Posts tagged ‘Dummy’

Action 96 – Superman vs Mr Twister, Congo Bill gets amnesia, and the Dummy is befriended by midgets

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I really love the cover of Action 96 (May 1946), just for the unusual visuals.

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The Superman story in the issue, by Sam Citron, is not nearly as interesting.  It happens in a flashback, as Mr Twister relates his criminal career to his barber during a haircut.

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This is not Brom Stikk, from the origin of the Teen Titans.  This man just adopts the name as he adds twists to normal capers.  He begins by jumping off a roof to divert Superman from catching three thieves, and later joins their gang.  Why not?  Even if all he is willing to do is jump off buildings to ensure their getaways, what has the gang got to lose?

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Mr Twister is also willing to put innocents lives at risk to keep Superman at bay -but you know Superman is not going to put up with that kind of crap for long, and catches Mr Twister and his gang.  The barber he was talking to was the prison barber.

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Congo Bill has an unusually tense little tale in this issue, courtesy of Alvin Schwartz and Edwin Smalle.  He wakes on a park bench in Hollywood, with no memory of who he is.  Some men are tracking him, but we do not know why.

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He winds up at a film studio, and gets hired as a extra, winding up on the lot of a jungle picture, with his trackers close behind.  When they try to kill him, the jungle setting brings his memory back, and he defeats the men. Although the story does not say it, I like to think it was all caught on camera and used in a feature.  There is an explanation about a hidden map in his shoe to a sunken ship, and the men’s previous attack which caused the amnesia, just to round things out.

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The Dummy makes his final appearance in the Vigilante series in Action Comics in this Meskin story.

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While on the run from the Vigilante and Stuff, the Dummy runs into a troupe of midgets, who work as dancers.  They know who he is, but he manages to convince them that he has been unjustly persecuted, simply for being a midget.  They take him in and hide him.  It’s not long before the Dummy is up to his old tricks, robbing patrons during a performance, and then stealing the box office.

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He uses the other midgets as long as they trust him, but has no problem tossing one into a deathtrap, along with Vigilante and Stuff, after he gets exposed.

The Vigilante captures the Dummy, and it’s many years till the character returns. He comes back in the Vigilante series in World’s Finest in the late 70s, and gets his best story to date.

 

 

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Action 87 – Superman on the highway, and the Dummy opens a gallery

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Once again, the cover of Action 87 (Aug. 45) goes for the laugh, while the Superman story inside is more serious.

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Ira Yarborough holds the credit for this story, which begins as Clark Kent is assigned to do a story on truckers.

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The story does set out giving some of the lingo of the trade, and touches a bit on what the life is like,but quickly gets sidetracked into a complicated story, which involves a former police officer who may be part of a criminal gang.

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In fact, the former cop retired after killing a man in self defense, but regains his nerve while helping Superman round up the real bad guys.

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Mort Meskin brings the Dummy back for this Vigilante story.

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The Dummy meets an experienced counterfeiter and forger while in prison, just before his men arrange a breakout, using a trained dog.

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The Dummy then uses the forger as a front, opening a gallery, which really operates to copy famous paintings and sell them, replacing them with the forgery.  As the Vigilante already knows the Dummy is on the loose, it doesn’t take him long to track them down.  And the dog shows itself to be more useful in a fight than the forger.

Action 75 – the power of super-massage, the Dummy goes straight, and Congo Bill’s urban adventure

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Ira Yarborough gets the credit for the Superman story in Action 75 (Aug. 44), which pits the hero against Johnny Aesop.

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This guy really ought to have been fighting Batman.  Inspired by his last name, he sends fables as clues to the Daily Planet.  Perry White and Lois Lane help interpret them, and Clark dashes off to become Superman, and foil his plans.  This happens a couple of times before the final confrontation, where things go very weird.

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About to shoot Lois, and confronted by Superman, Johnny Aesop suddenly gets a headache.  Superman massages his head, with the result that Johnny loses all his criminal tendencies.  And Superman KNEW this would happen!

It’s a shame we never got to see him super-massage other villains into submission.  With Luthor’s bald cranium, I’m surprised Superman could resist.

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The Dummy returns in this Mort Meskin Vigilante story.  He gets released from prison after announcing that he will go straight.  For some reason, Vigilante gives his ok to this.

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A series of robberies promptly begin, committed by a shadowy man called the Lash, who steals old blunderbusses.

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We discover that the Lash is working for the Dummy, but Vigilante and Stuff still accept his help in tracking down the Lash.  Once the Dummy leads him to where the villain is hanging out, he reveals his true colours, as they try to kill Vigilante.  Vigilante triumphs, of course, and learns that stolen money was hidden in a blunderbuss, but the Dummy didn’t know which one it was, so they were stealing all they could find.

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Edwin Smalle gives Congo Bill a completely city based adventure in this issue.  Bill is in Metro City, hired to guard a fur shipment.  But hoods are hot on his trail, and try to get him out of the way by framing him for theft.

