With the 4th of July Holiday rapidly approaching, Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at one of the patriotic superheroes of the World War Two Era – in this case Minute-Man, whose nom de guerre came from the famed Revolutionary War militiamen.
Secret Identity: Private Jack Weston, U.S. Army
First Appearance: Master Comics #11 (February 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1944.
Origin: Private Jack Weston at Camp Blaine was selected by General Milton to secretly become America’s costumed operative Minute-Man, sent on missions of vital national security on a minute’s notice like the Minutemen called to action in the Revolutionary War.
Powers: Minute-Man was in peak physical condition and possessed the agility of an acrobat. He was a master of unarmed combat in addition to being well-versed in commando techniques.
Comment: Jack Weston was later promoted to Lieutenant in order to give his secret identity more flexibility, but General Milton remained the only one privy to Minute-Man’s real name. Jack’s father Robert was killed in action during World War One.
STORY 1: The Origin of Minute-Man
MASTER COMICS #11 (February 1941)
Synopsis: General Milton gives Private Jack Weston his secret assignment to be the costumed operative called Minute-Man. The hero thwarts a ring of masked spies from an unknown country (but clearly Germany) who want to discourage America from entering World War Two.
Minute-Man saves a train-load of new soldiers from plunging over a cliff, then stops the foreign spies from blowing up an entire U.S. Army training base.
STORY 2: Minute-Man, Defender of America
MASTER COMICS #12 (March 1941)
Synopsis: General Milton sends Minute-Man to the Top Secret Army Air Base at Analosta to stop the sabotage of new fighter planes under development. Using his rocket-powered winged backpack, the hero saves one of the experimental planes from destruction and takes down the sabotage ring run by beautiful female spy Illyria, who will become Minute-Man’s archenemy.
Illyria escapes, but her men are killed or captured.
STORY 3: America Prepares
MASTER COMICS #13 (April 1941)
Synopsis: Illyria strikes again, this time leading a ring of German, Japanese, Italian and French Vichy operatives. They covertly take over war games being run by General Milton and start killing the men for real, but Minute-Man thwarts Illyria’s plans and frees the general from her clutches.
Our hero nearly captures Illyria but one of her underlings gives his life to let her escape.
STORY 4: Secret Enemies
MASTER COMICS #14 (May 1941)
Synopsis: Illyria and her spies try to convince the inventor of a deadly new explosive to sell the secret to the Axis Nations but he refuses, so they abduct him. Minute-Man succeeds in freeing the scientist and in capturing all of the spies – including Illyria this time.
STORY 5: Two Lives to Give for His Country
MASTER COMICS #15 (June 1941)
Synopsis: Minute-Man disrupts an espionage network run by Nuggerud the Agitator and also stops the network’s plan to initiate hostilities between America and the neutral nation called Rinaldo through explosives planted at their embassy.
STORY 6: July 4th, the Birthday of America’s Freedom
MASTER COMICS #16 (July 1941)
Synopsis: Illyria escapes from prison on the 4th of July and plans to use tainted fireworks to blow up revelers at an Independence Day celebration. Minute-Man disrupts her plans and saves countless lives, but when he can’t bring himself to shoot a woman, Illyria manages to escape.
STORY 7: Double-Duty for America’s Defender
MASTER COMICS #17 (August 1941)
Synopsis: Minute-Man must counter Illyria’s remote-controlled bombers and her android operative called X-33. In the end our hero manages to destroy the robot and use the spy queen’s remote-controlled aircraft to wipe out her latest spy ring.
STORY 8: Notice to Dictators
MASTER COMICS #18 (September 1941)
Synopsis: Hitler himself sends Kapitan Von Gurn and a team of commandos to America to abduct General Milton and bring him to Germany. Once there he will be tortured for all the military secrets he knows, then killed.
Minute-Man defeats Von Gurn’s entire team, frees General Milton from the Kapitan’s submarine and even sends a taunting message to Hitler in Berlin.
STORY 9: From the Dust of Defeat
MASTER COMICS #19 (October 1941)
Synopsis: General Milton sends Minute-Man to rendezvous with an American agent who has stolen Axis plans for a super-weapon. Illyria and her men beat him to the location, kill the agent and steal the plans.
Our hero traces the spy queen to her booby-trap laden hideaway where he outfights and captures her men while also recovering the stolen plans.
STORY 10: The Modern Bomber
MASTER COMICS #20 (November 1941)
Synopsis: Illyria and her latest gang of operatives steal the U.S. Army’s latest high-tech bomber and, from her secret base near the Rockies, launch a reign of terror on the country by using the stolen bomber. Minute-Man locates the secret base, frees Illyria’s captured slave laborers and defeats her spy ring.
