SPADE OF THE SECRET SERVICE

 
Full Name: Spade
Nationality: American
Organization: Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: Harry Campbell
Time Span: 1941 - 1941
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Spade is a special agent for the President.
       When we first meet this operative, he has already been around for quite a while with the Secret Service, earning a reputation for himself. "Smasher of a hundred counterfeiters ..." "Preserver of the live of more than one President ..." "The symbol of his vengeance, the Ace of Spades, strikes terror to the hearts of wrong doers."
       That last part is interesting for he carries with him a single playing card to leave behind when he has taken out the bad guy, a marker to let people know it was he that brought down the heavy.
       Apparently he needs this identifier for he is "known only as 'Spade'" while "the true identity of this agent of a hundred faces and a thousand tricks is a mystery ...." Exactly why his identity is a mystery remains, well, a mystery.
       As we meet him, he is asked by the President, unidentified but certainly FDR, to work undercover for him to
handle the myriad problems the Chief Executive encounters. This means having to give up his previous job with the Secret Service but he cannot refuse his President so he agrees.
       The few missions we learn about are varied but mostly have to do with the upcoming war. In doing them he encounters an enemy operative every bit as talented as he and quite lucky as well. She may lose a time or two but she always has an escape route so she survives to fight another day. Taking a cue from Spade, she likes to leave the Queen of Hearts as her calling card. Rather interesting choice considering how cold-blooded she shows herself to be.
       Spade is illustrated as being a fairly tall, broad-shouldered man with "heavy brows" and a "big nose" (as mentioned by a woman) but is ruggedly handsome enough to be noticed by her.
       Intrepid is a word that might be used to describe him. Or foolhardy. As he puts it on one mission, 'walking into traps gets results!' Brave and/or dumb.

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Issues:4
First Appearance:1941
Last Appearance:1941

       In 1938, Alex Hillman created his eponymous publishing company and came out with his own line of comic book superheroes. None would every really make it to the big time but he was able to hang on for well over a decade which says something about him.
       One of his two dozen titles was Victory Comics which tried but failed to get much following, lasting only 4 issues. At the helm of this magazine for the really poorly named The Conqueror. I mean, huh? In the days leading up to the Second World War with Japan conquering everything it could in the Pacific and Germany trying the same in Europe, let's put out a good-guy superhero with that name. People will love it! Obviously, not.
       Others in the first comic were Homicide Hank, the Steel Shark, Sergeant Flagg, Private Parker, and Spade of the Secret Service.
       The quality of the comics was low. It did not last long. It was not really missed. Especially Spade.

1 Queen of Hearts Queen of Hearts
Published by Hillman Periodicals, Inc.

Copyright: 08/1941

From Victory Comics #1 - General Briggs, inventor of "the automatic rifle" has gone missing. The President sends his personal agent, Spade, to investigate but by the the General has returned. Spade is suspicious so he must be eliminated.

2 Death in the Land of Ice Death in the Land of Ice
Published by Hillman Periodicals, Inc.

Copyright: 09/1941

From Victory Comics #2 - Suspicious activities in Greenland by fifth columnists led by the Queen of Hearts preparing the way a ship loaded with troops attracts the attention of the President who sends Spade to investigate. This man of a hundred faces, unknown to all but the President, is immediately spotted.

3 Forewarned is Forearmed Forewarned is Forearmed
Published by Hillman Periodicals, Inc.

Copyright: 11/1941

From Victory Comics #3 - Rumors of a new Nazi weapon has the army worried. The President loans a general Spade to head to Germany to uncover the truth. That will mean getting an old security guard hard up for money and in love with beer to help out.

4 The Great Impersonation The Great Impersonation
Published by Hillman Periodicals, Inc.

Copyright: 12/1941

From Victory Comics #4 - Trying to get out of Germany after his latest mission, Spade overhears of an upcoming raid on Britain and decides he will use that to get to the UK. Once there, he agrees to go back to mislead the Germans which entails pretending to first be Rudolf Hess and then Adolf Hitler himself.

MY COMMENTS

       I gave this luckily very short comic book spy series a very low grade because it so richly deserved it. This series had a great premise which would be used over and over in spy fiction's hundred plus years - the President (or Prime Minister or King) has a special agent at his beck and call, an operative who can go anywhere and do just about anything.
       Spade, no first name given, is such a man. Now I happen to like the concept of the special agent so I was in favor of it in the first panel or two. Then things went downhill fast.
       Spade has been the bane of criminals and would-be assassins for years (as in protecting more than one President). His identity is a secret. Ah, really can't have it both ways.
       With his secret identity in mind, he leaves the White House where no one knows him and he is immediately followed by bad guys.
       Last point (there could be more but I tire easily) - in the third adventure he decides to wrap his face in bandages to disguise the fact that his German is not very good so muffled, that might not be so noticeable. Unlikely but let's go with it. In the very next adventure, a continuation really of the earlier one, he flies into Germany disguised as Rudolf Hess and meets with Adolf Hitler and talks a good amount with him and others. When did his German get better? Then he disguises himself as Hitler and pulls that off. Nope!

       I might have graded it even lower than I did except Spade had the cool idea of using the Ace of Spades as his marker to show he had been there and kicked butt. That was a nice touch so it raised the grade up a half mark.

GRADE

My Grade: C

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