WINGS WENDALL

 
Full Name: Wings Wendall
Nationality: American
Organization: Military Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Vernon Henkel
Time Span: 1939 - 1942
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Wings Wendall is an agent with American Army Intelligence.
       As was not uncommon, his organization is often refered to as Military Intelligence but he is most definitely an Army man. More accurately, he was an Army Air Corps man because in every one of the 37 adventures we have of him, he is flying something. Again more than once he simplifies things by saying he is "of the Intelligence Service".
       One many an occasion he is called by one senior officer or another as the Army's, or America's, leading ace intelligence officer. At the same time he is also proclaimed on many instances the country's ace pilot. His impressive number of successful missions, usually entailing shooting down enemy planes or dropping bombs on enemy submarines, would attest to his skill at hunting down foreign agitators and dispatching them as needed.
       Talking about what people call him, one thing they do not call him is any first name .. at all. Wings is obviously a nickname and it is the only name people use with him, excepting Captain Wendall or just his last name alone. What his mom might have called him is never mentioned. Whether he had a mom, or a dad, or anything about him before he was Captain Wendall is also a mystery.
       For all his heroic actions and multiple deeds of incredible bravery and skill, Wendall gets a ton of plaudits and back pats and handshakes but no promotions. He has the rank of Captain in the army (O-3) when he is introduced and he has the same rank several years and many hair-raising adventures later.
       Halfway through the series Wendall acquires a "flying companion" in a young man named Spinner Benson, who is fond of [what looks like] ivy caps (he has several of different colors). Benson is a multi-talented partner, being an ace mechanic, good fist fighter, excellent tailgunner and a sounding board. He takes part in a handful of highly dangerous cases before disappearing.
       Again halfway through the series, Wendall acquires a nifty aircraft called the "bullet-plane", a fighter-bomber capable of going over 1000 mph. It is an unattractive vehicle but highly maneuverable and versatile. It plays a vital role in several missions and is obviously something Wendall loves to fly but after a while, it, too, goes away.
       The tall, good-looking Wendall with his wavy black hair and solid jaw is a loner for the most part in his saga. He has a run in or two with the opposite sex but they tend to be on the other side, more inclined to shoot him or blow him up than to hug him. There are a couple of females who take notice of him, though.
       The first is a reported named Jean whose life is saved by him and is the only one who is seen kissing him. About this lovely woman, Wendall is seen remarking "That girl is a pest! But --- not bad!"
       The other is Diane Westcott who might be considered possibly Wendall's girl friend, if the man ever took the time to have one being so constantly busy fighting the nation's enemies. She is first mentioned in adventure #15 when almost in passing he is shown out on a date dancing with her in a rare glimpse into a personal life. A couple stories later we learn that her father is the country's leading industrialist, making her quite wealthy. Still, duty calls and the lovely Diane is left behind for quite a few months. She does reappear for a couple of very hair-raising escapades towards the end of the series, including on in which Wendall is certain they are dying so he gives her a big kiss "in case we never get back".

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:37
First Appearance:1939
Last Appearance:1942

       It was usual in the late 30's to see a new comic book line start with a strong lead character, usually a superhero, and then augmented by a cadre of lesser series.
       If that was the intention for Smash Comics which started in August of 1939, then the main character would have to be the espionage agent known as Black X who got his own start the year before as a supporting character in Quality's Feature Funnies. In that mag, his stories ran only 4 pages each. With the move to the new Smash, his stories got expanded to 9 pages and, like just said, was the main attraction.
       That being the case, it is unusual that also in Smash would be another spy series although Black X, or Black Ace as he was called the first five issues, was in the Espionage business as witnessed by the title of the series ("Espionaage Starring Black X") while Wings Wendall was in the Military Intelligence field. Totally different.
       The premiere issue of the magazine would have the following line-up:
Philopot Veep, Master Detective (2 pages)
Exciting Adventures, a Believe-it-or-Not lookalike,
Chic Carter, Ace Reporter (7 pages)       Henkel
Simple Simon
Archie O'Toole (2 pages)
The Invisible Hood, arch-enemy of crime (4 pages)
Clip Chance at Cliffside (6 pages)
Captain Cook of Scotland Yard (4 pages)
Abdul the Arab (7 pages)
Hugh Hazzard and his Iron Man later called Bozo the Robot (7 pages)

       Many of these characters would disappear by the next issue while several would stick around for a bit. A superhero called The Ray would join the ensemble in #14 and Midnight, a Spirit look-alike, came onboard in #18. Both would stay long past the time that Wings Wendall said so long in #37.

