I Knew This Would Fail but Not How Much It Would Fail

I understand if you haven’t been reading Comics Kingdom’s 1943-vintage reruns of Dashiell Hammett and Alex Raymond’s Secret Agent X-9, what with by this time Hammett and Raymond having nothing to do with it. I think it was Robert Storm and Mel Graff by then, and Robert Storm didn’t even exist. But let me catch you up: Secret Agent X-9 is chasing down a baddy named the Little Corporal, a name which I’m sure had no significance at all to readers of 1943.

The Little Corporal has been trying to escape and after his first attempt — disguise himself as a gorilla in a midway show — failed, he ran to the Ferris wheel. It turns out you can’t really escape pursuit in a Ferris wheel, so he jumped down a tree, waved to Fatty Raccoon, and ran to the Scenic Railway roller coaster. So now you’re caught up to seeing how someone can escape on a roller coaster:

Cop: 'Watch out, X-9! Little Corporal is shielded behind that scenic railway car!' X-9, climbing into the launch station: 'I'm climbing up here!' Narrator: As Little Corporal falls, he trips the lever releasing the scenic subway car ... ' Someone offscreen yells, 'I've hit him!' while Little Corporal falls, gun tumbling from his hand, against the brake lever, and he drops into the roller coaster car. Someone (X-9?) off-screen describes: 'Great scott! The scenic railway is being dismantled! He'll fly off into space!' Narrator: 'Little Corporal tales his last ride ... ' And we see the roller coaster train dropping off the partially missing track just past the hill.
Robert Storm and Mel Graff’s Secret Agent X-9 for the 24th of September, 1943, reprinted the 17th of March, 2023. I know you’re wondering why the roller coaster happens to be being dismantled like this and you have to remember, there was a war on.

By the way the attempt to escape on the Ferris wheel wasn’t even the first time I’ve seen an adventure/crime comic where the bad guy tried to escape on a flat ride. There was a 1930s Dick Tracy adventure where the crook tried to escape on a Caterpillar ride. A Caterpillar was kind of like a Musik Express or Himalaya ride, cars going around and around on the track, but it had a canopy covering the cars most of the ride and the crook snuck out of the ride while the canopy was over. So that was a dumb plan but it was a better grade of dumb than “get on the Ferris wheel and try and climb out when the cops get to the ride platform”.


Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

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