Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Dial E For Eternity--Kid Eternity Goes Full Panto!!

The big question that starts out this look into Kid Eternity is: Where are all the Nazis?

After all, if you recall, Kid's very origin suggests that he should having been punching Nazi full time. The series debuted in 1943, at the height of the conflict. His grandfather's ship was sunk by the Germans...grandfather died, and the Nazis machine-gunned all of the storm-tossed survivors!! We were even treated to several pages of an American destroyer retaliating by sinking the U-Boat!! Kid was tasked with returning to Earth and "fighting all its evils."

So, if ever a series was primed to be focused on battling Nazis and fifth columnists and saboteurs and spies, you'd think it would be Kid Eternity. But after the origin story? Nary a single Nazi. Hardly a mention of the war.

Instead, Kid faced a serial killer/mad scientist, some con men, some more con men, an evil step-brother, a time-displaced Julius Caesar, a low rent mobster...what gives?

And then, it struck me. Kid Eternity was very much a panto. Now, we Americans haven't had much truck with that form of entertainment, but our English cousins are all about their pantomime--musical comedies aimed at children, family entertainment with mustache-twirling villains and famous characters and profound silliness.

And, with a little gentle fudging, Kid Eternity fits the typical panto form. Kid as the young male hero, Mr. Keeper as the "grand dame" (sorry, Keeper!), the slapstick comedy, the parade of famous characters...these stories are panto!!

See, that's why they are no Nazis (after the origin) in Kid Eternity--Nazis are too evil for a panto!!

And today's story? They go full panto, and embrace their inspirations. We start with two characters who have seemingly infinite power over time and space, charged with fighting evil. And what are they doing?!?

Yup, they're breaking into houses, stealing pies and hiding from angry housewives in the attic. Oh, you scamps!!

Now me, if I were Kid Eternity, maybe I'd, you know, teleport back to Eternity, or somewhere where it wasn't raining. And summon some famous dead chef. Why steal pies?

Poor, poor Keeper!! We feel so bad for you!!

As the boys trespass sleep in the attic, enter our comedy-villain, talking to the audience and chewing the scenery: Merlin!!

The audience at this point is booing the villain...that's probably what wakes up Kid!

What's in the crate?

OK, this is pretty much unlike any version of the Arthurian legend I've ever encountered!!

Kid and Keeper go on a quest to return Excalibur to the Lady Of The Lake!!

But it won't be that easy! Because Merlin is a master of disguise!

Wait...Plastic Man?!?

Yes, Plastic Man!!

We already saw Kid summon Blackhawk once. So I won't recap the entire "wait is he dead or is he a legend or is he from another Earth or what the hell" argument.

I will, however, note that this is another commonality with DC's Dial H For Hero strip, where Robby Reed summoned Plastic Man--twice!!

Meanwhile, Merlin casts a spell on Keeper...

...and proceeds to do the whole "illusion caster trying to escape from Captain Pike" bit a couple of decades early:

There's only one solution:

That's Howard Thurston, long-forgotten these days, but one of the world's best-known magicians pre-Houdini.

But Merlin's not done bedeviling Keeper yet!

Ah, the old rufie-pie trick!! And now Kid is on his own!

Wait...magic boxing gloves?!? WTF?!?

That's Albert Griffiths, a.k.a. Young Griffo, yet another early boxer for Kid to call upon!

Unfortunately, turning into a boxer means you can't hold onto a sword, it seems, and so...

Poorly played, Kid. Now, why does Merlin want Excalibur, anyway?

WAIT WAIT WAIT. Are you seriously suggesting that this panto villain, this magic-gadjet user and petty hypnotist, will be "worse than Hitler"??, maybe?

Luckily, the sword doesn't work!

So it's to call out the BIG gun:

And King Arthur settles Merlin's hash.

But why didn't Excalibur work for Merlin?

Oh, I see...but look, leering at us from downstage--it's the villain!! He made Kid and Keeper think it was all a dream!!

Man, that is so unlike any version of Camelot I've ever seen...

So endeth our panto. No Nazis, but useless and not-really threatening magicians, and it finishes on "it was all a dream...or WAS IT?!?!" Pure panto, American comc book style!!

After 8 outings, our tote board stands at:

Achilles 1
Antony, Marc 1
Barry's father 1
Blackhawk 1
Columbus 1
Corbett, Jim 1
Don Quixote 1
Griffiths, Albert 1
Hercules 1
Hickok, Wild Bill 1
Holmes, Sherlock 1
Houdini 1
Jeffries, Jim 1
King Arthur 1
Leander 1
Mercury 1
Napoleon 1
Noah 1
Nobody 1
Pheidippides 1
Plastic Man 1
Robin Hood 1
Samson 1
Solomon 1
Sullivan, John L. 1
Thurston, Howard 1
Vercingetorix 1
Zbyzko, Stanislaus 1

Next time, we get the first repeat of a summons (but far from the last!!), and the Kid gets an education!!

From Hit Comics #32 (1944)

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