Note: the titles given for each adventure were taken from the excellent ComicBooksPlus, a wonderful source for public domain comics, unless they are in quotes which are my fault.

1 Major Drake Is Missing Major Drake Is Missing
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 08/1939

From Smash Comics #1 - Army Intelligence officer Major Drake is abducted from a Clipper plane with the rest of the passengers killed. He has vital documents the [European-looking] enemy agents want. Wings Wendall is sent to free him.

2 Sabotage Sabotage
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 09/1939

From Smash Comics #2 - Foreign agents need the plans for a new military plane to aid in their expansion. They first try to sabotage the testing and then decide going after the designer was a good idea. Wings Wendall are one step ahead of them.

3 The Plot Against The Panama Canal The Plot Against The Panama Canal
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 10/1939

From Smash Comics #3 - Enemy agents are planning on destroying the Panama Canal while the US fleet is on the Pacific side, leaving the Atlantic unprotected.

4 The Missing Bombers The Missing Bombers
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 11/1939

From Smash Comics #4 - A fellow calling himself "His Excellency" is in Alaska using an ultra-sound device to kill aircraft engines, forcing the pilots to land. He then steals the planes and drug-enduces the pilots to work for him.

5 Wings Over New York Wings Over New York
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 12/1939

From Smash Comics #5 - Enemy spies masquerading as a newsreel company are taking illegal pictures of the latest aircraft and Wings Wendall is out to stop them.

6 The Munitions Smuggling Case The Munitions Smuggling Case
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 01/1940

From Smash Comics #6 - Though Europe is in the midst of the new War, the US President has vowed America will not be involved. Wings Wendall is ordered to help keep enemy agents from shipping arms overseas.

7 Battling the Bund Battling the Bund
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 02/1940

From Smash Comics #7 - A group of fifth columnists calling themselves the Bund are operating in New York to get their hands on a defense plans for that city. Wings Wendall is working with an agent who has infiltrated the group to stop them. Note: the group's insignia is a swastika with curves at the ends.

8 The Bombing of the Tennessee Valley Dam The Bombing of the Tennessee Valley Dam
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 03/1940

From Smash Comics #8 - While the war wages in Europe, an enemy nation sends a detachment to America to cause trouble. They use a dirigible to bomb and destroy the Tennessee Valley Dam. Wings Wendall is sent to stop them.

9 The Espionage Planes The Espionage Planes
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 04/1940

From Smash Comics #9 - Enemy submarines are endangering our ships in Hawaii and Wings Wendall must use air reconnaissance to find them.

10 The Secret South American Air Base The Secret South American Air Base
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 05/1940

From Smash Comics #10 - To learn more about reports of an enemy nation's new hidden base in South America, Wings Wendall is sent south to find it so it can be destroyed.

11 The Plot of Regi Tashkim The Plot of Regi Tashkim
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 06/1940

From Smash Comics #11 - Wings Wendall might be on a vacation in the Seattle area when he is attacked for no reason in a taxi and then later accosted in his hotel room by a beautiful female sent to snatch him for Regi Taskhim, "the most dangerous Pacific Coast spy".

12 Invasion Invasion
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 07/1940

From Smash Comics #12 - America is invaded from the south by an army of metallic-garbed soldiers of "an unknown power" and are destroying the oil fields of Texas and Oklahoma. Wings Wendall is appointed special agent to the President to held destroy the enemy.

13 The Rifle Robbery The Rifle Robbery
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 08/1940

From Smash Comics #13 - The plans for a new rifle have been stolen by an infamous enemy agent named Gunther and he escapes in a gyro-copter. Wings Wendall is on his trial, though.

14 The Invasion of Tronvik The Invasion of Tronvik
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 09/1940

From Smash Comics #14 - As an invading country takes over a small European nation, an American diplomat hides important information in the library of his legation. Wings Wendall must find it.

