Posts tagged ‘Billy Gunn’

Action 119 – Clark Kent pretends to be Superman, Zatara powers up a piper, and Vigilante rides the jet-aquacycle

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Edmond Hamilton and Win Mortimer tell an early version of a common tale, as Clark Kent has to pretend to be Superman, in Action 119 (April 1948).

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A series of robberies using a helicopter are the crime motivating this tale.  Superman does not want Lois on the case, figuring it is too dangerous, and lies to her, saying he will be out of town, in hopes that this will discourage her.  After 10 years, you think he would know better.  Lois forces Clark to dress as Superman and accompany her, to scare away any dangerous men they encounter.  The difference in physique between Clark and Superman is addressed in this story, and explained by Superman’s super muscle-control.

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Superman gets through the case through a mix of outright lies, and ingenuity. He manages to duplicate a few of his super-stunts right in front of Lois’ eyes, though she gains no admiration for Clark’s resourcefulness.  At the end, she simply condescends that Superman wouldn’t have needed to come up with his clever solutions.

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Zatara’s story in this issue, by Samachson and White, is better than the series has been in a long time.

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A broke but honest piper uses his music, and some concealed gas, to lure and capture some wanted men.  Zatara is impressed, and endows the man with the power to create “magic music.”  That’s kind of vague, and indeed, the music functions in a variety of ways, creating illusions, even transforming criminals into rats.

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Zatara gives the man complete credit for the big criminal round up, and nothing indicates that these powers will wear off.

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Don Cameron, Mort Meskin and George Roussos bring back the Rainbow Man for an adventure so demanding, it requires Vigilante to use BOTH his sidekicks!  Yes, Stuff and Billy Gunn, together at last!

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To be fair, Stuff falls into the hands of the Rainbow Man right at the top of the story, so Billy Gunn gets most of the actual sidekick time in this tale.  Rainbow Man captures Stuff more or less at random.  He does not recognize the boy, which is very odd, considering how many encounters they have had, and  that Stuff wears no disguise.  Perhaps it’s just that Stuff has become increasingly white which throws him off.

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Vigilante’s motorcycle shows itself to be as good as a sidekick, as it becomes a “jet-aquacycle” – capable of travelling on the water.

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Rainbow Man? Some more colour crimes, of course, but he almost gets lost amid everything else in this tale.

As the underscript on the final page indicates, Vigilante is also now starring in a series in the new Western Comics.

Action 111- the newsreel blimp, and a rival shooting gallery

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John Sikela helms this story, which deals with two former GIs who set up a newsreel company in Gotham City, in Action 111 (Aug. 47).

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The blimp the GIs use appears right at the top of the story, and Lois Lane notices it, as it advertises a perfume that does not really exist. Apparently Lois is so into perfume that she knows every single brand.  Among the people mystified at how the newsreel footage is being taken are Clark Kent, and also the head of a rival newsreel firm.

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Some of the art is extremely good.  And the story isn’t bad.  Superman takes a liking to the boys, and works to help them, especially when their rival tries to sabotage them.

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Billy Gunn returns in the Vigilante series in this story by George Roussos.  Once again, Stuff is nowhere in sight, and probably recording his radio show.

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Billy Gunn (called Popp Gunn in these stories, matching the name he uses in the Vigilante movie serial, runs a shooting gallery in Times Square.  A rival gallery has opened, offering big prizes, to lure customers away.  Vigilante uses his shooting skills to win every prize they have, turning them over to Gunn to offer himself at his gallery.  The assumption is made that the rivals want to drive Gunn out of business, and will then no longer offer prizes, but that’s a pretty weak justification for Vigilante’s actions.  But the rivals than firebomb Gunn’s stand, so all bets are off.

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There is a good scene, with Vigilante captured an bound behind a target, which Gunn is encouraged to shoot at.

Action 109 – The Prankster wipes out currency, Congo Bill protects elephants, and Billy Gunn returns

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John  Sikela does the art on the Prankster’s latest scheme, in Action 109 (June 1947).

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The Prankster releases a gas in the mint that wipes out all the printing on the money, leaving everyone with blank notes.  Chaos sweeps the US.

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The government turns to Superman, who finds some gold meteors, flings them to Earth, and melts them down, turning them into money.  I wonder if this story is meant to be some commentary on the gold standard?

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What makes the story fun is Superman’s scam on the Prankster.  The Prankster is buying all the blank currency for pennies, clearly because he intends to restore the printing on it.  Superman pretends to help, bringing him huge amounts of blank paper – but he keeps selling the Prankster the same paper over and over – and it isn’t even the real money, but fake stuff Superman had printed up.

