This blog post was requested by several readers of Balladeer’s Blog. They loved the concept of Jerry Robinson’s Golden Age character from Lev Gleason’s publications and wanted to know more about him, so here is a look at ALL the stories in his sadly brief run.
Origin: While covering the Blitz during World War Two, suave newscaster Marc Holmes decided that his fellow Brits needed extra inspiration to maintain their spirit of defiance against the Nazis. He adopted the costumed identity of London and battled Axis Agents.
Powers: London was in the peak of human condition and excelled at unarmed combat. He also possessed the agility of an Olympic gymnast. In addition, this hero was a crack shot with the handgun he carried.
STORY ONE – Daredevil Comics #2 (August 1941)
Synopsis: Despite this being the very first published adventure of the superhero called London, the story establishes that he is already well-known from his escapades during the actual Blitz, September 1940 to May 1941. In his secret identity of Marc Holmes, our main character plugs his alter ego’s heroics during his nightly radio broadcasts.
Meanwhile, Dian, a fictional niece of Winston Churchill escapes a Concentration Camp in Nazi-occupied Holland with a dissident educator named Franz. When the pair arrive in the city of London their escape is covered by Marc Holmes, an old friend of the niece and of Churchill.
Under cover of a blackout during a Luftwaffe bombing raid, Churchill himself is kidnapped by the treacherous Franz and some fellow spies. Our hero London battles and captures a few of the spies but three of them get away with the Prime Minister still their captive.
With the government’s okay London flies a plane to the port city of Meldorf, Germany, after roughing up one of the captured spies to determine where Churchill was taken. In Meldorf, the costumed hero intercepts the vehicle taking the Prime Minister from there to Hitler. He defeats the Nazis and flies the PM back to England in his plane.
The next night Marc Holmes willingly distorts the story for the sake of British morale. Rather than admit that Churchill had to be retrieved from German soil he instead claims that London prevented the Nazis from kidnapping the PM in the first place.
STORY TWO – Daredevil Comics #3 (September 1941)
Title: London Can Take It! (This phrase was Marc Holmes’ signature signoff on his nightly radio news broadcast.)
Synopsis: A new team of Nazi spies have been sabotaging areas of England AND getting vital information to the Nazi High Command. Marc Holmes runs a bluff by announcing on his radio show that London has promised him information that will lead to the spy ring’s arrest within 48 hours.
Because this is fiction the chumps fall for it and our hero flushes out the ring members, led by a British traitor named Hector Pinchley, a Nazi named Herr Shlutz and a figure call Weazel. London exposes the secret underwater cable that the spy ring has been using to get messages to Occupied France and from there to Berlin.
As a bonus the costumed crusader learns that a fictional Nazi official named “Rudolf Hesst” will be parachuting into England with a unit of 50 expert saboteurs to unleash a reign of terror. London thwarts this plan and captures Hesst.
Comment: Obviously the Hesst bit is a fictionalized version of Rudolf Hess’s parachute drop into England earlier in 1941.
STORY THREE – Daredevil Comics #4 (October 1941)
Title: From The Tottering Spires
Synopsis: A German U-Boat attacks and sinks the British merchant marine vessel the HMS Albion, the 3rd such vehicle to be sunk by a U-Boat in the past month. Lloyd’s of London and Prime Minister Churchill are livid but no one knows how the Nazi subs are able to zero in on the ships so effectively.
Radio broadcaster Marc Holmes sets out on a voyage to America aboard the HMS Moreland Queen, not knowing it is the next target of the U-Boat campaign. Holmes tapes interviews with some of the celebrities on board plus an aspiring writer and an American murderer caught in Great Britain and being expedited back to the States. Also on board is a shipment of gold.
Two days into the trip, Holmes dons his London costume and scouts the ship for trouble. He winds up in a fight with the condemned killer, who escapes overboard in a dinghy.
As more shipboard dramas play out, involving a vain actress and a snooty diplomat, London rules the pair out as spies. When a U-Boat attacks, our hero pieces together the fact that the supposed aspiring writer is using a typewriter that is really a teletype device for contacting U-Boats and leading them to whatever ship the spy is on at the time.
London subdues the spy posing as a writer and then uses his phony typewriter to order the approaching sub to board the Moreland Queen instead of sinking her. The excuse he gives is the need to seize the shipment of gold for the Fatherland.
When the Nazi sub-mariners launch their boarding party our hero leads the fight against them, eventually battling his way to the surfaced sub. The escaped killer, afloat in the dinghy, gives his life to save the outnumbered London.
The sub fills with water and sinks to its doom but the Captain is captured. When the ship reaches America, Marc Holmes plans to return to England as quickly as he can.
