Action 119 – Clark Kent pretends to be Superman, Zatara powers up a piper, and Vigilante rides the jet-aquacycle
Edmond Hamilton and Win Mortimer tell an early version of a common tale, as Clark Kent has to pretend to be Superman, in Action 119 (April 1948).
A series of robberies using a helicopter are the crime motivating this tale. Superman does not want Lois on the case, figuring it is too dangerous, and lies to her, saying he will be out of town, in hopes that this will discourage her. After 10 years, you think he would know better. Lois forces Clark to dress as Superman and accompany her, to scare away any dangerous men they encounter. The difference in physique between Clark and Superman is addressed in this story, and explained by Superman’s super muscle-control.
Superman gets through the case through a mix of outright lies, and ingenuity. He manages to duplicate a few of his super-stunts right in front of Lois’ eyes, though she gains no admiration for Clark’s resourcefulness. At the end, she simply condescends that Superman wouldn’t have needed to come up with his clever solutions.
Zatara’s story in this issue, by Samachson and White, is better than the series has been in a long time.
A broke but honest piper uses his music, and some concealed gas, to lure and capture some wanted men. Zatara is impressed, and endows the man with the power to create “magic music.” That’s kind of vague, and indeed, the music functions in a variety of ways, creating illusions, even transforming criminals into rats.
Zatara gives the man complete credit for the big criminal round up, and nothing indicates that these powers will wear off.
Don Cameron, Mort Meskin and George Roussos bring back the Rainbow Man for an adventure so demanding, it requires Vigilante to use BOTH his sidekicks! Yes, Stuff and Billy Gunn, together at last!
To be fair, Stuff falls into the hands of the Rainbow Man right at the top of the story, so Billy Gunn gets most of the actual sidekick time in this tale. Rainbow Man captures Stuff more or less at random. He does not recognize the boy, which is very odd, considering how many encounters they have had, and that Stuff wears no disguise. Perhaps it’s just that Stuff has become increasingly white which throws him off.
Vigilante’s motorcycle shows itself to be as good as a sidekick, as it becomes a “jet-aquacycle” – capable of travelling on the water.
Rainbow Man? Some more colour crimes, of course, but he almost gets lost amid everything else in this tale.
As the underscript on the final page indicates, Vigilante is also now starring in a series in the new Western Comics.