Posts tagged ‘Charles Paris’

Action 73 – Superman and the Hobby Robber, Stuff gives money to the Fiddler, Congo Bill in Canada, and Americommando vs Dr Ito

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Siegel and Citron pit Superman against the Hobby Robber in Action 73 (June 1944).  The cover does not directly tie in with the story, but is generic enough that one could stretch it to be symbolic of it.

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The Hobby Robber steals rare collections, and then ransoms them back to the owners.  This story attributes Clark Kent as collecting clocks.  Not that he has ever been shown to do this before, or after.

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Siegel does craft a nice scene.  Superman has laid a trap for the Robber, but Lois Lane has also picked up the trail, and sneaks into Clark’s apartment, hiding in one of his clocks.  Superman spots her in time to keep his identity a secret, but must then allow himself to be knocked out.  Lois gets discovered, and Superman figures he is sick of rescuing her, so he lets her die.  No, just checking to see you’re still awake.  He rescues her.  Again.

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At least the scene is a dramatic one, as the Hobby Robber tries to kill Lois by throwing her into a giant, man-eating plant.

Although this particular Hobby Robber never returns, Siegel will recycle the name later on for an early Superboy villain.

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The Fiddler returns in this story by Samachson, Meskin and Paris.

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The Fiddler teaches his gang to sing, part of his scheme to worm them into the house of a well-known millionaire with a soft touch.  In fact, the man is so willing to help the needy that he gives Stuff $50 when he sees him on the street, assuming the boy to be a homeless waif.  Perhaps Vigilante should buy Stuff some new clothes. The poor kid has been wearing the same thing for years.

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Stuff then happens across the Fiddler and his men.  In a really touching scene, Stuff gives the Fiddler the $50, in hopes that it will deter him from his next crime.  It doesn’t, but you have to admire the simple faith of the boy.

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The Fiddler and his men get taken in and fed by the millionaire, after hearing their plaintive songs.  But this is just part of their plan to steal his art treasures.  Stuff tells Vigilante about running into the men, and they arrive at the millionaire’s house just in time to stop the thefts.

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Congo Bill heads to Canada in this story, with art by Smalle.  You can tell it’s Canada because everything is covered in snow.  He is dealing with a man who is illegally selling guns to the natives, attempting to stir up a “tribal war.”  In Canada?

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The story claims to be set above the Arctic Circle, but shows natives dressed as if they were living on the plains.  They also seem impervious to the cold, running through the snow in loincloths.  It’s not an awful story, but doesn’t show much familiarity with Canada.

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Dr. Ito arrives in Tokyo to smoke out Americommando in this Greene and Baily tale.

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Ito suspects Captain Brand almost immediately, as well he should.  Americommando does little in the way of disguising himself, aside from his uniform.  Tex does pull off a clever ruse to keep his identity safe – rigging a drop of leaflets at the same time he is with Ito as Brand.

 

Action 61 – Superman reveals his identity to Lois, the Fiddler returns, Congo Bill in Istanbul, and Zatara’s magic is duplicated

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It’s not a military cover on Action 61 (June 1943), but it’s not related to the story, either. Kind of a shame, as the cover is very effective.

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Jerry Siegel and Ed Dobrotka are behind this twisting and entertaining story.

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The story begins by introducing a wealthy young wastrel, Craig Shaw, who starts a fire at a nightclub for his own amusement.  Disaster is only averted by Superman. Lois and Clark were at the club, and Lois writes a scathing article about Shaw.

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Shaw is enchanted by Lois’ anger and outspokenness, no woman had ever talked to him that way before. They begin dating, as a worried Superman spies on Lois.  Shaw proposes marriage, and Lois accepts.

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This drives Superman near into a frenzy.  He decides to propose to Lois as well, as Clark.  And he reveals that he is Superman.  Lois refuses to believe him, and the story moves into slapstick, as Clark’s attempts to prove that he has powers keep backfiring on him.

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Then the situation gets even worse, as he discovers that Lois never had any interest in Shaw, and was just getting close to him for her story.  Shaw, meanwhile, proves himself to be much more criminal than anyone suspected.  Now Clark has to try to prove that he is NOT Superman, and winds up kidnapping and knocking out a man on the street in order to appear to be both men at once. Again, this type of story will be told many times in the future, but this early version is one of the best.

