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K-4 AND HIS SKY DEVILS

daring_comics_cb_05 daring_comics_cb_02 k4_oan_tsd daring_comics_cb_04
 
Full Name: K-4
Nationality: British
Organization: Military Intelligence
Occupation Adventurer

Creator: Jack Alderman, Joe Cal Cagno
Time Span: 1940 - 1940

ABOUT THE SERIES

K-4 is a "flying spy and soldier of fortune".

The time period for the three recorded adventures of K-4 that are available is the fairly early days of the Second World War. Britain and France have both declared war on Germany but the actual hostilities have only just started though both sides have begun arms buildup. While the U.S. has declared its neutrality in the troubles, many Americans have joined their Canadian cousins and crossed the Atlantic to offer their services.

At first there is some shaky indications that K-4 might one such American. In the second adventure, a German soldier thinks he is British. It is not until the third and final mission that we are told straight out that he is indeed British. Since K-4 has chosen to not reveal his actual name to us, being uncertain to his nationality seems a minor point. K-4 is what everyone, even his closest mates, call him (which is pretty unusual, to say the least).

We learn right away that this highly skilled and experienced man is given the rank of Captain in the Royal Air Force. We are given a bit of history about him when we are told he was the "youngest flying lietutenant in the First World War with 11 victories to his credit at the close - triple that with the loyalists in the Spanish Rebellion, and dozens more in the China-Japan conflict!"

This gives us a clue as to his age. Though the depictions of him show a still young-ish individual, he is decidedly not a spring chicken. To have been old enough to have flown so many mission during the Great War, he has to have been born near the end of the 19th Century which would make him in his early 40s during these new escapades.

As the title of this entry shows, it is not just K-4 that is of interest. He is part of a trio of adventurers who have either dubbed themselves or were so named by others as the 'Sky Devils' based on their abilities in the air and the troubles they bring to the enemy. The other two members are:
Lt. Ronald Wolverstone-Clodd, "scion of a wealthy English family who gave up wealth to become an actor. With a complete knowledge of make-up, he is an invaluable aide to K-4".
Lt. Rene D'Alivergne, "French World War Ace and expert swordsman, who now flies as K-4's devoted assistant".

K-4 earns his identification as a freelance spy because of his willingness to go behind enemy lines dressed as the opposition to carry out dangerous missions, any of which would warrant his death if caught.

COMIC BOOKS, GRAPHIC NOVELS, AND MANGA

Number of Stories:3
First Appearance:1940
Last Appearance:1940

1 K-4 In Disguise K-4 In Disguise
Published by Timely Comics
Contributors: Joe Cal Cagno (writer), Jack Alderman (artist)
Copyright: 1940

Printed in Daring Mystery Comics #2 (Feb. 1940) with 10 color pages. Reprinted in Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Daring Mystery - Volume 1 (Jan. 2008).
"Captain K-4 is assigned to infiltrate and help to destroy the ammunition depot located at the Nazi seaport of Kurtzberg, while disguised as a Gestapo agent."

2 The Zeppelin Attack! The Zeppelin Attack!
Published by Timely Comics
Contributors: Joe Cal Cagno (writer), Jack Alderman (artist)
Copyright: 1940

Printed in Daring Mystery Comics #4 (May 1940) with 6 color pages. Reprinted in Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Daring Mystery - Volume 1 (Jan. 2008).
"K-4 and his assistants are assigned the job of tracking down an enemy zeppelin that is being used to drop mines by parachute over vital installations."

3 Strike Against The Nazis Strike Against The Nazis
Published by Timely Comics
Contributors: Joe Cal Cagno (writer), Jack Alderman (artist)
Copyright: 1940

Printed in Daring Mystery Comics #5 (Jun. 1940) with 6 color pages. Reprinted in Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Daring Mystery - Volume 2 (Feb. 2010).
"When the Sky Devils get captured on a photographing mission, they soon escape and are rescued from their pursuers by K-4."

ODDS & ENDS

Number of Items:1
First Appearance:2009
Last Appearance:2009

1 The Sky Devils The Sky Devils
Item Type: Character Profiles
Made by: Marvel Comics
Copyright: 2009

Printed in Marvel Mystery Handbook: 70th Anniversary Special (2009) and reprinted in Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A - Z #14 (2010).
A brief profile of the three main characters in the series namely Captain K-4, Lt. Ronald Wolverstone-Clodd and Lt. Rene D'Alivergne written by Michael Hoskin.

MY COMMENTS

Getting past the idea that some fellow would insist everyone from his superiors in the military to his best buddies refer to him as K-4 rather than his real name is, well, bizarre. Unless his parents named him that. - probably not!

Other than that considering the other stories that were printed alongside K-4 in the anthology Daring Comics in the early days of 1940, these were very well thought out and delivered tales. They were not given much room to do a whole lot and yet that is what they did.

When I think of how I had no use for any more of the other series in those pages, I was surprised to realize I would actually have welcomed a few more K-4 and his Sky Devils tales.

GRADE

My Grade: B

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