In the early 1940s super-heroes were in vogue, and every funnybook publisher was grinding out long underwear characters as fast as they could. One enterprising publisher was Dell, who in 1940 devoted a few pages of an issue of their "Crackajack Funnies" to a new super-guy based on one of the most frightening inhabitants of the animal kingdom!
Yes, The Owl! Believe me, they're pretty spooky. Anyway, look at that splash panel! Whatever The Owl actually looks like, I bet he'll be even scarier than that abstract representation! Meanwhile let's enter the lives of private detective Nick "Two First Names" Terry and his fiancee, Belle Wayne. I wonder which one of these two will wind up being our hero, and which one the snoopy reporter girlfriend?
That night Nick Terry tells his manservant Soto to head out because he's going to get to bed early. Finally a comic book hero that lives up to the wisdom of America's greatest philosopher Ben Franklin, who said "early to bed, and then later, put on an outfit and beat people up."
And at 12 midnight Nick Terry becomes The Owl, who is... a guy in a cloak with a bag over his head. See, he's spooky and he casts a lot of shadows. Wasn't there some other famous crime fighter, maybe on the radio, that wore black and prowled around at night and cast a lot of shadows? What was his name again? Had a big nose, that's all I remember.
Nick Terry figured he'd find Carver at Carver's old hideout. Boy, if he'd shared this information with the police, he could be at home right now sleeping soundly! Instead he's wandering around with a bag over his head playing "Spooky The Tuff Little Ghost" with a man in an alarmingly red suit.
It looks like his plan is working! His plan to run around all night long spooking people with his googly eyes, catching criminals that could easily be caught with one phone call to the police. Working like a charm.
Seems like a vital part of The Owl's method is hoping people never turn around or glance in his direction or otherwise become aware of their surroundings. I dunno, it's working out so far.
And, appearing suddenly, The Owl plain scares Carver to death. That'll learn him! And as a self-appointed Justice Vigilante, Nick Terry is of course qualified to judge that these secret Navy papers are too valuable for the police to see. Later he'll take the Streamliner down to DC and hand these over to Frank Knox, who was FDR's Secretary Of The Navy.
Nick Terry then leaves the scene of... well, I guess scaring somebody to death is some kind of murder, I suppose. He pilots the murder boat back to the dock and takes the dead man's car and parks it out in front of his apartment, and then crosses both fingers and hopes that the police are really stupid. And Belle gets the scoop! My my you ARE the little news hound!
Next month The Owl strikes again, but as we'll see, in a slightly different form...
The bag-on-head look was ditched in favor of a more streamlined strongman style and Nick Terry becomes a more traditional super-guy, although one with a little beak for a nose, which is probably not going to strike fear in the hearts of evil-doers. However, he did get a super airplane, and his fiancee Belle became Owl Girl, because the couple that fights punks together is surely on the road to a happy marriage.
Here we see The Owl and Owl Girl in the Owlplane, escaping the police by laying down a thick smokescreen and endangering everyone in the air.
In fact the entire city is paralyzed by The Owl's smoke. Traffic accidents, pedestrian mishaps, and confusion abound. How many serious injuries or deaths were caused by our supposed super-hero?
And because it's the early 40s, we'll never miss a chance to poke fun at NYC's greatest mayor, Fiorello La Guardia, known for enthusiastically attending fires, reading the newspaper funnies out over the radio, and becoming the airport you don't want to fly into.
As the decade progressed long-underwear characters went out of style and The Owl vanished into obscurity. It would take twenty five years and the popularity of a TV show based on another animal-themed 1940s superhero to bring The Owl back from his long owl-like daytime sleep, and like so many other superheros revived to once again jump on that superhero bandwagon, back he came.
These new adventures of The Owl had old-school street cred in the form of writer Jerry Siegel, who created Superman, I dunno if you ever heard of him, he's kind of obscure. Siegel went full on camp Batman here and crammed as much jokey talky winky tongue-in-cheek text as humanly possible into these pages, which feature the Terror Twins firing laser-beam guitars - laser-beam guitars later utilized by the rock band Prism in their hit "Spaceship Superstar"- at our hapless heroes.
Our story opens as a retired gangster couple bemoans the state of their offspring, who are more interested in the Beatles, the Monkees, and the Rolling Stones than they are in the Dillinger Gang or Murder, Inc. Kids these days!
But it turns out their kids are going to use the hip rock motif to commit horrific acts of criminal violence against society, like their idols, the Rolling Stones.
And in their battle with The Owl and Owl-Girl the laser guitars and the labored dialog are flying fast and furious!
Our super champions heroically hide behind a jewelry counter, The Owl is kicked in the face and loses his Owl-Gun, and Owl-Girl stands uselessly around. Maybe these characters should have stayed in the 1940s.
Whoops, and now they're rendered helpless by The Owl's own ray gun, which makes you say "hoot" while attemping "the twist". Potentially deadly when used on grownups!
Meanwhile back at police headquarters, Nick Terry is being kissed by teenagers while Laura Holt - apparently the thing with Belle Wayne didn't work out - Laura Holt looks on with understandable jealousy.
"Laura, let me explain so you won't misunderstand! Grace here is a teenage girl, and I was kissing her! You see, a perfectly rational explanation!"
And then Nick goes next door and puts on his Owl outfit and Grace kisses him some more. Listen Laura, you'd better stop breaking the fourth wall and start laying down the law to Little Miss Kissyface here!
Over at evil criminal HQ there isn't any kissing - just science gone awry as the Professor's mind-altering projector's engram-repulsors are reversed and the ray starts turning people evil instead of good, and accentuating the negative in a stunning reversal of the old Johnny Mercer tune. Somebody call Kay Kyser, stat!
And our story reaches an exciting climax as the now evil professor commands the terror twins and the robot punishers - yes, this comic has robot punishers in it - to slay The Owl. Looks like curtains for our heroes!
But our kissy teenage girl uses her science smarts and reverses the ray, turning everybody good again!
No more kinky cut-ups for the Terror Twins, sadly enough. Crazy kicks are OUT!
And as Grace enters another kissing frenzy, The Owl and Owl-Girl prepare for their next exciting hoot-filled adventure. Which wasn't going to happen as this was the last issue of "The Owl". Of course, he's been revived a few more times, because god knows super-hero nerds can't let any of these characters rest in peace, but that's a story for another day. Or night, if you're The Owl. Hoot! Woo-oo!
PREVIOUS STUPID COMICS
NEXT STUPID COMICS
BACK TO STUPID COMICS INDEX
BACK TO MAIN INDEX