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Ayres, Dusty. Dusty Ayres was created by Robert Sidney Bowen (Dave Dawson, Kip Lacey, Red Randall) and appeared in Dusty Ayres and His Battle Birds #1-12 (1934-1935).

Dusty Ayres and His Battle Birds tells the story of a world at war in the near future, beginning three years after "all Asia and Europe had been a seething inferno of war." A Yellow Peril from "an obscure part of Central Asia" had arisen: Fire-Eyes, a brutish figure clad in a bullet-proof black uniform, black gauntlets, black mask, and a black skull cap. Fire-Eyes and his armed hordes, the Black Invaders, intend to CONQUER THE WORLD! They conquer Europe, Africa, and Asia and then stage an invasion of the United States, using everything from "radio-controlled gas rockets" to "midget flame tanks." But Dusty Ayres is there to stop him. Ayres is the top American pilot, and it is Ayres who is responsible for turning back the Black Invaders and foiling the plots of Fire-Eyes. Ayres is aided by Jack Horner, Agent 10 and the son of the head of U.S. Intelligence. Curley Brooks and Biff Bolton give assistance to Ayres when it is needed. Ayres fights a number of secondary villains before finally taking on Fire-Eyes himself; Ayres kills Zytoff and Ekar the Avenger before shooting down the Black Hawk, Fire-Eyes' lieutenant and an air ace almost the equal of Ayres (it takes seven separate encounters for Dusty to shoot down Black Hawk). In the final issue of Dusty Ayres Ayres kills Fire-Eyes and the Black Invasion falls apart. Uniquely for the pulps, the final issue of Dusty Ayres was intended to be the final issue, and it was planned ahead of time that #12 would finish the Fire-Eyes storyline.

* I've included Dusty Ayres in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because he, and Dusty Ayres and His Battle Birds, are historically important in their way. Dusty Ayres is one of the archetypal air adventure pulps, featuring more imaginative technology and plot twists than most air adventure pulps contained but also delivering air adventure thrills at a high level. Ayres is a bit of a cipher, but the stories are enjoyable in their way. They also form an actual pulp epic of the sort rarely encountered, with Dusty Ayres actually being a complete and finished story thanks to Robert Sidney Bowen's plan to end the series at issue #12. 

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