The Human Bomb

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The above is not a complete list of Human Bomb stories. Rather, it consists of my picks of the best tales in the magazines, the ones I enjoyed reading, and recommend to others.

These best stories of the comic books are preceded by their issue number.

They were edited by Ed Cronin.

Many issues of Police Comics can be read free online at Comic Book +.


The Human Bomb

The Origin of the Human Bomb (1941). Writer: Paul Gustavson Art: Paul Gustavson. (Title for this titleless story supplied by Grand Comics Database.) The Human Bomb was a super-hero, who could set off explosions with his fingertips. He started out as an ordinary human being, lab scientist Roy Lincoln, and got his powers when he swallowed an explosive chemical so that it would not fall into Nazi hands. Such an origin, a regular human transformed into a super-powered person through a laboratory event, echoes those of Steel Sterling and the Golden Age Flash. The Human Bomb also seems to be invulnerable, and capable of moving at high speeds. powers that are never really explained anywhere in the stories.

The Human Bomb stories are way too violent. In many ways, they are war stories, with Roy using his powers to battle Nazi agents and machines. I am not comfortable with this level of violence. Still, the best tales have a lot of way-out imagination.

Roy's suit anticipates the lead suits Superman would later wear to guard against Kryptonite.

The visual design of the suit is full of strange curves. These sometimes echo and emphasize the musculature of Roy's body. At other times, they simply give the suit a unique curvilinear feel. The mittens Roy wears, which look as it they are surrounded gauntlet-style by a cone of tongue depressors, are also unusual.

The story ends with a fervent denunciation of the Nazis. This is still four months before the US's entrance into the war.

The second Human Bomb story in the next issue, "Evil on Calona Island" is routine.

The Purple Mist (1941). Writer: Paul Gustavson Art: Paul Gustavson. (Title for this titleless story supplied by Grand Comics Database.) Roy Lincoln is summoned by President Roosevelt for a meeting at the White House; meanwhile, a menacing purple mist is seen in the streets. Origin of Roy's fiancée, Jean Caldwell. Inventive mix of a simple science fictional menace, and adventure.

This tale reminds one of some Jerry Siegel stories. Its picture of Washington DC under siege by high tech armed forces recalls Siegel's Federal Men tale "Attack on Washington" (Adventure Comics #6, 7 July and August 1936). And the appearance here of FDR as a character recalls Siegel's Federal Men tale "The Submarine Terror, Part 1" (Adventure Comics #4, March 1936), and his Spy story "The President's Assignment" (Detective Comics #25, March 1939).

There is a good portrait of an Army Captain from Fort Dix, on the last page.

The U-Boat Battle (1941). Writer: Paul Gustavson Art: Paul Gustavson. (Title for this titleless story supplied by Grand Comics Database.) Roy develops a new chemical in his lab, then flies to Havana with his fiancée, Jean Caldwell. Jean does not know Roy is the Human Bomb, and she begins to get inquisitive here, in the tradition of Lois Lane. This is actually fairly atypical of Golden Age girlfriends. Most seem to know all about their boyfriend's secret identity. Jean is depicted as intelligent and alert here. In later tales, she manages to get more involved in the action.

Roy is seen working for the US Government for the first time here. He makes a surprising appearance in the dress uniform of a Marine Corps Sergeant, a neat scene.

Like the previous issues story, "The Purple Mist", this tale further develops the mythos of the character. Roy's new chemical gives him new powers, and we see him in new roles.

The Phony Murder of Col. Stanford (1941). Writer: Paul Gustavson Art: Paul Gustavson. (Title for this titleless story supplied by Grand Comics Database.) Colonel Stanford, a US Government bigwig, is killed. In this tale, we see Roy in a formal evening Navy uniform, with a mess jacket with a double-breasted flap, complex sculpturing along its front and back base, and braid along his left shoulder. It is a very flattering costume.

The Black Vanguards (1942). Writer: Paul Gustavson Art: Paul Gustavson. (Title for this titleless story supplied by Grand Comics Database.) The Black Vanguards, a Nazi terror squad, blow up the Human Bomb's lab with their earthquake machine. Like the first story, "The Origin of the Human Bomb", this tale takes place in buildings under siege from bombings and destruction. This is a form of storytelling unique to the Human Bomb series.

The Phony Human Bomb (1942). Writer: Paul Gustavson Art: Paul Gustavson. (Title for this titleless story supplied by Grand Comics Database.) Roy and a newsboy get involved in a chase after a phony imitation of the Human Bomb, on the streets of Washington DC. Having crooks impersonate a hero, was a standard plot gambit in the comics.

Roy is wearing an elegant double-breasted greatcoat and ascot, over his formal evening Navy uniform. He is really dressed to the nines.