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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Next volume of this classic stripJune 20 2012
Michael R. Brown
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Here we are with the 8th volume, another complete volume with both sundays (in COLOR) and dailies. And here we have some of the BEST stories of Little Orphan Annie. I had read only parts of several of these stories, so its a great collection I've been looking forward to.
As to LOA, we have 2 main stories (broken up into several). The first is the conclusion of the classic Rose Chance/Shanghai Peg storyline. The second introduces the villain Axel, who will plague Annie for awhile (both in this volume and into the next one).
So, first off is the conclusion of the Shanghai Peg story. When we left off, Rose Chance's looser husband, Ace Chance returns. Jack is a bit despondent, as he had picked up the hitchhiking Ace. Ace, we soon learn, is a professional gambler. He is not interested in getting a real job. He steals some of their donut money to stake himself in a poker game, and it all goes wrong when he shots another gambler. If the gambler dies, he'll get life. But this story plays out in a way that's not expected.
Soon after this, the matter of the death of Caleb Alden is again brought up. Gudge seems the likely suspect, and he comes back from a trip and is bent on running Jack out of business. And Annie and Shanghai Peg get an eye witness that Gudge was the one who hired the killer of Caleb Alden 30 years ago!
But then Gudge disappears! And Shanghai Peg starts to fill in an old well. What does it mean? Then Shanghai Peg disappears and the police think that he may have done away with Gudge and buried him in the well. So they start to dig it up. What do they learn? As I said, many feel this story was one of the best LOA stories.
We then get a short sequence which serves to introduce Axel and his men, who are planning to kidnap Annie and ransom her to "Daddy" for 10 million. But they plan on killing her rather then returning her. This sequence serves to also have her leave the home of Mrs. Alden and flee. Axel and his men run afoul of some hobos, who beat and rob them, and they are picked up as vagrants and put in a work crew for 90 days.
This leads Annie to her next sequence. After being struck by a car, she and Sandy are rescued by a nice farm family, the Buckles. The Buckles are two brothers, and the wife of one of them. The wife is too busy with her 'civic work' to help around the farm, so Annie as usual pitches in and is quickly accepted. Mrs Buckle's brother, Melvin, soon joins them. A would-be writer, it is clear to Annie and the 2 Buckle brothers that he is a lazy*ss (something Mrs. Buckle is oblivious to, dotting on her brother). While things are looking up for Annie, Axel and gang are out and looking for her (tho federal police are in pursuit). They are able to capture her and take her down south.
In the next story, Annie is now a prisoner at a hacienda down south (South America some where, its not clear where). Annie is put under the care of Dona Dolores, who is very harsh on Annie. But we learn it's all an act. Dona is the daughter of the original owners of the hacienda, killed by Axel and his men, and she plots revenge, pretending to be a harsh woman. "Daddy" is informed of Axel having Annie, and plots his actions. "Daddy", aided by The Asp and Punjab, along with Wuy Wei and Tuck Buckle (the unmarried brother), come to the rescue, but Axel escapes after trapping "Daddy", Dona and Annie in a dungeon. Freed, Dona and Tuck hook up.
We then have another short sequence, as "Daddy" and Annie are on vacation in Canada. But "Daddy" needs to get to London, and so they start out, only to be waylaid by Axel and his men on the boat. "Daddy" is captured and Annie is tossed overboard! What happens next?
In the final story, Annie and Sandy are rescued by a kindly couple, the Tallums. He is a lawyer working as a law clerk for an trio of lawyers. Annie is passed off as their niece, now living with them after her parents died. Tallum is unhappy in his current position. He just makes the three partners look good. A case comes up where they will defend someone who has defraud another (and perhaps engineered his death). Tallum refuses to help out, and in fact quits. A secretary in the firm, Tally Rand, who is also a lawyer, decides to do the same and they go into a partnership (there is a hint of a possible affair, but this is dropped as we learn she is married and has children).
Another character soon appears: Nick Gatt, a racketeer who controls much in that town, including politians. It seems that Tallum is working against the people Gatt is backing, but we soon see that these people are doing this without Gatt's approval. And Gatt is not the heartless man he seems. Gatt actually helps those in need, tho he is a racketeer. And he helps Tallum behind the scenes and well as his partner Rand when her husband falls ill, in part due to Annie's intervention.
Toward the end of this sequence, Axel reemerges and goes after Annie, but she has the protection of Nick Gatt.
We will have to see how this storyline with Axel, Gatt, and the Tallums works out in the next volume!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Gray's narrative peak?July 25 2012
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t's well nigh impossible to argue the point that Harold Gray and his comic strip reached a creative and imaginative peak of sorts in the late 1930s. The "Saga of Abigail Alden, Shanghai Peg... and The Rest," which wraps up in this volume, is considered by many to be Gray's best single narrative, but that's only part of the story. In the triumphant wake of the Alden affair, Gray, who evidently felt himself to be on a roll, comes up with not one, but two memorable antagonistic characters to drive the next sequence of related stories, which will take us up through the middle of 1940 (and the early portion of the upcoming Volume 9). This is particularly noteworthy in that Gray, as skilled as he was at creating both permanent allies ("Daddy" Warbucks, Punjab, The Asp) and well-rounded one-time friends and acquaintances for Annie, had never before proven capable of emulating his longtime friend Chester Gould and putting Annie up against a really strong bad guy, one capable of maintaining the threat level for an extended period of time. Crooked businessmen and politicians, bullies, minor mobsters, shyster lawyers, and so forth were fine insofar as putting Annie in temporary danger was concerned, but the sinister, vaguely European Axel, who begins to pursue Annie immediately upon the conclusion of the Alden saga, would become more or less of a fixture in the strip for the better part of two years. And he isn't even the more intriguing or multifaceted of this issue's duo of memorable baddies.
