Big Red McLane
BigRed01.png

Real Name

(unknown first name) McLane

First Appearance

Fight Comics #1 (January 1940)

Original Publisher

Fiction House

Created by

Fletcher Hanks (as Chris Fletcher, Charles Netcher)

Big Red on a log raft

Origin

Big Red was a travelling man, looking for employment. One day in Canada, he stumbled upon a gathering by crooked Red River lumber company, who were trying to steal potential workers from their honest rival, Great Bend Lumber Co. Infuriated at the work offer, Big Red decks the crook offering him a job, and offers his services to Great Bend. Great Bend president, Mr Farlow is happy to employ someone like McLane, who is apparently known for his skill in fighting, even though McLane is, as he says, "not much of a lumberjack". After leaving the meeting, Red River spies plan to kill him by dropping a cut tree on him, but Big Red intimidates them by saying that he plans to deal with any rabblerousers with his bare hands - pernamently. As the tree is about to fall on him, Big Red sees it coming, dodges it, and defeats all the Red River spies in hand to hand combat. One lumberjack who witnessed the awe-inspiring fight tells Red that he knows where other Red River spies hold their meetings - and together they listen in to a Red River plan to sabotage Great Bend operations for three more days, which would result in GB losing the contract - in favour of Red River company. He succesfully stops the spies from sabotaging the loading rig, and he bravely jump onto a runaway logging train, and succesfully slows it down to a stop. Desperate after their plans are foiled, Red River spies try to ambush Big Red at a local pub, however, even with advantage of surprise, they lose to Big Red's superior combat skills. However, it turns out the fight was merely a distraction, and when it was going on, logging raft are blown up with dynamite - injuring, and almost killing, Mr Farlow. Big Red goes after the saboteurs, and catches up with them, and knocks them out and delivers them to mounties. He leads the Great Bend men to drive the rafts out, and tells Mr Farlow's nurse to tell him not to worry, and that everything is in control.

In issue 2, Big Red spots as more Red River saboteurs blow up Great Bend log rafts. He asks Farlow for permission to go to Red River and sort this out, but Farlow declines, saying that it's not how they do things at Great Bend. Meanwhile, Red River saboteurs start a forest fire on the patch of the woods where Great Bend operates. Big Red directs the firefighting efforts, digging trenches. After fires are vanquished, fed up, he goes to Red River camp anyway. He recognizes the faces of the saboteurs, and a huge fight breaks out. Despite Red River crooks using guns and sending out a heavyweight, Big Red remains victorious, and goes back to inform Farlow that he will no longer have troubles with Red River. Farlow thanks him, but to his surprise, Big Red quits the job. He passes by the Red River camp, but everyone hides from him in fear.

In issue 3, while wandering the northwoods, he stumbles upon a group fighting a lone man. Upon noticing one of the participants drawing a knife, he decks him for drawing a blade in a fair fight. Other friends of the knife-wielder gang up on him, but Big Red fights them off. Happy for the rescue, the victim of the group introduces himself as Mr Farr, owner of the woods, and the gang was stealing his timber by felling trees on his property. Big Red agress to help him with his situation. Big Red sets an ambush for the thieves, and waits until nightfall, when suddenly - the gang emerges with the searchlight, ready to steal timber. Big Red ambushes them and fights them off, and then drops their equipment off a cliff. Farr, impressed, serves him a hearty breakfast, and offers McLane partnership in the company, making it now Farr-McLane lumber company.

In issue 4, Big Red discovers some logs are missing from log rafts, which causes losses for the Farr-McLane Lumber Co. Big Red decides to investigate by carefully marking the logs so he can recognize them, as he suspects strangers by the fork of stealing the logs by bribing their night men. When investigating the strangers camps, he finds the marked logs. The gang responds by ganging up on him and trying to kill him, but Big Red defeats them all, and forces them to turn themselves in to a local sheriff. After arresting them, Big Red and the sheriff make a horrifying discovery - the gang has brutally murdered one of sheriff's deputy by bashing his head in. It turns out that the gang was full of wanted murderers, with a 25,000$ reward for their capture (about 450,000$ in 2019 money, though perhaps a little less considering the story takes place in Canada - so it's probably Canadian dollars). Big Red McLane and Tom Farr use the reward to purchase a new tract of timber next to their property.

