Posts tagged ‘Black Pirate’

Action 31 – Superman puts Lois to sleep, the Black Pirate swims out, and Clip Carson heads to Mexico

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Wow, that’s sure a dramatic scene on the cover of Action 31 (Dec. 40).  Would have been nice if they shared that story with us.

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Instead, Siegel and Burnley provide a story in which people fall asleep.  Joking aside, it’s a decent tale.  But Lois really gets the short end of the stick in this one.

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The people in a small town are all put to sleep, so that the town can be robbed.  Lois and Clark happen to be passing through.  Clark retrieves some gas masks, but with Lois around, it’s difficult to turn into Superman.  So what does he do?  Put her to sleep.

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He does this not once, but twice during the course of the story, moving her somnolent body around as he switches from Clark to Superman and back again.  The gas masks they have make the police think they are part of the gang, adding to the problems.

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Towards the climax of the tale, one of the villains fires an atomic gun at Superman.  The panel of his upper body, with the crackling energy around him, is absolutely one of the finest panels of Superman from the Golden Age, in my eyes.

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The Black Pirate takes some big risks in this Moldoff tale.  Determined to not be a slave in the underwater phosphate mine, Jon Valor digs a hole right through the side, allowing the water to enter.

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He has what must be almost super-human strength, as he swims against the in-rushing water, making it into the open sea.  Captain Treble seals the exit to the mine, as the waters rise and imperil the rest of the captives.

The story continues next issue.

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George Papp has also taken the reins on the Clip Carson series. Clip has remained in Hollywood for the past few months, solving a variety of murders.  An old friend shows up, and Clip heads down Mexico way to help him out.

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Clip’s friend, Professor Quint disappeared after finding an Incan temple.  This really would be quite a remarkable find in Mexico.  After this, Clip heads down to Colombia for a three-part story that is among the weakest of his run.

Action 30 – Superman vs Zolar, Pep Morgan changes schools, the Black Pirate enslaved, Miss X dumps Tex Thompson, and Zatara hunts for a killer

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Is he flying?  Sure looks like he’s flying on the cover of Action 30 (Nov. 40).

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Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley pits Superman against an evil genius, Zolar,  in this story.  Despite it being summer, Metropolis is stuck in a winter blizzard.

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There are little floating balls of glowing heat – but those are more likely to incinerate you than warm you.

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Some Arabs appear to be behind the weather madness, and Superman follows them.  He falls victim to the glowing balls, although they do not destroy him , simply render Superman unconscious.  I actually have my doubts that they even do that.  I suspect Superman is feigning, so that the bad guys will take him to their leader – which is exactly what happens.

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Zolar looks an awful lot like the Ultra-Humanite – and of course, what Luthor would come to look like as well.  Bald geniuses seem to be the biggest threat to Superman.  He defeats Zolar, as well as his female accomplice, pretending to be one of his victims.  Zolar dies at the end of the story, but with Luthor around, he really was no loss.

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There isn’t much to the Pep Morgan story in this issue, by George Papp, aside from the fact that he is now attending Midtown College, instead of Ardale.  The story itself deals with the fact that Pep always loses races to one guy, although he overcomes this “jinx” and wins by the end.

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The fact that this story makes it clear that Pep has lost many races, in contradiction to what we have seen in his strip so far – backs up my contention that some of Pep’s stories are lies that he tells. I suspect that Pep’s battle with the Cambodian dinosaur last issue was a story he told upon enrolling at Midtown, trying to make himself look special.

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Jon Valor is having a really rough time of it in Moldoff’s story this month.  The Black Pirate does manage to defeat the raiders who stole his ship last issue, but no longer has a crew to man it.

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Jon winds up getting captured by Captain Treble, who makes the Pirate one of his slaves, sending him to work in a phosphate mine.

The story continues next issue.

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Miss X makes her final appearance in the Tex Thompson series in this story by Bernard Baily.  The villain is a gangster named Dr. Mixxo, who is out to steal a fur shipment.

