MADAME STRANGE

 
Full Name: Madame Strange
Nationality: American
Organization: American Intelligence
Occupation Agent

Creator: Achmed Zudella
Time Span: 1941 - 1942
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Madame Strange is an agent with American Intelligence.
       I think. Maybe. Or not.
       In the opening to the first of her adventures, this interestingly garbed operative has said about her: "Mysterious, beautiful and cloaked with an unknown identity, Madame Strange matches her nerve and strength against grim foes who threaten America's far flung air outposts and naval stations."
       My "interesting" comment about the clothes is because it is far closer to something a costumed hero would don which is perhaps what the intent was. It consists of the bottom of a two-piece blue bathing suit (or a really short pair of shorts) with a gold belt. Above that she wears very skimpy halter top or the top of a two-piece red bathing suit. Throw in some shin-high red boots and a very long blue cloak. Around her wrist she has red bracelets about three inches wide.
       When we first meet her, she is strolling down the street on a Hawaii Island (this is just a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor) when two bad guys, one named Pedro and the other Dingo Bill shoot at her in ambush. They miss. She doesn't, using a long bladed throwing knife which she lands squarely in Pedro's back; she points out to herself that "their backs are turned but so was mine when they fired!" It develops that the man behind the attack was a Japanese spymaster named Bonza, kingpin of the Axis agents there, out to take control of the islands. But though Bonza is an enemy agent, he appears to be working as a mercenary for a greedy businessman who is just out for money.
       It is in this adventure that we learn that she flies her own sea plane and that she either has tremendous strength or some other method of ripping out steel bars from a window. Also she is known to and respected by the police chief of the islands. She is also rather rude in her racial slurs (who wasn't, back then?) as while dropping a bomb from her plane into the convertible the spymaster is in, she quips "goodbye, slant eye!"
       The second adventure has Madame Strange in Singapore trying to learn who is stealing vital British defense plans. Here she again uses her throwing knives to vanquish the enemy when, exiting a bar where she just learned important information, she is shot at in ambush but gets the miscreant in the heart. Meanwhile, back in Hawaii, the remnants of Bonza's gang, out for revenge, learn where she is and come after her. Apparently not one to pass up a chance to take out enemies, she drives her car into their midst wiping out several in one blow. She throws in a grenade (literally) for good measure.

       Now move one month forward.
       On a tiny Pacific isle, we find a modestly dressed (knee-length red dress with a matching scarf headress) Madame Strange who is now described as an American girl reporter who is out for a scoop for her paper. She looks as all-American as one might want even as she uses a riding crop she happens to be carrying to whallop a baddie wielding a mace. To be fair to Strange, he was attacking her with it screaming "I split your head for the Octopus!", the chap being the Japanese spy master at work there. In a very short time Strange hooks up with a fellow named American ace spy Perry who is after the Octopus and together they wipe him out. She has at some point changed into her fighting duds but they now consist of blue trousers, blue boots, a billowy white blouse, and a red cloak, shorter than her first one.
       After all the fuss with the Octopus and his gang, we learn that Madame Strange has gotten her scoop and reported it back to the Pacific Dispatch even as she finds out Perry has a new lead on some new case and she intends to get involved.

       So, two Madame Strange's? Not likely as the facial image looks the same though the costume changes. Does it matter much? Nope, cause after this run-in with the Octopus, we never hear from Strange again.

COMIC BOOKS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS

Number of Issues:3
First Appearance:1941
Last Appearance:1942

1 'Doom Awaits The U.S. Fleet' 'Doom Awaits The U.S. Fleet'
Contributors: Achmed Zudella (writer and artist)
Copyright: 11/1941

From Great Comics #1 - 7 pages - In Hawaii, a rich businessman wanting to be richer hires a Japanese gang leader named Bonza to take control of one of the islands so he can make more money. Madame Strange is against the idea. It turns out that Bonza is more than a gang leader - he is "the kingpin of the Axis agents" active on the islands.

2 'Singapore Is Doomed' 'Singapore Is Doomed'
Contributors: Achmed Zudella (writer and artist)
Copyright: 12/1941

From Great Comics #2 - 7 pages - Apparently immediately after the business in the first adventure, Madame Strange is in Singapore looking to recover vital British naval defense plans even as Bonza's gang search the Pacific for her to get revenge.

31 'I, The Octopus' 'I, The Octopus'
Contributors: Achmed Zudella (writer and artist)
Copyright: 01/1942

From Great Comics #3 - 9 pages - Now Madame Strange is referred to as an American girl reporter but though she is dressed quite differently from before, she still goes full-bore after the Japanese spymaster known as the Octopus as he starts to steal American bombing planes for the Emperor.

MY COMMENTS

       This fortunately very short series never quite figured out what it wanted to be. If I had only looked at it, I would have passed it by as being another costumed hero escapade, although since there were far fewer female ones to males, I might have glanced a time or three. What got my attention at first, though, was the blurb at the bottom of the first issue's cover mentioning "Madame Strange, Daring Exotic Spy Fighter". Of course the "Spy Fighter" meant I had to check it out for this site. The "Daring Exotic", I freely admit, would have had me looking all on its own but now I had an excuse.
       Once I read the first couple of pages, I had to wonder if the "daring" was because of the activities she was involved in or the skimpy outfit she was wearing. And the "exotic" kinda went out the window when she put the dagger in a dude's back. Okay, the dude was asking for it having just tried to kill her but it is hard to keep hold of the exotic when you knife one guy and strangle another.
       But she was at least fighting enemy spies so the blurb was mostly right.
       The series, however, was not so right. The sense of who and what Madame Strange never came through. The continuity between the first two stories was tenuous but at least an effort was made. When the third story came in the very next issue and the writer/artist was changed, so was the character. Completely changed. Purpose for being there, outfit worn, style of fighting - all different.
       That on its own should have seen the character dropped from the lineup but since the whole magazine vanished, it didn't matter.

GRADE

My Grade: C

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