The Human Torch #30: "The Hyena Strikes!"

The Human Torch #30
"The Hyena Strikes!"
May, 1948

Story: Unknown
Pencils: Alex Schomburg (?)
Inks: Mike Sekowsky (?)

He is the criminal known as the Hyena, and like his namesake, he steals
only from the dead.  A courageous woman seeks to defy his will, and with
the help of the Human Torch and Toro, succeeded in ending the laughter
of... the Hyena, in... "The Hyena Strikes!"

On a lonely mountain road, the mirthless laughter of the Hyena may be
heard.  The criminal is painting a new white stripe, which leads off the
road.  He knows that the center stripe is what the truck drivers follow
at nighttime.  This is how they are able to "see" in the dark.  This
time, the marking will drive them off-center, and into the chasm.  The
hoods watch as the truck follows the center stripe to its doom.  The
truck is filled with valuables, and the Hyena is eager to plunder its
contents.  For Lorraine Miller, the criminal's successful plan brings her
tragedy...  It was her father who was driving the truck when it crashed.
She knows that he would want her to carry on the trucking business, but
Mr. Lennox, the manager, doesn't believe that its a place for a woman.
With her father's death, Lorraine is the owner now, and will not sell the

In their apartment, Toro reads about the fourth crash of the Miller
Trucking Line, from the last three months.  With the death of the owner,
the Torch decides to investigate, and they head for the depot.  Lorraine
is grateful for their concern, but she has already taken precautions, and
has each truck equipped with a two-way radio set.  As the Miller Truck
heads on the way, the driver sees another truck heading for him, and
twists the wheel.  The Hyena laughs as the foolish driver recoils from
the reflection of his own headlights in a mirror placed on the road.

With the truck, the stricken driver manages to give his location on the
two-way radio.  While the Torch and Toro head for the scene, Miss Miller
follows them in one of the repair cars.  Another accident seems unlikely,
but the true nature of the incident becomes clear when the heroes sees
the crooks stealing from the fallen truck.  After seeing the mirror, the
Torch figures out the hijackers' angle, and both flaming figures tear
into the cowardly criminals.  Only the Hyena manages to evade capture,
when the Torch and Toro hear the approach of another vehicle.

Both flame on and command the repair truck driven by Miss Miller to stop
before there is a collision.  When told of the truck driver's death, she
tells them that he was traveling along a secret route.  The Hyena's hoods
claim that their boss knows everything about the Miller Truck route.
After returning to the depot... Lorraine confronts Mr. Lennox about their
trucking schedule, something which only the two of them know about.  As
she picks up the phone to call the police, Lennox reaches for something
in his coat.

Miss Miller is hit from behind by the treacherous manager, just as the
Hyena arrives, and compliments Lennox on his handiwork.  A nitro truck is
ready to go, with Lorraine Miller to be its unwilling passenger.  Minutes
later, the Torch and Toro arrive in search of Miss Miller, and are told
that she was last seen with Mr. Lennox.  They had spotted the
nitroglycerine-laden truck, which had been waiting for the arrival of a
special driver... and Lorraine Miller is about to be driven to her own
death.  Knowing that this is a dangerous situation for a woman, they fly
out of the city limits, just as Miss Miller wakes up in the back seat of
her own truck.  The Hyena and Lennox have been working together, with the
manager passing on information to the criminal about each truck's cargo.

They leave her tied up, with the truck about to jump the road at the next
curve.  The laughter of the Hyena dies upon the arrival of the Human
Torch.  While Toro corrals the crooks, the Torch manages to save Miss
Miller before the truck makes its fatal fall.  They see that the craven
criminal begged for mercy after only one punch from Toro, and Lennox was
no better.  After the hijackers are dropped off to the police...  Toro
believes that Lorraine Miller's trucking business will prove to be
successful, while his mentor agrees that she has what it takes - and

This story was reprinted in The Human Torch #2 (November, 1974).

On the splash page, a giant Hyena holds a helpless Lorraine Miller in the
palm of his hand, and an avenging Human Torch is determined to save her.

I remember reading a Limited Collector's Edition with a Golden Age Batman
story entitled "The Cross Country Crimes", where the Joker pulled the
same trick of painting a white stripe on the road at night.

I'm sure that both villains ended up with their own stripes... prison

Miss Miller is quite a sight, with a neckline which would give even Ralph
Dibny pause.

When the Miller truck driver sees the oncoming headlights from the
mirror, I wonder if he's talking to himself or if someone was traveling
with him.  There is a word balloon with "Another truck headed this way!"
"Twist the wheel!"

"They Drive By Night" was a movie with Humphrey Bogart as a trucker
having a tough time of it.

In Batman #47: "The Origin Of Batman!", the Dynamic Duo stumble across
Joe Chill's illegal trucking operation.

When Lorraine tries to use the telephone, Mr. Lennox reaches out, and
touches the back of her head with a blackjack.

I've heard of "purple mountain majesty" and this is exactly the kind of
background for the nitro-laden truck to fall off from.

While Toro comments on Miss Miller's bravery, the Torch mentions that
she's got everything it takes - plus.

I wonder if Lorraine Miller became an old flame of the Human Torch?

Steve Chung
"The Hyena Review!"