Posts tagged ‘Chuck Dawson’

Action 22 – the second L.L., Chuck Dawson ends, and the Tigress returns

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A kind of lower key cover for Action 22 (March 1940), considering that Superman’s story in this issue puts him in the middle of a war.

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Siegel, Shuster and Cassidy acknowledge that a war has broken out in Europe, as George Taylor, looking like he has some grey hair now, sends Lois and Clark across the ocean to report on the war for the Daily Star.  Oddly, rather than deal with the real war, this story is about a war between Toran and Galonia, neither of which is made to seem like any specific, actual nation.

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Shipboard, Lois and Clark see the famous “foreign” actress Lita Laverne.  The second of the L.L.s in Superman, but the first indication that this might become a theme.  Lita Laverne plays hot and cold with Clark, but does invite him and Lois to a party once they land.

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It doesn’t take Clark very long to realize that Lita is a spy, and her party is simply a way for her to pump the guests for information.

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Clark spends the rest of the story trying to enforce neutrality.  He brings down a couple of bombers, and stop a submarine from torpedoing a ship.  As he does this, he demonstrates another super-power.  The ability to talk while underwater.  There is no one for him to be talking to, but perhaps he is just testing this ability out for his own edification.

Lita Laverne gets exposed as a spy, and arrested.  She never appears again.  Firing squad for sure.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Chuck Dawson’s bland western series comes to a bland finale in this issue.  Chuck is still wearing that same red plaid shirt he has been wearing since his strip began.  It must smell awful.

Instead, in his final outing, Chuck yet again comes across a dead body and is accused of the murder.  The last time this happened (it happened a lot) Chuck simply proved himself innocent, and couldn’t be bothered to actually solve the crime.  This time he actually tracks down and apprehends the killer, a hired gun working for the foreman of the Slash D Ranch, who killed the fiancee of Miss Parsons, the ranch’s owner, in hopes of marrying her and taking over the ranch.

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I think poor hapless Chuck wound up sticking around after this case.  Miss Parsons was now desperately in need of a ranch foreman and a boyfriend.  I could have Chuck just continue wandering aimlessly, finding dead bodies left right and centre and always being accused of murder, but I would rather have him just settle down.  Maybe Miss Parsons not only washed his shirt, she even bought him a new one!

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The Tigress returns in this issue’s Zatara story, by Fred Guardineer.

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She is working for a man called The Mask.  When not wearing his head covering, he impersonates other people.  In this case, a bank manager the Tigress was supposed to kill.  Zatara saved the man’s life, ruining their plot, though the bad guys do not realize this at first.

The Mask is not, as one might think, some sort of disguise artist, or even shape changer.  He is a man willing to undergo repeated surgeries to alter his face, for the impersonations.

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The Mask has himself operated on again, to impersonate Zatara, and tests it on the Tigress.

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Later, Zatara will turn the tables, pretending to be the Mask, and getting his plans out of the Tigress.  During this sequence, the Tigress admits that she is now broke.  In one year she somehow squandered her entire share of Genghis Khan’s treasure.

Zatara uses his magic to give the mask a horrendous, dog-like face that no surgery will remove.  He lets the Tigress go, on her promise to leave the country and never return.

The Tigress returns next issue.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

 

 

Action 1- Superman, Chuck Dawson, Zatara, Marco Polo, Scoop Scanlon and Tex Thompson debut, and Pep Morgan begins

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Action Comics 1 (June 1938) has been called one of the most important comic books ever printed.  It saw a number of characters debut, but one more than any other would affect not only comic books, but movies, television, and stage. Siegel and Shuster’s crowning achievement, Superman has been the longest consistently published character in history, yet there was no certainty of this when he first appeared.  There had never been a superhero.  The word didn’t even exist yet.  And it would take some time before sales proved that they had struck gold, and a new genre had been born.

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The story begins with a page of introduction, briefly mentioning a baby shot from a dying planet and coming to Earth.  The Kents do not even appear in this brief origin, and the “scientific explanation” of his powers is laughable.

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With the second page, we jump mid-stream into the tale. In fact, the first six pages of the story had been cut, but would be included when this story was reprinted in Superman 1.  You may notice the miscolouring of his boots.  In Superman 1, his boots are red for the first six pages, then revert back to blue, as coloured in this story.

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After saving an innocent man from execution, Superman changes into his identity as reporter Clark Kent, and visits his editor at the Daily Star.  Although not named as yet, this is George Taylor.

It is also worth noting that Superman goes out of his way to protect a woman being beaten by her husband.  A social conscience was part of this strip from the outset.

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Lois Lane works with Clark at the Star, writing “sob stories.”  He invites her on a date, but his determination to make Clark appear a weakling just rouses Lois’ contempt.

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Lois is abducted by some men from the club, but rescued by Superman, who she immediately falls for.

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The story, which continues in the next issue, ends with Superman terrorizing a pro-war lobbyist.  Superman cannot fly in this story.  He can jump, and runs along telephone wires, but lacking flight makes his trip with the lobbyist far more dangerous.

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Chuck Dawson follows the adventures of the son of Charles Dawson, a rancher who was killed and his land stolen during a Texas Range War.  He was sent to Wyoming to grow up with his uncle, but as the series begins heads back to Texas to avenge his father’s death and regain the family lands.

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As soon as he arrives in Red Gulch, trouble arises.  The sheriff wants him gone, as does Burwell, the owner of the 4-G Ranch, who now owns the disputed land.  Burwell has an awful lot of men at his command, and he just keeps sending them after Chuck.

This launches a serial that will run for the first 14 issues of the book.

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Zatara, Master Magician begins, by Fred Gaurdineer.  The character is a fairly blatant rip-off of Mandrake the Magician, a popular newspaper strip from the time.  Along with his assistant, Tong, Zatara prevents a train robbery by the Tigress and her men.

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The Tigress would return in a number of Zatara’s stories, as both enemy and ally.  And though the character was never revived past the Golden Age, her name has been adopted by a number of other DC women.

Zatara’s magical abilities are quite extensive at first, not limited to the backwards-speaking that would later become his trademark.

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The Adventures of Marco Polo begins, looking much like other novel adaptations.

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The first chapter, which gives some background before seeing Marco and his uncle head out on their journey to the East, follows the book itself fairly closely. This will change as the series goes on.

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Pep Morgan’s series, following the adventures of an all-round athlete, had ended a few months earlier in More Fun Comics, but begins anew in Action.  He appears to be a professional boxer in this story by Guardineer, though later tales would show him in college.

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His stories in Action Comics were longer than his More Fun tales, and allow for more complexity.  In this match, Pep faces a boxer who uses a drugged needle in his glove to overcome his opponents.  Pep still triumphs.

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Scoop Scanlon is a reporter for the Bulletin, in an unnamed, but large, American city.  He works with friend and photographer Rusty James.

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Reading his stories, you really have to wonder why he went into journalism, when Scoop clearly would prefer to be a policeman.  He carries a gun, which he is quick to use.  He had only fourteen stories in total, and in four of those he starts shootouts.

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More than any other series from this era, Tex Thompson would shift and change to reflect the prevailing interests.  This was Bernard Bailey’s second series for DC, and, like the Buccaneer, the art would improve rapidly.

Tex Thompson is a blond Texan, in England, who gets framed for murder. He proves his innocence with the aid of two young children.

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He wears a large stetson hat, which is distinct enough that one might think it will be his trademark. But it only appears in this issue.

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