2/23/11

Black Terror #11 - Part 2 "The Discovery"

Although it doesn't have an obvious title, I've seen this story called "The Discovery".

This, and the 1-page text story "Peruvian Boy" by William B McClellan comic reflect FDR's "Good Neighbor Policy" and the US's focus on South America during WWII. In a way the clinical description of the geography of Chile has the feel of Disney's animated movies of the time, "Saludos Amigos" (1942) and "The Three Caballeros" (1944). Either that, or Nedor publications was just trying to ride on the coat-tails of an exotic location that had worked its way into popular culture.

The plot of this Black Terror story nearly parallels "Black Terror vs the Voice." Bob Benton gets a letter from an old friend, Dick Johnson, who has discovered a new source of gold on an island off the coast of South America. An analysis of the sample included with the letter shows it's not only rich in gold, but also platinum, and pitchblend which indicates the presence of radium.  Bob decides to visit his friend, and just as he's inviting Tim along, Jean shows up and horns her way into the adventure.

Meanwhile Roger Chilling, the man who killed Dick's father, has his gang attack Dick, drive off his dog Thor, and bury the miner in the ground up to his neck.

Another "...meanwhile" and we discover the plane carrying Bob, Tim and Jean over the equator is being hijacked. The air pirates bring the plane down on an uncharted island, ruin the engine and leave in their own floatplane, stranding our heroes along with the rest of the air passengers. Luckily Tim and Bob jump into a nearby thicket and become the Terror Twins. They use their superhuman strength to create a rope bridge to the mainland, saving all the plane's passengers.

On the mainland they discover it's still a three-day trip by boat to Salvator Chile, so they commandeer a dugout and take Jean on the canoe ride of her life. From Salvator they're given a plane to fly to Baldpate Island.

Hearing the plane, Roger Chilling and his thugs run for their hideout. Luckily for Dick, Thor leads the Terror Twins straight to his master. The Black Terror and Tim are about to overwhelm the thugs when, somehow, they are overcome and knocked out.

The criminals toss the Terror Twins, and Dick into an underground river, then take Jean as hostage while they finish gathering soil samples to stake their claim. They're about to leave in the plan when Dick's dog stops them, only to be shot by one of the gangsters.

Through sheer will, and a little strength, the Terror Twins escape from the underground river and save Dick. They find Dick's dog, who turned out to be only wounded, and his scuttled boat, and they sail it full speed for the Chilean mainland. Once in Salvator they alert the authorities, who give the Terror Twins a fighter plane and also scramble the Chilean and Bolivian air forces to stop the thugs. In a two-panel finale, the Black Terror leaps from his plan to the fugitives' plane and arrests them.

Some questions the story raises:
  • Why did Roger Chilling kill Dick's father five years ago, and why doesn't he shoot Dick, rather than bury him up to his neck?
  • Why was the plane hijacked? Did the air pirates know Bob Benton / The Black Terror was on the plane? It's a complete hole in the story.
  • Once more Bob and Tim find themselves in a completely isolated setting, and Jean appears not to connect the dots between the pharmacist and the Black Terror... or does she? When she sees him coming out of the bushes she says "The Black Terror! I knew you'd turn up, somehow!" Is that a hint of sarcasm in her speech balloon?
  • What are the Terror Twins' powers? Strength, mostly, but their heads are apparently not invulnerable. Both Tim and The Black Terror are knocked unconcious on pages seven and eight by the butt of a gun. That leads me to ask again: why didn't the criminals just shoot them?
  • Why do the criminals have to file the claim in the US? Is Baldpate Island a US territory? (Or, perhaps a TERRORtory?) If it's off the coast of Chile it seems like they'd have to visit the Chilean authorities.
I love the care the artist put into making Dick's dog Thor a Bull Terrier. It really makes the dog sympathetic... a lot more than Dick, actually. I also like the script lettering in the captions, as well as the organic panels. It doesn't really add much to the layout, but I feel like the artist really cared about the captions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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