Posts tagged ‘Alvin Schwartz’

Action 253 – Jimmy visits the Fortress of Solitude, and Supergirl arranges an adoption

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Jimmy Olsen turns on his best friend in Action 253 (June 1959), in a story by Alvin Schwartz, Curt Swan and George Klein.

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Superman takes Jimmy on his first visit to the Fortress of Solitude, where he shows off Kandor, which seems to be in a much larger bottle than it was previously.  Did he replant them?

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Coming back to Metropolis, Jimmy is arrested by the police for not revealing a source, a typical situation for reporters in stories.  But Jimmy will have none of it, and suddenly displays super-powers, using them to escape.

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He winds up in a confrontation with Superman, who spends far too long being puzzled over his friend’s behaviour.  Superman suspects the visit to the Fortress is connected with Jimmy’s change, and he is right.  This is not Jimmy, but an identical, Kandorian, villain.  He escaped using a body-transfer ray.  Superman sets things right before El Gar-Kur can destroy Kandor.  This Kandorian Jimmy never appears again.

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Supergirl gets a gentle adventure in her first solo outing, by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney.

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Because Superman has ordered her to stay at the orphanage, she scuttles her own chances of being adopted by a couple.  But she goes out of her way to get one of the boys at the home some new parents.

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When a couple who want to adopt the boy are rejected for being too poor, she drills a hole through the Earth on their property, which becomes a tourist attraction, and enables them to afford to take the boy.

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Action 144 – how Clark Kent got hired at the Daily Planet, and Vigilante hunts for a gold mine

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That’s quite a flood on the cover of Action 144 (May 1950), but it’s not nearly as interesting as the story of how Clark Kent came to be hired at the Daily Planet.

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Schwartz, Boring and Kaye delve into the past, as they recount the events that lead to Perry White hiring Clark Kent to work at the Daily Planet.

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The story is told in flashback – and a flashback within a flashback, as Clark arrives in Metropolis, and recalls Perry visiting him in Smallville, and promising him a job.  The story being referred to in this scene would actually come out a month later, in the pages of Adventure Comics.  And both that story and this one have pretty much the exact same format.  Clark Kent takes on a number of jobs, trying to get Perry White’s attention.  Along the way he stops crimes as Superman.

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As an adult, the first time he runs into Perry is while working as a cab driver.  Clark attempts to remind Perry of his earlier promise, but the editor is all caught up in a story, and pays little attention to Clark.

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Only at the end, when Clark turns in a Superman story, which gets picked up by the wire services, does Perry recall having met Clark years before, and fulfills his promise to kill him.

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Gardner Fox and Dan Barry tell an entertaining story, based on the legend of the Lost Dutchman Mine, with some really great art.

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In this case, two men fought to the death after finding the mine.  And in some nice parallel structure, the Vigilante and another man compete to find the lost gold mine.

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Stuff has only a small role in this tale, which helps keep the intensity up.

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Vigilante finds a native blanket, which shows the fight to the death, and uses the landmarks shown as a treasure map.

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I really like Dan Barry’s art, and overall, the Vigilante series had stronger than normal art throughout its run.

 

Action 142 – the world learns of kryptonite, and Tommy Tomorrow makes a wish

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A generic cover for Action 142 (March 1950).  Odd, you’d think they would have wanted to feature the kryptonite on this one, but I guess not.

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Schwartz, Boring and Kaye follow up the previous story, as a homeless man discovers the missing piece of synthetic kryptonite.  He does not know what it is, but sees the incredible effect it has on Superman.

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Oddly, it’s Superman himself who lets the police, and the press, know about the existence of kryptonite, and the deadly effect it has on him.  But then, he has to tell them something.  The man has teamed up with a group of criminals to rob the city blind, leaving Superman lying on the ground whenever he tries to stop them.

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Once again, this almost threatens to expose his identity.  The victory comes simply because the synthetic kryptonite loses its radioactive power, becoming simply a green rock by the time Lois holds it out to Clark Kent.

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Binder, Swan and Fischetti give a solid science-fiction adventure to Tommy Tomorrow in this story, which also introduces his friend and eternal sidekick, Brent Wood.

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They are pursuing a felon, who winds up wishing a world into existence, a world where anything he wishes for comes true.

act_142_006 It takes Tommy a while to figure out how to defeat this guy, who can literally wish anything into existence.  Tommy simply wishes for the planet to disappear.

Action 141 – Luthor creates kryptonite, Tommy Tomorrow on Training World, and Zatara ends

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Kryptonite is at the core of the Superman adventure in Action 141 (Feb. 50), the first, but not the last, time it appears in this book.

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Alvin Schwartz, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye start the story off like many others.  Lex Luthor kidnaps Lois Lane, yawn, and in order to free her, Superman has to fly around retrieving unusual things that Luthor wants.

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But what Luthor winds up making is a synthetic kryptonite.  The story briefly flashes back to the destruction of Krypton, and the creation of kryptonite, which had recently been told in more detail in the pages of Superman.  Although the stuff created by Luthor in this story is not real kryptonite, it’s close enough to be a major problem for Superman.

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Luthor secretly gives Lois a pair of kryptonite laced gloves.  When Clark Kent collapses, Luthor believes he has trapped Superman.  Because, you know, he did.  But Clark uses judo on the bad guy, and he and Lois wind up thinking Clark faked the fall.

A piece of the synthetic kryptonite has gone missing by the end of the story.  It’s as if to say, don’t worry!  We will be using this again!  And again.  And again.  And again and again and again.

