Posts tagged ‘Bob Kane’

Action 20 – Superman meets Dolores Winters, Pep Morgan becomes a mechanic, Clip Carson plays the harmonica, Tex Thompson needs a rescue, and Zatara faces the Moon Men


The cover of Action 20 (Jan. 40) continues to feature Superman, if not the story that he was in.


George Taylor sends Clark Kent out to Hollywood to do a series of stories on movie stars for the Daily Star.  It’s actually meant to be his vacation time, but Clark does not complain.  Taylor looks definitely stockier than he used to.


Siegel and Shuster start his Hollywood time by having Clark meet actress Dolores Winters.  Although she is friendly at first, and agrees to an interview later, she becomes cold and distant, cancelling it when Clark shows up.


Dolores invites a bunch of Hollywood big names to a party aboard her yacht, which she turns into a big kidnapping.


Superman is on the case.  He uses his x-ray vision, which is shown closer to the way it would be, as beams emerging from his eyes.


Superman reaches the ship, and one look into Dolores Winters’ eyes is enough to convince him that, somehow, this is really the Ultra-Humanite.  Probably because there was no easy way to have him figure it out.  And Dolores explains how his/her men put his brain into her body.

She dives overboard at the end, escaping from him, but will return.


Pep is still in his hometown in this Guardineer story, and is playing baseball on the city team when Jimmy Dee crash lands his plane on the diamond.  Pep helps save the man, who offers him a job as his mechanic as he competes in the Air Races.


Apparently aside from needing no qualifications, the mechanic sits in the rear seat of the biplane – perhaps to perform repairs while the fly.


At any rate, Jimmy passes out and with no teaching time whatsoever, Pep takes the controls and wins the race.


Bob Kane continues Clip Carson’s adventures in Kenya.  Clip gets captured by the raider he is meant to stop, Wolf Lupo.


Things look bad for Clip, but he pulls out his harmonica and starts playing, which calls the tribe he had showed it to last issue.  They rescue him.  So it’s not really Clip that is the hero of this issue, just the most musical person in it.


Bernard Baily concludes Tex Thompson’s battles with the zombies in this issue.


It’s not that great a story, and really I only included it to show this page, with both Gargantua, and Africans in it.  These are all black people, so one would expect them to be drawn in a similar style.  But that is not the case, not at all.  The Africans actually look like Africans, more or less, while Gargantua still appears as a caricature.


Guardineer sends Zatara on another mission against aliens in this adventure, which begins as a poisonous mist starst circulating.


Zatara meets a fairy-looking woman, Nala, who helpfully explains that the mists are sent by the Moon Men.  Despite being from the Moon, they have set up in a secret city in India.


Nala leads Zatara to the city, and he uses a variety of magic acts to defeat and humiliate the Moon Men, before working with Nala to use their own poisonous gas against them.


Together they completely wipe out the Moon Men.  It’s bloodthirsty Zatara back in action.  But Nala is happy with him, offering to take him to the Moon.  Despite her promise, and that of the editor announcing that next issue will see Zatara on the Moon, it never happens.  Or if it did happen, it consisted of events unsuitable for a children’s comic.

Action 19 – Superman and the purple plague, Pep Morgan goes home, Clip Carson goes to Africa, Tex Thompson vs the Zombies, and the Three Aces solve a friend’s murder


Superman is back on the cover of Action 19 (Dec. 39), and will stay there from now on.


A purple plague hits Metropolis.  The doctors are baffled, and the death toll keeps on rising.


Clark Kent is shown to be immune to the plague, because of his “super-resistance” to disease, another new attribute of his powers.  Though what really strikes me about this page is the horse drawn cart full of rotting bodies.  This seems anachronistic, but I expect that it is not.  Movies from the time period show horses and carriages in towns, so perhaps they were still used this way.


The Ultra-Humanite is behind the plague, and makes an appearance relatively early in the story, rather than being saved for the last few pages.


The Ultra-Humanite is trying to kill the doctor researching a cure for the plague, but Superman rescues the man, falling into the hands of the Ultra-Humanite himself.  An electric gun is capable of knocking Superman out, though not seriously wounding him.  The villain attempts to use a mind-control device on Superman, but it fails.


The Ultra-Humanite really seems to be dead at the end of this story.  Is he?


Pep Morgan, back in the US, heads home to Ardale in this story by Fred Guardineer.  But nothing seems to go smoothly for Pep anymore.


Escaping thieves hop the train he is taking, though Pep alerts the police, who are there and ready to capture them when the train pulls into town.

We briefly get to meet his parents, and another boy, who seems to be his younger brother.


The gang the thieves belong to try to take vengeance on Pep, but he evades that, and the gang gets captured.


Clip Carson heads to Kenya (spelled Kenye) in this Bob Kane story.  He gets hired to protect a shipment of ivory from a notorious raider, Wolf Lupo.


