austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Contact! Give her the gun / Put her nose in the wind, head for the sun

Ace Drummond Chapter Two, ``The Invisible Enemy'', opens with the revelation that Ace Drummond is not dead.

The backstory is given in an endearing fashion: it's shown as panels of the Ace Drummond comic strip, in a newspaper underneath Alex Raymond's Jungle Jim. It's not as iconic as the receding-crawl of Flash Gordon or Star Wars but it's fun.

Oh, Drummond and Peggy Trainor were in the biplane as it crashed into the monastery wall all right, but they cleverly ducked under the cowling, so survived.

The locals start swordfighting with Drummond, but the Lama commands they knock this off; he's pretty cool with the whole crashed airplane thing. The angry underling monk accuses them of desecrations and all that, but the Lama goes on about it being an accident and the will of God, and arranges for a horse-drawn wagon to take them back to the air field.

During the ride, Drummond again sings his ``Give Me A Ship And A Song'' tune which was so bizarre in the first installment, and weird as a roaring aviation song might be on a passenger plane, it's all the more ridiculous in a horse wagon. If the whole serial is going to feature a search for more absurd points at which to sing the song, which they clearly paid for and are going to use, I'll be delighted.

Drummond is introduced to the International Airways board, but they're ready to give up on Mongolia and thus world peace. Drummond feels they can fight this invisible enemy by bringing them out ``where they can be seen''. Meanwhile Peggy Trainor has met comic relief mechanic Jerry (Noah Beery), who explains he ``didn't steal'' this watch, ``honest''; he just found it in the valley nearby. She identifies it as her father's wristwatch. Drummond presents this to the board of directors as a clue to the attacks on airplanes: her father's either dead or being held prisoner so therefore ... uh ...

They spot a plane on the ground, and land near it. The ``archeologists'' from before have Trainor's father in a pit and are demanding he tell them where the mountain of jade is; an underlind warns them of Drummond's approach and they have a meaningless conversation with Jerry, not noticing Drummond was dropped off. Here I have to say I kind of admire how Drummond goes sneaking around the cave just as he skydived out of the plane before: in dress slacks, shirt, and tie, although he doesn't wear a blazer, which would surely be impractical for Mongolian action adventure.

Anyway, he beats up a henchman, but his presence is detected. The ``archeologists'' go to the small water wheel, where something goes spinning faster and The Dragon Commands that Drummond can't enter the Hall of Dead Kings or get back to the airport. So Jerry's chased to the ground by The Dragon's air force, and Drummond runs up to meet him ``just as I was about to find out something''. Drummond suggests he fly Jerry's plane, Jerry free the prisoner and take off in the archeologists's plane and that's how we set up to endanger Drummond's life for the cliffhanger. Jerry gets in a fight with a henchman, and carries the unconscious henchman back to the plane, apparently giving the 'prisoner' idea a toss.

Suffice to say, they're soon spiralling towards the ground and falling behind the tree lines, with one doing a proper biplane-style face-plant.

Trivia: On 27 June 1615 British East India Company agent R Wickam in Hirado, Japan, made one of the earliest known mentions of tea by an Englishman, in a letter to a man named Eaton, an agent in Macao. Source: The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug, Bennett Alan Weinberg, Bonnie K Bealer.

Currently Reading: ``The Good War'', Studs Terkel.


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