Thursday, April 6, 2017

Book Review: Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays 1941-1944 by Tarpe Mills

Miss Fury: Sensational Sundays 1941-1944 by Tarpe Mills

Miss Fury started as a Sunday comic strip called Black Fury. Beautiful brunette Marla Drake has to go to a masquerade ball and has found out a copy of her gown is being worn to the ball by another New York socialite. Marla's maid suggests she wear the black leopard skin Marla inherited from her uncle. It's a ceremonial outfit from a witch-doctor in Africa. Driving to the ball, she gets embroiled in a manhunt for an escaped killer. This is just the start of her career as a crime fighter, though a case of mistaken identities in the story facilitates the change from Black Fury to Miss Fury. Marla then gets swept into an international political intrigue, something popular in World War II-era pulp and noir fiction. She winds up in South America where German General Bruno is planning to overthrow the Brazilian government. She works with the locals and with some Americans to thwart his plans, as well as those of Baroness Erika von Kampf, a German ex-patriate with her own schemes.

The story is thrilling and pulpy, with gangsters, mad doctors, Nazis, and secret formulas all making at least one appearance. A lot of the coincidences are a little too forced, e.g. Marla has an encounter with Detective Carey who winds up as a recurring love interest--he even enlists in the Marines and shows up in South America! Marla tries to get rid of the costume a few times but it always comes back to her. Another odd quirk is when the story follows the Baroness and the General for the last twenty pages of the book with hardly any mention of Marla Drake or Miss Fury. She winds up being a secondary character in her own comic! Even so, the melodrama is compelling.

The book is notable as it is the first female superhero created and drawn by a female cartoonist. The art is very good, a high-point in 1940s comics. Miss Fury herself doesn't have quite as much action as I'd expected but I liked the book a lot.

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