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Star Spangled Comics 100
"The Secret Of The Submarine!"


Story: Unknown Art: Unknown

What was the secret cargo being carried beneath choppy Atlantic waves by submarine? It was a cargo sought by gangland, yet even they did not know what it was. The famous ship's detective, Captain Mark Compass, was to break the underwater dragnet to foil the criminals' traps... and carry through the bottom of the ocean... "The Secret of The Submarine!" On the splash page, Captain Compass is in a diving suit, and waits fearlessly as criminal skin-divers armed with spear-guns begin to surround him! A top-secret gathering takes place in an eastern city... Cargo X is ready to go, and its identity has been kept secret... though the underworld longs to learn its true value! Cargo X is to be transported to England... and Captain Mark Compass is to be the one in charge!

He is given his sealed orders (Holy CGC, Batman!) and is warned that the secret of Cargo X is only a half-kept one. Gangsters know of its existence, but they do not know what it is! They who seek Cargo X will stop at nothing, and the Captain is asked if he wishes to refuse the assignment, but Mark Compass has already picked his crew, and begins to speak of preparations. A misty dawn greets the next morning as a power boat makes its way towards a small steamer... The ship's detective senses someone watching them... and knows that the enemy is alert to their every move, but they'll be out of sight soon enough... The crew enter the boat, then go below... and enter through a tube into a waiting submarine which is attached to the bottom of the ship! This is the first maneuver to outwit gangland!

The electric motors of the sleek craft throb to life... the tube is disconnected and sealed, and the X-2 heads away...! Nearby, a small "fishing" craft has seen the maneuver, and the "crew" notifies their criminal confederates about the tactic... When the sub is far out in the Atlantic, Captain Compass peers through the periscope, and sees nothing suspicious so far... just the regular ships on their route! They will remain beneath the surface... as not to take chances! In the air, the pilot of a long-range, light bomber sees the sub's shape beneath the waves... It circles over and begins to drop its bombs! After the first two have exploded, an oil patch appears and begins to spread... The pilot knows that this means that the sub was hit, and he then radios the men ahead to give them the location! (Holy Exxon, Batman!)

A P.T. boat, which has been converted by pirates, heads for the scene... they cut the motor, don their suits, and head below! On the ocean floor within the submarine, Captain Compass compliments his crew on releasing the oil... a trick used during World War II... to make the crooks think they've been hit! The ship's detective dons a diving suit... he knows that the criminals will be on their way down! The oil slick was the bait, but Captain Compass has a plan to fool them, as well as capturing them, too! Knowing that their ship will be unmanned when they come down, Mark and his crew plan to go up... by using the torpedo tubes! They will be able to take over the ship since the water isn't too deep for required decompression! One by one, the crew are shot towards the surface...

They arrive in time, as the pirates, clad in diving equipment, have found the submarine's position... One wonders if Cargo X is gold or diamonds, but at least they'll find out. The leader sees that the sub doesn't look like it's been bombed, and stops the men to warn them of a trick! Using a piece of coral, he scratches a message on the side of the sub... "Watch out! The sub wasn't hit! Get your water "rifles" ready! We're going to board her!" They enter slowly through an emergency escape hatch... and figure that the crew was probably finished off by the concussion! When the last diver has entered, a nearby giant clam begins to stir, its jaws open, and the ship's detective steps out! (Holy Pearl of Wisdom, Batman!) He locks the escape hatch and torpedo tubes from the outside, trapping the crooks, who won't be able to start the sub! The emergency starter switch is hidden!

The divers find that they've been locked in and know that Captain Compass has tricked them! The ship's detective inflates his suit and begins to ascend... The crooks have Cargo X, but they won't get very far with it. The crew tells Compass that the coast is clear! There were only two men left to guard the ship, and very simple to take over! In the sub, the gang searches frantically for Cargo X, and not knowing what it is, they begin to realize that it can't be anything valuable! The leader suggests that they search the galley... the crew space... the air locks! They will find the precious cargo! As time passes, they have searched every inch of the sub... but no Cargo X... and it's beginning to get harder to breathe! They are running out of air and are told by their leader to don their oxygen helmets in order to save what little air is left in the sub! (Holy Selegue, Batman!)

Ten hours have gone by, and the sub's oxygen is nearly gone! The diver's undersea tanks will not last much longer... and then Captain Compass will save them! Below, the divers have gone from desperate to terrified, as they find that they can't surface since the motors won't start! They remove their helmets to breathe whatever air is left on the sub! Knowing that their time is about up, Captain Compass sends one of his crew in a diving suit to use a hammer and tap out a morse code message while he listens on the sonar set! The ship's detective knows that the water will amplify the tapping sound from them and the sub! The divers hear the message for them to surrender, and the leader reaches for a wrench to reply...

They need air... they give up... but wonder if Compass can save them?... Compass has his crewman tell them that the main starter box aft swings back to reveal an emergency switch! When they push the switch, the sub will re-surface! The submarine begins to hum and rises slowly upwards... The sub breaks through the water, the hatches are opened, and... the divers breathe in all the fresh air they want! Captain Compass and his crew show the divers Cargo X... It was a part of the submarine! It is valuable because when a button is pushed, it can convert water into air! The irony is that the divers could have had all the fresh air they wanted... had they known about the invention... and they would have been free! The ship's detective demonstrates the device... they are taking Cargo X to England for a final test run to make sure it's foolproof! As for the divers, the jail cells they'll end up in will also be foolproof!

I know of the character, Captain Compass from his appearances in the 1985 Who's Who and Detective Comics #500, where he meets his fellow detectives: Christopher Chance, Mysto, Roy Raymond... TV Detective, Pow-Wow Smith, and Slam Bradley.

Steve Chung
"The Review of The Submarine!"