STORY FOUR – Daredevil Comics #5 (November 1941)
Title: London Strikes Back
Synopsis: In England a British film company is making a movie about the superhero called London. The morale-boosting flick features an actor playing London fighting an actor playing Hitler himself in one scene. Radio broadcaster Marc Holmes conducts some interviews with a few of the stars.
As the REAL London our hero takes to covertly frequenting the set and nips in the bud assorted attempts to sabotage the film’s production. After thwarting an attempt to burn all the completed footage, our hero leaks word that Churchill will appear as himself in a scene featuring him putting Hitler on trial after London captures him in the film.
In the end London foils an attempt to assassinate Churchill on the set filming his scenes. In a final battle with the big baddie – disguised as the Hitler actor to try to kill the PM – our hero takes him down.
In a fitting scene for the time period, the fake Hitler is crushed under the weight of a gigantic globe of the Earth which comes unloosed from the ceiling during his climactic fight with London. (Presumably a Great Dictator reference.)
STORY FIVE – Daredevil Comics #6 (December 1941)
Title: London and Liberty
Synopsis: London takes the war to Germany itself! He is sent in to sabotage a long-range gun like the kind the Germans used to strike at England toward the end of World War One. Succeeding at that mission, he lingers to organize German anti-Nazis into resistance cells.
In the days ahead he leads various groups in striking at docks, ammunition dumps, railroad yards and depots. In each place he and his followers leave a large “L” for London and liberty.
Ultimately he and a German anti-Nazi named Hans are cornered in a windmill hideout. They shoot and fight their way out, steal a boat and try to reach safety but when the pursuing Nazi vessels shoot their fuel tank it causes a huge explosion. London is presumed dead and Hans is captured, to be tried for treason at a show trial.
Hitler declares a national holiday over the death of London and the celebrations culminate with Hans’ show trial. Our hero isn’t really dead, of course, and after one last sensational blow struck at the Nazis during Hans’ trial he returns to England.
STORY SIX – Daredevil Comics #7 (February 1942)
Title: Rising From The Rubble And Ruin
Synopsis: In Occupied France, the Free French have taken up London’s “L” Campaign led by a beautiful British spy named Leslie (no last name given). Arsenals and factories get burned to the ground, infuriating General Steupnagel, whose men at last capture Leslie.
Steupnagel announces that if there are any more acts of sabotage in his area he will put 10 people to death for each of them, and Leslie herself will be the first to be guillotined. Marc Holmes sneaks into France as London to try to rescue Leslie before it’s too late.
The French Resistance strikes once more before our hero can free his fellow Brit and she is marked as the first of 10 victims for the guillotine’s blade. London must overcome Steupnagel, his men AND a costumed Nazi supervillain called the Executioner.
Naturally, London and Leslie triumph against all odds and fight their way back to England, apparently feeling “Screw you” toward the other intended victims. Leslie becomes our hero’s romantic interest.
Comment: Though this was the 7th issue of Daredevil Comics the number 6 accidentally appeared on the cover.
STORY SEVEN – Daredevil Comics #8 (March 1942)
Title: Who Is The Boar?
Note: This story ignores the masked and costumed Executioner from last issue and claims that the Boar is the first supervillain that London has faced.
Synopsis: The story opens on a British waterfront as London and Leslie (still no last name given) fight a ring of armed German spies. London takes care of most of them, but Leslie saves his life by shooting dead the last of them before they can kill our hero. After some snogging London and Leslie leave to bask in the next day’s headlines.
In Germany, Hitler and his subordinates decide to send their deadly, hideously ugly, masked and costumed supervillain called the Boar to kill London. The Boar also has a killer boar on a leash, ready for mayhem.
Once in England the Boar and his pet start blowing up ships, airplanes and factories. Marc Holmes ignores warnings from the Ministry of Information and continues to drive home the deadliness of the Boar’s attacks.
After his nightly broadcast, Holmes gets word that he is to report to the Ministry at once for a dressing-down over his disobedience. It turns out to be a trick of the Boar’s subordinate agents. They pull guns on Marc and take him along to meet the Boar. Leslie spots what’s going on and surreptitiously follows in her own car.
As the car with Marc and his captors nears the waterfront, he makes his move, clobbering the Nazis in the back seat with him and then causing the driver to crash the vehicle into the water. Leslie pulls up in her car but is captured by other spies and taken to the Boar.
The Boar plans to use her as a hostage to lure London into his clutches, promising to feed the hero’s remains to his boar. Naturally, Marc Holmes survived the plunge into the water and – as London – raids the boat serving as the Boar’s headquarters.
He outfights the underlings, clashes with the Boar, then saves Leslie. London and Leslie escape the now-burning boat just before it explodes. They think the Boar died in the explosion but we readers see that he and his boar survived to plague our hero again.