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Tex winds up getting captured by Mixxo, and Bob Daley once again shows himself to be completely useless.  It’s Miss X who saves Tex, though she remains stand-offish towards him.  She never returns, and neither does Janice/Peggy Maloney.  Despite Tex’s comment last issue that he knows who Miss X is, there is never any reveal of her identity.  A poorly dropped plot thread.

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The Tigress returns, working with another magician to commit a series of murders using a poisonous insect in this story, by Gardner Fox, with art by Joseph Sulman.

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The Tigress’ new magician is never named.  He is clearly just some dupe she picked up along the way, probably hoping he would serve as a defense against Zatara.  There seems little of the comraderie that used to exist between Zatara and the Tigress in this issue.  Indeed, Zatara insists she be sent to prison at the end of the story, instead of letting her go, as he often did in the past.  Zatara claims that her crime of murder demands punishment, but he let her go once before after she was part of a murder scheme.  Nope,this is jealousy on Zatara’s part.  How dare the Tigress work with a rival magician?

 

Action 29 – Superman and the life insurance scam, Pep Morgan fights a dinosaur, the Black Pirate gets raided, and Tex Thompson takes the train

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Another all-purpose Superman image on the cover of Action 29 (Oct. 40), but it is the first cover of this book to show Lois Lane.

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Jerry Siegel scripts this tale, and Jack Burnley is on the art.  While in the last issue, Burnley seemed to be trying to make his work look as much like Shuster’s as he could, in this one he shows more of his own style.

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The story deals with a life insurance “club,” whose members keep dying in accidents.  Lois and Clark and investigating this for the paper.

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Sergeant Casey, a recurring friendly police officer from the pages of Superman, makes his first appearance in this book.  The scam is not really subtle enough to be effective. Not only do the ones behind it run down their clients, they even poison them!  Superman has little trouble with this case.

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George Papp takes the reins of the Pep Morgan series with this issue.  The story has Pep heading to Cambodia on summer vacation from university.  Seems a little odd, considering that he just started up again at school.

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But the story gets even weirder, as Pep finds and fights a dinosaur.  And after the earlier tales, which aroused my suspicions, I have a feeling that this is yet another of Pep’s tall tales.

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Jon Valor is on the run in this issue, wanted for stealing the jewels that he used to purchase his ship.  He doesn’t even try to explain or defend himself, but I guess if one is nicknamed the Black Pirate, one is not likely to be believed.

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He falls prey to the Red Raiders in this story, who take his ship and toss him into the sea.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Tex Thompson and Bob Daley are taking the train back east as this Bernard Baily story begins.  On board, they run into Peggy Maloney, who I believe is the same person as the Janice Maloney introduced a few issues earlier.

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The story is quite convoluted, with a bomb on the train, attempted murders, and a secret message transferred onto Bob’s skin by a sunlamp.  Miss X shows up once again to save Tex.  As the story ends, Tex announces that he suspects that he knows who Miss X really is.  And as there is only one recurring female in this series, even if her first name is given in a couple of different ways, it shouldn’t be hard for the reader to figure it out as well.

 

 

Action 28 – Superman and the strongman, Black Pirate on the run, the Three Aces on Easter Island, and the Gorrah is the Eye

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There is little point in repeating my flying comment in relation to the cover of Action 28 (Sept. 40).  Just give in and admit Superman can fly.

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Jack Burnley does the art on this Jerry Siegel story, and would be one of the major Superman artists from this era.

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George Taylor is looking mighty old now, as the editor of the Daily Planet. He sends Lois Lane and Clark Kent out on a story about a number of thefts committed by a someone dressed as a circus strongman.

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They see a poster for a circus with a similarly dressed strongman, Herculo, and go to check it out.  Superman confronts Herculo in the ring, humiliating him.  Superman then does a page or two of circus tricks.  Just cause.

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And poor Herculo isn’t even the guilty party.  He has been set up by the clown.  Nothing spectacular, but at least the bad guy was not as obvious as he night have been.

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Jon Valor is being pursued in this Moldoff story, assumed to have stolen the jewels he purchased his ship with. And, you know, he did steal them.  Just from a pirate who had stolen them first.

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The Black Pirate eludes his pursuers, and sends a note to Jeanne explaining the situation, and telling her he will return.  But we never see Jeanne again.  Love’em and leave’em.

