act_194

Mala and his two brothers, Kizo and U-Ban, make their second and final appearance in Action 194 (July 1954), in a story by Finger, Boring and Kaye.  These Kryptonian villains had been introduced a few years ago in the pages of Superman.  Found guilty of crimes on Krypton, they were put into a rocket and shot into space in suspended animation, which is a fairly extreme form of punishment.  They got free, and caused problems for Superman, who imprisoned them at the end of that tale.  After a brief re-introduction, they get free again, and Mala heads straight for Earth. The other two don’t show up until the end of the story.  Maybe they stopped to get something to eat.

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Although he has no idea of Superman’s alternate identity, Mala decides to impersonate Clark Kent, whom he knows as Superman’s friend.

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Clark begins acting much tougher and more dynamic, which of course draws Lois Lane’s attention.  Not realizing that he is actually speaking the truth, Mala reveals that Clark Kent is Superman.  And where is the real guy?  Mala has been stealing and replacing monuments from around the world, and Superman is busy examining them, trying to figure out what Mala is up to.  Far more important than stopping a crazed Kryptonian from hanging out with those he loves.

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Sadly, this story gets even worse, as Mala reveals his true self to Lois Lane before shooting her off into space.  Superman rescues her, and takes her back to Earth, which they discover is unpopulated.  It doesn’t take Superman long to figure out that this is a fake Earth, built by Mala.Presumably Mala thought they would just stay there forever, without questioning the situation.

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Superman then rounds up Mala and his brothers, seals them in a bubble permeated with kryptonite, and sends them out into space.  TO DIE!  The bubble is coated in kryptonite for goodness sake!  He doesn’t say that he intends them to die, but what else are we to think?  The characters never appeared again.

Of course, the reason they didn’t appear, except in some comprehensive life story of Superman tales, was that they were soon supplanted by the Phantom Zone villains.  And the fact that Superman killed them.

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Congo Bill is clearly back in Africa in the Miller and Smalle story in this issue.  A lion is central to the tale, after all.  And while in previous stories Congo Bill would run into Janu in the wild, in this one Janu accompanies Bill.  So it’s safe to say that, just before this issue, Bill persuaded Janu to travel back to Africa, and has been taking care of the boy since then.

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That’s really the primary reason I included this story, which deals with a man selling fake charms against danger, but travelling around behind the guy he sold it to, shooting blowdarts into any animals that threaten him.  It’s hardly surprising that Congo Bill figures out the scam.  It’s more surprising that anyone would go to so much trouble to sell a fake good luck charm.

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The Tommy Tomorrow story, now with art by Jim Mooney, deals with a dangerous, thieving space ship that seems to have no one at the controls.

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The ship turns out to be controlled by a brain in a jar, which comes from an entire planet of brains in jars.  I only point this out because later Legion of Super-Heroes stories would also feature brain in jar creatures, possibly the same.

 

 

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