I’m always amused by people who talk about Jaime Reyes being the “second” Blue Beetle, or how Ted Kord is better, because he’s the “original” BB.  Mind you, they’re only off by about thirty-odd years…  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Big 3 #6 awaits!

BIG 3 #6

Writer: Gene Rider/Uncredited
Penciler: Joe Simon/Charles Nicholas/Basil Berold/Alex Boon/Cimberly
Inker: Uncredited
Colorist: Uncredited
Letterer: Uncredited
Editor: Victor Fox
Publisher: Fox Feature Syndicate
Cover Price: 1o Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $700.00

Previously in Big 3: Created to syndicate and distribute comics, Victor’s Fox’s Fox Feature Syndicate initially worked with a young Will Eisner and his partner Jerry Iger, leading to the creation of Wonder Man.  As one of the first Superman knockoffs, Wonder Man was also the first to be slapped down by the legal department of the company that would evolve into DC Comics.  Fox branched out after that initial setback,  packaging work by many noteable Golden Age creators (including Fletcher Hanks and his Stardust, The Super Wizard) as well as being the original home of The Blue Beetle, a character who has traveled a long road through multiple media on his way to the modern DC Universe.  Of course, things were different for Big Blue back then…

Police officer Dan Garret is called to the scene of the crime, after a horde of criminals under the leadership of the mysterious Condor sweeps in to steal a certain briefcase from the hold of an incoming ship.  Thanks to the quick police response, The Condor is left emptyhanded, but does escape capture.  Knowing that the villain is more than just another schmuck in a hat, Dan moves quickly to get the mysterious case to safety…

…after which he upgrades from one blue suit to another, trading his copper buttons for the blue chainmail of The Blue Beetle!

Unlike the Silver Age version of Blue Beetle, archaeologist Dan Garrett (note the spelling, btw), our Dan is not empowered by a mystic scarab, instead being infused with special Vitamin 2-X, giving him ill-defined super-energy powers.  The Condor’s men see him coming after him, attempting to stop Blue Beetle with a fire engine, but Blue Beetle uses the ladder to catapult himself directly into their escaping truck…

The Condor’s men reveal that they’ve taken the truck, making a run for the wharf, with Blue Beetle hot on their tail.  They board a waiting ship, but find the Beetle isn’t going to give this one up without a fight, leaping into action to take back the secret case…

…and revealing the secret of what is within!  As with many Fox Feature joints, the creators of this story are uncertain (since they went out of business in 1950 or so, their records are either lost or long since destroyed) but I’ve seen some credit the art here to a young Jack Kirby, who did work under the Charles Nicholas alias on Blue Beetle stories and the comic strip.  I don’t know if I see it, to be honest, but I can tell you that the second story, an adventure of The Flame, is handled by artist Basil Berold…

When a pair of girls go missing from a local camp, super-hero Gary Preston (singer-songwriter of ‘The Union Gap) makes an excuse not to go, instead letting his lady friend, Linda, go in his stead.  It’s a necessary ruse, you see, as Gary is going to be making the scene in his alternate identity…

Leaping fully-formed from the fireplace, The Flame is one of my favorite Golden Age lesser-knowns, with a striking costume and powers that are unique, even among the many pyrokinetics of four-color lore.  Wherever you go, he’ll be with you, whatever you want he’ll give it to y–  Wait, that’s a Cheap Trick song.  Bygones…  In any case, The Flame finds out the real motive behind the kidnapping: A proto-dude bro who wants to marry the camp owner’s daughter after her mother didn’t choose him.

The Flame is always awesome to see in action, even if Berold isn’t Will Eisner (who helped co-create the character in the early days of Fox Feature), and his tenacity leads to a showdown over the life of young Joan and his own now-captured Linda…

The Flame saves the day, ending with a panel in which Linda tells Gary that he should have come along to help out, only to have him remind her that The Flame didn’t need any help.  Within a few months, Gary would let Linda in on his secret, with her joining him in action as Flame-Girl!  Next up is another Eisner co-creation currently under different creative pen, as Samson leaps into action to help when a Navy battleship runs out of control…

Samson is told of the disappearance of several battleships, something that the Navy wants to keep a closely guarded secret, but within no time, two more ships go missing.  Samson discovers them sunken (which begs the question of why no one noticed, but…  40s comics, y’all) and goes undercover as a ship-painter to find the culprit: The Eel!

Said Eel is promptly murdered, along with all his men, but Samson, saving the Navy and the career of the real ship-painter, the mellifluously named J. Rembrandt Speeedball.  All is well, as long as you don’t work with the Eel, I guess…  As for our next feature, the cover breathlessly asks readers to enjoy their newest favorite!

He’s not my favorite.  But he makes for a nice change of pace, with his loopy fairy-tale adventure that doesn’t really make a lot of sense.  Rounding out the superheroes of the issue, we get another appearance by Blue Beetle, with another exciting right-out-of-the-gate action opener…

When a local gang goes wild, the police are stumped.  Even Officer Dan Garret can’t figure out the truth, but he does manage to overhear one of his co-workers opining that Blue Beetle himself (who occasionally had a Green Hornet hero-believed-to-be-criminal thing going on, depending on the writer) is behind it.  Dan quickly ducks out, returing as the Azure Avenger…

Blue Beetle goes on a full-on crime rampage, robbing storefronts, stealing purses, ripping the tags off of pillows, all in the name of grabbing the attention of the gang that holds the city in its sway.  He is successful in getting into the gang, and forced to commit murder to prove his loyalty, leading the police to come after them with guns blazing.  As the issue ends, Blue Beetle’s ruse is discovered, the man he shot is revealed to be in police custody, and the entire gang?

…well, all’s well that ends well in a Blue Beetle tale, and everything returns to the hazy shade of “normal.”  Later iterations of Blue Beetle would ignore these stories entirely, with the most recent appearances at DC Comics only recognizing the later Charlton version of Dan Garrett, including his magic scarab of power.  Still, Big 3 #6 is a relatively run-of-the-mill Golden Age comic, featuring Fox’s biggest superheroes names, most of them nearly forgotten, but delivering a lot of simple action and fighty-fighty, earning a right down the middle 2.5 out of 5 stars overall.  And remember, if anybody asks you if you’ve seen the first Blue Beetle when they mean Ted Kord, feel free to point them right here.  Because know is roughly fifty percent of any given conflict!

I'm always amused by people who talk about Jaime Reyes being the "second" Blue Beetle, or how Ted Kord is better, because he's the "original" BB.  Mind you, they're only off by about thirty-odd years...  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Big 3 #6 awaits! BIG 3 #6 Writer: Gene Rider/Uncredited Penciler: Joe Simon/Charles Nicholas/Basil Berold/Alex Boon/Cimberly Inker: Uncredited Colorist: Uncredited Letterer: Uncredited Editor: Victor Fox Publisher: Fox Feature Syndicate Cover Price: 1o Cents Current Near-Mint Pricing: $700.00 Previously in Big 3: Created to syndicate and distribute comics, Victor's Fox's Fox Feature Syndicate initially worked with a young Will Eisner…
Nothing entirely special, but a nice showcasing of Fox Features' titular biggest heroes, with some fun moments folded in...

BIG 3 #6

Writing
Art
Coloring

Nothing entirely special, but a nice showcasing of Fox Features' titular biggest heroes, with some fun moments folded in...

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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