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Military Comics Issue No. 17

March 1943

Writer: Bill Woolfolk, Artist: Reed Crandall (Cover art by Crandall)

The Golden Bell of Soong-Toy: The story opens in the Tokyo tea house of Yoshi Wari, where Japanese generals are bragging about their atrocities. Yoshi, a very beautiful woman, watches them from concealment and comments that they will soon meet a gruesome end. She opens the door for 'Admiral Oto's party' who turn out to be the Blackhawks. With their Colt .45 automatics blazing, the Black Knights put a quick end to the generals. As they are about to leave, Yoshi points out that one of the generals isn't quite dead. Blackhawk hesitates to shoot a wounded man, so Yoshi takes his gun and finishes off the general. Blackhawk and Yoshi get within kissing distance but don't follow through. The Blackhawks run for the field where their plane waits, but are delayed by a fight with a Japanese patrol. Blackhawk speculates that Yoshi seemed to be glad that the generals were killed (pretty obvious since she killed one herself). The fight is fierce, but the sheer numbers are about to overwhelm the Blackhawks when Hendrickson lands their plane (a B-26 Martin Marauder in Blackhawk blue and red livery) right in the city square to pick them up. They take time from their escape to drop bombs on Tokyo as they fly back to their secret base, an island in the Japanese chain "considered too small to be worth watching." While the rest of the team celebrate another successful mission, Blackhawk sits by himself and broods about Yoshi. "I can't get her off my mind," he says, "Somehow she didn't seem like an enemy!" Olaf tells him to cheer up, that perhaps they will get another mission from the Golden Bell, which is a code name for a mysterious agent that tells them where to find the Japanese warlords. That night a junk arrives at the island with a messanger, a Korean posing as Japanese, with a message from the Golden Bell. The message tells them where to find six Jap warlords that night. It also says this may be the last message because they are suspicious. It ends with one regret for "brave Blackhawk, why didn't you kiss me just once!" Blackhawk finally puts two and two together and realizes that Yoshi is the Golden Bell. He intends to rescue her. Oko, the Korean agent, tells them that the Japanese are on high alert and they will not be able to fly in or use boats. Blackhawk has a solution. The B-26 tows him in a glider close enough that he can glide to a landing outside the city. Chop Chop has stowed away in the glider. Blackhawk and Chop Chop get to Yoshi's teahouse, but are too late to prevent her being stabbed by the Japanese soldiers. The two Blackhawks take out the soldiers in a terrific fight. Then Blackhawk takes the dying Yoshi in his arms. He asks her why she didn't tell him she was the Golden Bell. With her dying breath (it seems) she tells him she is really Chinese and that the Japanese killed her parents. She has gotten her revenge. She tells him to bomb the meeting hall that will be marked with a blinking light on the roof. Blackhawk wants to take her to a doctor but she says it's too late, she is dying. Blackhawk kisses her and then he and Chop take off. They radio instructions to the other Blackhawks. Meanwhile Golden Bell limps to the meeting hall with a lantern. She climbs to the roof and signals. The Blackhawks drop their bombs, destroying the building and Blackhawk never knows she was there. The B-26 does a pickup of the glider by hooking a loop of line and they fly home.

This was a far better than average story. The art work was some of the best I've seen. It is unsigned but it looks like Reed Crandall's work to me. The figures are especially nicely done, but the equipment, including the B-26, is well drawn, also. The writing is excellent. The action is fast and furious, but there is time devoted to developing the characters of Golden Bell and Blackhawk. As a reader, I really believed there were feelings between Blackhawk and Golden Bell, perhaps even the beginnings of love. This is the first Golden Age story that I've read that showed Blackhawk having romantic feelings for a woman. Usually, he shrugs them off. I noticed that this story is half again as long as earlier Blackhawk stories, which allowed room for plot and character development.

Other stories:
      Johnny Doughboy
      The Sniper, by Vernon Henkel
      Private Dogtag, by Tumey
      Shot and Shell, by K. L. Nordling
      PT Boat
      The Atlantic Patrol, by A. McWilliams
      The Lamb is a Lion (a text story)
      Johnny Doughboy (again)
      Secret War News: Wake Island Still Holds
      Sailor Danny, by Art Gates



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