Angel and the Ape #2, Jan-Feb 1969

Sam gets ready for a fight as Angel is threatened. Bob Oksner does the honours.

“Most Fantastic Robbery in History!”

A series of daring robberies by a group of circus misfits, the Bikini Family, is witnessed by Angel O’Day. Finding herself in danger, she calls Sam. He quickly swings into his flashy new rental car and races across town to tackle the Bikinis. He proves no match for the gang however, and Angel is abducted under his very nose!

On getting back to office, Sam discovers that Stan Bragg has called. At the Brainpix office Sam is treated appallingly badly by Stan and his “fink assistant”, getting locked up in a cage at one point as punishment for missed deadlines. Fighting back, Sam knocks out the editorial pair and scrawls “I quit!” across Bragg’s forehead. He then heads for the Ding A Ling Bros Circus where he thinks Angel may be being held.

The Bikinis attempt to capture and humiliate him, but he finds Angel anyway and frees her from the clutches of the Bikini’s mad family counselor.

Angel calls the police, but they don’t believe her story about the evil circus gang. Meanwhile, Sam heads over to Brainpix rivals D. Z. Comics, and its editor Morton I. Stoops, who looks suspiciously gorilla-ish and welcomes Sam with open delight. With Sam on board, Stoops knows that D. Z. can destroy the competition: “We’ll kill Stan Bragg!”

Sam receives a call from Bragg’s flunky, who informs Sam that Stan is dead, killed by the beating he got from Sam. Distraught, Sam agrees to work for Brainpix for free — in return for not being sent to the electric chair.

Back at the office Angel tells the police that a riot is in progress outside Brainpix, and then she motorcycles over to the circus goading the Bikinis to follow her as she makes for Brainpix. There, a riot does indeed ensue as the police and the Bikinis clash, but the police soon gain the upper hand and cart off the gang.

Disturbed by the noise outside, Stan — who was only pretending to be dead — and flunky race for the window. At that moment Sam walks in looking for a fresh bottle of ink and is stunned by the sight before him: “Ain’t it great, Sam?” says the flunky, as Sam begins to roll up his shirt sleeves, “S-Stan just woke from the dead!”

Bam! Sam socks it to ’em! As the police arrive, they witness Stan pushing Sam out of the office window (actually, it’s a set-up engineered by Sam) to fall to his doom many floors below! The police arrest Stan for murder and lead him away. Below, Sam, who is in reality absolutely fine, gets up as Angel arrives and declares this “the happiest day of my life!”

In a padded cell, Stan vows revenge!

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Another winner, this one is scripted by Sergio Aragones and the penciller, Bob Oksner. Aragones brings his usual sense of screwball fun to the proceedings, and Oksner delivers art that in some ways appears to pay homage to Aragones’ style: the introduction of the Bikini Family is a case in point: it could easily have been one of Aragones’ crowded, manic comedy scenes. I wonder if Aragones actually provided the plot in the form of rough layouts?

In addition, Oksner is here inked by the great Wally Wood, who does a fabulous job adding his polish to the penciled art. It’s a great combination that brings the art to life.

Stan Bragg becomes an even greater monster. At one point he asks Sam, “Why are you so ungrateful? When you write good stories and do good artwork, don’t I sign it? Where would you be without Stupendous Stan… Fantastic Stan!” Ouch!

We also get to see Brainpix main rivals, D. Z. Comics — I wonder where that name comes from? — and its editor Morton I. Stoops, who doesn’t seem to be a parody of anyone in particular: he’s possibly too good-natured to be a send-up of Mort Weisinger.

Image ©2010 DC Comics