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NICKIE NORTON OF THE SECRET SERVICE

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Full Name: Nickie Norton
Nationality: American
Organization: Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: Unknown
Time Span: 1940 - 1942

ABOUT THE SERIES

Nickie Norton is an agent with the American Secret Service.

Considering the types of assignments this man is given, it is most likely that he works for the actual Secret Service, then part of the Treasure Department. While the majority of the missions which are recorded of his are spy-hunting related, there are a couple that fit the normal work done by T-Men such as counterfeiting and smuggling.

Norton is a tall, lean man with a long narrow face. He is likely in his late 20s or early 30s. He has a sense of humor which he shows a couple of times but largely he is serious and a busy-first and -last kind of guy. Considering the tremendous amount of freedom he is given on each case, he has to have racked up a decent number of successful missions.

Norton has an assistant named Lefty. Initially he was presented as a teenage sidekick, fond of wearing a newsboy cap and checked tweed shirts. After that first adventure, though, he retained his short height but appeared a bit older. Now partial to checked jackets and horizontal-striped tee-shirts, he is referred at one point as being "Nickie's man-of-all-work" (defined as someone who does the menial or drudge work). Considering he does things like save Norton's life from a short-fused bomb, out-race a locomotive to a crossing in a car and later drops from a bridge onto that train to stop it, he deserves a raise. On several instances, however, he is ordered to remain home to be safe though Lefty's devotion to following orders is practically non-existent.

     Also working with Norton on occasion is a Department of Justice female agent named Betty Blane. Lefty is definitely against her inclusion and Norton is less than thrilled for the first couple of cases. She will at times find herself a captive needing rescue from either Norton or Lefty but she will also prove her usefulness a time or two.

Good Lines:

--Said by Lefty, "The moral is - don't trust no dames!"


COMIC BOOKS, GRAPHIC NOVELS, AND MANGA

Number of Stories:18
First Appearance:1940
Last Appearance:1942

     In February of 1940, Better Publications, aka Nedor Comics, started by Ned Pines who would a couple years later start the paperback company Popular Library, started the new comic book imprint Thrilling Comics.

     As was quite normal then, it was an anthology publications. Its premiere hero was the first Dr. Strange of comicbook fame. This one was "an American scientist who develops a serum called Alosun - described as a 'distillate of sun atoms' - which when ingested gives him superhuman strength, the ability to fly, and invulnerability". Dr. Strange would remain with the magazine for 64 issues.
     Other residents of that first issue were The McCoys, a humorous strip, and Lt. Baylor of the Texas Rangers.
     And Nickie Norton of the Secret Service who would be given an impressive 16 pages for his initial adventure. Unfortunately, those pages would be all over the map when it came to plot cohesion.
     That might be why the next 4 issues of the publication did not see Norton at all.
     Norton would stay with the comic, though in stories of less than half the original size, for the next 13 issues, taking a 2-issue break, and then coming back for 4 more adventures before disappearing. Despite a promise in issue #24 that "Nickie Norton cracks a thrilling case in out next issue!", Norton was gone for good.


Note: the data on writers and artists comes from the awesome comics.org. The titles are mine though I used suggestions from that site when available. Using "the case of the" was my invention.

1 The Case of The Fulton Submarine The Case of The Fulton Submarine
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Kay Blitz (as Kay) (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1940

Published in Thrilling Comics #1, Feb. 1940 - 16 pages.
Jim Fulton, the inventor of the Fulton submarine, insists that only America will have access to the plans for his new submarine but a foreign agent is determined to get them. The spy overhears Fulton explain how three gold coins, put together, will reveal where the plans are hidden. Then Fulton's daughter is kidnapped but Nickie Norton is already on the case. After that, the story goes haywire with action moving to Mexico where an Irish inspector gets help by Norton chasing down the spy leading to a fight with a submarine.

2 The Case of The Sabotage on the Jefferson The Case of The Sabotage on the Jefferson
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Leonard Sansone (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1940

Published in Thrilling Comics #6, Jul. 1940 - 8 pages.
Reporting to "district headquarters", Nickie Norton is given the assignment of making sure the new battleship 'Jefferson' launches as scheduled two days later. There has been sabotage already and the "Inspector" giving Norton the assignment believe a welder's assistant named Parker is part of the problem since his locker was found to have plans hidden in it. Once again the story takes a bizarre and uneven turn from there.

3 The Case of Captain Leslie and the Fort Plans The Case of Captain Leslie and the Fort Plans
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Leonard Sansone (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1940

Published in Thrilling Comics #7, Aug. 1940 - 8 pages.
A Captain Leslie of the War Department is sent to New York with plans for a new fort to be built there. The plans are hidden and not even Nickie Norton, sent along as his bodyguard, knows where they are stowed. Foreign agents from the Fatherland are determined to get them and will "stop at nothing".

4 The Case of The Abduction of Hiram South The Case of The Abduction of Hiram South
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Leonard Sansone (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1940

Published in Thrilling Comics #8, Sep. 1940 - 7 pages.
Dr Hiram South, inventor of the new liquid oxygen explosive has disappeared from the army proving-grounds. He is the only one who knows the formula so it is vital that Nickie Norton of the Secret Service locate him.

5 The Case of The Cocaine Smugglers The Case of The Cocaine Smugglers
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Leonard Sansone (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1940

Published in Thrilling Comics #9, Oct. 1940 - 6 pages.
Nickie Norton and his aide, Lefty, have two weeks of vacation coming to them so they head to California where Lefty has never been. It is far from a relaxing time though as they immediately stop an armed mugging. Even though the victim did not want to press charges, Norton decides to keep an eye on the mugger whom he recognizes as 'Bugs' Kelly, a known dope peddler. This will lead to Norton learning the victim was really a big-time drug smuggler who was up to something 'fishy'.

