Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Review of First Impressions: Slam Bradley, By Johnathan

Oh, dang. I dropped the ball. There was a vote for Slam Bradley and I did Command Kid anyway. Well, far be it from me to disappoint little abs, whoever he or she might be. Here comes the first in yet another series of reviews. I've got basically the entire run of Detective Comics here and I'm determined to read them all. This means that I'm going to come across all kinds of long-running DC characters as they make their very first appearance. Whee! So every time I encounter someone like Batman, the Joker or whoever I'm going to review the first impression that they made.

Today it's Slam Bradley, all the way from Detective Comics No. 1!


First off, let me say that this review is packed full of 1937 America's idea of what Chinese people looked like. There's really no avoiding them in the comics of the time. Sorry if it offends. Just for the record, I don't believe in a nation of vivid yellow, murderous, pajama-clad pony tail-havers. I've advanced to hating the scheming Communist hordes.

The above page isn't a preview of the rest of the comic, by the way. Slam Bradley comics start in media res, usually with Slam in the middle of a fight.

Slam knows how to talk to the ladies:


Sarcastically. So: Fact 1, Slam Bradley likes to fight. Fact 2, he's not impressed by wealth. He's an irreverent rogue with a ready wit.


He's also got Shorty following him around. Shorty's a mail-order detective, a sub-genre that popped up a lot in the Thirties and Forties but has since died out. He's also possibly the best sidekick of all time, the prototype for all of the half-cowardly, half-courageous second bananas to follow. Subsequent to this adventure he dresses better, too.



Fact 3: Slam Bradley likes fighting more than he likes poodle-dogs. Also, "Jumpin' blue blazes." is pretty good.

For this comic only, Slam is a bit of a jerk to Shorty, who only wants to be partners with him:


Anyway, Shorty ends up guarding the dog, and so is in a position to tell Slam when the owner-lady gets kidnapped by the Chinese for some reason.

Fact 4: Slam Bradley loves fighting so much that he will fight anything, even a store display:


What? That's not true, Slam! I'm almost certain that it isn't! The friggin' Manchu Dynasty made people grow their hair funny, that's all. Dude probably just wants you to stop pulling on it like that. Jerk.

Okay, pretend that in this next panel Slam is fighting someone other than horrible ethnic stereotypes. Ready? Go go go!


Possibly the best fight ever, right? I mean, screw swinging someone around by the leg. Were I in any position to demand things of DC Comics I would demand that Batman do this to someone post haste. Like, he's fighting evil hippies or something. That would be boss.

In any case, everything ends well. Shirtless Slam rescues the dame, Shorty proves himself by capturing the bad guy:


... and Slam and Shorty become BFFs:


Uh, that's a little creepy, Shorty.

So, disregarding the stereotypes (which are NOT APPROVED), I really enjoyed Slam and Shorty's first appearance. The fact that Slam is just in the detective racket because he loves to fight is terrific. Plus, Shorty is frequently funny when he's supposed to be funny, something that was almost vanishingly rare in comics for far too long. Therefore, Slam Bradley is

JOHN APPROVED.

2 comments:

ABS said...

Hey, two for one. I enjoyed learning about Slam Bradley. But the Legion never gets old. Also, I think I voted nearly a week after you solicited votes, so no hard feelings.

Johnathan said...

Since I took my sweet time, I think that you might have voted as I was writing about Command Kid. Ah well - it all turned out in the end.