumed Stuntman. Beautiful actress Sandra Sylvan plays roles of varying importance in most of these stories, as well. Whether the setting is a movie set, a theatre, or an insane asylum, trouble manages to find a way to Drake and Daring.
There are a few oddball aspects to these stories. It doesn't necessarily make sense that a character named the Stuntman would have a secret identity who is .... a stuntman. And the notion that two men could pass themselves off as each other, save a fake moustache, strains credulity. But the golden-age silliness aside, these stories are a treat to read. Simon's writing reveals a nice sense of humor, as well.

There is no Kirby crackle or Kirby machines in these stories, but these are definitely Kirby characters.  I am not an art critic, but the some of the villains and other oddball characters are portrayed in distinctively Jack Kirby manner. There are some very fun and energetic panels, and dynamic action scenes in each story.

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