Wednesday, November 30, 2011

BOOK REVIEW! MISS FURY BY TARPE MILLS (The Library of American Comics, 2011)

Betcha wonder why I bought this particular collection of forties vintage Sunday Funnies, hunh? C'mon, like you can't guess??? I mean, lemme give you a hint! Or how about TWO nice, big, JUICY hints at that!!! Y'know, sometimes I just wonder about just how much of a mental capacity you readers (let alone myself) really do have!

But yeah, it should be pretty obvious why I purchased this new collection of MISS FURY reprints, though even if I weren't such a sucker for tits I woulda bought the thing anyway. Y'see, I've always wanted to know more about this long-forgotten newspaper strip featuring the first ever costumed female superhero (who made her grand appearance before the grandmama of 'em all WONDER WOMAN!) ever since Wally Wood drew her with typical Woodian hubba-hubba-ness in that "Comic Strips Old Folk's Home" spread that appeared in some late-fifties MAD. And while I'm at it, the plain ol' fact that Timely soon-to-be Marvel then Atlas until finally settling back on Marvel used to reprint her Sunday travails did add somewhat to the mystique even if technically Miss Fury was not whatcha'd call part of the superhero stable at that venerable company. Naturally the whys and wherefores behind just exactly why Miss Fury was never invited to join the All Winner's Squad remain under wraps, though if you ask me I think Marvel was secretly coveting her costume which would, with few not-so-minor alterations, become virtually the same one used for the Black Panther a good two or so decades later!

So, I finally get to read these Sunday strips and well...I gotta admit that MISS FURY ain't exactly the kinda comic that I was hoping it'd turn out to be. Unlike that other comic strip-bred costumed crimefighter the Phantom, you rarely see Miss Fury in her panther-skin costume which is a real disappointment for a spiritual Saturday Afternoon Barbershop Kinda Kid like myself. In fact, most of these sagas feature Fury in her "secret identity" as young debutante Marla Drake getting into the undercover espionage racket without the aid of her magic costume making me wonder, for all intent purposes, just why this strip was conceived and billed as being even remotely superhero-oriented! Well, considering how the actual panther skin works "black magic" when Drake dons it, and that for every good deed done its power invokes two bad ones you can see why the gal fears the use of her special powers! But gee, this is supposed to be a superhero(ine) comic and ya'd think what the boys were more'n anxious to see was some gal with nice guffies dressed in a skin-tight panther costume fighting axis spies and various other underworld shadies 'n not a lotta soap opera love and secret identity shenanigans!

So yeah, MISS FURY can creep on at times, but when the action picks up and Drake slips on the ol' skin (though unfortunately no scene like the one on the cover transpires in this tome!) the strip is about as good as any other red-blooded comic to hit the papers of the forties. Artwork's snat too even if more comic book-y than strip and best of all the plots can get kinda creepy at times, like when this certain Nazi badski is about to dissolve the toddler son of Drake's old boyfriend in a vat of acid (he already did it to the brat's pet rabbit!).

Some pages are inexplicably in black 'n white (like you'd think the publishers woulda paid someone to color 'em up!) and the forward by noted underground cartoonist/feminist Trina Robbins only proves that she probably likes just about anything as long as it was done by a woman (well, not quite but it sure reads like it sometimes), but despite the occasional if expected gaffes and goofs I gotta say that I mildly enjoyed this volume. Not enough to dish out extra for any future ones mind you, but as far as what it is and where it stands, MISS FURY is like...pretty enveloping.

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