JOHNNY DALE

 
Full Name: Johnny Dale
Nationality: American
Organization: U.S. Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Time Span: 1948 - 1949
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Johnny Dale is an agent with the Secret Service.
       He carries a badge, wears a regulation suit all the time, flashes his badge routinely to identify himself as an agent, and yet is referred to as a "secret agent". Secrecy is not that terribly prevalent in Dale's activities but being an agent definitely is. Perhaps the epithet is applied because, as the opening of his first recorded adventure says, "The Secret Agent works alone! And at the end of the job...there is no glory waiting for him...no newspaper headlines...no medals...But he knows that he has served his country at the risk of his life! And, after all, what greater reward can a man earn?"
       By his depictions as well as his confidence and abilities, we can safely deduce that Dale has been an agent for a fair number of years with this age being roughly in his early to mid 30s. He has a good way with the opposite sex but is not so blasé about himself that he cannot blush when given a kiss on the cheek by a beautiful princess.
       Dale is a darn good shot and takes out a fair number of bad guys, which is a good thing for him because in almost every mission we follow him on, someone is there to whallop him over the head with something. The agent's head has to be made of steel. He is also resourceful and not a little daring as shown by his swinging from a cargo ship net onto a pier to slug it out with guys with guns.
       We are shown at the end of the first adventure that he loves the excitement and challenge of a good case when having completed one harrowing mission, he eschews a rest saying "That was just a warm-up. I'm looking for some real action now!"

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Stories:6
First Appearance:1948
Last Appearance:1949

       In the fashion of most comics coming out in the 30s and 40s, Exciting Comics, published by Better Publications, was an anthology magazine with a wide variety of characters. The first issue, several years before Johnny Dale's debut, saw the mixture to have a war story, a western, a futuristic space tale, a private eye adventure, and a newsman's scoop. This assortment would change quite a bit over the 60+ issues the magazine lasted but the variety would remain.
       Leading the comic for most of its run as the star of the show was the Black Terror, a drug store owner during the day and crime fighter at night. He did have a pretty impressive suit complete with mask and a cool cape. He, of course, had a young ward who sometimes joined him in taking on guys with guns and real bullets.
       Dale's tales (sorry, had to use it at least once) came to the readers at the almost end of the magazine's run. By that time, two repeating series had taken control of the mag for some time: Judy of the Jungle and The Black Terror. Neither of these really made the big time but both were solid entertaining adventures.
       Issue #62 saw the introduction of Dale. Judy with her beautiful flaming red hair was on the cover of the first five of those issues but even this resourceful mistress of the rain-forest lost the leadership role when that spot was taken by the western series Billy West. West held the cover spot for the final 3 issues of the magazine. Our Johnny Dale did not make it to the end having gone away at #67 instead of #69.

1 The Death That Glitters The Death That Glitters
Published by Better Publications
Contributors: George Roussos (artist)
Copyright: 07/1948

From Exciting Comics #62 - Diamond smugglers are bringing in the gems from Mexico but how they are getting is in the mystery that Johnny Dale is assigned to figure out.

2 The Lion's Share of the Loot! The Lion's Share of the Loot!
Published by Better Publications
Contributors: George Roussos (artist)
Copyright: 09/1948

From Exciting Comics #63 - A money courier service is being beset by robberies during routes the thieves could not have known about. Since Federal Reserve notes were part of one haul, Johnny Dale is called in to figure out how they are getting their info.

3 The Jewels of Borgium! The Jewels of Borgium!
Published by Better Publications
Contributors: George Roussos (artist)
Copyright: 11/1948

From Exciting Comics #64 - A docking ship calls to let Johnny Dale know that the Princess Lania of Borgium was on board. She was said to be traveling incognito on a secret mission. Dale is assigned to help her when thieves make off her the crown jewels she was carrying.

4 The Socialite Swindle Case The Socialite Swindle Case
Published by Better Publications
Contributors: George Roussos (artist)
Copyright: 01/1949

From Exciting Comics #65 - The newspaper's reporting of the arrival of the Countess Torvali from Europe has Johnny Dale's boss sending him to check her papers (huh?). He is there in time to see an attempted heist of her jewelry and he is then on a more interesting job.

5 The Racket That Ran by Radio! The Racket That Ran by Radio!
Published by Better Publications
Contributors: George Roussos (artist)
Copyright: 03/1949

From Exciting Comics #66 - A crafty Chinese drug smuggler who fled back to China some time ago is back and leading a gang bringing in heroin and cocaine via ship. The drug runner uses radio to orchestrate his deliveries, all hidden under a graveyard accessed by a fake grave. Johnny Dale is on his trail.

6 The Fabulous Wooden Box! The Fabulous Wooden Box!
Published by Better Publications
Contributors: George Roussos (artist)
Copyright: 05/1949

From Exciting Comics #67 - Seeing a man he thought was another "crackpot inventor" heading up the stairs of the Navy Department, Johnny Dale then witnesses the man accosted by two suits claiming to be Secret Service agents. Plans for a new submarine engine at at stake.

MY COMMENTS

       I made it a point to collate all six of the Johnny Dale stories and then read them in prepartion for adding him to the compendium. That's when I saw he was a Secret Service agent who dealt more with crime than with spies in his limited adventures. I then pondered whether I should excuse him from the lineup.
       But I went ahead because the stories are not bad and mostly because since the writer or editor decided to make the title of the series Johnny Dale, Secret Agent, invariably someone might ask, "hey, why not Dale?". Besides, in one mission he did get a peck on the cheek by an actual princess. If that doesn't make him special, I don't know what would.

       The stories are alright. That is the best and worst I would say about them. Dale naturally (for the time) gets pounded on the head far too many times to not have a goofy grin on his face while talking to little animals who aren't there. Still, the stories are, well, like I said, alright.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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