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The Three Aces stories have, up to now, been really kind of dull.  They completely ignore the war in Europe, which feels odd for a series about war pilots.  But this issue sparks up a bit, as they head to Easter Island.

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TI’m not sure the artist ever saw any pictures of what the stone heads actually look like, but the story doesn’t really feature them much anyway.   The Three Aces discover an ancient city under the island, and discover that the original islanders were giants who became fossilized after a comet passed close to the earth thousands of years ago, and the mysterious heads on the island are the actual heads of the giants who lived there.

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Tex Thompson and Bob Daley come to the aid of a blackmailed heiress in this Bernard Baily story.

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They track down the Dawson gang, who are working for a mysterious leader known as the Eye.  Unsurprisingly, this turns out to be the Gorrah.  This must be the most roundabout revenge scheme possible, as there was really no way for the Gorrah to know that Tex would even be called in on this case.

 

 

 

Action 27 – Superman and the orphanage, Pep Morgan goes back to school, the Black Pirate buys a ship, more Gorrah, and Clip Carson goes Hollywood

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A really good rendering of the 1940s version of the Superman chest emblem on the cover for Action 27 (Aug. 40), but you gotta feel sorry for the lion.

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Although this story starts out with Lois accepting a date with Clark Kent, any hint of romance is quickly jettisoned as Siegel, Cassidy and Dennis Neville recount the horrors of an orphanage.  There had already been an orphanage story in the pages of Superman, but this seemed a frequent subject in the era.

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After talking to a boy who escaped, Clark insists they contact the police, and leaves to do so, although of course he really just changes to Superman.  Lois accompanies the boy back into the home, where she runs afoul of the corrupt owners, and their nasty dog Black Satan.

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Lois Lane’s soul searching while held captive is a bit difficult to judge. It seems wrong for her to think her “barging into” things is bad, as it is what gets her most of her stories.  On the other hand, contacting the police definitely would have been the wise move.

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Once the action gets going, the story seems to really want to show off Superman’s invulnerability, as object after object shatters against him.

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Pep Morgan is back in university in Ardale in this story by Fred Guardineer.  His pro career having gone nowhere, Pep seems to want more out of life than just being a hired goon, and so has returned to complete his education.

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Perhaps he should have left the sports alone, as once again he gets all tangled up with gamblers trying to fix a track meet.

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A great pose by the Black Pirate to open this chapter, by Sheldon Moldoff.  Captain Ruff’s brother was the mysterious man who entered the inn at the end of the previous issue, and he and Jon Valor fight.  Valor wins, of course.

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The Black Pirate then sails back to Bristol, where he uses some of the treasure to buy himself a ship.  But the jewels he used for the purchase are recognized as belonging to a collection stolen from a queen.  Oh, oh!

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The Gorrah returns, once again seeking vengeance on Tex Thompson in this Baily tale.  Maloney makes a brief appearance, and introduces his daughter, Janice.  This is almost certainly the same woman who returns as his daughter, Peggy.

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The Gorrah manages to capture Tex, and get him under his spell.  Miss X shoots Tex to prevent him from becoming a murderer, and though it’s just a glancing wound, the shock breaks Tex out of the spell.

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Clip Carson heads to Hollywood for four issues, in this Moldoff story, and begins work as a consultant on a movie called “Adventure Pictures,” which really sounds like a lame title for a movie.  Nonetheless, everyone seems to think it will be a massive success.

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There is a rival film crew that sets up in hidden locales to film the same action, hoping to release their version first, and a foreign film company trying to delay the shooting so they can release theirs first.  Amidst this, actors keep getting murdered on set.

Action 26 – Superman and the Cobalt Clinic, Pep Morgan in Canada, the Black Pirate tells his story, Tex Thompson meets Miss X, Clip Carson in Canada, and Zatara in Alaska

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If Superman still can’t fly, then he has leaped higher than skyscrapers with the two thugs on the cover of Action 26 (July 1940).  No wonder they look so scared.

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The story is by Jerry Siegel, but the art is by Paul Cassidy and Paul Lauretta.  The story deals with a phony doctor and his Cobalt Clinic. promising a cure for infantile paralysis.