Axel, with his more "global" conception of skullduggery, was clearly Gray's response to the deteriorating situation in Europe at the time, but the bearded villain's nationality and ideology would prove to be remarkably flexible. After Axel's initial attempt to kidnap Annie and use her to squeeze money out of "Daddy" Warbucks is foiled by "Daddy" et al.'s dramatic return and rescue, he falls out of sight for a short time, only to return with a far more comprehensively evil agenda. By early 1940, he's scheming with a bunch of cohorts with "Slavic" names to spring a coup on an unsuspecting America. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact evidently gave Gray the excuse he needed (not that he really needed that much of an excuse) to turn Axel into a boring (as in termite, not Ben Stein) Marxist. America still had a strong isolationist movement at the time of the second Axel story, and Gray was working for a syndicate headed up by the uber-isolationist CHICAGO TRIBUNE, but the artist clearly intended this plot point to be a wake-up call of sorts, warning Americans to be prepared for whatever the warring world might bring to its doorstep.
Axel resurfaces during a lengthy story that finds Annie in the home of John Tecum, a bright young lawyer ("Daddy" having disappeared almost as quickly as he had reappeared), and introduces the second of this volume's memorable adversaries -- one that clearly illustrates the degree to which Gray's concepts of law, order, and justice differed from those of Chester Gould's. While attempting to get justice for an elderly couple who'd been victimized by one of Gray's noxious political fixers, Tecum becomes ensnared in the coils of rotund gang boss Nick Gatt. Gould would surely have run Gatt up against Dick Tracy in short order (not to mention given Gatt some strange physical tic or feature), but the more Gatt appears in Gray's narrative, the more likable he becomes. Soon Gatt has manipulated things so that the bewildered Tecum has become district attorney on a platform to clean up corruption in the town -- which all "good citizens" assume will include Gatt himself. The volume concludes just as Axel has returned and taken a shot at Annie -- only to be greeted with return fire from Gatt, whom Annie has gotten to like and trust. A Gatt vs. Axel battle is clearly on the horizon, and, as Jeet Heer notes in his introduction, Gray clearly believes that homegrown gang bosses are infinitely preferable to totalitarian schemers. Even before Axel's resurfacing, however, Gatt was already busily engaged in setting up events with no apparent benefit to himself -- rather the opposite, in fact. So what was Gray's larger point here? That gangsters can be good guys and yet still exert some sort of control of events? I would have loved to have been the proverbial "fly on the wall" as Gray tried to "explain" Gatt to his buddy Gould. My own take is that Gatt was simply another manifestation of Gray's core belief that extra-legal means are sometimes necessary and justified to produce "cosmic justice." If Punjab can wave a magic cape over a bad guy and make him vanish with no cop or judge being the wiser, then certainly Gatt can provide the "muscle" that a town needs to fight off a sinister, un-American threat. Gatt is probably the definitive proof that Gray's supposedly "simple-minded," black-and-white sense of right and wrong was far more complex than his critics would care to admit... and that, by 1940, LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE had become, and would remain, a comic strip for adults.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
The continuing story of Little Orphan AnnieAug. 8 2012
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This is the very best of LOA. But if you haven't been following this series, there is a very helpful section, "The continuing story of Little Orphan Annie" at the beginning of the volume that will bring you up to date. "The Complete Little Orphan Annie Volume 8: The Last Port of Call, Daily and Sunday Comics - 1938 to 1940" is a great adventure strip! If Gray intended to create a strip for children only, it quickly became one for everyone! This series is one of the very best reprints of classic newspaper comic strips currently available. It is probably the best reprint of LOA ever done. IDW does it right! Highly recommended.
redemption and corruptionOct. 21 2013
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The first story continues from volume seven. Gray shows his take on redemption. Ace Chance, the gambler is given a job by Jack the trucker. SPOILERS THROUGHOUT. Eventually the gambler sees the light and turns over a new leaf. Jack thought it was worth gambling with the possibility of losing some of his money through theft, in order to give a man with some good in him another chance. It worked - in spades.
Then we see master criminal Axel - a man who thinks he knows everything. Ultimately, Axel would try to take over Warbucks' businesses. Therefore, it makes no sense to kidnap Annie for ten million - unless that money would be used against Warbucks. Of course Axel is not as smart as he thinks. Later, Warbucks is apparently killed and Annie almost murdered. She saves herself by using an underwater Houdini trick.
Annie winds up with another family and we see Gray's portrait of a corrupt city. Hoodlum and probable murderer Nick Gatt takes control of the city to the degree that he no longer needs to break the law anymore. John the lawyer is the beneficiary of Gatt's legal war with his enemies. The corruption is presented as not all bad because Nick isn't all bad and - partially to ease his conscience - helps many people. It is a chilling portrait of corruption that might be funny if it were not so tragic. The story continues in volume nine.
Interesting volume. Ugly corruption in all its reality.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Annie - WAY off Broadway...Dec 6 2012
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Annie saves the day, and is saved, as always, in this last storyline (1938-40) prior to Americas entry into WWII. A must have volume for the completist. Essential!