Angel and the Ape #3 cover

Angel and the Ape #3, March-April 1969

“The Curse of the Avarice Clan”

Avarice Island was originally bought from the Indians for a couple of items of cheap junk, but has proven to be nothing but trouble. Over the years the each successive owner of Avarice Castle has died on his 60th birthday under bizarre circumstances, and Angel is engaged to protect the latest incumbent, Cad Avarice, as his 60th birthday has arrived. Cad himself is a lecherous old buffoon greatly aroused by the sight of Angel in her nurse uniform (she’s undercover y’see—though not covered by much!), and he introduces the remainder of the Avarice clan, each one weirder than the last. Soon the lights go out and Burton Avarice is found dead.

Next, Gunga Avarice winds up as shark bait in the swimming pool, and Psyche Avarice collapses from a heart attack following a seance to attempt contact with the spirits of Burton and Gunga. Gabrielle Avarice falls down an elevator shaft and nephew-in-law Torquemada gets eaten by a lion! (“Looks like something he disagreed with ate him!” quips Angels as she comes across his empty shoes. Milo Avarice meets his end when his weightlifting equipment is booby-trapped with bombs.

Meanwhile, Sam attends the DZ offices with his latest strip, hoping to impress Morton I Stoops. He soon hears that Stan Bragg has escaped from Mildew Asylum and is headed for Avarice Island intent on making Angel pay for his incarceration. Sam swings into action.

Back on Avarice Island Angel is still investigating the deadly goings on, but can’t seem to shed any light. Sam arrives and is initially mistaken for the perpetrator of the murders, but Angel puts things right before finding herself subject to the lascivious attentions of old Cad. “Aren’t you too old to be chasing girls?” she cries as she runs down a flight of stairs. “I still chase girls,” says Cad, leaping from his wheelchair after her, “I just can’t remember why!”

Angel is offered a sandwich by the maid, Miss Hemlock, but finds that it is filled with poison.

Cad catches up with Angel and pounces, only to receive a massive electric shock! “Angel” is actually a dummy wired to the mains. Sam pulls the plug before Cad expires. The real Angel appears with a subdued Hemlock in tow. She’s worked out the mystery: the Avarice lawyer, Quail, is responsible. He’s been on the take for years, and a forthcoming audit was about to expose him. Angel and Sam soon take care of Quail and his goons, including the opportunistic Stan Bragg, whom Sam throws out the window.

Quail and Hemlock are carted off to jail just as it’s revealed that Angel is, in fact, a distant relative of the Avarices. Overjoyed at this bit of news Cad jumps on her for a cheeky kiss, but the excitement kills him! Angel inherits the castle and everything Cad owned, but Quail’s embezzlement has ensured that “our platinum-tressed private-eye” actually gets very little—and even the castle is snatched by the government, which has decided to blow it up in order to build a shrine to the island’s founder. In return, Angel is given the sum originally paid for the island: $1.35!

Atop the castle Stan Bragg gloats of his freedom, unaware of the TNT beneath his feet…

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A lovely issue this, probably the best of the run so far. The script writer is again a mystery, but the beautiful art is by Bob Oksner and Wallace Wood. There’s a real magic to the Oksner/Wood combination, and wood takes every opportunity to make Angel O’Day into a typical Wood gal. The sight of Angel in the nurses uniform is not one you forget easily! The male reader can certainly see why old Cad was so tempted…

A classic moment occurs when Angel taps on each wall of a room certain that one contains the hollow of a secret passage, however she’s disappointed when all the walls sound the same. As she leaves perplexed, we see that ALL the walls have secret passages!

Stan Bragg’s escape from the Asylum and subsequent attempt to get revenge on Sam makes for a fun sub-plot, and ties this issue into the previous ones. Stan is to Angel and Sam what Clouseau was to the Chief Inspector in the Pink Panther movies.

Image ©2011 DC Comics