In the previous blog post we took a first look at a very unique comic from July 1941: Daredevil Battles Hitler. The book is remarkable for a whole host of reasons, the foremost being that the book was published over six months prior to the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

The second story in the book is titled “The Claw Double-Crosses Hitler”:

 

1941: The world's two worst villains meet, but not for the first time

 

It should read “Daredevil Double-Crosses The Bad Guys” because that’s ultimately what happens in this tale. The “Cliff Notes” version goes something like this:

The Claw and Hitler strike a bargain: if The Claw will help Japan destroy the British fleet in Singapore, the Axis will give Upper Mongolia to The Claw in return. Despite the fact that this sounds like a total screw job (c’mon, Upper Mongolia???), The Claw agrees to Hitler’s terms. (There’s a bit of fun here, by the way, when The Claw picks Hitler up in his enormous taloned hand):

 

Wuss

 

Daredevil gets wind of their plot and devises a scheme of his own. He hitches a ride with a chartered aviator, then hijacks a Japanese warplane by leaping from one plane to the other:

(It’s one of those great comics moments when your “inner eight year old” jumps up and screams “HECK YEAH!!!“)

Masquerading as an attaché from The Claw, Daredevil wangles a plane and crew from the unsuspecting Japanese, as well as a copy of their secret plans. As soon as he receives the plans, Daredevil takes care of the Japanese crew by pitching them out of the plane:

(The presence or absence of parachutes is unclear from the panel. I increased the magnification and it looks as though Daredevil is batting 50/50 — the first man out doesn’t seem to be wearing a chute, while the second guy looks as though he might have one strapped on.)

Daredevil reads the plans and discovers that the Japanese fleet (with Hitler in tow) is on the way to Singapore to destroy the British fleet anchored there. Posing as an aide to Hitler, Daredevil visits The Claw to “obtain reinforcements”. Convinced of Daredevil’s story that the Japanese fleet is actually the British one, the Claw’s air force sinks the Japanese fleet. Now the Japanese believe that The Claw has deliberately double-crossed them.

But the fun’s not over. Daredevil’s next stop is the German warship from which Hitler is observing the battle; Hitler, too, believes that The Claw’s forces have pulled a double-cross. Commandeering a gun turret, Daredevil opens fire directly on The Claw:

Now The Claw thinks that Hitler has double-crossed him; The Claw’s all set to crush the little paper-hanger in his gargantuan hand, but Hitler whines and bribes his way out of it:

Great fun, cool plot, and a very satisfying tale for those of us who are Golden Age Daredevil fans!

The next story teams Daredevil with Lance Hale. We’ve not met him yet in this blog, but Lance is kind of a cipher; in the beginning his adventures were an oddball combination of jungle and outer space stories, but by the time of Daredevil Battles Hitler Lance seems to have settled into a role as a kind of half-baked Tarzan:

Check out the camouflage job on that tank! I’ll give the writer half-credit for historical accuracy here. The Axis did indeed want to cut England off from their colonial holdings, but they weren’t trying to do it by overthrowing all of Africa. The real plan was to drive directly across North Africa and capture the Suez Canal (which is where the endlessly cool real-life story of the Afrika Korps vs. the Eighth Army comes in).

As far as this comic goes there’s not much of a story here, but the creative team gives Hitler-haters quite a few chuckles along the way. Hitler gets a hard shot in the breadbasket courtesy of Daredevil:

 

Next kick him in the wiener, schnitzel!

 

Hitler obviously frowns upon having the wind knocked out of him and puts Daredevil in front of a firing squad:

Daredevil seems pretty unconcerned, and with reason: he knows that Lance Hale is coming to his rescue. Lance’s fires a well-aimed arrow and forces another indignity upon Der Fuehrer:

 

Just try to beat *that* shot, Green Arrow!

 

…providing my inner eight year old with yet another opportunity to freak out. But before we readers have a chance to catch our breath, Hitler suffers some well-deserved abuse yet again:

The story continues in much the same vein for seven pages, with the heroes emerging triumphant (of course): the German airbase is wrecked and Hitler barely escapes back to the Fatherland.

But the Comics House/Lev Gleason heroes weren’t done jacking with the Nazi Germans yet — not by a long shot. We’ll witness more of the action in Daredevil Battles Hitler the next time around. Until then…

Have fun! — Steve

Copyright 2010, Steven A. Lopez. All rights reserved.

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