Oh, sure, you’ve heard of Batman, The Flash and Colossal Boy… But are you ready for the greatest DC character of them all? Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of The Adventures of Rex The Wonder Dog #1 awaits!
Writer: Robert Kanigher/Dave Wood
Penciler: Alex Toth/Carmine Infantino
Inker: Sy Barry/Frank Giacoia
Letterer: Gaspar Saladino
Editor: Whitney Ellsworth (credited)/Julie Schwartz (actual)
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 10 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $2400.00
Previously in The Adventures of Rex The Wonder Dog: Back in the heady days of 1952, comic books were a very different world. Not only were westerns still a big deal, but romances were still big sellers and the Disney ducks were massive stars around the world. ‘Course, the thing that truly differentiated 70s years ago from the comic industry of today was the much lower level of costumed superheroes. Sure, Superman and Batman still had their own books, Wonder Woman was still being published and the occasional Captain Flash and Golden Boy would pop up here and there, but the adventurers of comics past were more the likes of TV Detective Roy Raymond and the rotating protagonists of pre-Thor ‘Journey Into Mystery.’ And, of course, a certain Alsatian with above-average intelligence.
It’s interesting to see the level of trust that comics of the 50s had in their readers. This is the first panel of the first appearance of Rex and rather than worry about origins, setups or unecessary exposition, Bob Kanigher simply starts with our four-legged hero waking up and setting off for a mystery. When an innocent man gets pinned for a robbery he didn’t commit, Rex leaps out the window, bounces off an awning in heroic fashioin, and rushes into action to find the perpetrator.
Years later, Rex’s intellect would be revealed as the result of a super-soldier experiement (which, in some tellings, intentionally winked to the origins of Captain America) but here his quick wits are just part and parcel of the adventure. Paired with the incredible art of Alex Toth, it’s easy to get wrapped up in our heroic Alsatian (?) and his attempts to clear an innocent man’s reputation. Realizing that the flower is the most important clue, Rex uses his supererior sense of smell to track the man with the flower. Once he gets to the criminal’s lair, Rex takes on a roomful of gunmen with only his speed, his wits and some very sharp teeth.
It’s a quick story, but a satisfying one, giving us Kanigher at his no-nonsense best. The middle segment features animal trainer Bill Randal, a character so minor that I can’t find any real background on him, but apparently, there’s a killer bear.
Oddly enough, it’s a polar bear? But if nothing else, it’s got some interesting Carmine Infantino art. The final illustrated story of the issue brings back Kanigher and Toth for the story that we see on the cover, an adventure of Rex and his master Danny visiting Uncle Jim, the forest ranger.
If you think that disaster doesn’t follow, you’re clearly new to the world of comics, Faithful Spoilerites.
After befriending a deer, saving a girl on a runaway horse and learning about the ecology of the forest, he saves Danny and others from a sudden forest fire, even earning his own honorary Forest Ranger badge. It wouldn’t be the first of such accolades, as Rex’s solo title runs for seven years and puts him in many roles, even learning out to fire a machine gun without fingers. The Adventures of Rex The Wonder Dog #1 is an interesting throwback comic, featuring our hero who evokes Lassie and Rin Tin Tin in fun stories with incredible art, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. Even in the year that gave us The Phantom Stranger AND Detective Chimp, you have to mark Rex’s debut as an important issue, one that would lead to the return of the superheroes just a few years later as the Silver Age of Comics really kicks off.
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THE ADVENTURES OF REX THE WONDER DOG #1
A comic from another time, but one that reads well and has stellar art, plus the GREATEST DC CHARACTER OF THEM ALL!