At the dawn of comics, publishers rushed to get new material to newsstands. After the hit Marvel Mystery Comics, Martin Goodman hoped he would have as much success with these eclectic debut strips.
Unfortunately, the strips had high turnover issue to issue and none had the success of The Human Torch or Sub-Mariner. In the case of The Fiery Mask, Goodman instructed Simon to create another flame-based character to undercut competitors that might look to copy Torch’s success.
The cover gives homage to pulp fiction magazines of the era.
Joe Simon’s Fiery Mask has a great origin story here as Jack Castle investigates Walking Corpses from the waterfront district. He comes across a green giant of a mad scientist, complete with a bizarre green ray of living death. In the ensuing explosion, Castle is transformed into a hero of “untold strength” and imbuing him with a flaming face whenever he’s angry. The flaming face concept wasn’t well executed, but the character showed a lot of promise.
Larry Antonette’s Monako Prince of Magic is fun as well. He has a host of abilities such as an Astral self, astral vision projection, shrinking to the size of a keyhole, illuminated footsteps retracing his foe’s steps, creating multiple duplicates of himself and appearing in a cloud of smoke.
Maurice Gurwirth’s Phantom of the Underworld stars a detective that’s also a surgeon!! His first case, he tricks a crook into thinking an eye disease is spreading amongst his men. He must inoculate them all immediately. Instead he injects them with a solution that gives them all temporary blindness. When the big boss runs, Denton corners him with his smoking pipe, which Perrone mistakes for a gun. Oh boy! “Doc” Denton is the Doc Doyle from the cover.