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Chuck Chandler - Crimebuster

First Appearance: Boy Comics #3, 1942
Created by Charles Biro and Bob Wood

The story opens with Chuck Chandler watching a newsreel with a fellow military cadet. "Mr. Chandler is our only official source of information from the lost country, France! Our President has granted him permission," reads the announcer, "to tell the American people the true facts existing there! More power to you, Chandler!"

In the audience, Chuck's friend whispers, "Gee, Chuck, it must give you an awful kick to hear your father spoken of in the movies!"

Chuck whispers back, "He's taking a big risk, but he isn't afraid of anyone!"

Later on, we see Chuck and his reporter-father. "Say Dad, you haven't forgotten about the big game tonight, have you?"

"It's bad news for you, son! I have a very special broadcast this evening! That French business, you know!" he says regretfully. "My country comes even before you, son, but guess where I'll be after that broadcast! Your mother will be proud of her men tonight!"

Chuck smiles. "I wish she could have left France with you! We miss her plenty, don't we?"

Later we see Mr. Chandler donning his tie. He says to himself, "Great kid! Takes after his mother! I was a fool to let Joan talk me into letting her stay there a week longer!" At first he doesn't see the silhouette in the window, but soon the figure is reflected in Mr. Chandler's window. "Iron Jaw!! Here?"

Iron Jaw says, "Yes, Herr Chandler, Iron Jaw! Your memory serves you well, but tonight you will forget many things! Perhaps you will recall seeing the great Iron Jaw bite a man's arm off back in Paris!"

Mr. Chandler brandishes a chair threateningly. "You're not scaring me! NOW GET OUT! Neither you nor your whole Gestapo can stop me from making that speech tonight!"

Iron Jaw replies, "You're making the speech but the way I want!"

Mr. Chandler swings the chair at Iron Jaw, which shatters, while the villain remains unmoved. "Imbecile! You have to use more than a little chair to hurt Iron Jaw!" Mr. Chandler replies, defiantly, "The shell should have blown your whole fiendish head off, instead of just your jaw!"

Iron Jaw grabs Mr. Chandler by the lapels, pulling him up to face him. "I am through humoring you, FOOL! Your wife is still in occupied France! Need I go any further? You will neglect to mention the submarine incidents! Instead, you will read from this paper, please!"

As Iron Jaw drives Mr. Chandler to the radio station, the man reads the script in despair. "I have no choice! What's this? HA, HA, HA! You don't expect Americans to believe such riot!"

"You're expected to make it convincing! I brought this along as a gentle reminder ... she's a very pretty woman!" Iron Jaw holds up a purloined family photo of the Chandlers. "But she will not be so pretty after nights of torture! NOW GO!" He points Mr. Chandler to the reading room.

As America breathlessly waits, Chandler is torn between his two greatest forces ... the love of his country and the love of his wife! As he prepares for the reading, he thinks, "I can't do it ... I won't do it ... Joan wouldn't want me to!" The radio broadcast begins, "Fellow Americans, I have witnessed many crises but never one such as this! Tonight, my wife is alive ... if I tell the truth, she does! Here, in my hand is a Nazi penned speech! LIES, ALL LIES!! The TRUTH is, I have concrete proof that Hitler's submarines are practicing the most inhuman method of murder ever conceived by man! A German U-boat sends an S.O.S.! When an unsuspecting ship reaches the sub's call of mercy, THE GRATITUDE IS GRATEFULLY MET BY ITS NAZI TORPEDO!"

The nation is tense ... this is the most startling news ... then a shot that rocks the country! Iron Jaw was waiting in the wings. "UGH!! ... LOOK OUT FOR .. IR .. UGHH!"

The scene changes ... we are now at Custer Military Academy. A hockey game is about to begin ... only to be interrupted as star player Chuck Chandler hears talk of what happened to his father. "LISTEN, PIKE!" he says to a cadet who tried to conceal the facts from him, "My ears have never failed me, and neither has this fist! Now, let's have it!"

Visibly shaken, Pike says, "H ... He was shot tonight at the broadcast! It came over the radio! I'm sorry, Chuck!"

Chuck rushes off to the hospital, wrapping his blue military school cape around his shoulders for warmth. Pike asks, "Are you going like that? Do you need money?" Still wearing his hockey uniform (serendipitously emblazoned with a 'C' on his chest), Chuck replies, "It would take too long to change ... I've got some! I may need more! Give me all you've got!"

At the hospital, the doctor counsels the boy. "He's got a very good chance! Take a walk around the park, Chuck! By the time you're back, he'll be as good as new!"

Chuck replies, "Thanks, Dr. Herrendine! Those are the most beautiful words I've ever heard!"

As the doctor is scrubbing down for the operation, a figure appears at the doorway. "So, you think he has a good chance of coming through, eh Doctor?"

"Yes, an excel ... say, who are you?"

"Just call me Iron Jaw! This rabbit punch makes a fine anesthetic!" The villain knocks Herrendine out, and dons a surgeon's uniform (evidently they keep a set of spares in XXL). "Come, nurse, I am ready!"

She re-enters the operating room. "Yes, Doctor, your gloves are sterile."

"Gloves? Oh, hey, let me have them!"

"Why -- you're not Dr. Herrendine!"

Testing the sharpness of the scalpel, Iron Jaw reassures her, "Wh ... why, of course n ... not! I'm a SPECIALIST! He asked me to take over!"

