The Chimes of Midnight: Smash Comics Part 2


Q - Midnight

Here we are again, for the second part of a review of Quality Comics’ Smash Comics, issues 41-85, as starring Jack Cole’s The Spirit knock-off, Midnight, plus The Ray and The Jester, along with a handful of lesser lights and two cartoon one-pagers, one of which is a racist atrocity. Where I had to name it in part 1, I shalln’t do here, unless and until it is kicked out.
Midnight appears on the cover and is the lead feature, together with his assistants, Doc Wackey and Gabby the Talking Monkey, from which you will immediately deduce that this is less serious than The Spirit. Next up was Espionage, a series originated by Will Erwin (Eisner), starring masterspy Black X, then Bozo the Robot which, despite the name, was meant to be taken at least semi-seriously.
This was followed by The Jester, a bright and bouncy superhero series already past its best by the removal of artist Paul Gustavson, presumably by the draft, then Yankee Eagle, a piece of crap. Then the piece of racist shit, befouling the name of Jack Cole, and the Marksman, another piece of crap.
New in issue 41 was Daffy, a supposedly comic series. Daffy was a lady wrestler. If you want to know more, you can buy your own DVD. This was followed by Rookie Rankin, a half-decent Police series. Rankin is a rookie cop (you don’t say?) whose own mother calls him Rookie, suggesting an awfully prophetic birth-name.
To make room for Daffy, two features ended. One was the other comic page, Archie O’Toole, that had been there since issue 1 but to my surprise the big loser was the Ray, gone until the 1970s. Better news was on the way, as next issue introduced Lady Luck under Klaus Nordling, a strip I already know and love. Even better, good old Brenda Banks gave Bozo the Robot the heave-ho (though Archie O’Toole was back).
Paul Gustavson was back next issue, but not on the Jester, rather on Midnight, though the formula didn’t change. As such, Midnight remained as vigorous as ever, whilst the art grew more solid, but on the other hand, The Jester’s strip was getting more ridiculous by the issue, as even nobody could be bothered to write a straight story any more. Thank heaven for Lady Luck, say I.
The thing is, I bought the Smash Comics DVD to read the adventures of Midnight and now I’m in the ironic position of skipping over so many pages per month, and getting nothing out of the once enjoyable Jester series that I am reading practically only Midnight, and the whole comic is as dull as ditchwater. Unless some changes are due, the second half of this post may become a bit perfunctory.

Q - Espionage

Espionage, in issue 49, was credited to Bernard Sachs, the first time I believe I’ve seen his pencils. Otherwise, I know him as Mike Sekowsky’s inker on the Justice League until issue 43, when he retired, and he was a complete mis-match, reducing and weakening everything. He was no better here. Fred Guardineer, of Zatara fame, took over the Marksman in the same issue.
The Jester seemed to pick up a bit too. He’s developed the habit of talking to his jester-face ball-on-a-stick, who he calls Quinopolis, but the stories are starting to make sense again.
I’m still breezing past Espionage, the Marksman and Daffy without reading, the first having dragged itself under and the other two non-breathers from the outset, and my perusal of Rookie Rankin is fairly perfunctory, but I had to applaud the latter in issue 56, which told a confused story of dope peddlers and murder in the musical theatre but which came to a note-perfect ending: a dope addict trumpet player, desperate for his fix, is shot, his dealer is strangled by the anonymous shoeshine guy who was the father of the addict. He is open as to his action, explaining that in Italy ‘we have-a da Black Hand to deal wit’ men like-a dees’, and he extends his hands, all-covered by shoepolish, and states, with a dignity that made me pause and which moved me, says, ‘Me – I have my own black hands’.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet, partly in the hope that they might go away, a hope now evidently forlorn, is that Midnight’s strip has expanded its supporting cast, once more in the direction of humour. For some time now, Dave Clark’s household has been harbouring two more residents, would-be detective Sniffer Snoop and his pet baby polar bear, Hot-foot. The bear is (snicker) bearable because, unlike Gabby the Talking Monkey, he doesn’t talk, but Sniffer is a pain in the arse. He claims to be the best Detective in the world, a true crime-solving genius, setting himself up in opposition to Midnight, with no self-awareness whatsoever. On the other hand, he worked out Dave is Midnight, so he can’t just be jettisoned onto the street, Hot-foot and all, as Gabby and Doc Wackey would clear love to see. I know how they feel.