In issue 5, Big Red takes issue with one of the man his and his partner's company hired - a city slicker whom McLane thinks "loafer" and "braggart". This is confirmed when he starts bragging about almost winning a heavyweight championship. Big Red responds by claiming the man's a phoney, and he tries to retort - until he's quieted by fellow lumberjacks as he's talking to one of the company owners, after all. Next day, the city slicker starts a fight with a man smaller than himself, and Big Red tries to bring him in line by decking him in the face. Vengeful, the city slicker decides to set a trap for Big Red. When Big Red is about to fell a tree, the city slicker pushes a young lumberjack under the tree, which crushes him. The new guy calls an inspector, trying to blame Big Red for the accident, lying that he didn't give any warning. Big Red denies the charges, but the city slicker keeps spreading his poison in person. However, the victim survives, and tells Big Red that the new guy pushed him under the tree. Inspector is called, and believes the testimony. McLane sets out to find the criminal, who is waiting for him with an axe - but it does no good against the mighty fists of Big Red McLane. Meanwhile, Tom Farr receives a phonecall - the man was planted by a gang who tried to wreck their business! A plane filled with mounties arrive, and warn Big Red that the new guy planted bomb in the center of a loading rig of the log trains. Big Red finds a bomb, and hurls it into a canyon, saving the day.

In issue 6, Big Red and his partner Tom Farr learn about a crooked paper mill, Royal River Mills, that tries to buy out small lumber companies for ridiculously low prices, by threatening them with physical force. Soon, Farr and McLane are also made the unfair offer, but they firmly refuse. Later, when returning from work, Big Red spots some people skulking through the bushes, and when he approaches them, they hide their faces and run away towards the river. He assumes they must've been bums, but as he goes back to the office, he finds windows broken, and Tom Farr lying in a pool of blood, seemingly dead. Not quite - the doctor says there is a slim chance he might pull through. Enraged, Big Red stalks the perpetrators, and find them bragging about how they're going to do the same to McLane. He beats them all up, and makes one confess that Royal River Mills paid them for the hit. He drags them to the sheriff, and then swings by Royal River Mills offices, and beats up everyone inside - and forces the owner (who is suprised that Big Red is alive) to destroy his own machinery with a sledgehammer, to make sure they can't do business anymore. Afterwards, he makes him destroy his own plant using TNT, before turning him over to mounties. It turns out the owner is "Machine Gun" Randall, escaped convict wanted for murder. The story concludes by showing that Tom Farr made a succesful recovery, and will be alright.

In issue 7, we return to the tract of timber that McLane and Farr bought for the reward money from issue 4. Turns out, that tract of timber is controlled by a gang of lumber hijackers led by one "Sledge" Sloan. The gang tries ambushing Big Red, and at first he fights them off - until one of them manages to drop a blackjack onto his skull by pure chance, and fells him. They capture him, tie him up and drag him to their lair. Meanwhile, Farr, worried by Red's disappearance, grabs a gun, and finds the ambush spot, and tracks the gang to its hideout. "Sledge" tries to intimidate Big Red into signing off the tract to them, but McLane bravely declines. Tom bursts through the door with gun drawn, and holds the crooks on gunpoint, telling them to drop their guns. The cowardly crooks oblige, and Tom frees McLane. Big Red then proceeds to beat them all up, and a sheriff arrives to arrest them all.

In issue 8, Big Red explores a district within their newly acquired territory. While he lies down to sleep on the forest floor, he is captured, tied up and transported by a plane. He wakes up in a room with other people inside, and one of them tells them they're test subjects for a twisted experiment - a man named "Monk" invented long-range ballistic rockets - that however require a person inside to operate it. After first test where a hapless lumberjack is launched inside the rocket and blows up into smithereens, Big Red frees himself and other captives. They charge the criminals, who gun them all down - save for McLane, who moves to fast to be hit. Big Red beats them all up, and in a duel with the Monk, he throws him off a cliff. He gathers the freed captives with gun wounds, and has one of them - who is a pilot and lightly wounded - fly the plane to safety, where he contacts the authorities to round up the criminals.

In the final issue 9, Big Red takes some time off to visit San Francisco, hoping to find Sally Breen, his old sweetheart - until they had an argument. McLane wants to try to patch up their relationship. While in Frisco, coach of a boxer Battling Gatzo convince him to become a sparring partner for Gatzo in exchange for help in finding Sally. During the sparring, Big Red accidentally breaks Gatzo's jaw. Apologetic, he agrees to take his place for the upcoming boxing match with "The Bulldog". During the fight, it turns out the Sally is in the audience, and this gives him the second wind he needed to knock out Bulldog in one punch. He reunites with Sally, and impressed, she decides to give their relationship another shot - and to marry him. This happy end concludes the story of "Big Red" McLane.

Powers and Abilities

  • McLane is an ordinary human, however, he is strong and agile, and an extremely skilled martial artist, able to easily defeat large crowds of opponents, and easily winning with professional boxers. He is also extremely resilient, taking a wooden barstool to his skull without even being phased by it.
  • In addition, he once proved to be too fast to be hit by a crowd of men with guns, able to outmaneuver them long enough to waste all their ammo.

Public Domain Appearances

  • Fight Comics #1-9

Notes

  • Some sources treat "Big Red" as his first name, but actual comics often feature "Red" or "Big Red" in quotes, suggesting that it's actually a nickname. No real first name is ever provided.
  • Big Red has a fondness for flapjack pancakes.

See Also

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