Clip must be considered quite a threat, as Lupo’s men try to kill him the first night, putting a cobra in his tent.  Clip falls into the hands of some cannibals, but manages to win them over by playing a harmonica.

The story continues in the next issue.


Bernard Baily also sends his hero to Africa, with Bob Daley and Gargantua T Potts tagging along.  There was just no space for Ali Baba.


Tex is asked to help find a missing son, who left behind a note announcing that he has been attacked by zombies.  Now, zombies in the 1940s were not exactly the way we envision them now.  The whole brain eating thing was not a part of the concept.  Zombies were slaves, unable to act of their own volition.


There is an appallingly awful sequence with Gargantua befriending a monkey, which I am not even going to show.

The story continues in the next issue.


The Three Aces return.  They are flying in formation with their fellow reservists, when one dies mid-flight.  They discover his widow in the arms of one of their buddies, and fake them out into confessing murder.


Although there is some aerial action at the start of the story, the rest of it reads like any other mystery.

Action 16 – Superman takes on gambling, Pep’s back to being a bodyguard, Clip Carson vs Cheops, and Zatara goes to Saturn


Although Action 16 (Sept. 39) features a generic cover image, the bullet with Superman in it is now firmly in place in the upper left hand corner, where it will remain as it alters over the years, transforming into the DC bullet.


I probably could have skipped over Siegel and Shuster’s Superman story in this issue.  It’s not bad, it’s just sort of bland.  Superman saves a gambler from killing himself.  He talks to George Taylor about it, and is given permission to do a story for the Daily Star on the evils of gambling.


In reality, what this means is that Superman puts on his costume and terrorizes gamblers and bookies, and smashes up gambling parlours.


Pep Morgan impressed Mr. Smith with his previous outing, catching the murderous thieves that had been plaguing his business.  So in this issue, by Guardineer, he appoints Pep to be the bodyguard for his daughter, who is being threatened.


Pep moves into their mansion to keep an eye on her, which is a good idea, as the butler is part of the scheme.


Pep catches the bad guys, and sails off with Mr. Smith and his daughter in their yacht.  Things are definitely looking up for the lad!


Bob Kane concludes Clip Carson’s first adventure in this issue.  Cheops wants to take control of an Arab army that is planning to attack the city.  The politics in this story are important, but unclear.  Likely, they would not have been at the time, when it was current events.  I would think that the government forces, which the Arabs oppose, would be the British.


Cheops turns out to be one of their associates, Sergeant Beatty.  He was trying to get the treasure to fund his attacks against the government.


Clip literally throws Beatty to the Arabs, who are happy to kill him.  Maybe they can figure out which side they, and the “government” are on.  I sure can’t.


Zatara has an alien adventure in this story, courtesy of Fred Guardineer.


A Saturnian comes to Earth as an advance scout before an intended invasion.  Zatara rides his transport beam back to the planet.  The Saturnians look astoundingly like the Martian Manhunter, even down to the crossed suspenders.  Yet there was well over a decade between this story and that character’s introduction.


Zatara uses his powers to make the Satrurnians, and their cities, invisible, to torment them.  He shows them visions of what their world could become, if they focus on that instead of invading Earth, and also appears to make Earth grow a giant arm, capable of destroying planets.  The Saturnians, as they might, figure that everyone on Earth is as powerful as Zatara, and call off their invasion.


Action 15 – Superman raises money, Pep returns to the US, Clip Carson enters a pyramid, and Tex gains a second sidekick


It’s a submarine with a porthole on the cover of Action 15 (Aug. 39). Unfortunately this amazing sci-fi watercraft does not appear in the Superman story in this, or any other, issue.


George Taylor sends Clark Kent out to do a story for the Daily Star on Kidtown, a centre for juvenile delinquents, clearly meant to be Boys Town, in this Siegel and Shuster tale.


Clark discovers that the youth centre is running dangerously low on funding, and decides to raise $100,000 to help them out.  And give him something to do that shows off his powers.


Among his deeds is searching for sunken treasure.  This story states that he can hold his breath for hours, and the underwater fight with the shark is probably the high point of the story.


Pep Morgan finally makes it back to the US in this issue, thanks to Guardineer.  The pilot he rescued turns out to be a wealthy businessman, who hires Pep to find out why his night watchmen keep disappearing.  Are they all part of the gang of thieves they are meant to be stopping?  Or are they all being murdered?  Clearly Pep Morgan is the wisest choice of person to solve this mystery.  Because.  Just, because.


To be fair, Pep does figure things out, and disguises himself as a policeman to round up the crooks who are also passing themselves off as cops.  Apparently athletes are much better at solving these sorts of cases than policemen.


Bob Kane continues Clip Carson’s adventures in Egypt.


They reach the “pyramid of Cheops,” which is almost certainly the Great Pyramid, and find a really convenient entrance door halfway up.


This chapter ends as Clip and the archaeologist come face to face with the living mummy of Cheops.


