S. Martin Shelton

Retired U.S.Navy Captain, Novelist

BOOK REVIEW: Steve Canyon, Milton Caniff, Vol. 6: 1957 to 1958

SteveCanyon6_cvr1-659x510.jpgTwo stars.

Headline: Lieutenant Colonel Steven (Steve) Canyon, USAFR, intensifies his domestic agenda.

Egad! Milton Caniff, what have you done to our iconic hero?

The eight stories in this book all hinge on some sort of domesticity, teenage nonsense or failed romance. Unfortunately, this book is an overblown telenovela, a Bollywood par excellence, a classic soap opera. Starting a few books back we can see that his drawings are beginning to lack the dept, composition and sparkle of previous strips.

How we miss Caniff’s ol’ time adventure stories set in exotic locations and introducing even more exotic dames ardent for Canyon’s passionate kisses. Where is the Dragon Lady when we need her? Where is the consummately evil blackguard planning to do dastardly deeds, destroy Canyon in a diabolical scheme and capture the fair damsel for illicit designs?

Missing is the élan, panache, the je ne sais quoi that propelled Caniff’s strips to the peak of popularity.

Below are my synopses of the eight stories in this book.

  •  The first story centers around a high school basketball team coached by Canyon’s ward, the burgeoning teenager, Poteet Canyon.
  • The second story focuses on Poteet’s teenage romance—to no avail, I might add.
  • The third story rehashes the plight of Princess Snow flower and her lost lover. Canyon, as the romance broker, unites the couple.
  • The fourth story relays the brat Poteet’s struggle with anorexia nervosa and her insane jealously of Canyon’s true paramour, Summer Olsen. The eeevil Copper Canyon, Olsen employer (re: slave master), wants Steve for herself—and does dastardly deeds to get him. Naturally, she fails.
  • The fifth story develops, in an inane narrative, the return of the hotsy totsy, Mizzou, clad throughout the story in her ever-present trench coat—and we are to presume nothing else. I’ve never understood why Canyon or someone else has not given her used clothing to wear—I suspect she has a dynamite body, as all Caniff’s adult females do.
  • The sixth story returns Poteet Canyon. Again she is enveloped in more insane jealously as Canyon shows interest in her handsome landlady.
  • The seventh story has Canyon stationed at the Air Force Academy. Poteet’s jealously causes all sorts of problems for Canyon, et al.
  • The eighth story plops the all-time hot cinema actress Savannah Gay back into Canyon’s love life in a classic romance-novel scenario. He is almost immune, however.

The End.

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