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Tommy Tomorrow is sent to spy on some cadets about to complete their training in this Binder/Swan/Fischetti story.

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It’s pretty straightforward, but the art is very nice.  And the concept of a “training world,” parts of which duplicate the environments of various worlds the Planeteers patrol, is a good one.

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Zatara gets Joe Kubert on his final adventure, 141 issues after his series began. Since the introduction of Tommy Tomorrow, his strip had become only an occasional one, and even the end of this story implies there will be more down the line.

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He goes out on a really silly little tale. A fight breaks out between two men, and spreads to take in much of the town.  Zatara uses his magic to get people to calm the fuck down.

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In the end, the fight itself proves to be a simple misunderstanding.

Such an unexciting note to go out on.  But really, Zatara’s best days ended way back, when Guardineer left the strip.  Zatara would not appear again until the 60s, as the object of a multi-book quest by his daughter, Zatanna, in her introductory storyline.  But later down the road, he would have stories set between this point and then, as he was worked into the childhood of Superboy, in the pages of DC Comics Presents, and later, Batman, in his own book and Detective.

Despite the duration of this series, outlasting every other strip that debuted alongside Superman, Zatara would never again get a series, a one-shot, or even a solo story.  Anytime his origin is retold, it is done in conjunction with his famous daughter.

Action 101 – Superman gets nuked, Congo Bill pulls the eye, and Vigilante knows his horses

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Win Mortimer and George Roussos are the artists on the Superman story from Action 101 (Oct. 46), which actually does have Superman filming a nuclear explosion as part of the story.

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At first, it seems as if the story will have no relation to the cover.  It deals with some criminals who have developed a serum that drives people crazy.  They use it in a blackmail scheme, only providing the antidote when the relatives of the wealthy victims pay up.

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Superman gets onto the case, after a famous actor goes crazy during a performance, and almost kills his scene partner.

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The serum proves to even affect Superman, and he goes into a wild flight around the world.  He winds up at a Pacific atoll, and is at ground zero for a nuclear test.  But all that does is clear his mind, and he grabs a camera and films the next explosion, just to be a nice guy.  And, sane again, has no problem rounding up the bad guys.  An odd and roundabout way of reaching the cover.

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Congo Bill gets shipwrecked, winding up on a small island with a scientist and his criminal assistants, in this story by Alvin Schwartz and Edwin Smalle.  The scientist is so into his giant octopus, which he calls the devilfish, that he has not noticed that the men who work for him are intentionally causing shipwrecks to loot the cargoes.

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Bill figures it out pretty fast, but the men are also wary of him, and decide to kill Bill and their boss.

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And of course the big octopus gets involved in the climax of the action, and Congo Bill grabs the eyeball of the creature to get loose.  Look at that.  He almost pulls it right out of the socket.  Oh, my gosh that is so gross.  I think I’m traumatized.

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Samachson, Meskin and Roussos provide a much less disgusting story for the Vigilante.  Some enterprising thieves begin pulling horseback robberies of the carriages that drive around in parks in the US.  I’m guessing this is meant to be New York’s Central Park, as that’s the one always shown with these type of carriages.

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Vigilante knows his horses, and recognizes the one on the poster for a travelling rodeo as the same as one of the horses used in the robberies.  This puts him and Stuff on the trail pretty fast.

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Still, it’s a fun story, with both hero and villain on horseback by the end, and an impressive jump off of a bridge.

Action 96 – Superman vs Mr Twister, Congo Bill gets amnesia, and the Dummy is befriended by midgets

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I really love the cover of Action 96 (May 1946), just for the unusual visuals.

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The Superman story in the issue, by Sam Citron, is not nearly as interesting.  It happens in a flashback, as Mr Twister relates his criminal career to his barber during a haircut.

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This is not Brom Stikk, from the origin of the Teen Titans.  This man just adopts the name as he adds twists to normal capers.  He begins by jumping off a roof to divert Superman from catching three thieves, and later joins their gang.  Why not?  Even if all he is willing to do is jump off buildings to ensure their getaways, what has the gang got to lose?

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Mr Twister is also willing to put innocents lives at risk to keep Superman at bay -but you know Superman is not going to put up with that kind of crap for long, and catches Mr Twister and his gang.  The barber he was talking to was the prison barber.

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Congo Bill has an unusually tense little tale in this issue, courtesy of Alvin Schwartz and Edwin Smalle.  He wakes on a park bench in Hollywood, with no memory of who he is.  Some men are tracking him, but we do not know why.

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He winds up at a film studio, and gets hired as a extra, winding up on the lot of a jungle picture, with his trackers close behind.  When they try to kill him, the jungle setting brings his memory back, and he defeats the men. Although the story does not say it, I like to think it was all caught on camera and used in a feature.  There is an explanation about a hidden map in his shoe to a sunken ship, and the men’s previous attack which caused the amnesia, just to round things out.

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The Dummy makes his final appearance in the Vigilante series in Action Comics in this Meskin story.

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While on the run from the Vigilante and Stuff, the Dummy runs into a troupe of midgets, who work as dancers.  They know who he is, but he manages to convince them that he has been unjustly persecuted, simply for being a midget.  They take him in and hide him.  It’s not long before the Dummy is up to his old tricks, robbing patrons during a performance, and then stealing the box office.

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He uses the other midgets as long as they trust him, but has no problem tossing one into a deathtrap, along with Vigilante and Stuff, after he gets exposed.

The Vigilante captures the Dummy, and it’s many years till the character returns. He comes back in the Vigilante series in World’s Finest in the late 70s, and gets his best story to date.

 

 

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