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Much of this story has Superman frantically going from place to place.  He has been captured as Clark Kent, and keeps heading back to maintain that fiction.  Between those times, he frees Lois Lane from Cobalt, takes down the quack and his men, get help for some of his patients, and keeps checking in with George Taylor at the Daily Planet.

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Superman also displays a new ability – speed reading, and memorization of what he reads.

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Fred Guardineer sends Pep Morgan into “the Saskatchewan district” of Canada for this story.  It’s all the same things one sees in Canada stories. Snow, trees, polar bears, guys named Pierre.  No Mounties though.

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Pep fights off a bear, and performs other heroic acts, but I have deep suspicions about this story.  I think it might just be another lie to explain his time in Florida.  Aside from the reference to the Saskatchewan district, which makes me think that he has not really been to Saskatchewan, the fact that the story just shakes out all the old expected stereotypes makes it sound even more like something Pep made up.

But there is a reference to a red flag on a cabin signalling a plague.  It’s not so much that that adds realism, as that it will pop up again, in this very issue!

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Moldoff gives a happy ending to the first adventure of the Black Pirate. The mystery ship is on Jon Valor’s side, and he returns to Savannah.

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Jon rides to a small inland town, and stops at an inn.  There he finds Jeanne, his love, and friend since childhood.  He regales her with his battle against Captain Ruff, and neither sees a cloaked figure enter the inn.

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As od this issue, Gargantua is gone.  We learn that he has enlisted with the French army as a cook, and that he is of Senegalese descent (meant to explain why he did such a thing).  While I was glad to see the last of him, this story was cover-dated July of 1940, meaning Gargantua joined the French army just in time for the Nazi invasion of France.

In this issue Bailey also introduces Special Prosecutor Maloney, who swears Tex and Bob in as agents reporting directly to him, needing their skills to help fight a crime wave.  Tex infiltrates the main gang, discovering that their leader is the supposedly honourable Vander Wallace.  Tex winds up shooting and killing Vander Wallace as he gives a public address, the audience completely unaware of Wallace’s criminal ties.  One would expect this to have some major repercussions, but Maloney is content to keep Tex and Bob as his staff.

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This story also introduces Miss X, a woman with knowledge of the mob, who sometimes seems to be working with them, but who also acts to protect or aid Tex.  Both Maloney and Miss X will return for the next few issues.

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Clip heads to New York City in this Moldoff story, and from there to Canada to help Miss Trent find her missing father.  The man had discovered a mine in “Hudson Bay country,” but been captured by evil Metis claim jumper Jacques Frontenac.

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Oh, look.  Snow, trees, french people and wild animals.  It must be Canada.  But “Hudson’s Bay country?”  In the same issue with “the Saskatchewan district,” nonetheless.  Do they actually have any real maps of Canada in the US?

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By the time one reaches the Zatara story by Gardner Fox and Fred Guardineer, one has to wonder if there was an attempt by the editor to create a theme issue.  Cause Zatara is surrounded by snow, trees, and french people.  There’s even a red plague flag on a cabin!  But a mention towards the end of the story of the city of Nome makes it clear this gold mine story takes place in Alaska.

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It stands above the other two, simply because Zatara turns his own airplane into a battling, flying robot to stop the claim jumpers.

Action 25 – Superman vs a hypnotist, Pep Morgan at sea, the Black Pirate captured, Tex Thompson and the amnesiac, Clip Carson defeats the rebels and Zatara vs Asmodeus

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Once again, the cover of Action 25 (June 1940) appears to show Superman in flight, before the stories themselves acknowledge this ability.

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Jerry Siegel and Paul Cassidy helm this tale, which begins with a bank robbery by thieves with no recollection of the events.

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Lois Lane mentions a psychic and hypnotist to Clark, Medini, whom she is going to consult, in order to find out Superman’s secret identity.  Ironically, that’s the same information Medini is trying to extract from her.

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Superman confronts Medini, who uses hypnosis to paralyze him.  Once Medini has gone, Superman’s powers begin to return, but he lacks complete control over his abilities until he jumps high into the stratosphere, which removes the effects of the hypnosis.  Pondering this sequence, it would seem that Medini must actually possess some degree of mystical powers, as only magic would be able to have such an extended effect on the hero.

