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Star Spangled Comics 100
"Lawman Without A Badge!"


Story: Unknown Art: Unknown

A bail bondsman by the name of Lon Courtney wasn't looking for an adventure... He only wanted a job to support his family... where he'd be posting money for those in trouble, so they wouldn't be jailed until their day in court. But Lon would soon find himself sent out of the city and into the jungles of Haiti. It was a killer he was after for this "Lawman Without A Badge!" in this latest example of Manhunters Around The World. June 8, 1946 finds Lon home from the navy after four years in the Pacific. He tells his widowed mother and his kid sister, who was a victim of Polio that he was going to set up his own business. Since he was a policeman before going to war, Lon knows about the bail bond business, and the following day has his G.I. loan approved as a self-employed veteran! He now has his state license and found an office across from the courthouse.

Lon's business began, providing the bail for honest people who had run into the law, like Peter Muller, grocer, whose dog bit a customer! (Holy blackmarket, Batman! It's lucky for Lon that he doesn't have to hunt Pete down in the grocery aisles!) The grocer is visited in jail by Lon, who tells him that he'll post Peter's bond, and after he pays Lon some interest, the grocer can run his business while talking thing over with a lawyer. Business begins picking up on the weekends when the banks were closed. A car's tire blows out and crashes into a parked car. The driver is about to be taken in by the police, and worries that he can't post bond and will have to spend the night in jail. Lon tells him that since posting bonds is his business, he won't have to go to jail! (Holy Bondsman Posts Twice, Batman!) As a bondsman, Lon accepts strange guarantees for the money posted... such as the time when a stamp collector kept an old pistol without a license, and having no money for bail, his valuable stamp collection was held until his case was cleared up! (Holy Overstreet, Batman!) On the evening of of August 25th, 1947, an event would occur which would take Lon Courtney's life in another direction. The gambler known as Slug Sapphire was in a card game with "Seven" Barnett... with "Seven" betting everything against Slug's lucky ring...

"Seven" has four of a kind... all sevens and is eager to take the ring, but Slug isn't about to give up his ring, and decides to slash a "seven" into his fellow cardplayer! The following day, Myles Rudley, noted criminal attorney, meets with Lon and asks for $10,000 to cover Slug's arrest for felonious assault. Lon has never covered such an amount of money, but Rudley is confident that it's an open and shut case of self-defense. (Holy Witless For The Prosecution!) Slug is a fourth offender and would have nothing to lose by jumping bail. If he did so, this would wipe Lon out! Rudley gives Lon Slug's lucky sapphire ring, which is to be held as security! Lon accepts in order to finance an operation for his sister... and Slug is free until September 20th... On September 1st, "Seven" Barnett has died from his wounds, and Slug Sapphire is to be charged with murder! Lon finds that Slug's boardinghouse room is bare... and his money will be forfeited! The landlady tell him that Slug made a phone call for a plane ticket to Haiti!

Lon tries to sell Slug's ring, but it's only worth $50. Days pass, and the freighter Tropical Voyager has shipped out of New York, heading for Haiti. Among its crew is Lon Courtney in disguise! He has only fifteen days to find Slug before the trial begins. In a faraway fishing village, Slug is again losing at cards on Friday the 13th. At Port Au Prince, Lon has searched all coastal towns, and time is running short. He heads inland when darkness falls. He spots the light caused by phosphorescent fungus... (Holy Selegue, Batman!) Hours pass, and the manhunt ends! Lon spots Slug, who wishes that he had his lucky ring! He has to get Slug to where the U.S. authorities can arrest the fugitive. Low on time and on funds, he can't afford to stray from Slug for long.

The next day finds Lon hired to pilot a boat to Coral Reef. Even though the pay is small and the job is dangerous, Lon has had experience as a PT Boat skipper in the Pacific for four years. Lon now has a way of transporting Slug to Puerto Rico, which is in range, and is U.S. territory. But... Lon becomes ill from malaria, which has affected him a couple of times during the war. He has only three days left before Slug's trial begins... Peering out a window, Lon sees the luminious fungus in the swamp... and even though he's burning with fever, he plans to take advantage of Slug's superstition... Meanwhile, Slug is still losing at cards and feels as if someone is putting the hex on him...

Looking through the window, he sees the luminous face of "Seven" Barnett peering in, and fires wildly, while the others duck for cover! When he reaches his room, Slug sees a luminous "7" drawn on the wall. Lon and another person arrive, as Slug points to the wall where the "7" has disappeared. The disguised bail-bondsman knew that the fungus would dry out in the tropical heat. When he is alone, Slug sees the luminous face and hands of "Seven" Barnett wearing his lucky ring! While the fugitive struggles in the dark, the "ghost" vanished! Lon is wiping off the fungus powder from his face and hears a knock on the door! Slug wants him to get him off the island, and as the only deep-water pilot, he's the only one who can save him!

Lenoir asks Lon if he's able to handle the boat, and Lon assures him that he has to. The old man is to radio Puerto Rico police and tell them that he's going to arrive at sunrise with a fugitive! Soon, both manhunter and fugitive are on the rough, high seas... Slug tells him to head west for Cuba and stay away from Puerto Rico! Lon must find a way to head east since that's the direction of Puerto Rico! All of a sudden, Slug sees the fungus jar pop out from Lon's pocket, and knows that he wasn't seeing "Seven's" ghost at all! Pulling off the fake mustache, he recognizes the bondsman, and tells him to head for Cuba or else he'll kill him! Lon complies since he doesn't want to argue with lead! (Holy Selegue, Batman!) He'll keep the compass pointed towards west, all right! Slug wants his lucky ring, and Lon tells him that he'd have to leave the wheel to retrieve it. Since the weather is bad, he must stay there, and the bondsman pulls a trick of giving the wheel a sharp blow with the heel of his hand...

The rudder makes a sharp turn, swinging the boat with the great waves... Slug is afraid that they'll capsize and orders Lon to stay at the wheel! Throughout the night, the fugitive keeps his gun on Lon, who has a sharp eye on the compass, making certain that it kept pointing West. As the sun rose, land was in sight dead ahead...but Slug knows that with the sun in front of them, they've been heading east all along! Tricked by the bondsman, he orders Lon to turn the boat around or else he'll shoot him! Before this can happen, the coast guard passes through the morning mist... having received Lenoir's radio message... Lon introduces them to Slug, the fugitive whose trial begins tomorrow. The coast guard will make sure he makes his court date by flying him down, and Lon is to be taken to a hospital. Before he goes, Slug demands to know how they could have been traveling east when he saw the compass pointing west? Thanks to the fugitive's lucky ring, Lon used its magnetic attraction to reverse the compass, and navigated by the stars!

This was a "Manhunters Around The World" tale and the feature has been reprinted in Detective Comics 100 Page Spectaculars in the '70s.

The name "Manhunter" has been used by quite a few heroes, among them, Paul Kirk, who hunted the world's most dangerous game.

The Manhunters were the precursor to the Green Lantern Corps.

A polio vaccine was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk.

A character who suffered from Polio was Hal Chandler, who along with his pilot brother, Chuck, was The 3-D Man.

Being a good guy, Lon Courtney wears a white hat and a blue suit.

The writer of this review has been to Puerto Rico.

Captain Compass was another feature in Star Spangled Comics. Interesting that his surname probably influenced him in becoming a ship's detective.

"The Case of The Curious Compass" had the Elongated Man unraveling the mystery of a ship's model.

Steve Chung
"Lawman Without A Review!"