"Oh, I see!"

Iron Jaw cuts Chandler up. "Why are you so rough, Doctor? LOOK OUT! You're causing a hemorrhage!"

Iron Jaw continues to dissect Chandler on the operating table. "QUIET NURSE!"

"You've cut the main artery! You've killed him! WHY YOU'RE NO DOCTOR!"

Iron Jaw removes his surgeon's mask, "I SAID QUIET!"

As the nurse drops to the floor with a plop, Iron Jaw runs from the room, thinking, "Fainted! Well, Chandler, I must say, you were a man of great courage!"

After his return to the hospital, Chuck is understandably devastated by the news. In a clear attempt to cheer the lad up, the recovered Herrendine says, "It's a great loss to the whole Nation! Chin up, Chuck!"

The nurse commiserates, "I saw his face! It was horrible! I tried to scream but I couldn't!"

"Before he went under ether, your dad said your mother was in Paris ... and should the operation fail, you were to fly over and bring her back safely," the doctor says. "There's a clipper leaving in an hour! You'll just make it!"

As he walks out the door, Chuck sobs, "... Mother ... I must get to Mother ... I've got to look after her now! Gee, he was the swellest ... "

As he waits for the clipper, Chuck becomes more resolute. "The nurse said his lower face was iron and he stood about six four! I'll know him when I see him, and see him I will!"

Chuck lands at a neutral Portuguese port, only to be accosted by a pair of Nazi agents who had been notified of his departure from America. He dispenses with them in the best superhero fashion: "On second thought, I do have something to declare ... One, I don't like your face! Two, I have a left and a right to change it with!"

Running from the two unconscious agents, he realises, "Iron Jaw works fast! It will be tough getting to Mother!" But he conspires to get a message to her. telling her to take the first boat to the States.

Finally, aboard ship, there is a touching reunion. "Golly, Moms, it's good to hold you again!" "Darling, how you've grown! Kiss me again!"

"But if Dad's all right, why did he let YOU come for me, and that costume ... you've got some explaining to do, young man!"

Chuck evades, "With him in Washington and conditions as they were, I was naturally concerned about you!"

Out of the night, like ghosts from a grave, the eyes of the monsters of death come closer and closer ... "It iss encircled! Goot ... range, excellent! NOW RELEASE TORPEDOES!! ASCEND!! MAKE READY FOR COMPLETE ANNIHILATION!!" ... and the clipper is sunk by a U-boat.

Panicked at being at sea without a visible shore, Chuck floundered for minutes, calling for his mother amongst the remains of the clipper. 'MOMS! MOMS! ARE YOU OKAY? SHE'S HURT!!" He strokes cleanly, pulling his mother in a lifeguard's hold, "She needs medical attention right away! That sub will pick us up! They'll just have to!" He screams out, "Ahoy there! My mother needs attention! Will you pick her up? You can forget me, just her, please!!"

Calling over the deck of the U-boat, the commander calls, "Ya! Ya! Closer! Come closer!" Then, turning to the man at his side, "NOW!!"

The floating pair are strafed with machine-gun fire. Chuck's forehead is winged, causing him to lose grip on his mother, who sinks. Unconscious, he manages to find himself pulled within a lifesaver from the clipper.

Much later, he is picked up by an American military plane and his wounds are bandaged. "And there you were floating along! Your mother was probably picked up by one of the other planes! Now take it easy, son!"

"Don't lie to me! She's DEAD! They killed her! Just like Dad!"

Back in America, inside an innocent-looking insurance office, Iron Jaw's agent informs him, "K-9 reports a Portuguese ship hit a floating mine! The Chandlers were among the unfortunate passengers! No survivors!"

Iron Jaw gloats, "BRAVO! Why can't the fools realise that we are the superior race! They must and they will! If I have to kill every last one of them!"

Chuck vows vengeance for the death of his parents: "I SWEAR IT!! By all that's right to avenge their deaths! I'll fight terror with terror! They'll pay and pay and pay!" He adapts his school hockey uniform into a costume, adding the cape and calling himself Crimebuster. Along the way, he picks up a pet monkey named Squeeks (who would eventually be popular enough to rate his own comic book).

In Boy Comics #15, Crimebuster finally accomplished his objective in a gruesome episode that ended with Iron Jaw's death. Chuck continued to battle injustice, often in tandem with District Attorney Loover, concentrating on such contemporary social problems as civic corruption and juvenile delinquency. Joe Kubert drew several episodes in 1955; other artists who worked on the long-running feature included Norman Bauer, Dan Barry, Fred Kida, Norman Maurer, Mike Roy, Frank Bolle, John Belfi, George Tuska, and William Overgard. The strip survived until 1956, with Crimebuster switching to civvies in 1950 when a girlfriend refused to be seen with him in in public while wearing the ridiculous outfit ("I'd rather stay home than go out in public with you in monkey shorts!" -- so he discarded the cape and wore dress slacks from that point on) and with the comic being retitled Chuck Chandler with #112, in deference to the Comics Code ruling against the use of the word "crime" in a comic book title.

Boy Comics #15, April. 1944 by Ben Samuels (a review)
Boy Comics #18, Oct. 1944 by Daniel Smith (a review)
Boy Comics #19, Dec. 1944 by Michael T. Gilbert (a review)
Crimebuster #0 from AC Comics.
Crimebuster Classic #1 from AC Comics.