Q - Rookie

We’re actually up to the end of 1944 by this point and, with paper restrictions in force, Smash Comics is bi-monthly. The War dominates Espionage and The Marksman. It’s noticeable in both strips the difference in approaches to the Axis powers. The Nazis are stereotyped, but remain human beings, but the Japanese are drawn as sub-human and made to speak in a style that is frankly racist. It’s to be expected given that the country is at war, but whilst allowances can be made in respect of the Germans, the difference in treatment of whites and yellow-skins is too marked to be excusable.
I also haven’t mentioned the prose series. All comics of the era had one, two pages of type, short, and often melodramatic tales with all the complexity of a matchbox. Smash Comics‘ version features one of those all-American boys, the US ideal, combining honesty, intelligence and a pair of useful fists: good old American know-how in (a usually blond) human form. This one was called Jimmy Christian.
I virtually never read this stories, which were a necessity to claim second-class postal rates. A quick glance in passing indicates that the Jimmy Christian stories seemed to be different in that their hero wasn’t necessarily at the forefront of things but, like the post-War Spirit, would often come in very late, sometimes as late as page two. What made me actually read this story in issue 57, I don’t know, but I’m glad I did. The story had three levels: the first person narration by someone unnamed but who we later learn is a War journalist, describing both the circumstances in which he’s holed up with Mr Christian, Jimmy’s story that he faithfully records and cables back, and the story’s true character, a guy by the name of Fred Zinn.

Q - Jester

And the story held a ring of truth to it, as if there was a real Fred Zinn by another name, a boy who came out of College a joker, who went into the First World War as a mission director for the fledgling air force, who was overwhelmed with a feeling of responsibility for those who didn’t return, and who, after that War and continuing into the present one, dedicated himself to finding the lost, the combatants who never returned, the names on the Missing list. Without official status, without support or resources, Fred Zinn had dedicated himself to finding out what had happened. To filling in the record, to uncovering the hidden heroism and, most important of all, letting the families know, once and for all, what happened to their husband, son, brother, father, to ending the mysteries of fear.
All this in two pages of straight, controlled prose. I found it incredibly affecting. It also convinced me I should read all the Jimmy Christian stories. No writer is named, but surely someone who could put together such a story must have written more worth reading.
On the other hand, the following issue’s tale was nothing more than an undisguised history of blood transfusions, as ‘assembled’ by Jimmy Christian, culminating in a plea for blood donors: very worthy, very informative, but not exactly a story. The next one was flat-out crap. Sigh.
Issue 59 saw the first new feature in some time, not since the debut of Daffy. This was Spunky. It’s a comedy, or so it thinks, a sub-Archie before Archie existed, teenagers rather awkwardly drawn like children, lending an odd and not all that welcome frisson to the triangle formed by Spunky, his girl-friend Margie and his rival, Curly. The unfortunate loser was The Marksman, but even with Spunky’s manifest flaws, the reader won out.

Q - Daffy

It’s now 1946 but Espionage was still rorting around finding dirty tricks in fictional foreign lands. However, in issue 65 the feature was re-titled Black X, and turned crook-catcher, though it didn’t mean more than a marginal improvement in the series.
Smash Comics is advertising itself as still offering 60 pages in an era when National/DC’s titles had long been down to 48 pages but nevertheless it was following one post-War trend, that of removing drama series for comic. Issue 71 introduced Batch Bachelor, about which the funniest thing was the name, and I’m being serious about that, to replace Rookie Rankin, which at least had been readable.
The Jimmy Christian series disappeared without fanfare, to be replaced in issue 73 with an extra Midnight story, this one in prose. Jack Cole was back on the comics version, each month extending his cartooning until things began to look more like Plastic Man. The next comedy strip, about a little girl called Citronella, sneaked in in issue 75, seemingly without displacing anyone. This made the line-up look seriously sorry, and if I didn’t already know that Smash Comics’ time ran out with issue 85, I’d be suspecting the end was nigh.
But deadly as Citronella was, I realised it had served a real social purpose by excluding the long-running Archie O’Toole and, more importantly, the execrable and racist stain on Jack Cole’s career that I’m still not going to name.
Archie came back in issue 78, right at the rear. Too late to do anybody any good, both Batch Bachelor and Citronella did the nose-dive as at issue 82. Midnight had lost all balance, with Jack Cole going all out to make it nearly as silly as Plastic Man. The Jester’s stories were getting ever more formulaic. Daffy was still Daffy. Only Lady Luck was upholding its strength. So much so that after Smash Comics‘ last issue, no 85, the series was re-titled after the Lady, though that only extended its shelf-life by a further five issues. Just one last issue.