Our hero also captures Illyria when she tries to flee in the stolen bomber.
STORY 11: The Black Dragon Society
MASTER COMICS #21 (December 1941)
Synopsis: Minute-Man wages an all-out war with Japan’s secret Black Dragon Society as they launch terrorist attacks all across America. Our hero thwarts all their plans up to and including their attempt to assassinate President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
STORY 12: The Hawk
MASTER COMICS #22 (January 1942)
Synopsis: Minute-Man tangles with a supervillain called the Hawk, whose costume allows him to fly and also features sharp taloned gloves. The Hawk runs a spy ring of phony cripples and beggars who kill U.S. soldiers and also steal military secrets.
STORY 13: The Walking Dead Man
MASTER COMICS #23 (February 1942)
Synopsis: When the massively muscled Killer Mills is hanged for murder, he seems to have returned from the grave and begins killing the judge and jury that he blames for his death sentence. Minute-Man investigates and ultimately defeats the huge murderer, revealing it to be Killer Mills’ twin brother posing as his late sibling.
STORY 14: The Curse of Sir Francis Drake
MASTER COMICS #24 (March 1942)
Synopsis: Minute-Man must solve the mysterious attacks of a glowing figure claiming to be the returned Sir Francis Drake, fulfilling a curse laid on a shipment of gold passed down in his will. Our hero proves that two museum authorities were using an electrical sword and other weaponry to pose as Drake.
STORY 15: Waves of Terror
MASTER COMICS #25 (April 1942)
Synopsis: Minute-Man fights a trio of American traitors who try to rob Camp Blaine’s payroll, impersonate General Milton and destroy the Army’s experimental new tanks which can function on land and underwater.
STORY 16: Doctor Hour
MASTER COMICS #26 (May 1942)
Synopsis: A new costumed supervillain called Dr. Hour is killing off the family and staff of a major American munitions manufacturer named Thor Pedo. (I’m not joking. That is the bizarre name they went with.) Dr. Hour is doing it by way of rigged grandfather clocks when they ring thirteen times and by throwing his miniature hourglasses which are gas bombs that unleash poisoned sands.
Minute-Man stops the villain’s murder spree and exposes his plans to cash in on the stock market.
STORY 17: The Toymaker
MASTER COMICS #27 (June 1942)
Note: Minute-Man finally starts wearing a mask to conceal his secret identity of Jack Weston. Hey, better late than never I guess.
Synopsis: We get another colorful addition to Minute-Man’s Rogues Gallery of foes in the form of the Toymaker, who uses deadly modified toys to kill and destroy. Using things like toy soldiers and poison-tipped Jack in the Box weapons the villain tries to assassinate the visiting boy king of a fictional Eastern European country which stands against the Nazis.
Minute-Man manages to keep the king alive despite a few collateral deaths and captures the Toymaker.
STORY 18: The Fuhrer’s Assassin
MASTER COMICS #28 (July 1942)
Synopsis: Minute-Man takes action when Adolf Hitler sends a hideously ugly Nazi Assassin to kill off people involved in the production and sale of America’s War Bonds to help fund the war effort. Things get personal when one of the Assassin’s targets is General Milton’s daughter, who becomes Minute-Man’s romantic interest from this point on.
The Assassin uses a variety of knives and guns plus he drives a sort of “Assassin-Mobile” which is outfitted with assorted James Bond gimmicks.
STORY 19: The Fumes of Fear
MASTER COMICS #29 (August 1942)
Synopsis: A goggled Japanese supervillain called Doctor Fear has been secretly experimenting on human guinea pigs in a west coast hospital near Camp Blaine. His inhumane experiments have let him perfect his Fumes of Fear, which can induce enough terror in American soldiers to make them commit suicide and/or make them hallucinate their greatest fears.
The villain unleashes the fumes via his fake lapel flower, his cigarette smoke and through hand-held test tubes. Minute-Man corrals Dr. Fear, his ring of Japanese agents and recovers top secret war plans that were stolen by the villain.
Note: Dr. Fear and his men practice the Shinto faith.
STORY 20: The Shh Campaign
MASTER COMICS #30 (September 1942)
Synopsis: An Italian supervillain called the Ear runs an Axis spy ring which keeps picking up on information carelessly dropped by American defense industry workers and reckless G.I’s.
Minute-Man thwarts the Ear’s efforts to sabotage defense works, burn food stores for the war and derail trains carrying vital munitions. Standard war-time “watch what you say, because you never know who’s listening” message.
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