Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stuntman - Split-Second Action Take Two!

The second and alas final newsstand edition of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's Stuntman features one of their most exciting covers. Again the faux book design is used to great effect.

"Curtain Call for Death" opens with Sandra Sylvan and another actor named Wendell Spencer as they entertain on the stage. Spencer though falls down dead on the stage and while the audience is momentarily confused, thinking it a part of the act, both Don Daring and Fred Drake are not so sure. They rush back stage to find Sandra distraught that her co-star has actually passed away. Soon we meet his understudy, a guy named Gil Golden and his tutor, an unsavory fellow called Anton Thorax. While Fred fills in for him on the movie set doing wild stunts, Don Daring investigates and quickly seems to suspicious behavior with Thorax. Fred on the other hand as Stuntman seems to have other ideas. A trap is laid to discover the murderer who reveals himself but as usual Stuntman saves the day.

"The Rescue of Robin Hood" is a story which perhaps gives us a clear picture of where the series might have gone if it had lasted longer. We find Don Daring cast as Robin Hood in the movie "The Outlaw of Sherwood Forest" and Sandra Sylvan as Maid Marian. Fred Drake of course is around to handle the difficult stuff for Daring. But in this one Fred is spotted by the director and is given a role which complicates Daring's usual scheme. Daring is momentarily fooled that he himself is just as physically capable as Drake but is soon disabused of this notion after several embarrassing incidents. Meanwhile in the background mysterious men seems to want to interfere with the production, but Stuntman arrives on the scene and things are quickly clarified. This story felt like a comedy more than an adventure story.

These are the only two Stuntman stories in this issue which also features another Simon and Kirby creation, "The Duke of Broadway" as well as other tales by other talents. Here's a glimpse as Stuntman himself introduces the new feature.

To read the complete issue go here.

Sadly the great cover art produced for this issue was simplified to its lasting detriment on this reprint from Harvey a few years later.

Much better was the use in 1987 by Pure Imagination when they reprinted several of Stuntman's adventures in glorious black and white.

Here's the handsome back cover art of that volume by the King which was inked by Greg Theakston for publication. 

Stuntman was cancelled after the second issue. The post-war years were a time of boom and bust. Stuntman alas proved to be a bust, but as we can see it was not for lack of artistic merit,  but for the most basic of reasons-- it didn't sell. The reasons for that had little to do with the quality of the series, but with the glut of material which was launched onto the newsstands at this time. Joe Simon reported unopened bundles of Stuntman were returned simply because newsstands had no space to feature new comics and dedicated that space to tried and true efforts.

Here's an ad for the never-to-be published third issue of Stuntman. For more on that effort and other Stuntman odds and ends be here next Saturday.

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