CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES VOL. 2 (Dark Horse, First Printing, 2012; Hardcover)
Collects Crime Does Not Pay #26-29 (cover dates March- September, 1943)
Writer: Bob Wood, Dick Wood, Sam Burlockoff, and other, unidentified writers.
Artists: Charles Biro (covers), “Roy” (artist otherwise unidentified), Dick Wood, Jack Alderman, Norman Maurer, Bob Wood, Alan Mandel, Dick Briefer, and other, unidentified artists.
People love to see criminals get theirs. It's human nature to want to see justice meted out to the guilty party. That (and probably a lack of television and Internet) is why public hangings and executions were so popular in the olden days. That tradition continues here in the 21st century, albeit through vicarious things like news stories, movies, video games and the like. If you journey back in time 70+ years you get to the crux of why this was the most popular comic book of it's day. Name any superhero on the stands and this title outsold them. In a world where organized crime was an ongoing concern, it was cathartic for people to pick up a fat 68 page comic for one thin dime and get lost in a world where bad people have good things happen to them for a while but all inevitably learn the fateful lesson that CRIME DOES NOT PAY!
Mister Crime is the host of the series, and he whispers in the ear of the various crooks, giving them advice along the way. This is one of those “beauty of the medium” sort of things. While the majority of the stories are taken from crimes of the 1920s and 1930s there are several from the Old West. There was a large adult readership for this title. Someone who was, say, 60 when these issues were on the stands would be old enough to remember those days. Think about that for a minute.
Things start out with a bang in issue 26. The True Life Story of Charles “Lucky” Luciano is awesome. While some events in these stories are glossed over and omitted, it is amazing that any of this is true. It of course lends a real weight to what you're reading. Not all of these tales are true, though, such as #27's The Weird Tale Of Mister Destin. At least I don't think that one is true. #27 also tells the tale of the Touhy mob, and the tale ended with them on the lam. There was a quick addition to the final panel, as they were caught just as the issue was going to press. The tale of their capture was told in the following issue.
There were several tales with Horror imagery and overtones. I liked how Hex Horror married the worlds of the occult and true crime. In #29's Whodunit? Can You Solve The Catnip Club Murder we see some of the values of the day seep into the story, such as Times Square beginning to descend into a seedy nightclub district. By the 1970s it of course would be home to porn theatres and become a mockery of it's former grandeur. I have been there twice (2007 and 2013) and it is awesome today. Of course there are some New Yorkers who bemoan the demise of the seediness of 1970s New York City. #30s The Corpse That Would Not Stay Dead is yet another one that uses a sensational macabre-tinged title for an otherwise true crime tale.
The artwork ranges in quality from serviceable to outstanding. Some artists, like Jack Alderman, are long forgotten greats who didn't last too long. Dick Briefer is another great who has received renewed recognition in recent years thanks to collected editions of his Frankenstein by Yoe Books/IDW and PS Artbooks, although the first one was released by Idea Men Productions years ago.
This is a marked improvement over the issues in Volume 1. I read Blackjacked And Pistol-Whipped: A Crime Does Not Pay Primer years ago and I know that the best is yet to come. I own them all and hope to read and review them for you someday.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The OCD zone- All original text pieces and advertisements are presented. I dig looking at the old ads.
Linework and Color restoration: I do not own the original comics and cannot locate scans of the issues collected here. It looks good but I have nothing to compare it to. Given Dark Horse's track record I am sure that this is a solid restoration job.
Paper stock: Thick uncoated stock. It has a creamy off-white color, being close to Mint condition pulp paper in appearance while being of sufficient thickness that it feels like 'Archival' quality paper.
Binding: Oversewn Smyth sewn binding. Binding is stiff and the book does not lay flat.
Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Nice faux leather casewrap with die foil stamping. Dustjacket has a decent lamination.