Q - Spunky

The Chimes of Midnight: Smash Comics Part 1


ASS

Long ago, in the Eighties, I had an on-and-off relationship with DC’s Golden Age-set series, All-Star Squadron. On the one hand, I was a card-carrying Justice Society of America fan of a decade and a half’s standing, but on the other hand it was being written by Roy Thomas.
Not having been a Marvel fan in the decade when it really counted, I’d only really been exposed to Thomas’s writing on things like Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja, and had seen barely, if any, of his superhero work. With the JSA’s most recent stint, under Paul Levitz and Joe Staton, having petered out, I was glad to see another vehicle for them, and one that set them in their prime, in World War 2, looked ideal.
Unfortunately, I hadn’t taken into account the degree by which Thomas had become obsessed with continuity, and ‘retroactive continuity’ or retcons. From the very start, All-Star Squadron was bogged down by Thomas’s urge to draw connections between old and obscure stories, old and even more obscure characters, and not just simple and well-thought-out connections but multiple connections, many of which had to be tortured into place to even stand, leading to the story collapsing under a weight that coherence was never meant to bear. Indeed, it was painfully obvious that Thomas simply could not tell a story for a story’s sake any longer.
Sometimes I could stand it. Sometimes it got just too fussy for my liking, the elevation of things that, even in a comic book universe, didn’t mean anything like enough to be worth it.
But when we got to issue 31, my blood boiled. It began with a full-page splash page of very recognisable design, a man running full tilt towards the ‘camera’. The man was equally recognisable. Blue suit. Blue fedora. White shirt and loose red tie. Blue gloves. Blue domino mask. It was The Spirit, Will Eisner’s classic creation, whose reprinted stories I was then collecting in the Kitchen Sink magazine series.
But DC didn’t own The Spirit. And this wasn’t The Spirit, it was Midnight, aka radio announcer, Dave Clark. It was a blatant, out-and-out ripoff, as if we wouldn’t notice, and it infuriated me.

Q - Invisible Hood

However, I didn’t know as much then as I knew later and in this instance I was maligning Roy Thomas unfairly. It’s true that Midnight was a blatant rip-off – his alter ego even has the same initials as Denny Colt – but it was not Thomas who perpetrated it: the real culprit was Jack Cole, the creator of Plastic Man.
Cole was operating under the instructions of Everett ‘Busy’ Arnold, publisher of Quality Comics, where Eisner’s Spirit appeared in comic books. Apparently, concerned that Eisner might be killed or incapacitated whilst in the Army (or was he just plain ripping him off?), Arnold had Cole create Midnight to ensure he had things covered. Midnight debuted in Quality’s Smash Comics 18, hit the cover in issue 28 and kept it until it was cancelled with issue 85.
And you know how curious I can get…
Nevertheless, Midnight’s delayed debut means we have ground to cover before we begin. The first issue, cover-dated August 1939, was credited as published by Everett M. Arnold. It’s a weird business, multiple strips, mostly drawn decently well for the period, mixing all sorts of adventure and comedy, but most of the writing is poor. The closest we come to a costumed hero is in ‘Hooded Justice’, which features the Invisible Hood, aka Kent Thurston, who dresses in a voluminous and decidedly non-invisible cloak and initially wields a gas gun a good year or so ahead of The Sandman.

