The Clock Strikes…. the return of someone you’ve never heard of….
By John A. Short and Vince Danks. Based on “The Clock” created by George Brenner
Interesting stuff here, as John A. Short and artist Vince Danks plunder the public domain to bring back an obscure, pretty much forgotten hero, a character predating Superman by some eighteen months, the first of the masked comic book heroes, and an obvious link between the pulps and comic books.
It’s perhaps surprising that he’s not more widely known, but because the character’s fallen into disuse he’s up for general, public domain use. And that’s where Short and Danks pick the character up. Thankfully, Short’s decided to resist the urge to tinker that much with what I imagine are the basics of the character. No modern updating, no post-modernism, just a straight tale of cops, crooks, femme fatales, seedy joints, and smart mouthed detectives, in oh so suitable black and white, and a mysterious vigilante type with a shadow in place of his face, a source of impossible rumour and speculation:
The cop’s walked into what he imagines is a simple enough mob-war. There are leads, there are bodies, there are informants, and a femme fatale. There was always going to be a femme fatale. And behind it all the inevitable meeting with The Clock looming closer and closer…
Now, in all honesty, there’s nothing out of this world about the story, it’s just your basic cop investigates suspected mob-war killings, gets sucked into the search for The Clock sort of thing. Seen it many times before, it’s been done for decades, and this thin 22-pager is hardly out to reinvent the genre. But in some ways that’s not the point. This is all about mood and style, not really about story.
And Short pretty much gets it right. Sure, the cop has a couple of clunky lines, but more often than not we’re deep in classic Chandler / Hamnett territory here. Story may be slight, but the mood is pretty much spot on.
Now, if you’ve followed the blog for any length of time, you’ll remember my deep, abiding love of Harker by Roger Gibson and Vince Danks.
So it should hardly come as a shock to discover that I think Danks’ art works so bloody well here, suitably slightly darker and noir than over on Harker, but as always… gorgeous. Fantastic buildings, beautiful street scenes, even great carpet. And equally gorgeous whether drawing dead bodies or very alive and lithe ones…. femme fatale indeed, as our police lieutenant is about to find out…..
So 22-pages of Short and Danks working out a little wish fulfilment to do a good old fashioned noir detective story. It’s not that filling, a mere snack of a thing perhaps, but it looks lovely, and Short doesn’t waste much time getting through as many stereotypes of the genre as possible.
Worth buying, if only to convince the pair that we’d love to see them spend more time, and more pages on this character.
You can buy The Clock Strikes from the Kult Creations website.