Tuesday, March 12, 2013
FROM POLAND TO PANAMA
who got his start in Police Comics #103 [December 1950], the first
issue of the title without Plastic Man and the other masked heroes.
Trask continued to appear in Police Comics through its final issue
[#127; October 1953]. T-Man #1 launched with that September 1951-
dated issue and continued for a total of 38 issues, ending with the
December 1956-dated issue.
Reed Crandall pencilled the cover of T-Man #4, which hit the stands
in my birth month of December 1951. While trying to track down a
bit more information on Trask, I came across a website with scans
of 25 different issues, including this issue. So I could read and
now share with you my specific thoughts on the stories and features
that were in that issue.
T-Man was your basic anti-communist comic book of the Cold War era.
In each of this issue’s three stories, you can rely on him having
to duke it out with three or more of those rotten commies and beat
them to a fare-thee-well. The writing and the art on these tales
almost never rises above adequate. Unless one is collects Cold War
comics or comics drawn by Reed Crandall, T-Man #4 is unremarkable.
The issue leads off with “Panama Peril” (10 pages). An undercover
treasury agent is killed trying to leave Poland. While he makes it
across the river that serves as a border, he dies after saying but
“Anita” and “canal” to a pair of American soldiers.
A foggy night exposes a Communist plot to destroy the Panama Canal
when the explosive-laden ship Anita collides with another ship on
its way to the Canal. Figuring the commies have a back-up ship in
readiness, Trask flies to Panama. He pretends to be a drink with
knowledge of the plot, gets seized by Communist agents, tricks the
name of the second ship out of them, beats the crap out of them and
grabs a rifle to detonate the second ship before it can get to the
canal locks. I’m not buying that Trask could have made that shot,
but, in this comic book, being an American is the greatest super-
power of all. Not even Crandall could do much with this lifeless
This story is followed by a full-page ad for Blackhawk #50 [March
1952], which is notable for the introduction of Killer Shark, who
would continue to vex the Blackhawks throughout the 1950s and into
the 1960s. That intro was drawn by Reed Crandall.
“Waxey Gordon's Life of Crime” (4 pages) is a four-page non-series
story relating the “true” story of the title criminal. The story
is drawn by John Belcastro and “based on files of the U.S. Treasury
Department.” Think Crime Does Not Pay Lite.
“The Body in the Bull Ring!” (7 pages) takes Trask to Spain where
“red agitators” are plotting a Communist upraising. At one point,
Trask’s bacon is saved by beautiful lady bullfighter Valencita and
her chaperone. The senorita has been using her position to get
information about the Reds and feed it to the United States. When
the commies try to murder her in the ring, Trask rescues her. This
story is drawn by Dan Zolnerowich.
“Smuggler's Eye” is a one-page text story and, of course, I didn’t
read it. Not enough pictures.
“The Scimitar of Ali Musta” (7 pages) is the third and final T-Man
story in the issue. Trask poses as a gangster to trick a deported
Turkish criminal into revealing where his still-in-the-USA loot is.
The story is penciled by Edmond Good and the Grand Comics Database
suggests Joe Certa as a possible inkers.
Keep watching the bloggy thing for more vintage comic-book covers
from the month of my birth. As always, I invited my more-learned
readers to share any additional information they might possess on
these blasts from the pasts.
Most of this week’s bloggy things will be on the short side because
I’m working on some paying gigs. If and when I can tell you about
them - some will remain uncredited - I will. In the meantime, come
back tomorrow for another Rawhide Kid Wednesday.
© 2013 Tony Isabella