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The Fiddler returns to face the Vigilante again in this Cameron/Meskin/Paris story.

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This time the Fiddler accompanies his men to their crimes – no more need for subterfuge now that his identity is known.  He plays his music for inspiration and mood, rather than communicating instructions.

act_61_008 We discover that the Fiddler hates cats, and a howling kitten does a lot to help Vigilante and Stuff in this story.  Notice Vigilante’s motorcycle in the final panel.  This has become a much larger machine than it started out as.  There were no big dramatic changes with the cycle, more like small modifications from issue to issue, which will eventually create his famous cycle.

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There is another interesting deathtrap, an electric bed, which Vigilante and Stuff get tied to.  The cat proves critical to escaping it. The Fiddler returns a few months down the road.

act_61_010 Congo Bill has left Africa to fight the Nazis again, in this story by Samachason and Smalle.  Istanbul is the location for this tale.  Love the splash for the story.

act_61_011 The story itself is really a spy thriller, with Bill having to trap spies from the German embassy.  Not really any use of jungle skills or such.

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Gardner Fox and Joseph Sulman spread the powers around in this month’s Zatara story.

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A man, who must have particularly good hearing, realizes that Zatara is speaking backwards to cast his spells.  From having all manner of magic abilities early in his run, his repertoire has reduced and stabilized to the backwards talking by this point.  Still, it’s impressive that the man can figure this out simply by hearing Zatara.

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He tries the backwards speaking himself, and finds that it works sometimes, but not others.  His crime spree is not nearly as successful as he had hoped, and Zatara gets on his trail pretty fast.

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The story ends on a very odd panel, as Zatara explains why the man’s magic did not always work, an explanation that involves the man’s bugging eyes, and really makes very little sense.  Zatara has also used his magic to wipe the man’s mind of his secret.  Mind-wiping would seem to be a Zatara family trait.

Action 60 – Lois Lane – Superwoman, the Rainbow Man’s toy train deathtrap, and the Three Aces in the Philippines

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Superman is busy delivering care packages to soldiers on the cover of Action 60 (May 1943), but that’s ok, as he is not really the lead in his story this month anyway.

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Lois Lane gets a chance to shine in the first of many, many, many stories that will see her adopt a Superwoman identity.

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Jerry Siegel and George Roussos helm this tale, which opens with Lois getting hit by a car.  She is in critical condition, and Superman flies off to get the best surgeon in the world. And maybe delivers care packages to soldiers on the way?  It’s really not hard to tell that the story transitions into a dream sequence, with Superman giving Lois a blood transfusion, which results in her gaining super-powers.

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No one believes her when she announces she moved a huge filing cabinet on her own, and jumping on a chair at the sight of a mouse just further convinces the men that she is lying.  It’s a weird scene, frankly, and out of character for her.

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Once Lois discovers that she can fly, she whips herself up a Superwoman outfit and goes out to fight crime.

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Who does she happen to run into but Clark Kent.  Kent recognizes her, so she flies him around, threatening to drop him if he ever reveals her identity.

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Lois finds Superman, and as they now equals, proposes marriage and he accepts. And then, of course, she wakes up.

It’s not a terrible story, and the dream sequence is cued enough to not be a lame cop-out.  But there would be far too many variants on this theme.

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The Rainbow Man returns to plague the Vigilante in this story by Meskin and Paris.

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This time round the Rainbow Man is using models of the city to plan out his gang’s crimes.  Among the crimes is stealing the things needed to build models of the city, so it’s a bit of a circular thing.

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What really makes this story notable is the deathtrap, worthy of the 60s Batman tv show.  The Vigilante and Stuff are tied to toy train tracks, and trains with poisoned needles are approaching them.  Vigilante’s escape from the trap is reasonable, and plays out beautifully.  Better than the rest of the story.

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The Three Aces are in the Philippines for this tale, which also serves as a handy guide to Pidgin English.  I had no idea “chop-chop” for “in a hurry” was Pidgin.

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The Three Aces are sent out to aid a lieutenant, who turns out to be a woman, Betty Allardyce. Though the men are surprised by her gender, at no point is she made out to be any less of a competent officer because of it.

