Young Men #21: "Flash Foster"

"Flash Foster and His High-gear Hot-shots"
Scripter unknown. Unsigned art by Ed Moline.
Young Men #21 (Jun 1953)
Interstate Publishing Corp. (under the "Atlas" logo)
Martin Goodman, Publisher. Stan Lee, Editor.

Before Martin Goodman's Young Men shepherded in the Atlas
Superhero Revival in issue #24, it contained diverse sorts of stories.
The title began with #4, taking over the numbering of the defunct
Cowboy Romances. Through issue #11, the stories were various
two-fisted action-adventure yarns; in issues #9 thru #11, this
included a story featuring Rocky Jorden, Private Eye, who also starred
in Private Eye. Issues #12 thru #20 were generic war stories, with
the title given on the cover as Young Men on the Battlefield; in fact,
this became the official title in the indicia for issues #13-#20.

For issues #21 thru #23, the book carried four new characters: Rex
Lane Solver of the Supernatural (an "prototype" for "Night Stalker" or
"X-Files"), Rocky Steele The Idol of the Ring! (a boxer); Buzz Brand
in the United States Army!(a G.I. in boot camp), and the following.

Frederick Foster, Jr. (known as "Flash" to his friends) is a
sandy-haired teenager. He lives with his father, Frederick Foster,
Sr., and his mother. His friends include wealthy Rod Randall; Hub, a
small bespectacled boy; and Drag, a heavy-set boy with dark hair. All
four boys are interested in cars and form a car club called the
High-gear Hot-shots. Providing love interest is a pretty redhead
named Sandra.

The first story of the series opens with the four teenage pals
peddling their bicycles down the road, admiring passing sports cars: a
sleek Nash-Healy, followed by a Jaguar. Though Rod Randall is
confident his father would buy him such a car if he asked, the other
boys know such luxury is beyond their families' means. However, it
occurs to them that they might be able to go together, buy an old
jalopy, and soup it up into a hot rod. To make this happen, they band
together as a car club, calling themselves the High-gear Hot-shots.

Unfortunately, the club treasury holds only $13.60; they can find
nothing in their price range at Happy Harry's Used Cars. To make
matters worse, their parents all are against the idea. They've heard
that hotrodders are reckless speed demons and a menace to society.
The adults turn a deaf ear to the boys attempts to explain their
commitment to safe driving and good sportsmanship. It seems the great
idea is dying on the vine.

Sandra comes by and takes Flash for a ride in her father's yellow
convertible, to cheer him up. When the car breaks down, Rod comes
along in a hot rod his father bought for him. He gives Sandra a ride
home, leaving poor Flash to try to repair the convertible. He walks
over to Mr. White's farm to borrow the necessary tools. In White's
barn, he sees a dilapidated 1926 Ford Model T coupe up on blocks.
Flash sees a lot of potential in the broken down jalopy, and
immediately buys it from White for $5.

With the help of ace mechanic Joe Davis, the Hot-shots rebuild the
car, right there in White's barn. They install a fairly new Ford 6
engine with dual carburetors and mount the tires on 16 inch wheels
from the junk yard, turning the flivver into a "Model T.N.T." But
just as they are finishing up, Officer O'Malley strolls in. He, too,
is down on hotrodding and forbids the boys to drive their car on the
street. Once again, it seems their plans will be dashed.

As a dejected Flash leaves White's barn several hours later, he sees
that Doc Van Buren is at the Whites. He learns that little Billy
White is very sick and needs to be seen immediately by Dr.
Winterhalter, a specialist from nearby Doverton. Unfortunately, a
terrible storm has knocked out phone service, and Dr. Van Buren
doesn't dare leave Billy to fetch the specialist himself. Flash makes
the perilous trip in the hot rod, earning the gratitude of the Whites
and the respect of Officer O'Malley.

This was the first entry of a series that lasted only through issue
#23. It was very nearly Martin Goodman's only foray into hot rod
comics, a genre developed much more fully at Charlton. It's probably
just as well, as the scripter seemed to have no clue about 1950s car
culture and hotrodding. I mean, a Ford 6???? Come on!!