Q - Bozo

This is not to say that the Invisible Hood is the top feature, anything but. It’s hard to distinguish any of the features from the rest, several of which were starting in midstream, having previously run in Feature Funnies. Some, like Abdul the Arab, were intrinsically racist. Hugh Hazzard, just one of a number of identikit adventurers would have his strip overtaken by Bozo the Iron Man: seriously, Bozo.
Hooded Justice became Invisible Justice in issue 2, in which the Invisible Hood gains the power of invisibility. A new feature arriving in issue 3 was John Law, the ‘Scientective’, no relation, in theme or quality, to Will Eisner’s unsuccessful later creation. He was joined by Flash Fulton, newspaper photographer, next issue, rather unnecessarily since we’ve had Chic Carter, newspaper reporter, since the start. And my mild curiosity about the Invisible Hood was already sated before then: it’s rubbish. Quality Comics? Far from it.
It’s noticeable that the vast majority of the art in Smash Comics is drawn on a rigid 12 panel grid of three panels in four tiers, with variation mainly to combine two panels on a tier. This and the Eisner connection suggests to me that these features were being supplied by the Iger-Eisner Agency, who built their conveyer-belt process on pre-designed panels that would be passed up one side of a room and down the other, speeding up the procedure of producing the comic immensely at a cost of creative suppression.
There was a weird story in issue 5, in the ‘Espionage’ series, starring a monocled US Agent known only as Black Ace. The story was about an impending Europe-wide War, a continent of Kings not Dictators, a massive American re-armament Defence programme and a campaign of sabotage foiled by Ace, after which Europe enters into a Peace Pact, because America could wipe it out – innocents included, but there are no innocents in this scenario – inside a year. What a bizarre mix of elements and national chauvinism! But in an issue cover-dated December 1939, it’s very much an up-to-the-minute production that must have been barely finished when the actual War was declared.
Black Ace had been Black X in Feature Funnies and reverted next issue, once War had started overseas, his monocle being disclosed as concealing an eye put out during unsuccessful torture. The same issue also introduced the contemptible racial stereotype of Wun Cloo, a Chinese amateur detective: disgusting. And from Jack Cole, too.
A dozen issues represents a full year and a moment to reflect on the series to date and the omens are not favourable. Smash Comics thus far is a pretty flat experience. Surprisingly, the art is of a pretty high standard for the era, and the DVD is scanning from actual issues, not microfiches, so reproduction is very good, but the stories are flat and samey. ‘Espionage’ is the best by some margin, despite the pompous, portentous tone it had taken on since the start of the War. The artists can’t draw maps of Europe with the least accuracy and the overriding tone of American super-superiority rings hollow in the face of what we now know of the real events. But it’s a window onto a certain attitude towards the War in 1940, and the tone is consistently anti-War on the simple grounds of the death and destruction it causes to ordinary people. It may be simple but it’s heartfelt and genuine.

Q - Magno

In contrast, Wings Wendall of Military Intelligence is penny plain. The same basically goes for the two journalists, Chic Carter and Flash Fulton. The stories are trapped within the rigid four-by-three panel grid and there are frequent rushed moments when you’re wondering just how A got to G. The same goes art-wise for the two detectives. Captain Cook of Scotland Yard is dull and bears an even greater distance from the real London than usual. John Law, the private criminologist, was advantaged by running as a quasi-serial but had poorer art. Clip Carson is a super college athlete who wins things for his college at the last minute like a Roy Race without the semi-decent soap opera.
I refuse to consider the comedy stuff, especially the repugnant Wun Cloo, and although it’s played straight and the character is shown as a hero, I refuse to read Ahab the Arab just on account of the name. The Archie O’Toole stuff is pleasantly drawn but usually negligible, until issue 12, when as vile a stereotypical blackface character was introduced. As a bootblack, naturally.
But the bottom of the pile are the two vaguely ‘superheroic’ series. I was curious to see the Invisible Hood stories for myself but they’re dull as dishwater and the hero’s ‘costume’ is not just a dotted outline but a bulky and preposterous one at that. Elsewhere, issue 12 sees the series header switched round, as Bozo the Robot gets top billing above Hugh Hazzard. I am neither old enough nor American enough to know what meanings Bozo might have had in 1940 but it makes the series, which is nothing to write home about anyway, impossible to take at all seriously.
I do so hope Midnight is worth it after all of this.
Espionage and Black X are credited to William Erwin. Erwin was the middle name of Will Eisner who, by that time, was working with ‘Busy’ Arnold on The Spirit Section. I think we know who was really producing the feature, though that doesn’t explain the maps…
A new feature came in with issue 13, The Purple Trio, impecunious vaudeville performers who can’t get a paying job so turn their particular talents to fighting crime. Also on debut was Magno the Miracle Man, another of those superheroes whose most impressive power is getting people to not recognise them when they don’t wear any kind of mask. To make room, Flash Felton and John Law were dropped and there was a double dose of Philbert Veep, the Holmes-esque cartoon detective instead of the disgusting Won Cloo, which I hope is a permanent uplift.

