Forgotten Masterpiece: PRIZE COMICS #24

We’ve talked before recently about how, despite the success of the Justice Society of America in ALl-STAR COMICS, no other comic book companies really ever set forth with their own teams of costumed crime-busters. There were a couple of one-off team-up stories here and there, but that was about it. This is one of those.

Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein series in PRIZE COMICS has a very odd history. It started out as a straight-up monster strip, with the titular monster created in the present rather than the pst. It took turns into being a super hero strip (though the monster was the villain, not the hero) and even something of a propaganda strip–before it eventually switched to being an out-and-out comedy series. Unlike most comic book features of the period, Frankenstein was serialized a lot more than was the norm. This permitted the story to change direction as it went. And by this point, another change was in the offing.

Up until now, Frankenstein’s nemesis had been the non-powered costumed hero Bulldog Denny. But Briefer senses that the series needed a change of direction, and so he opted to have Denny called into war service in Washington, requiring him to give up his endless pursuit of Frankenstein. But before he goes, Denny assembles the heroes of all of the other features in PRIZE COMICS: the Black Owl, Yank and Doodle, Doctor Frost, the Green Lama and even the General and the Corporal who starred in a filler humor strip, and set them the task of bringing Frankenstein to ground once and for all.

There’s something of the spirit of that early Marvel story in which the Fantastic Four and the Avengers joined forces to take on the Hulk in this tale. Largely plotless, the assorted do-gooders seek out Frankenstein–who doesn’t seem to be bothering much of anybody–and proceed to beat the living heck out of him.

This group of heroes is never given a name, nor would it ever assemble again for any other assignment. But the good guys do succeed in their mission of running Frankenstein to ground. From here, the big galoot would be given plastic surgery and psychological counseling in an attempt to make him into an ordinary law-abiding society. And it works for a while–until Nazi agents undo all of that and restore the cruel, vicious Frankenstein of the early stories, Creepily, Frankenstein even paraded around in his own SS uniform for a time.

This Frankenstein serial is super-fascinating, but only small portions of it have ever been reprinted.

4 thoughts on “Forgotten Masterpiece: PRIZE COMICS #24

  1. Tom, is there a comics term for “spy glassing” like on page 4 when the panel becomes a tight circle or makes a “cameo” look to include a character? (“Hey! Frankenstein has him…”). This is something I associate with Golden Age comics…sometimes you see an artist do it when a character is actually being scoped or spied on (with binoculars?). Any ideas on this practice? Thank you!

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  2. In Prize Comics, the General and the Corporal were, as you said, the stars of a humorous filler strip. However, those two characters had much bigger roles in Army Laughs, a long-running digest filled with jokes and gag cartoons of interest to military men. Artist was Ken Browne, himself a corporal during the war years. These two characters were featured on just about every cover for ten years. Browne even gave the Corporal his own series of two-page gag strips throughout most of the run.

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    1. I don’t tend to get involved in these sorts of fight threads because they’re largely pointless and nobody is ever convinced of anything. But that is a very skewed and incorrect reading of that Thor’s actual abilities genuinely are, based on his power to traverse space. It’s in no way combat speed.

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