Monday, November 25, 2013

Dakota North #4 (December 1986)

Title: Busman’s Holiday!
Cover: Tony Salmons
Script: Martha Thomases
Art: Tony Salmons
Colors: Christie Scheele
Letters: John Morelli
Editor: Larry Hama
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.75
Cover Date: December 1986
Release Date: August 1986
Synopsis:  Dakota runs franticly through the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris, desperately trying to get the attention of her younger brother Ricky before the Orient Express leaves the station. Onboard the train, Ricky sees Dakota, but can’t believe it’s her since he thinks his sister is still in New York.  In any case, he’s much more interested in his new friend Daisy and excited to ride the legendary Orient Express with her.  Daisy introduces Ricky to her fabulous friends and then takes him to the private car where they’ll staying.

Although she is an agent of Cleo Vanderlip and ostensibly supposed to be luring Ricky and his golden pen with the secret cache of nerve gas to the headquarters of their evil organization, Daisy is clearly falling for Ricky and reluctant to put him in harm’s way.  As she takes Ricky to their private car, which we learn is owned by Cleo’s friend Sheik Ibn Bheik, Daisy warns him about the new butler Pettishford and suggests that he keep his golden pen hidden. While the young couple settles in for chocolate malts aboard the Orient Express, Dakota phones back to the office to share what she’s learned about Cleo’s involvement in the plot.

Determined to win Dakota’s heart, Amos Culhane decides to fly to Europe to help her find Ricky and solve this mystery.  Oddly, when Amos goes home to pack, Cleo knocks on his door and volunteers to take care of his cat while he’s gone.  It’s a total non-sequitor, but far from the worst of the holes in the plot.  While Amos in en route to Europe, Dakota manages to beat the Orient Express to the station in Venice only to find that the train is missing ones of its cars.  What Dakota could not see from the station is that the car had retractable wheels and separated from the train in order to take the overland route to Grindelwald, Switzerland.

Amos arrives in Venice where tracks down a very grateful Dakota and he quickly puts his detective skills to work finding the missing boy. On board the land yacht, Daisy once again warns Ricky not to give the golden pen to anyone, igniting the fury of the butler, who is an agent of Sheik Ibn Bheik.  “You little tramp! You are going tell him everything!”  A scuffle ensues and the vehicle crashes while Pettishford is away from the wheel.  Ricky takes the opportunity to escape while Daisy stays behind.  Conveniently, the crash makes the papers the next day, so Dakota and Amos to head Grindelwald to find Ricky.

Daisy and Petishford are brought before Sheik Ibn Bheik, a sinister villain right out of central casting with a trained falcon that he unleashes on the poor butter as punishment for his failure.  The sheik decides to return Daisy to Cleo for punishment and sets his sights on tracking down Ricky and the lost pen with the nerve gas.  Setting out with a hunting party, he spots Ricky just as the boy is reunited with Dakota and Amos in the hills on the outskirts of Grindelwald.  Dakota manages to lure Sheik Ibn Bheik away so that Amos and Ricky and try to escape, but it’s all for naught as the three are all captured by the villain.

The issue ends with Dakota, Ricky and Amos tied up in chairs in Sheik Ibn Bheik’s castle in a scene that is remarkably similar to the one in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) in which Indy and his father are captured in Castle Brunwald.  It’s a fun cliff-hanger in what would turn out to be the penultimate issue of the Dakota North series. This issue includes the first letters page of the series entitled Fashion Statements.  To be concluded in Dakota North #5.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

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