Posts tagged ‘Daily Star’

Action 484 – Superman marries Lois Lane

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Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Joe Giella craft a true landmark story as Clark Kent and Lois Lane get married in Action 484 (June 1978).

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I bought this issue, and ran home all excited to read it when I was 12 years old. I was quite stunned when I started the tale, and saw that it was set on Earth-2.  Flipping back to the cover, I noticed only then that the Daily Star was featured, cluing in any experienced reader to which earth the story was set on.

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The story has two villains. Colonel Future, who had fought Superman back in the 40s, calls on the Wizard, a Justice Society of America foe, for aid against Superman.  The Colonel provides the Wizard with a rare and powerful wand, strong enough to permanently affect the man of steel.

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The effect of the Wizard’s spell is not to kill Superman, but rather to remove Clark Kent’s memory of ever being such a person.  The side effect of this is that Clark now begins acting more forceful and aggressive, drawing the attention of Lois Lane.

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Close to a year after Superman disappears, Lois and Clark get married.  In attendance are Lois’ sister Lucille, as well as her daughter Susie.  George Taylor is also featured in this story, as editor of the Daily Star.

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Superman has lost his memory, but not his powers, and Lois is shocked when she sees Clark get machine gunned from behind, and is both uninjured, and unaware of the attack.  She tests him as he sleeps, and realizes he is Superman.  Lois seeks out the Wizard, now a powerless bum.  No one believes he really is responsible for Superman disappearing, but Lois takes his story seriously.  She agonizes for a while, knowing that once he recalls being Superman, their relationship will change for good.  But she feels the world needs him more than she does, and arranges for a public press conference.

The Wizard reverses his spell, in front of a big crowd, and Superman returns.  The Wizard is thrilled that people believe him, less thrilled when Superman carts him off to jail.

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With his memory back, Superman takes Lois to his fortress in the hills outside Metropolis.

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There, they undergo a Kryptonian wedding ceremony.

This version of Superman and Lois Lane (now Lois Kent) continue to appear, in the Mr. and Mrs. Superman series, which begins in the pages of Superman in a couple of months.

 

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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.

Action 21 – Superman meets Terry Curtis, and Clip Carson in Algiers

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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 18 – X-ray vision!, Pep uses his throwing arm, the Gorrah controls Tex Thompson, Three Aces debuts, and Zatara visits Atlantis

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An unusual air battle on the cover of Action 18 (Nov. 39), with Superman firmly ensconced in the corner of the page.

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A rival newspaper, the Morning Herald, is introduced in this Siegel and Shuster story.

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While Clark Kent, and to a lesser degree Lois Lane, are always shown to be respectful of those they interview for the Daily Star, the Herald reporter is quickly shown to exploitative.

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Worse than that, the reporter featured also uses the information he gets to set up a politician to be blackmailed.  Clark learns about by using his x-ray vision, and “super-sensitive” hearing, for the first time.  Indeed, it’s curious to see how slow and detailed the first use of the x-ray vision is, explaining how the wall melts away and allows him to see what is going on inside.

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When the editor of the Morning Herald insists on printing the story and pictures, despite evidence of then being faked, Superman takes extreme action,  First he destroys the paper’s entire delivery fleet, including all the paper already printed, and then demolishes their printing press!

I certainly hope Clark got a raise for wiping out the competition.

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Pep Morgan continues to hang out at Mr. Smith’s ranch in this Guardineer story.  It begins with he and Mary taking a ride together, and could easily go towards romance.

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But Pep is far more interested in a local dispute over a watering hole, and an attempt to frame an old loner for murder, to acquire his land rights.

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Pep saves the day, even using his pitching skills to knock out a man escaping on horseback.  I really like that his athletic abilities are actually used in this story.

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Tex Thompson remains a prisoner of the Gorrah, as Baily continues this storyline.

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The Gorrah has constructed obedient robots, which Tex calls “things.”  The Gorrah seems impressed by this clever word, and takes to calling them “things” himself, showing that he has the same lack of creativity as Tex.  On the other hand, his scientific skills seem impressive, as he forces Tex into a mind-control machine, making the hero his slave.

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Tex heads back to the Prime Minister, getting a map of all the ships in the harbour, and then goes around planting bombs on all of them.  Bob Daley and Gargantua T Potts both notice how odd Tex is acting.  Their attempt to follow him simply winds up putting them into the Gorrah’s hands.

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Tex is ordered to kill them, and only then does he reveal he is not really under the Gorrah’s power.  You might have thought he would reveal that before planting dozens of bombs, but no.  The Gorrah appears to kill himself, but will return.  Ali Baba is barely seen in this part.  Three sidekicks are just too many to fit in the story.

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The Three Aces are Fog Fortune, Gunman Bill and Whistler Will,all pilots who bonded while fighting in the Spanish Civil War (which side is not mentioned). They are now US navy reservists, travelling the world in their biplanes, seeking out adventure.

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The first story sees them in Baghdad, where they learn of a number of planes that have gone missing while flying over the desert.  A distraught young woman enlists them in flying over the desert in search of her father, Inspector Higgins of Scotland Yard, who had gone missing while looking into the case.  They fly out, and spot a lost caravan, land, and are ambushed.  Gunner manages to get back in the air, calls for the British airforce, and circles until they arrive to rescue his comrades and the inspector.

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Zatara has barely left Ophir when Sepat materializes on his ship in this Guardineer story.

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They head down to find the lost city of Atlantis.  At first Sepat stays on deck, but pirates threaten her, and Zatara heads back up to save her, and take her with him.  They also bring along Barnacle Bill, who proves more of a menace than a help, as he wants to steal some Atlantean treasure.

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In fact, there is almost just too much going on in this tale.  A giant bizarre looking octopus attacks, giving some focus to the conclusion.  Sepat decides to stay in Atlantis, obviously hoping for a romance with their leader.  It’s a bit surprising how content Zatara is to work with this woman, who was trying to kill him only one issue ago. But he was also content to work with the Tigress, so I guess one shouldn’t judge him too harshly.

 

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bob Kane continues Clip Carson’s adventures in Egypt.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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