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Lex Luthor hasn’t appeared much in Action Comics recently, but he returns in full force, with a cover appearance, in issue 131 (April 1949), in a story by Joe Samachson and Al Plastino.

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Luthor has invented a machine that moves people and objects into and out of the 4th dimension (isn’t that where we already exist?)  He announces the plans for his next crime to Lois Lane, intending the press to cover the crime, as he transports his men far from the scene.

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Clark Kent writes the story for the Daily Planet, and winds up on the chopping block when Perry White and the Planet get sued by the thieves.  Luthor transported them across the country, and they have witnesses to place them thousands of miles away.  Clark finds that his reputation has been ruined, and no other paper will hire him.

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Luthor then uses his machine on Superman, trapping him in the 4th dimension.  Essentially, this puts him into the same state as the Phantom Zone, though that would not be introduced for many years to come.  But as with the Phantom Zone, Superman finds he is able to mentally influence an electric typewriter, although that is credited in the story to the wonderful sensitivity of the machine itself.  Lois gets to act as Superman’s agent, finding Luthor, and reversing the machine to free Superman.

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Tommy Tomorrow is given the rank of colonel in this story by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and John Fischetti.

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His rank must have been conveyed for one of his earlier stories, as he already has it as he leads an expedition into the centre of the Earth, finding a society based on slavery in the core.  I would suspect the rank was given to him after his treaty with the 10th planet.

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Tommy discovers that the reason the inner world relies on slavery is the scarcity of water, and the necessity for a huge work force to produce it.  Somehow, that does not sound like a reason for it, just an excuse.  But Tommy provides them with some water from Lake Tanganyika, and frees the slaves, earning a statue in centre of the world.

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Some really excellent art by Dan Barry on this George Kashdan Vigilante story.  It opens with a chef, and a fan of Vigilante, inviting him to his nebulous South American country.  The reference in the story to “pampas” would seem to indicate that Argentina is the location.

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The story is really fun.  Vigilante has to deal with rampaging cattle, and rustler, and other typical problems, but the focus of the tale is the cooking.  The tortillas the chef is so proud of are all but inedible.

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Eventually, the source of the problem is discovered.  The river the chef got his water from has oil running through it.  The ostrich has nothing to do with that, but looks just great.

 

 

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