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Kirk, Coffin. Coffin Kirk was created by Arch Whitehouse (Todd Bancroft, Buzz Benson, Crash Carringer, Casket Crew, Coffin Crew, Griffon, Tug Hardwick) and appeared in six stories in Flying Aces from 1937 to 1941, beginning with “Vultures Vortex” (Flying Aces, Oct. 1937).

At the end of World War One Brian Kirk was a child in Berlin, working with his father, an Allied spy. Kirk’s father was killed by the German spy organization, the Circle of Death, and Kirk only escaped by hiding in the ape enclosure in the Berlin Zoo. Kirk escapes to America with a baby ape, who he teaches to talk, to load guns, and to repair airplanes. (Though not to have a snarky attitude. That, the ape developed on his own). As adults Kirk and the ape, “Tank,” are aviators (Kirk flies, Tank is mechanic and tail-gunner) and fight against the Circle of Death.

* I'm including the Coffin Kirk stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because they're fun. Whitehouse was a pro's pro as far as pulp writers went. It just so happens that he published within the air adventure pulps, so a lot of writers and readers never read his work or even knew about him. The Coffin Kirk stories are some of his best work--exciting air adventure, spy hijinks on the ground, reasonably heroic protagonist, etc. But what really makes the Kirk stories special is, of course, Tank, because "everything's better with monkeys."  A sarcastic talking ape plane mechanic and tail-gunner? In what sorry world is that not the Best of anything? 

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