Friday, February 18, 2011

Forgotten Books: Mike Hammer - The Comic Strip, Volume 2

When I reviewed Volume 1 of this set last year (click HERE), I whined about not having Volume 2. That problem has since been remedied. The two volumes comprise the complete daily and Sunday run of the strip, with the exception of one Sunday page that could not be located when this volume went to press in 1985.

This volume contains two daily sequences and two Sunday stories. One of the Sunday continuities, "Comes Murder!" was scripted entirely by Mickey Spillane. The other Sunday, "Dark City," was a collaborative effort by Spillane and artist Ed Robbins, as were the two daily stories. All four are vintage Hammer.

In "Another Lonely Night," Mike's police detective pal Pat Chambers uses him as bait to nail a mob. "Adam and Kane" is a tale of a very dysfunctional family, with a villain so deadly he scares even Mike. "Comes Murder" introduces Mike to one of deadliest dames of his career. And "Dark City" is a tale so tough it caused newspapers to drop the strip, bringing From the Files of Mike Hammer to a screeching halt.

According to the fine intro by Max Allan Collins, containing insights gleaned from conversations with Ed Robbins, what really killed the strip was a single panel - the one shown above - depicting a bad guy about to apply a burning cigarette to the sole of a bound woman's foot. Back in 1953, the era of Fredric Wertham, this was considered too disturbing for the delicate sensibilities of newspaper readers.

Beyond enjoying the stories, I'm intrigued by the mystery of the missing Sunday page, the one from May 17, 1953 . Editors Max Allan Collins and Cat Yronwode searched high and low for it without success. Max notes that not even comic strip guru Bill Blackbeard had a copy! So what I want to know is, has that page ever surfaced? It's been 25 years, and this book put the world on alert that Max was looking. How about it, Max? Has it ever turned up?

This week, Forgotten Books welcomes the return of head honcho Patti Abbott. For all the links, proceed immediately to pattinase.


David Cranmer said...

A superb collection and a must for fans of Hammer.

Anonymous said...

I have to find this! Do you have publisher info?

Deka Black said...

Seems to be a really good strip. I do not say more, because every single time Frederic Wertham is mentioned i have a very hard time keeping myself from swearing.

Jerry House said...

Richard, the publisher was Ken Pierce. The book is somewhat hard to get (I haven't been able to get a copy yet). But the Title story is available in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST CRIME COMICS, edited by Paul Gravett.

Todd Mason said...

Given the general cowardice abroad in the land about comics at the time, newspaper comics and the censorship problems that the likes of Walt Kelly were also facing for political reasons, I'm surprised that the panel in question was even offered...and sadly not surprised that it led to immediate cessation.

Charles Gramlich said...

Blonde kicks some ass. I like that.

Max Allan Collins said...

That Sunday remains missing.

I hope one day to put together a one volume reprint of the strip including that Sunday page.

Thanks for this nice review, and don't forget: the new Mike Hammer (begun in the early '70s by Mickey) will be out in May -- KISS HER GOODBYE.

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks, Max. I'll be looking forward to that novel!