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The Blue Streak and Doctor Medusa by Art…
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The Blue Streak and Doctor Medusa (1946)

by Art Elder

Other authors: Francis Kirn (Illustrator)

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Before Whitman published their Big Little Book line based on popular fictional characters from TV, comics, etc., they published full-sized books. These Whitman authorized editions were new adventures, not adaptations. My favorite aunt gave me a bunch of them when I was a girl in the 1960s and I've picked up a few more since. The Blue Streak and Doctor Medusa I bought in 1987. I've just now gotten around to reading it. Too bad I waited because this is an action-packed book.

We get part of the problem in chapter one when multi-millionaire John Marigold wants to hire the Blue Streak to save his also-rich niece, Bess, from making a fool of herself investing in some scheme of a man named Count Luggar. Marigold thinks every man has his price, but the Blue Streak isn't interested. He meets Bess and the Count on the way out. The count has a dapper little mustache and bothers to wax the ends into points. How suspicious! Bess is a gray-eyed blonde with an arrogant air. In all of the illustrations in which she appears she's dressed for riding so she's wearing a snood. From the neck up Bess looks as if she wandered over from Little Women. As we learn later though, she's not the type to swoon when she's in danger. She knows how to box!

The Blue Streak doesn't change his mind when he meets her. It takes a bullet hitting him in his bullet-proof vest to do that.

Doctor Medusa is Marigold's physician, despite his ominous name. We learn more about him in chapter two. His own gang members are cold-blooded killers, but they're afraid of him. His utter ruthlessness becomes clear when one of the gang asks a foolish question.

Marigold has been kidnapped by chapter three. The Blue Streak has a loyal mechanic for a sidekick. Hank O'Toole keeps his light plane and his speedster, the torpedo, going. (The torpedo can go over 100 mph -- almost 161 kph.) The Blue Streak and Hank take the torpedo to Count Luggar's lodge in the Skeleton Mountains, a place well known for people getting lost and never being seen again. There's an attempt to kill our heroes off before they even get there. Marigold is rescued, but Bess has been fool enough to be the Count's guest.

How will the Blue Streak infiltrate this den of evil? By lucky chance, a bond salesman heading to the lodge to make a big sale meets with an accident. By even luckier chance, his clothes fit our hero.

Bess likes the handsome 'Alan Gibbs' enough to irritate Count Luggar. Too bad that Luggar's enormous butler, Midge, fails to break 'Gibb's' neck. Now Luggar is forced to arrange a fatal hunting 'accident', not just for his rival but for Bess.

The Blue Streak and Bess survive. They have some bad moments in one of the Skeleton Mountains' many caves. We're also treated to a glimpse of Dr. Medusa's underground city and why his name is appropriate.
Dr. Medusa is a classic mad scientist. Even he knows he's certifiable. Love his tricks and traps.

The rescued get kidnapped again. There's more underground peril that nearly gets the Blue Streak and Hank killed. Can they save John and Bess Marigold from having their wealth and lives stolen? Will Dr. Medusa let himself be taken alive?

There is no explanation for why the Blue Streak is so strong, can see in the dark, and has superhuman hearing. His real name is never given. What we know of his background comes from the beginning of chapter three. He didn't inherit much money, but we're told he doesn't need much. Really? I think a man with a plane and a fancy car who can afford to dress as if he's wealthy, and to eat a thick steak in a fashionable nightclub while he's checking things out probably needs more than a little money. Still, that claim is more believable than this one from chapter four: 'His muscles tensed and bulged under the tight-fitting red trousers which allowed him full freedom of action.'

The Blue Streak might have been an original character. My old Whitman authorized editions usually stated what comic strip they're based on, but this one doesn't. It doesn't matter. I sure had fun with this book. I also like the illustrations, although the proportions sometimes seem a little off. I did find a short piece about an artist who might be the one who illustrated this book: http://www.lambiek.net/artists/k/kirn_francis.htm

I've seen a photo of this book without its dustjacket. It was dark green with red lettering. My copy's cover is dark brown with red lettering. I don't know if that means that mine is a later printing. ( )
  JalenV | Apr 21, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Art Elderprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kirn, FrancisIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
First words
John Marigold leaned back in his chair and tipped an expensive cigar toward the ceiling.
Quotations
But I am mad, Count Luggar. I am mad but I have the most brilliant mind in the whole world. From everyone here I have received money, and after I have taken their money I have made them immortal. They will never fade away and dissolve into dust.
(chapter 6)
When his body hit the water he realized the power of the current. There was a terrific undertow from the whirlpool below. Even his powerful strokes seemed weak against the lashing water as it swirled downward. The Blue Streak thought of the whirlpool and stroked harder. (chapter 10)
Bess felt trapped, and knew there could now be no possible escape for her. (chapter 18)
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
The Blue Streak of this book is not to be confused with the Blue Streak Golden Age comic book heroes or the Marvel Comics villains of that same name.
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