Q - Ray

Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Philbert and Captain Cook were out with issue 14, to make room for another and this time more interesting superhero, The Ray. Though the costume was instantly familiar, apart from the bare legs, the character was not the one that turned up in Justice League of America 107: the origin’s the same but ‘Happy’ Terrill, reporter is supposedly dead and The Ray is The Ray. He turns up from nothing in beams of light and his powers are more electromagnetic than light-based, and we’ve already got the feeble Magno for that.
The second instalment was more like it, with spectacular art credited to E. Lectron, who was the great Lou Fine. There’s still no sign of Happy Terrill, and The Ray’s powers, though more oriented to light and rays, are still uncontrolled but Fine can sure draw an excellent short-skirted lady, and I’m talking more-than-Carnaby-Street short here.
By the next issue, The Ray had replaced ‘Espionage’ as the lead feature. And the rapid turnover continued with a new series, The Scarlet Seal, though that was as dodgy as month-old bread. Barry Moore, film star, quits the industry to take a job with his hometown Police, under his Police Captain Father. But the new Commissioner has declared war on brutality and stoolies: henceforth policing will be calm and polite. So Barry goes undercover. Alright so far, except that Barry yellows up as a Chinese stereotype, or to use the strip’s parlance just this once, a Chink. Ok, that does it. Add in the cliché of the Commissioner being more determined to bring in The Scarlet Seal – named for the symbol he stamps on bad guys’ foreheads – than he is actual criminals, and this is one ripe piece of pus demanding squeezing out, but if Wun Cloo is still running…
Interestingly, The Ray’s story in issue 17, which brings back Happy Terrill as if he’d never been missing, let alone dead, is the only one I’ve previously read, in a 1972 100 page Reprint Giant that also featured the Black Condor, already flying in sister title Crack Comics (now there’s a title we won’t be hearing much about reviving).
But at last the man we’ve all been waiting for arrives. Midnight made his debut near the end of issue 18, and my prayers are answered because it’s the ‘funny’ strips that take a dive for him, Archie O’Toole and the despised Won Cloo. It’s credited to Jack Cole from the first page. It’s a pretty perfunctory five pager in which Clark, a spot announcer for Station UXAM doesn’t wear a mask and seems to be known as Midnight when he’s dressed for his day job. This is not Eisner-standard work.
With mask in place, Midnight made it onto the cover parade next time, with a better story, though we’re really not seeing the real Jack Cole art yet. We are seeing those god-awful ‘funnies’ again, including guess who.
Though overall it’s a more entertaining prospect than it was a year ago, Smash, like its four stable-mates, is suffering from the fatal flaw of carrying eleven features each, which means far too little space for far too many things. And far too little attention to what you’re doing, as when Espionage brought back the beautiful villainess Madame Doom, despite having shown her blown to pieces from within.
Issue 21 started with the Ray as usual. Lou Fine was one of the most gracious and accomplished artists of the Golden Age with a wonderfully flowing and delicate line, instantly recognisable for his clear images and lithe figures. Frankly, he’s a hundred times better than the story, though this episode showed a certain premonitary cleverness in positing a would-be Emperor of the Pacific intending to provoke America into war by attacking Hawaii.
It’s hard to assess Midnight at this early stage. Cole’s drawing mostly straight and the stories are bouncy and energetic, but they’re rather more fantastic than the Spirit. I’m not really familiar with the first half of The Spirit’s career, so I don’t know the like to which Midnight may be like. The later Eisner, post-War, was something very different. The Spirit never acquired a sidekick in the form of a talking monkey named Gabby.