15 Vulcan Metz Vulcan Metz
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 10/1940

From Smash Comics #15 - A foreign spy, wanting to steal a new plane destined for the Allies, kidnaps Wings Wendall.

16 The Fifth Column The Fifth Column
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 11/1940

From Smash Comics #16 - While the US wants to remain neutral in the new war waging around the globe, it starts to rearm itself and that makes fifth columnists determined to make it fail. Wings Wendall goes undercover to investigate but they act, attacking police, and soon there is martial law in major East Coast cities.

17 Barbaria Shall Strike Barbaria Shall Strike
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 12/1940

From Smash Comics #17 - The leaders of the nation of Barbaria are tired of being scorned by the world and now their plans are ready to show their might with their new "flying wings" and their first target is the US. Before that, though, they murder the US Ambassador who knows of the intent and that gets Wings Wendall assigned to the case as the new Ambassador.

18 The Madness Serum The Madness Serum
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 01/1941

From Smash Comics #18 - The world's deadliest spy, wearing a yellow full-head mask, is out to destroy a key aerial defense plant using a serum that drives some of its employees into a murderous rage. The owner calls Wings Wendall for help.

19 'Watch Where You Drop Those Eggs' 'Watch Where You Drop Those Eggs'
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 02/1941

From Smash Comics #19 - Enemy agents are flying fake American planes to drop bombs on a new base in the Caribbean in preparation for a submarine attack on the Panama Canal.

20 The Peace-Maker The Peace-Maker
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 03/1941

From Smash Comics #20 - As the world engages in war, a man is preaching peace all across Europe and many are joining him. Evidence exists, though, that convinces Wings Wendall he might not be on the level.

21 Trouble on Sao Paulo Island Trouble on Sao Paulo Island
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 04/1941

From Smash Comics #21 - San Paulo Island in the Caribbean is supposed to be uninhabited but it is being used by a foreign government as a staging ground. Wings Wendall is sent in to evict them.

22 The Spy Broadcast The Spy Broadcast
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 05/1941

From Smash Comics #22 - Discovering a radio broadcast transmitting coded messages, Wings Wendall decrypts one and learns it is a description of a new, secret anti-tank gun. It is Wendall's job to shut down the station.

23 The Hijacked War Planes The Hijacked War Planes
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 06/1941

From Smash Comics #23 - Planes sent from America to the Allies in Europe are being commandeered by the enemy dictator nation. It is Wings Wendall's job to find when the abduction is taking place.

24 The Invisible Sky-Base The Invisible Sky-Base
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 07/1941

From Smash Comics #24 - An aerial photo clearly shows a secret enemy base but the troops heading to attack it cannot find it. Wings Wendall decides it must be invisible to the human eye. The enemy uses a special costume including strange goggles to be able to see the base. (Wings is able to catch in midair with his bare hands a bomb dropped on Washington!)

25 Captain Krawl Captain Krawl
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 08/1941

From Smash Comics #25 - Evil Captain Krawl makes use of a strange submarine tank and knockout gas inside a huge man-made fog bank to hijack mighty ships, demanding a ransom. Wings Wendall, still liking his yellow-and-black costume, investigates.

26 The Wreck of the Defense Limited The Wreck of the Defense Limited
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 09/1941

From Smash Comics #26 - The "Defense Limited" is a train laden with government arms and ammunition. When it is sabotaged and derailed, Wings Wendall (back in normal uniform) is assigned the case.

27 The Bacteria Shipment The Bacteria Shipment
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 10/1941

From Smash Comics #27 - A strange dredging operation in the Atlantic is the subject of investigation by Wings Wendall who finds a chemical warfare plant in its hold, the product intended to be dropped on the Allied nations.

28 John Smith, Assassin John Smith, Assassin
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 11/1941

From Smash Comics #28 - When a parachutist lands on top of the White House to kill the President, it is a lucky things that Wings Wendall is there briefing the Chief Executive and thus able to save his life. He apparently was acting on his own and his bosses, the Gestapo, are angry with him.

