Wednesday, April 07, 2021

The Miracle Squad - John Wooley and Terry Tidwell

Back in the Eighties, I read a lot of independent comics (along with plenty of Marvel and DC titles), and one that I remember very fondly is THE MIRACLE SQUAD, written by John Wooley and drawn by Terry Tidwell. Recently I discovered that the first four issues have been reprinted in a very handsome trade paperback, so I was eager to revisit them. I’m glad I did, because THE MIRACLE SQUAD is still a lot of fun.

Not surprisingly, since Wooley is an expert on pulps, old comics, and old movies, I am definitely the target audience for a yarn like this. In 1937, beautiful Sandra Castle arrives in Hollywood to search for her twin sister. A year earlier, they both won a talent contest that got them screen tests, but only Sandra’s sister Eileen headed west to Hollywood—where she promptly disappeared. Now Sandra’s searching for her, but before you know it, she’s mixed up with a low-budget movie production company, Miracle Studios, which is targeted for a takeover by gangster Sweets O’Hanlon. Handsome young producer Mark Barron takes over the studio after his father is murdered by O’Hanlon’s gunmen. Also working for the studio are magician and daredevil Johnny Rice, character actor Hamilton Wynde, towering prop man Billy Caserta, driver and valet Tito Guzman, and studio detective Robert B. Leslie (any resemblance to pulpster Robert Leslie Bellem, creator of Dan Turner, is strictly not coincidental, since Wooley’s connections to Bellem go ’way back). Together, this group calls themselves the Miracle Squad as they battle O’Hanlon and his goons and search for Sandra’s missing sister at the same time.

I had a great time reading this collection. I mean . . . B-movies, gangsters, cowboys, night clubs, blimps, gambling ships, beautiful dames, two-fisted heroes . . . what more could a fan of that era want? Wooley’s scripts and plot twists are excellent, and Tidwell’s art does a great job of capturing the era.

Rounding out this volume from Bill Cunningham’s Pulp 2.0 Press are reminiscences by the creators, articles on B-movies that originally ran in the comic book, artwork and sketches, and the short story in which Wooley first wrote about several of these characters. It all makes a wonderful package, and I’m glad I discovered it. Wooley and Tidwell produced another series about a masked crimefighter called THE TWILIGHT AVENGER, and Pulp 2.0 has reprinted two volumes of those stories, as well. I have them and look forward to reading them. In the meantime, if you’re a fan of independent comics and/or old movies or just very good adventure fiction, THE MIRACLE SQUAD gets a high recommendation from me.


Anonymous said...

I read The Twilight Avenger and enjoyed it back in the day. I think I even got a letter up on the letters page.
But I never heard about Miracle Squad until now.
That’s a purchase. Thanks, James.

John Hocking

Anonymous said...

Somewhere I've got issues of this and Twilight Avenger. The '80s were great. Wish we could still find stuff like this; Torpedo 1936, Savage Tales, etc.

James Reasoner said...

Torpedo 1936! I hadn't thought of that series in a long time. There are a number of collections of it and the first one is on Kindle, so I grabbed a copy to revisit it. The Eighties were great when it came to indie comics, but I think that's also when Marvel and DC both started their long slides that have never stopped.