STORY EIGHT – Daredevil Comics #9 (April 1942)
Title: The Boar Returns
Synopsis: News that the superhero called London will be addressing the House of Commons the next evening reaches the Boar back in Germany. He and his pet boar, finally given a name – Tong – plan to covertly arrive and kill our main character when he speaks. Again, the Nazi supervillain promises his pet he will dine on London’s flesh.
The Boar and Tong get themselves smuggled into the House of Commons in boxes supposedly containing materials relevant to London’s address that evening. A huge crowd of Britishers is outside the House hoping for a glimpse of the superhero.
At last London swings in through a window and addresses Winston Churchill and the House of Commons. Our hero has learned of a Nazi plot to attack England with biological warfare.
Before London can share details, the Boar and Tong attack. Our costumed lead character battles the villain and his pet throughout the building, at last reaching the rooftop.
A German bombing raid wreaks havoc around the two combatants as they go at each other. Tong is killed amid the chaos, driving the Boar to new heights of savagery. Anti-climactically, a British soldier shoots the Boar in the head, killing him before he and our hero could finish their battle.
London leaves the scene and returns as Marc – now spelled Mark. Leslie, not very perceptive for a spy, greets Mark and tells him that he missed all the excitement of London fighting the Boar. The broadcaster listens with bemusement as Leslie describes the superhero in glowing terms.
STORY NINE – Daredevil Comics #10 (May 1942)
Title: Out of the Muck and Mire
Synopsis: Mark Holmes, British news broadcaster – mistakenly called a “news forecaster” in the narration – reports that his sources have told him the superhero London is on the Continent trying to learn the next big move on the part of the Nazis.
As London, he flies to Occupied France and exhausts his contacts there to try clarifying the German plans to unleash germ warfare on England. At last, he learns that the Nazis have a shipment of “Bacteria Bombs” shipping out of Dunkirk that night. They will be unleashed on England within an hour.
London steals a car from a passing German soldier and drives off to the factory near Dunkirk. He vaults the electrified fence, skulks and fights his way past the guards and burns the factory supply of bacterial fluid for the bombs.
Leslie (her last name is STILL none of our damn business apparently) shows up unexpectedly and tells our hero that two planes full of the Bacterial Bombs have already left for England. The pair hijack a German warplane and set off in pursuit of the bombers, needing to destroy them before they get over British airspace with their deadly cargo.
While London pilots the plane, Leslie works the machine guns and shoots down one of the planes, which goes down and explodes in the English Channel. Their ammunition exhausted, London and Leslie ram the other bomber, blowing it up while they barely escape with their lives, parachuting into the drink.
A British sea rescue unit picks them up and Leslie makes a remark which indicates she may finally be realizing that London and Mark Holmes are one and the same.
STORY TEN – Daredevil Comics #11 (June 1942)
Title: The Diamond Camera
Note: In this final London story his mask and cape are red for some reason and Leslie is blonde for some reason. And his name is back to being spelled Marc instead of Mark.
Synopsis: Marc Holmes completes another of his newest things – pirate news broadcasts over Continental Europe in defiance of the Nazis. (He did one last issue at the beginning, too.)
After he’s off the air, he switches to London and takes his plane down to try to save a man from being killed by a white-clad Nazi killer called the Butcher. That figure throws a spear to kill the man he was chasing and then draws a machete to battle London.
Our hero is in deadly combat with him when Leslie arrives on the scene and shoots the machete out of the Butcher’s hand. He flees while Leslie hugs London, angering him since this stops him from pursuing the fleeing Nazi. (What, is Leslie really a Double Agent? I’m kidding.)
Leslie eventually tells our hero that the dead man is Agent 23 of the British Secret Service. She was to rendezvous with him there so he could pass along a crucial find he had uncovered. London finds a diamond-studded camera on the dead agent’s person so he and Leslie get it back to England.
At Scotland Yard, our hero, Leslie and two Yard men named Tibbets and Chief Inspector Connors all watch the developed film in the camera, only to see it’s just footage of a Maypole Dance. Chief Connors determines to study it more, but gets killed in his office by the Butcher, who has appeared out of nowhere.
London engages in a running fight with the Butcher across rooftops and streets, ultimately emerging triumphant. Before he can get the defeated Butcher to say what’s so important about the diamond-studded camera, Tibbets shoots him, claiming he thought he had a gun.
Our hero pieces together what the Butcher meant by his jumbled last words, exposes Tibbets as a Nazi Agent and reveals that glued inside the camera was proof that the Butcher and Tibbets both worked for Hitler directly.
London and Leslie flirt and ponder teaming up, which makes no sense since they’ve been working together these past several stories anyway. An end note tells readers that next month London will face his most dangerous foe yet.
I guess that foe was SO dangerous that he killed London since this 10th story was the very last published adventure of this neglected hero.
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