Once his powers are back, Superman quickly dispenses of this one-shot villain.

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With this issue, Guradineer has Pep travelling to England as a war correspondent, despite having no experience or training in this field whatsoever.  But that is only the first odd thing about this tale.

After not only the ship Pep is on gets torpedoed, but the rescue ship as well, the lifeboat capsizes.  Pep swims around tirelessly saving people until the sub surfaces and they are brought on board.  Despite being an American kid and not in the military, Pep is brought before the sub`s commander, and manages to get his gun from him and single-handedly take over the sub.

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The commander of the sub wears a white uniform, which I thought was odd.  As they are showing England at war, why would they not depict the Nazis as they appeared?

Then it become clear.  The art “error” is our clue to confirm that this story is a preposterous tale – this is the story Pep told people to explain why he left for a while, rather than telling them the truth about his dismal Florida tryout.

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Sheldon Moldoff continues the Black Pirate’s adventures, as he falls into the hands of the angry Captain Ruff, who demands to know where Jon Valor hid his treasure.

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The Black Pirate breaks free, and sets fire to Captain Ruff’s ship.  Everyone winds up in shark-infested waters, ass the Black Pirate heads for a mysterious ship he saw on the horizon.

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Gargantua T. Potts makes his final appearance in this Baily story, spending some time with Tex and Bob Daley at Tex’s camp in Maine, Golden Gates.

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They encounter a mysterious amnesiac, being pursued by gangsters.  For a few panels it looks like Gargantua will be the one to save the day, but again he is reduced to racist comic relief.  I’m just so glad this character is being dropped, it’s worth mentioning his final tale.

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Moldoff winds up Clip Carson’s Verdania adventure in this issue.

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Surprisingly, for the era, the rebels turn out to be financed by an American oil man, trying to manipulate the situation in the country for his own benefit.

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The final panel, the hanging of the revolutionaries, is coloured so darkly, it’s almost in silhouette.  But it does add a very somber tone.

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Zatara faces off against Asmodeus, a powerful villain who uses science and magic against the hero, in this story by Gardner Fox and Fred Guardineer.

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The Tigress also returns in this story.  She is working for Asmodeus, but winds up being of very little assistance, as Zatara draws the villain’s plans and location from her mind, before shrinking her to doll size to keep her out of trouble.

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Asmodeus makes a really good villain for Zatara, and the battle between them easily carries the few pages that it lasts.  It’s a shame this villain never made a return.

Action 24 – Superman uses microscopic vision, Pep Morgan gets a try-out, Black Pirate finds the treasure, and Clip Carson gets shot down

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Action 24 (May 1940) features another could that could, but doesn’t, reflect the Superman story inside.

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The story, or at least the climax of it, bears some resemblance to the first Superman story.  It begins with Clark being sent out to get the story behind an ad a wealthy man posted in the Daily Planet.

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The man has a wastrel son, and he asks Superman’s help in making the boy straighten out.  Superman uses many of his abilities in this issue.  X-Ray vision is shown a bit more like it was the first time, with the dissolving wall.  Super-hearing is just shown by Superman leaning in towards a wall.

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The boy gets framed for murder, and in investigating to find proof of his innocence, Superman uses microscopic vision, for the first time, to find a second bullet, buried in a wall.  Sadly, this is not given any visual form, and is simply mentioned in the narrative.

The story ends with Superman rushing to the governor to call off the execution, just in the nick of time.

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Pep Morgan heads to Florida for this Guardineer story, as he is given a try-out with a professional baseball team.

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He gets wind of a plot by gamblers to kill the primary pitcher, Fog Bellows, and Pep messes up his tryout to save Fog’s life.  He gets booted, and although at the end he is told he is back on, this must just mean he is allowed to finish the tryout, as Pep is never shown playing for this team.

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Another brief but beautiful Black Pirate story by Moldoff in this issue.

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Jon Valor races Captain Ruff to his treasure horde, and gets there first.  He hides it, so that when the pirate captain arrives, he cannot find it.

