Saturday, May 16, 2015
The Double Life Of Lancelot Stronger!
The second and final issue of The Double Life of Private Strong featured a Jack Kirby cover, but the King only drew one of the stories in the issue. All were written by Joe Simon.
The first tale called "The Strange Case of Lovable Lou, the Toy Master" is a fairly straightforward superhero yarn drawn by Al Williamson and Larry Ivie. It concerns a rotund carnival operator who masquerades as a friend of children but who in reality is a Commie spy. The Shield mops him up quickly.
There are two more stories in this issue that I have not read, both drawn by the reliable George Tuska. "Upsy Daisy" and "I Wish I Were the Shield" appear to equally light-hearted adventures with a basic superhero thrust and a hint of the irony that Simon was often able to bring to his work. The fundamentals of the Lancelot Strong's back story keeps getting developed.
"The Ultra-Sonic Spies" is the sole story in this issue drawn by Jack Kirby. As it suggests spies steal a super-sonic bomber. Private Strong, though ordered by the stern Sergeant Herman Hardrock to stand fast on sentry duty in tank detects the theft and uses an amazing ability to levitate and fly to intercept the plane and rescue the crew. He rides a released bomb to Earth saving everyone in the vicinity. Upon returning to his Lancelot Strong role he is chagrined to learn that Hardrock has caught him away from his post and he expects punishment.
So that was the pattern these tales were destined to take. Short spirited adventures of military man Strong dong his superhero duty alongside his less impressive, but no less significant duty as a grunt in the army. Classic shenanigans reminiscent of the World War II adventures of Captain America, the hero which launched the careers of Simon and Kirby so many years before.
Lancelot Strong The Shield was revived some decades later in 1983 as part of Rich Buckler's MLJ project for Archie Comics. Featuring some striking artwork by Alan Weiss, Rudy Nebres, and others the series failed to catch fire. More on Lancelot entering the "Red Circle" next week.