6 The Case of The Senator's Accident The Case of The Senator's Accident
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Alexander Kostuk (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1940

Published in Thrilling Comics #10, Nov. 1940 - 8 pages.
At Secret Service headquarters, Nickie Norton is assigned the investigation of Senator Bills who was found dead after an accident where he supposedly lost control of his vehicle and plunged off a bridge into the river. Foreign agents in brown shirts are behind it since the Senator opposed their "Glorious Chief, fighting for universal power in Europe.

7 The Case of The Spies On The Border The Case of The Spies On The Border
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Alexander Kostuk (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1940

Published in Thrilling Comics #11, Dec. 1940 - 7 pages.
Nickie Norton is told by his Chief that the State Department needed their help. "There's spy trouble on the Mexican border but we have no definite information to go o." That is the job for Norton but people are out to stop him even as he leaves the office.

8 The Case of The Explosive Theft The Case of The Explosive Theft
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Alexander Kostuk (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1941

Published in Thrilling Comics #12, Jan. 1941 - 7 pages.
This time is the War Department calling for help to uncover suspected sabotage at the main munitions plant where a new explosive is being developed.

9 The Case of The Kidnapped Woman The Case of The Kidnapped Woman
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Alexander Kostuk (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1941

Published in Thrilling Comics #13, Feb. 1941 - 7 pages.
Shortly after Betty Blane of the Department of Justice is kidnapped, a woman's body believed to be her is tossed from a fleeing car, her face and hands burned off. Nickie Norton is put on the case and his first discovery is that the deceased's hair had been dyed. Now the question is where is the real Blane and why the deception.

10 The Case of The Hidden Benefactor The Case of The Hidden Benefactor
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Alexander Kostuk (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1941

Published in Thrilling Comics #14, Mar. 1941 - 8 pages.
Nickie Norton is asked for help again by the Justice Department, working this time with Berry Blane to find out who the traitor from the previous case had actually been working for. It is foreign agents needing to know everything Justice knows or learns about them. For some reason, the head bad guy keeps a gorilla chained in his basement.

11 The Case of The Counterfeiters The Case of The Counterfeiters
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Alexander Kostuk (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1941

Published in Thrilling Comics #15, Apr. 1941 - 8 pages.
Yet again Betty Blane, a blonde this time, is working with Nickie Norton and Lefty. Their assignment is to track down and bring to justice "the toughest and cleverest counterfeit rings" they had ever run into.

12 The Case of The Costaguan Canal Plans The Case of The Costaguan Canal Plans
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Alexander Kostuk (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1941

Published in Thrilling Comics #16, May 1941 - 8 pages.
The Ambassador from the Latin American country of Costagua calls the Secret Service in fear of being assassinated and plans for a new canal being stolen by disgruntled countrymen.

13 The Case of The Revengeful Gangster The Case of The Revengeful Gangster
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Alexander Kostuk (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1941

Published in Thrilling Comics #17, Jun. 1941 - 8 pages.
A British agent carrying secret plans of a new plane to be assembled in America is being met at the airport by Nickie Norton. As he is away, an old gangster enemy Norton had put away comes calling with his gang for revenge.

14 The Case of The Robot-Pilot Plans The Case of The Robot-Pilot Plans
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Alexander Kostuk (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1941

Published in Thrilling Comics #18, Jul. 1941 - 8 pages.
Nickie Norton is told he is to guard James Hudson, a Defense coordinator. He tells both Lefty and Betty Blane that they will have to sit this one out. She, though, has her own orders and both of them are soon on the trail of a man who killed to get hold of the plans for a Robot-Pilot.

15 The Case of The Jewel Smugglers The Case of The Jewel Smugglers
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Alexander Kostuk (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1941

Published in Thrilling Comics #21, Oct. 1941 - 8 pages.
To get a handle on a gang smuggling jewels into the country, Nickie Norton calls upon Betty Blane to go undercover on the cruise ship being used.

16 The Case of The Switched Luggage The Case of The Switched Luggage
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Richard Hughes (writer), Leo Morey (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1941

Published in Thrilling Comics #22, Nov. 1941 - 8 pages.
To earn extra money, Lefty takes a redcap position at the train station. He manages to accidentally give the wrong bag to people smuggling machine guns into the country. They are not happy about it.

17 The Case of The Sovakian Engineers The Case of The Sovakian Engineers
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Leo Morey (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1941

Published in Thrilling Comics #23, Dec. 1941 - 8 pages.
Nickie Norton is assigned the job of escorting two Sovakian engineers "to the Wasp Munitions Plant at Ardmore". One of them is certain that "agents of a rival power may try something tricky". Since the man is correct, Norton will have his hands full.

18 The Case of The Trouble in Ambria The Case of The Trouble in Ambria
Published by Better Publications, Inc.
Contributors: Leonard Sansone (pencils and inks)
Copyright: 1942

Published in Thrilling Comics #24, Jan. 1942 - 8 pages.
Enemy agents are up to no good and they start trouble by first bombing the American Consulate in Ambria, putting the blame on dissident nationalists. Nickie Norton is sent there to learn the truth. Norton decides to take Lefty along and they are both surprised to find Betty Blane on the same assignment.

MY COMMENTS

     The first Nickie Norton adventure is so filled with holes and "what??" instances as to be practically unreadable. The next one or two are also of very low quality and filled with apparent meanderings. After that, while the stories will never reach, IMHO, the level of a decent tale, they at least do not suck so poorly that reading them was a chore.

     It is easy to see why Norton would fall by the wayside eventually. It is impressive, in a way, that he managed to survive for as many stories as he did, both as an operative and as a character in an anthology that did not hesitate to jettison less than stellar storylines. 

GRADE

My Grade: B-

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