29 In China In China
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 12/1941

From Smash Comics #29 - An American airliner is deliberately shot down over occupied China. A secret agent in that country alerts Wings Wendall that there is a survivor who can prove it was an attack and he heads there to get her out safely.

30 The Legions of the Red Menace The Legions of the Red Menace
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 01/1942

From Smash Comics #30 - The Red Menace is an oriental looking man (with fangs) controlling Germany (?) and attacking Poland, Czechoslovakia, and France. He now plans to take on the US. Wings Wendall is against the idea.

31 'Return of the Red Menace' 'Return of the Red Menace'
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 02/1942

From Smash Comics #31 - The Red Menace is back (this time in the Orient) and he is believed to have an atomic bomb which he vows to use against San Francisco. Wings Wendall is determined to stop him but he is too late. Now the nation is in a panic.

32 Red Menace Is Alive! Red Menace Is Alive!
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 03/1942

From Smash Comics #32 - The war machine of the Red Menace is threatening the US on both coasts. When the bad guys takes out a second aircraft carrier, Wings Wendall is certain it is to hide something in the area. He learns of a tunnel under the Atlantic Ocean!

33 In Alaska In Alaska
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 05/1942

From Smash Comics #33 - Wings Wendall is sent to Alaska to see if reports of a planned Japanese invasion there might be true. He learns it is and tries to head it off but things get complicated.

34 Dr. Reinhardt Missing!! Dr. Reinhardt Missing!!
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 07/1942

From Smash Comics #34 - The eminent scientist and inventor of Helium X, Dr. Reinhardt, is believed to have been adducted and taken to Germany. Wings Wendall flies a plane to Germany to let himself be shot down and captured so he is put in the same place as the scientist.

35 Izan Izan
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 09/1942

From Smash Comics #35 - In the North Atlantic, a very nasty foreign agent named Izan is running a secret enemy base from which it starts an offensive, bombing Philadelphia as its first target.

36 Diane's Revenge Diane's Revenge
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 10/1942

From Smash Comics #36 - Enemy planes attack a factory belonging to Diane Westcott's father, killing him. She vows revenge and steals a bomber to head to Germany. Wings Wendall ends up joining her.

37 The Undersea Wolf The Undersea Wolf
Published by Quality Comics
Contributors: Vernon Henkel (writer and artist)
Copyright: 11/1942

From Smash Comics #37 - A U-boat commander loses his ship but manages to capture an American observer blimp. He uses it to mislead convoys, sending them into danger. Wings Wendall is ordered to learn why the ships are getting sunk.

MY COMMENTS

       One thing that is very common for comicbook spy adventures in late 30's, leading up to America's actual entry in the Second World War, the enemy nations wanting to destroy America, purposely given fake names, are often way over the top and those many of the Wendall stories keep that track going. In several adventures, a country will decide to invade the US and wholesale destruction ensues. Cities are virtually destroyed and on an occasion or two the US seems ready to fold. It never does, though, because Wings Wendall is there to save the day.
       Then again, in between the wholesale holocausts and rampant destruction, there are many other tales far less all-encompassing; stories that fit far better with the idea of one very talented and resourceful agent going up against a handful of bad guys (or gals).
       Uneven is a good word for the mixture.

       However, this series is definitely not without a considerable value. Seeing as it was written at the time about the time, it definitely represents the time. The thoughts about the upcoming War and the desire to a) stay the heck out of it if possible and b) be more than ready to get into it and win it should 'a' be not possible.
       And the mission where the Red Menace actually wipes out San Francisco with an atomic bomb three years before ones were dropped on Japan is sobering. This is not the first reference to nuclear weapons I've seen in writings of this period but this was a major plot point.
       Another point about the Red Menace is that the stories were published starting the month after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Print lead time had to have made the tales prepared before the attack so the Red Menace was likely in essence "pre-war". The tales that came after, however, are no longer dealing with fictionous nations, just as they should not have been. The enemies were now clearly Germany and Japan. The stories were still fiction but the foes were not.

GRADE

My Grade: B

YOUR OPINIONS
Be the first to leave your own comments about this series.

Tell us what you think of the series. Give your grade and comments.

Your Grade:
Your Comments:

To give your opinion, you must be logged in.

Sign In

Register