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Moldoff’s art also shines in the Clip Carson story in this issue, which continues from the previous one.

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Clip’s plane gets shot down, and he winds up in the hands of the rebels.  He is sentenced to death, but manages to escape and make it back to the region controlled by the government forces.  Clip vows to bring down the rebel general, setting up next issue’s conclusion to this tale.

 

 

Action 23- Luthor debuts, Pep busts a strike, Black Pirate debuts, Clip Carson in South America, and Zatara and the Tigress race for treasure

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Superman is still not able to fly, though you wouldn’t guess that from the cover of Action 23 (April 1940).

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Clark Kent and Lois Lane continue to investigate the war between Toran and Galonia in this story by Siegel, Shuster and Cassidy.

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General Lupo alerts them to a peace conference, but also arranges for it to be ambushed.

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Superman trails Lupo to a secret base inside a mountain, guarded by a stone face.  Luthor is first mentioned, as Lupo gives up his bosses name, just before being killed for doing so.

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Luthor is not given a first name in this story, or indeed, in any story until his origin in Adventure Comics in the early 60s.  He is a red-haired genius in this tale, manipulating the situation between the two countries as part of his world domination goal.  He has a base high in the stratosphere.  A giant dirigible, which supports a massive platform capable of supporting entire buildings.

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And while Superman cannot fly, he can jump high enough to reach the dirigible.  By and large, if one does not read the text, simply looked at the illustrations, one would believe Superman was flying.

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Lois gets captured, as she once again shows more curiosity than common sense, and Superman and Luthor have their first of many meetings, each puffing to show superiority to the other.

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Superman destroys Luthor’s base, sending it all crashing to the ground, but Luthor returns in the pages of Superman the following month.

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As the story ends, Clark sends his report to the paper – the Daily Planet!  But it had been the Daily Star that sent him out there.  I have read a couple theories, which have either Lois or Clark leave the Star for the Planet, and the other one following them there.  But I cannot see that.  The change happens while both reporters are overseas.

No, what I think is that the Daily Star fell victim to the Depression.  Later tales would show that the Daily Planet prints newspapers in other cities in the US, and around the world.  Nothing like that is ever shown about the Daily Star.  So I believe that the Star wound up being sold, and was purchased by the expanding empire of the Daily Planet, which changed the paper’s name, as they were making Metropolis the hub of the Planet.

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Pep Morgan heads to Pennsylvania in this Guardineer story, to help a cousin who owns a mine, where the miners are on the verge of striking.

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Everything I have ever read about the conditions of mines in the US at this time puts me firmly on the side of the miners, but that’s not the slant the story has. The miners are being forced into striking by thugs, and the mine owners are the good guys, and victims.  Pep helps stop the strike, but it’s amazing that he succeeds at this, when he waves a flashlight at them, claiming it’s a gun.  He has far more luck when he grabs a pipe and starts hitting them over the head with it.

Pep Morgan has become little more than a goon.

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The Black Pirate makes his debut in this issue, by Sheldon Moldoff.  At first the strip is only four pages in length, and serialized.  Jon Valor is called the Black Pirate, presumably because he wears all black clothing, but it is not a secret identity, simply a nickname.  Those he fights, the men of Captain Ruff, know him by both names.

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The series starts slow, but with the standard pirate story ships and treasures.

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Clip Carson arrives in South America in this Moldoff tale.  The previous issue saw him sail from Africa, solving a poorly written mystery.

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In this story, Clip gets enlisted to help run weapons deep into the interior, to aid government troops against rebels in the nation of Verdania.

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Clip helps the army massacre the rebels, and has so much fun doing it, he decides to stick around for a while.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Zatara runs into an old high school friend in this Guardineer story, who tells him about a fabulous treasure, left in a tower by a wealthy inventor.

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The Tigress is also on the trail of this treasure, and the two of them compete to acquire it.  A mysterious man in the tower controls a number of deadly traps and devices.

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It turns out to bethe inventor himself.  The treasure was simply a lure to draw innocents in, so that he could kill them in elaborate ways.  Zatara destroys the tower, and the treasure gets divvied up, although Zatara declines his share.  But the Tigress must get some of it then, right? Maybe?

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