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So Congo Bill spends the adventure fleeing the police while tracking down and stopping the fur thieves.  It’s a decent story, but I could have used some jungle skills or something.

 

Action 69 – Lost and Found with the Prankster, the Dummy gets smaller, and Zatara fights evil magicians

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The Prankster returns in a story by Sam Citron in Action 69 (Feb. 44).

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The story deals with preposterous ads about lost items, which run in the Daily Planet.  The first is for a needle in a haystack, which winds up starting a stampede.  The items are actually rare, and stolen, and the Prankster’s ads elicit a blackmail payment as a reward.  Lois and Clark take a while to piece the story together, and it’s made even harder for them as the Prankster’s men pretend to be Planet reporters, extorting money to keep the true story from the papers.

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The Prankster’s scam only really falls through when he kidnaps Lois Lane.  Astoundingly, the Planet has no trouble running the ad about this, although they do send the copy to Perry White before the paper goes out.

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Samachson, Meskin and Kubert produce one of the best Vigilante stories in this issue.

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The Dummy steals an experimental machine that can make people smaller.  He first uses it on himself and his gang, so they can pull off an impressive in-flight robbery.

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Vigilante and Stuff get on his trail, but the Dummy uses the machine on them, and leaves them prey to a chicken. I just love that sequence.  Vigilante and Stuff manage to survive until the effect wears off, and then turn the tables on the Dummy, capturing and shrinking him (again), and bringing him to jail in a birdcage.

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Gardner Fox and William White pit Zatara against two Eastern mystics in this story.  It touches on racist, with the Hindu magicians, but avoids the extremes common in the era.

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The two men are shown to have magical powers equal to those of Zatara.  He manages to defeat them largely through subterfuge, and then by knocking them out with his fist. Still, the Hindu mystics are not shown to be phonies, or cowards, or anything other than criminally bent.

Action 63 – Superman loses his memory, the Dummy times 3, the Three Aces end, and Americommando kicks Hitler in the face

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Quite the dramatic wartime cover for Action 63 (Aug.43).

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Don Cameron and Ira Yarborough come up with a new way to weaken Superman in this story.

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A collision of two stars in space sends cosmic radiation towards the Earth.  When it reaches the planet, Superman is literally knocked off his feet by it.  He falls to the street, and winds up with no memory of who he is.

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Some hoods see him fall, but as he is in his Clark Kent clothes, do not realize it is Superman.  But his strength and resilience, and lack of memory, make the hoods convince their hapless victim that he can impersonate Superman.  So Superman winds up joining a criminal gang.  Superman’s ethics do cause him doubts, but he believes he could not possibly be the real Superman, or he would not have lost his memory.

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Lois Lane gets involved, distressed to see Superman committing crimes.  A falling meteor, which he shatters, restores his memory.  Superman rounds up the thieves, and pretends that his time with them was  just an act to gain evidence.

A pretty lame explanation, but people are glad to accept it.

With no kryptonite yet, this story was an early attempt at weakening or altering his powers.

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Cameron and Meskin bring back the Dummy to pester Vigilante in this story.

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The Dummy is now part of an act, with two other identically dressed men – or are they actually dummies?  The story introduces this idea, but really doesn’t play on it much until the last few pages.  The set-up also has the Dummy and Greg Sanders performing at the same venue the same evening, but aside from the Vigilante seeing the three Dummies perform, nothing happens on that night either.

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Stuff gets captured, in typical sidekick fashion, and Vigilante discovers that the middle dummy really is a dummy.  The tallest one seems to be a real person, but we never get that confirmed, or find out who he is.  Definitely better in concept than in execution.

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The Three Aces have their final adventure in this issue, battling the Japanese.

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It’s a serviceable war story.  They hold off a Japanese assault.  All seems well for the three men, but since their series ends here, and they are never seen again, I believe this was their last successful mission, and they died on their next one.  They are all old enough to have fought in the World War 1, so their reaction time would not have been the best. Kind of amazing they survived in the war as long as they did.

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After travelling around through occupied Europe and helping out the resistance groups, the Americommando returns to Germany in this story by Greene and Baily.

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This story has Americommando’s greatest challenge, to steal plans that Hitler carries on himself at all times.  He succeeds by turning Hitler’s propaganda against him accepting a challenge to fight a Nazi champion in the ring.  Actual German heavyweight champion Max Schmelling appears in the story, although he is not the one to fight Tex.  This is sort of sad, part of the anti-Schmelling view the media played up during the war.  In fact, though he was drafted into the service, Schmelling was not a Nazi, and even risked his life to save two Jewish children.  At any rate, Tex triumphs in the ring, and not only escapes the Nazis after the match, but kicks Hitler in the face while stealing the plans.

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Tex gets a new sidekick in this issue as well, a Greek prisoner of war, Poppy, who is his assistant during the match, provided by the Nazis.  Poppy joins Tex on his next mission, in Russia, but is not seen after that.  I expect he returned home and worked with the resistance until war`s end.

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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