Action 59 – Superman meets Susie, and the Vigilante meets the Fiddler

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Superman meets Lois’ niece Susie in this issue, but not inside a Nazi tank, despite the cover for Action 59 (April 1943).

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The story itself, by Siegel, Sikela and Dobrotka, bears no resemblance to the style of Susie’s later stories.  Susie would come to be known as a “teller of tall tales,” to be polite.

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In this story, Lois enlists Clark as an emergency babysitter.  We learn that Susie is the daughter of Lois’ sister, although that woman is not named.  As Susie’s last name is Tompkins, that at least gives us the father’s name.

Clark starts reading Susie the story of Cinderella, but falls asleep while doing so.

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The rest of the story relates the Cinderella story, with Susie aged into the lead role, and Superman standing in for the fairy godmother.

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There are some men trying to kill the prince, which gives Superman an opportunity for some action.  At the end, Clark wakes, and Susie and Lois are both amused that Clark would dream that he is Superman.

Susie returns next year in this book.

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Mort Meskin and Charles Paris introduce a new foe for the Vigilante in this issue, the Fiddler.  Although superficially similar, this is quite a different character from the better known one, the Flash villain introduced a few years down the road.

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This Fiddler passes himself off as a harmless old street musician, while secretly communicating with his criminal gang through his music.

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Even after his gang winds up in a fight with Vigilante and Stuff, they have no idea that the “witness” they question is really the leader of the gang.

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Later, as Vigilante and Stuff stop a shipboard robbery, Greg hears the same music, and recognizes the man’s voice.  Stuff appears to get shot, but misses the bullet by falling overboard, and swims back in time to save Vigilante.

The Fiddler is captured and sent to prison, but returns in a couple of months anyway.

 

Action 58 – Superman vs Dr Menace, Vigilante vs the Dummy, Americommando vs Dr Ito, and Congo Bill vs the Nazis

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Oh, it’s that infamous “slap a Jap” cover on Action 58 (March 1943).

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Jerry Siegel is joined by Sam Citron on pencils and John Sikela on inks for this unusual tale.

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An aging actor is approached by Dr. Menace, who insists he can make the actor young again.  He undergoes the surgery, only to discover that he has been left with a hideous face, and must wear a mask to appear normal.  Although really, what could one expect from a man named Dr. Menace?

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Menace forces the man to commit crimes while wearing a leopard skin, and sends notes to the police and the papers, claiming to be the thief, and calling himself Adonis.

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Clark and Lois get on the case when the Adonis letters arrive, and eventually Superman corners the two men, who wind up killing each other.

The final panel is such a let-down though, never showing what the man looked like after the operation.

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The Dummy is the most enduring villain of the Vigilante.  He had been introduced in the pages of Leading Comics, battling the Vigilante as he functioned as one of the Seven Soldiers of Victory.  This story, by Don Cameron, Mort Meskin and Charles Paris, was the villain’s second appearance, and first in the pages of Action Comics.  Chronologically, this story follows the Dummy’s appearances in All-Star Squadron.

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The Dummy breaks out of prison with the help of Bobo, a relatively dumb criminal.  He is content to follow the Dummy’s instructions, as he begins a new crime spree.

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The Vigilante and Stuff get on the Dummy’s trail.  Bobo traps the heroes, but gets tossed into the pit himself by the Dummy, who has tired of him.  Bobo quickly switches sides, helping the Vigilante escape.  In turn, Vigilante allows Bobo to give the Dummy a spanking before taking him back to prison.

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Dr. Ito returns yet again, hunting the Americommando in this Greene and Baily tale.

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They are both still in France, and for some reason Ito is also running a concentration camp.  Americommando is working with the French Resistance, and this time Ito does not even really get close to catching him.  Still, from the next issue, Americommando moves on from France, travelling to other occupied countries.

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Congo Bill returns to Africa in this story by Samachson and Smalle.

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Bill comes to the aid of Joan Reid, whose father has been killed by an “outlaw” native tribe.  Bill discovers that the tribe has been supplied by guns by the Nazis.

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This story manages to weave the African adventure and war elements together better than most, as a stampeding herd of elephants trample the Nazi general, as Bill rescues Joan from man and beast.

 

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