Apr 22, 2008

Taxi Taylor and His Wonder Car

Looking back in anger, today's Timely Golden Age hero is....Taxi
Taylor and his Wonder Car!

There's no real evidence that Taxi Taylor is in-continuity, but this is
one of those Golden Age strips that is just so goofy that it more or
less cries out to be dragged into continuity.

"Jim `Taxi' Taylor, master mechanic by profession, crime crusader
by choice, has invented the most ingenious device the human mind
has yet known, in his war against crime, a wonder car! A car
designed to travel on land, under the seas and through the air. A car
that is a laboratory on wheels, and which can be converted to
almost any human need."

Taxi Taylor finishes his Wonder Car, telling himself "I almost hate
to part with it, but it goes to the U.S. government, where it'll do
the most good. This car will be the most powerful weapon in the
world against the enemies of the government!" (Yup, battleships
and aircraft carriers sure aren't a match for the Wonder Car) But
when Taxi approaches government officials, he's laughed out of the
office and called bad names like "crack-brained." So rather than
somehow, I don't know, prove to the government officials that he's
got a super-car, he decides to become a taxi driver in Washington.
One of his fares, of course, turns out to be a pair of spies (talking
with German accents, of course); Taxi listens in to the spies'
discussion using the Wonder Car's microphones, which amplify the
"slightest whispers." After Taxi drops off the spies, he returns to
the spot where he dropped them and, using the Wonder Car's
"super-sensitive short wave intercepter" (a big radio tower that
emerges from the top of the Wonder Car) he intercepts their radio
signal, which is deciphered by the car's "radio-graph."

The radio message tells him that mines are being planted to deal
with two ships, so Taxi decides he has to get there and save the
ships. (Call the police? Call the navy? Nah - why bother?) Taxi
throws a switch, "collapsible steel wings shoot out of the sides of
the car," a propeller appears on the front of the car, and soon the
Wonder Car is flying to New York as Taxi muses aloud that the
"Swastikian government is trying to bring the war into the US."
(The Swastikian government...ah, for the days of Golden Age
comic-writing, when this sort of thing could actually see print -
although, in all fairness, I'm sure that even the writers and editors
of the Golden Age didn't see this as subtle).

Taxi arrives above New York harbor and "trains his powerful focusing
headlights" on the `Swastikian' boat. Taxi knows that the
magnetic mines the Swastikians have planted have to be swept
away, so he flips another switch and turns the Wonder Car into a
submarine. The magnetic mines are attracted to the metal in the
Wonder Car, so he has the Wonder Car send out "contra-magnetic
electric rays to neutralize the magnetic mines and render them

The Swastikians, seeing the Wonder Car following them, drop a
"depth bomb." They then send a diver down to make sure the
Wonder Car has been destroyed; the diver finds Taxi making repairs
("Good thing I built it with six inch steel plates"). The diver uses his
acetylene torch on Taxi's suit, but Taxi tears the Swastikian's
lifeline, and watches him die. ("That's the last bath you'll ever
take!") (Oh. Stop. My ribs. I can't take much more of this humor.
You're killing me)

Taxi goes back to the Wonder Car and releases his new "weapon of
death. Gas bubbles, which agitate the surrounding waters, and
cause tremendous suction." The Swastikians' ship is dragged to the
bottom of the harbor, and Taxi pilots the Wonder Car back on to
land, and goes back to the house where he dropped the Swastikian
spies, in the beginning of the story. They, knowing he is coming, try
to burn the house and all the evidence in it, but Taxi puts on a
fireman's outfit, "collapsible ladders shoot into the air" from the top
of the Wonder Car, and Taxi goes into the burning building. He
spots a wall safe and grabs it - but his hand is held solid to the
safe's dial by electricity. And, of course, the safe is rigged to blow
up when it reaches a high enough temperature.

Lucky for Taxi he's wearing a belt, attached to the Wonder Car -
which is "timed to drag me out in about two minutes." He gets
yanked out by the car and lands on "an automatically regulated
net." Taxi then activates the Wonder Car's "powerful revolving
chemical water jets" and saves the house. He calls in the location of
the spy house to the police, and goes home.

As you might have guessed, Taxi Taylor and his Wonder Car do
not appear again. I'm not sure whether that's a good thing or not.
The Wonder Car does have the Plot Device Power of doing
whatever is needed when it's needed. And Taxi Taylor is the
standard one-dimensional Golden Age hero. And the writing and art
are nothing special. And the Wonder Car looks like an overstuffed
red sausage with wheels and a windshield. But....it's goofy as hell,
and more enjoyable because of that than strips like Dakor.

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