Q - Wildfire

As for Magno, I confess I rarely read it, which is down to Paul Gustavson’s art. Like Fine, it’s clear and graceful, and not confined to rigid lay-outs but his figure work on Magno puts me off with its effeminacy. Magno is always skipping around of tiptoes; like a Fotherington-Thomas I expect him to be lisping ‘Hello clouds, hello trees’ all the time. It clashes horribly with the superhero action and I can’t shift my automatic antipathy.
The next issue introduced The Jester, also drawn by Gustavson but in a much more solidified way, with Magno moving elsewhere. This is another one who arrives already in costume and notorious but it’s a bright start and looks potentially good. Wun Cloo was once again missing: dare I hope? Nah…
The ongoing costumed adventurer takeover of the comic was extended in issue 24 as Chic Carter, the reporter, donned a costume to clear himself of murder. He also picked up a sword, being a fencing champion at college (of course he was) and called himself The Sword. Not only that, Wings Wendall caught a costume, whilst Midnight’s popularity was evident in the announcement that his series was to be expanded from five pages to six.
In contrast, a new Police series started in issue 25, Rookie Rankin, along with Wildfire, the series’ first costumed heroine who, when in costume, has red hair down to below her ankles. And Chic Carter, alias or not alias the Sword, made way for them, transferring to first Police Comics (home of Plastic Man) then Military Comics (Blackhawk). The Scarlet Seal was also out, for which heartfelt thanks.
And then, exactly as promised, Midnight hit the cover for the first time, in issue 28, though the Ray continued to hold the premier slot, and next issue he showed why, with a phenomenal art job from Fine that would have been astonishingly good in any era: linework, body language, panel breakdowns, compositions, this was fantastic and, quite frankly, worth the whole damned DVD alone. If this is what Fine’s art was evolving into, roll on further episodes. And I’m getting seriously impressed with Paul Gustavson’s work on The Jester.
The Ray story in issue 31 was much less impressive, suggesting Fine had had less time to work, or possibly couldn’t maintain the intensity for so long, which was supported by the far better, but still not quite top quality episode that came next. And I’d like to make it plain that this extravagant praise is for the art alone.
The attack on Pearl Harbour was reflected in issue 33, with everyone suddenly hot against the caricatural Japanese. It’s no less racial for the time, but very understandable, for which I am forced to give it the pass that Won Cloo will never have. At the same time the European Front was reinforced by the Marksman, a hooded archer and Polish Count undercover as a Nazi Agent. This was achieved by shelving the Invisible Hood.

Q - Midnight

Issue 35 saw Midnight promoted to the first feature, and to nine pages, a reflection of his growing popularity and, after a succession of cartoony Jack Cole covers, the next issue saw a beautifully drawn, dark and moody head shot that belied his every appearance to date. It covered for a moody but ridiculous story about Midnight dying and going to Hell to battle the Devil, but being hooked back by some mysterious old codger who wanted Gabby and Doc’s lives in exchange… There was a new name in the credits for Espionage and Black X, Alex Kotsky replacing ‘Will Erwin’, whilst Wildfire’s costume was abruptly rendered much more modest by joining her bikini top to her high-waist pants (boo).
Modesty only lasted an issue, thankfully, bringing a pleasant little wrinkle when Carol ‘Wildfire’ Martin decided she was fed up of being thought of as just a playgirl and punched out two crooks! Sadly, that was her last appearance. Smash Comics was paring down its features. Old stalwarts were falling by the wayside. Wings Wendall and the Purple Trio both cashed in their chips to leave space for the Yankee Eagle, who was as nondescript as they came, but patriotic in a time of War. And in his second appearance, sheer poison beyond the justification of that War.
Lou Fine had left The Ray, leaving the series moribund. Paul Gustavson left The Jester, dealing a similar blow. Issue 40, a good enough point at which to end this first part, sees the comic in a bad state, with its two catastrophic ‘comedy’ series intact, The Marksman and Yankee Eagle crude rubbish and its two strongest features artistically with their legs cut out from underneath them.
Thankfully, Midnight was going from strength to strength, and slowly taking on a distinctly Spirit-esque spirit. Apart from the obvious visual similarity, which is not that pronounced when viewed through Jack Cole’s cartoonist style, there’s not really been any equivalence between the two features, though I say again that I am comparing different eras, Midnight 1941-3 against The Spirit 1946-50. And Cole’s style is much more kinetic and unrealistic than Eisner’s, and much closer to a pulp-hero/costumed hero crossover. And whereas The Spirit had Ebony White, over whom there is still so much controversy, Midnight has Gabby the Talking Monkey and Doc Wackey, inventor of preposterous machines. Though it’s considerably more lightweight, I do enjoy Midnight, and I look forward to every instalment in the same way that I avoid reading the asinine Wun Cloo.
Next time, we’ll see how things progress in the second half of the series’ life.