"Flung into a series of amazing adventures by his impetuous nature, and intense hatred of injustice, John Wallace finds himself the possessor of the wonderful Pipes of Death and becomes the Music Master, matching long forgotten secrets of the ancients against the marvels of modern science..."
So begins the nearly three year run of a character high on the list of "Most Oddball and Bizarre" comic book characters from the Golden Age, our pal the Music Master, who needs only a note of music, or at least a burst of sound approximating a musical note, to perform strange and fantastic feats. Even though studying weirdo comic book character ideas is a long-time obsession of mine, I had only recently learned about this fella while trolling through old issues of Famous Funnies, one of the early magazines published in the comic magazine format. In the later issues of FF they began to introduce original in-house characters (in addition to their standard fare of newspaper strip reprints), and also promote new ones from their sister magazine Reg'lar Fellers Heroic Comics. In one of these colorful in-house ads I noticed a new character being promoted named 'Music Master', who sounded like a shoe-in for a WFMU blog post, or at least worth a closer look. Luckily, these magazines are in public domain, so I downloaded the entire run of Music Man stories to study.
In his first yarn our protagonist is quickly stabbed in the chest and mortally wounded with a violin bow. Well, now, this had me going right off! I certainly haven't seen any comic book crooks deal out violence that way before. Thanks to the musical ministrations of Antonini the famed violin maker he is not only revived (using an 'ancient Egyptian instrument') but his body has become "...attuned to the frequency of musical sound waves, and that he can identify himself with any musical note so that his body will react and cling to the waves of sound, and he will be transported with the speed of sound to the source of the music.". As time passes the writer of the series, Stephen A. Douglas, also the editor of the magazine, develops many more unusual things to do with hero 'John Wallace's' audio-based powers, often venturing into surreal territory.
While not one of the most amazingly weird hero characters from the early 1940s (and there are a lot of VERY strange concepts that were tried), he has his moments, along with some lovely art here and there by various hands. Come along and join our long-haired composer/player/super-hero as he battles crime right after the jump!