Once the real money is restored, the story doe snot address what happens with the massive gold reserves Superman just created.  Are they spread around for the good of humanity? I doubt it.

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Congo Bill gets a really solid African adventure in this story by Samachson and Smalle, aiding a tribe that protects the elephants in their territory from poachers.

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The tribe gets forced by the poachers to build fake elephant skeletons, creating a phony elephants burial ground, but the more interesting thing is the backstory between Bill and the tribe, who made him a member after he saved their leader.

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Some really nice art on the elephants as well.

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Billy Gunn. not seen in this strip for years, returns in this story by Don Cameron and George Roussos.

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Still in Times Square, Billy meets two former Texas Rangers, and convinces them to get jobs with the police.

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Together the Rangers, Vigilante and Billy Gunn stop some thieves.  Stuff is nowhere to be seen in this story, but in a previous tale, he was given his own radio show spin-off from Greg’s show, so I assume this is the night he is recording.

Action 44 – Superman vs a caveman, the Vigilante vs the Shade, and Congo Bill stays behind

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The US was not yet part of World War 2, but Superman seems to have chosen a side on the cover of Action 44 (Jan. 42).

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Siegel, Nowak and Dobrotka helm this story, in which a caveman is discovered in the ice, and thawed out and revived.

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Lois Lane and Clark Kent are there covering the story when the “dawn man” breaks free.  Lois, trying so hard to succeed in a “man’s” profession, has no trouble playing on her gender when it gets her what she wants .  “Ladies first!”

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The caveman goes on a murderous rampage, but it turns out there are really two of them.  A real caveman, but also a fake one, committing intentional murders that are blamed on the neanderthal.  Superman figures it all out.

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The two Morts pull off another great Vigilante story in this issue, bringing back the Shade.

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The Shade is having his men kill horses, for unknown reasons.  Vigilante tries to protect the animals,but winds up accused of killing them himself.

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Billy Gunn comes to Vigilante’s help when he’s being accused of being the horse killer, and Betty Stuart is also around, but does little.

The Shade gets captured, and is revealed to be a radio announcer, who had been around throughout the last couple of stories.  The horses had been used to smuggle in maps of stolen bonds.  This Shade never appears again.

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Fred Ray brings about some changes in the Congo Bill strip this issue.

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Bill continues to work with the British against the Germans in Africa.  Professor Kent winds up his research, and heads back to the US, and Sheila Hanlen goes with him.  I guess they hit it off between panels. Neither character will appear again, but it’s nice that they were formally written out.

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As for Congo Bill, his series shifts from adventure stories to war stories.

 

 

 

Action 43 – Superman and the plane crashes, Vigilante meets Billy Gunn, and Mr America fights giant puppets

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Superman fights the Nazis on the cover of Action 43 (Dec. 41).  And though one might associate the cover date with the US entry into the war,in fact this book was printed and on sale in mid-October of the year.

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The Superman story in this issue, by Jerry Siegel, Leo Nowak and Ed Dobrotka, is average.  Lois Lane is sent out to write a story about an airline whose planes keep crashing.  Superman follows, to rescue her periodically.

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He gets into his Clark Kent clothes, claiming to have followed her.  This happens largely so that they can be captured and bound together, to make it difficult for Superman to get away.  But the scene ends in a lame cop-out, as Lois knocks herself out, banging her head while trying to escape.

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The Vigilante story, by Mort and Mort (Weisinger and Meskin) is much more fun.  It introduces a villain, the Shade, who is not the same as the later, and more famous, Flash villain.  He does spend most of his time in the dark, and seems to have the power to disappear.

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The Shade is pursuing an old man, Billy Gunn, although Gunn has no idea who the Shade is, or why he is after him.

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Billy Gunn mets Greg Sanders while appearing on a gong show that he is hosting.  Gunn gets gonged fast, and Greg feels sorry for him.  That woman next to him is Betty Stuart, Greg’s girlfriend, who was actually introduced in his first story, but I forgot about her.

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Although Billy Gunn dresses and talks like a cowboy, he is an easterner, who just admires the west.  Still, when Vigilante gets captured by the Shade, it’s Billy who comes to his rescue, and sticks around, becoming his sidekick.

Billy had inherited a mine, and the Shade had been out to kill him and get it.

The Shade returns in the next issue.

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Mr. America and Fat Man fight giant puppets in this story by Fitch and Baily.  It’s actually quite a bit better than the previous sentence would imply.

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Bob learn that Tex knows his identity in this story.  Which is good, because Tex is not a total idiot.  It is also the final appearance of the flying cape.  Tex uses it to escape from German agents who have been sabotaging factories, making it fly while it is still around his neck.  Although he does get away, I think it likely caused some major neck strain, probably why he retired it.

 

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