Thursday, October 17, 2019

COMIC BOOK REVIEW! CAPTAIN GALLANT OF THE FOREIGN LEGION (U.S. Pictorial Inc., 1955, re-published by Golden Age Reprints)

Unlike Bill Shute, I do not have memories of watching either CAPTAIN GALLANT nor its syndicated version FOREIGN LEGIONNAIRE while growing up in front of the boob tube. Not that the show wasn't being aired during my days of consciousness (NBC was re-running it on late Saturday afternoons back when I was three) but I suppose there was always something else that was being aired that got the precedence here at the old abode. I only caught the thang back when a variety of Golden Age tee-vee packages hit the local PBS station in the eighties and kinda felt like kicking myself for missing out on a series like that which really woulda enriched my sense of suburban slob blubberfarmisms back when I really needed it!

It's easy to see why such a series woulda been one of those perennial hits with the young boy crowd. All those shows with John Hart in 'em  like HAWKEYE and RAMAR along with THE LONE RANGER and THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (and I'm leavin' out a whole slew of Saturday afternoon syndicated wonders) really appealed to the go-get-'em that used to bubble over in boys long before the liberals shamed 'em into being a buncha faggots, and if Johnny Weissmuller was too old to get into his Tarzan skins and hadda play Jungle Jim why couldn't fellow Tarzan Buster Crabbe do the same and slap on a Foreign Legion uniform! Not only that but he actually got none other'n Fuzzy Knight to play the comical sidekick and his own son Cuffy showed up as the youth interest which only goes to show you what a swell pop Buster was! I mean, can you imagine your dad letting you co-star with him on a tee-vee series? It would be a great idea unless your dad was Percy Helton.

In typical cash-in fashion a comic book woulda been in order, and this strangitie (published by a U.S. Pictorial Inc. of which nothing else I know about) mighta been the impulse grabber onna racks for many a kid back in those better 'n now days. It's what you would expect from a book in the Comics Code Authority era (albeit that stamp don't show up on here!) combining simple enough stories with a lotta history behind the French Foreign Legion that I'm sure made most of the boys reading this ready to stowaway on some transatlantic steamer so's they too could join up and forget whatshername just like Oliver Hardy tried to do in that all-time film classic FLYING DEUCES.

Much to the dismay of the comic book SNOBS out there the stories aren't as fleshed out as they would become once people like Roy Thomas decided comics were just as important to the literary canon as Ernest and F. Scott, and in fact some of 'em are downright STOOPIFYING! But that's nothing to up your snout at because at least you're getting some good funtime entertainment outta this and while you have a good half hour to watch an episode one story should take you a good five minutes to read. Like the one where the men at the outpost bet their hard-earned on a camel race pitting Knight's beloved Josephine (I kinda wonder about those two!) against an Arab's and is sabotaged when some sultry villainette slips sleeping tablets into the hapless goof's canteen! True this would have made a great saga if built up somewhat but as it stands it's a whole lot more digestible than some Alan Moore epic and maybe less discomforting as well.

The artwork ain't that much to crow about but that is expected. Most of it was done by Don Heck, who as you strident comic book fans will remember was the one Marvel artist of the sixties and seventies who really offended the more aesthetically-inclined out there in readerland. I never thought he was bad mind you and in fact his seventies work was brilliant in that he was retaining that old style in the face of some of those new trends in cartooning that didn't quite settle well with my teenbo stomach. But here Heck's work really leaves a lot to be desired making those early-sixties Marvel monster and Iron Man stories many dislike him for look like King Kirby in comparison. Heck was definitely going for the Milton Caniff look but comes off more like George Wunder after suffering from a few sledgehammer blows to the head...this stuff looks like something even """""I""""" woulda passed up on had I stumbled across it in a flea market stack back 1972 way, and I wasn't even that kind of a fussy gussy sorta comics snob back then!

Eh, why should I quibble since I got some good stories, some edjamacational history and a good half hour's fun outta this thing. In that span of time I coulda been saving a life or rescuing a dog or even helping out the fambly in some beneficial way.  But I spent it reading a comic book and somehow I still believe that I served humanity in a better way than had I done all that scout boy-ish good deedy stuff, dontcha think?


Anonymous said...

Don Heck, just like The Comics Code Authority – and The Legion of Decency and The Hayes Code, for that matter – did nothing wrong. Mister, we could use a man like Joe McCarthy again.

Anonymous said...

Stigliano is a self-styled czar of blogs.