Based on a successful comic book that began in 1941, the Blackhawks were seven flyers who banded together during WW II to fight the Nazis. After the war, they continued to fight evil where ... See full summary »
Columbia's 33rd serial (made between "Jack Armstrong" and "The Sea Hound") was based on the character that first appeared in "Action Comics" No. 42, who was a radio singing cowboy who ... See full summary »
A girl is about to inherit a fortune, but she is missing in Africa. Only then, family charges Congo Bill, an adventurer, to find her, and bring her back to civilization. He follows a legend about some White Queen, but his path is full of difficulties, by an inhospitable jungle, and the man who will lose the fortune if the girl is found alive.
The Spy Smasher serial follows a quite rigid formula. Each installment ends in a cliffhanger, the next one starts with how Spy Smasher gets out of the pickle he was in. He chases his enemies to a new location, fights them there, and stops their plan. Then he learns of a new plot, goes to where the bad guys are, and lands in a pickle (which is the next cliffhanger).
Having such a formula is not in itself a bad thing, as you can do lots of variation within it. But it is difficult to keep the excitement for 12 installments, when all of them are so similar. Spy smasher does not manage this, and could easily have been shortened to five episodes, and be all the better for it.
At its best, Spy Smasher has some great stunts and fights, fun twists and enjoyable cliff hangers. At its worst, the fights and twists feels like they are obligatory rather than meant to serve a purpose. The fight scenes are all quite similar, in that it revolves around men throwing themselves at each other, falling over furniture and more often than not running up or down a staircase. The locations differ, leading to an opportunity for different stunts each place.
This is probably common in serials like these, but in almost all of the cliffhangers, they cheat. Meaning that what they show in the end of one episode does not match how the next episode begins. Some of them are quite fun despite this. The last cliffhanger (chapter 11) does not cheat like this, but is instead one of the highlights of the whole serial.
If you are curious about the old serials, this is a good place to start, as it is mostly very fun. It is just too bad that they had to make so many installments, as it weakens the over all experience.
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