Baily’s art has improved dramatically, and should make for far more enjoyable storytelling in the Tex Thompson series.  And the story starts out ok, another strange mystery for Tex to solve.


But then we meet Gargantua T Potts, who will become Tex’s second sidekick.  A black man, but not really drawn to look like a black man.  Honestly, I was really confused as to why black characters looked like this in the 30s and 40s, until I had it explained to me that they were meant to resemble monkeys, not humans.  And oh my gosh, it’s true.


It’s a sickening shame that as the Tex Thompson series becomes visually much more interesting, it also becomes so much more appalling.

Action 14 – The Ultra-Humanite returns, Pep Morgan rows, Clip Carson debuts, Tex Thompson gets confused, Chuck Dawson saves the ranch, and Zatara finds the Fountain of Youth


Zatara gets his second, and final, cover appearance in Action 14 (July 1939).  The image even represents his story!  Superman once again gets his little bullet to the side of the cover.


Siegel and Shuster bring the Ultra-Humanite back in this story, though that’s not clear until the last few pages.  I guess the idea was to keep him like a Professor Moriarty, in the background.  While this was a common trick in novels to keep a powerful villain shadowy and ominous, it does not work as well in these stories.


This story starts off dealing with an attempted murder in the subway system.


Superman’s inability to fly comes up again.  He tries scaring a confession out of one hood by dangling him out a window, only to have his compatriots push Superman all the way out.


The bad guys start to flee, with Superman in hot pursuit.  Only when their car vanishes does it become clear something big is going on.


And it’s the Ultra-Humanite, back for the last couple pf pages, and another woefully inadequate death-trap.  The Ultra-Humanite explains his survival, using a parachute, but the experience was clearly traumatic for him, as he has lost what little hair he had.  The red headed assistant, who may be Lex Luthor, is at his side again.


Superman escapes the death-trap, and the Ultra-Humanite escapes Superman, plotting his revenge in the final panel.


Pep Morgan’s voyage home continues in this story, by Guardineer.


The ship gets caught in a terrible storm, and it does not help matters any that one of the mutineers is still on board, killing off members of the crew.


The ship begins to sink, and Pep gets the opportunity to show of some of his athletic prowess.  Not only does he row the lifeboat, he dives in to rescue the pilot of a seaplane that has also crashed as a result of the storm.


Clip Carson, Soldier of Fortune, was created by Bob Kane, debuting less than a month after Batman.  Clip travels to exotic locations, fighting even more exotic villains.  This should have been a big hit, but maybe it’s the giant grin always on Clip’s face, or his constant upbeat chatter, but he fails to be a hero you are interested in.


His first three-parter sees him in Egypt, meeting archaeologist Jim Blake, on the track of buried pharonic treasure.


There is some really good art by Kane in this strip, better than his work on Rusty and his Pals.

The story continues in the next issue.


Bernard Baily has also notably improved, as this issue Tex Thompson demonstrates.


The story is not the greatest.  Bored, Tex puts an ad in the paper, looking for people to help, as Bob Daley takes a short vacation.  Tex goes to see a woman concerned about her father, but he barely learns what the case is about before they get attacked.


Tex wakes up, to find a different woman there, insisting that Tex was drunk, and there never was any other woman.  Tex has no idea what is going on.


Bob shows up, which helps Tex get a grip on his sanity.


The resolution to the story becomes tortuously convoluted, but there are some great moments along the way.  The bandaged patient, really the first woman, now held captive, is straight out of The Lady Vanishes, and I do think Hitchock’s early films influenced this one-shot story.


Hey, whatever happened to Chuck Dawson?  I wrote about him in the first issue, but haven’t touched on his series since.  Well, that’s largely because it’s very repetitive, even the art.


A serial has been running, with Chuck trying to get his land back, as I mentioned before, but long the way Chuck discovers Burwell is sending out men to take over the Diamond H Ranch, and heads there to warn them, and of course help them battle Burwell’s men.  The daughter of the rancher, Virginia, gets captured, and the foreman, Zebe, joins with Chuck to find and rescue her.

This sort of ties up with this issue.  The Diamond H Ranch is saved, and Zebe and Virginia are re-united, but Chuck is no closer to getting vengeance or his land.


Zatara hears of the Fountain of Youth while at the Explorer’s Club, and sets out to find it in this Guardineer tale.


Zatara leads an expedition to the lost “Red City.”  It doesn’t go nearly fast enough for him, and he seems to have remembered his flying spell, which speeds things up.


He encounters the mysterious snake woman from the cover, but she is really just a decoy, not the guardian of the Fountain.


Zatara dispenses with the snakes, and uses his magic to draw the location of the well from the mind of the guardian.


Zatara sends Tong in to retrieve the water from the Fountain.  What are servants for, after all?  The water does seem to make Tong get younger.  But the water itself warns them not to drink it.  Though Zatara and Tong make it back safely, presumably with the water, they do not drink it.



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