It’s really hard to determine what is going on on the cover of Action 21 (Feb. 40). Is Superman leaping away from the ship? Or is he maybe coming down from somewhere? The difference in size of the men at the gun, and Superman, would imply that he is far, far closer than they are. What are they firing at? Is Superman stealing a missile from them? If they are good guys, why is he flying away from them? If they are bad guys, why is he flying away from them?
Siegel and Shuster, with Paul Cassidy on inks, wade into nuclear weapons in this issue, as scientist Terry Curtis works on an atomic gun. His lab explodes, and Clark Kent is caught in the blast. Curtis is amazed when Clark shows no sign of injury. Clark, for his part, is fascinated with the work Curtis is doing, and writes it up for the Daily Star.
Dolores Winters, the Ultra-Humanite, reads Clark’s article, and starts to romance Curtis, wanting to get the gun. The Ultra-Humanite is always referred to as female in this story. So the Ultra-Humanite might also be considered the first transgendered villain in comics. Clark becomes suspicious when Terry mentions that his new girlfriend resembles the famous actress, and sure enough, Terry gets kidnapped.
Superman follows them to the Ultra-Humanite’s lair, a city inside a volcano. Although the text still insists that Superman is leaping, he executes a mid-air turn to land on the wing, which he does so gracefully, it goes unnoticed. A long way from pavement smashing to bits.
Superman frees Terry and smashes the Ultra-Humanite’s devices, as Dolores leaps to her apparent death in the exploding volcano. This is the final appearance of the Ultra-Humanite in the Golden Age. He would next be seen, in the body of a mutated white ape, in the early 80s in a Justice League of America/Justice Society of America/Secret Society of Super-Villains team-up in The Justice League’s book. A couple of years later, he would get a story set shortly after this one, in the pages of All-Star Squadron. Terry Curtis, who makes his only Golden Age appearance in this story, returns in All-Star Squadron as well., for a much more important role. The final panel promotes the Spectre, soon to debut in More Fun Comics. Jerry Siegel was the writer on that series as well, though the art was by Bernard Baily.
Clip Carson’s story takes him to Algiers, and Sheldon Moldoff takes over the art. The tale itself is mediocre, many of them now would be, but at least it is lovely to look at.
Clip gets hired to escort a shipment of food to a sheikh, who thanks him, and wants to keep him prisoner. Clip disguises himself as an Arab to escape, and confronts the man who sent him. He was really running guns, and Clip beats the guy up and turns him over to the authorities.