Posts tagged ‘Frederic Ellsworth’

Action 128 – Superman plays football, Congo Bill gets a job, and Tommy Tomorrow watches football

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Superman takes sides in a kid’s football game in the cover story from Action 128 (Jan. 49), by Frederic Ellsworth and Al Plastino.

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Gamblers get involved in the game, and an attempt to take out the best player, Big Red, winds up giving one entire team food poisoning.

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Superman comes to the aid of the children who take the place of the sick players, lead by Big Red’s little brother, cleverly named Little Red.  It’s not a great story, barely a serviceable one.  The best bit has Clark all bundled up against the cold – but the bundling is to cover to Lois that he is not really there, but on the field as Superman.

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For the last few stories, ever since the leopard attack, the narration has referred to Congo Bill working for the World-Wide Insurance company.  In this issue, by Smalle, Bill himself refers to the company in the dialogue, and we see that he has a secretary.  He also is trying to sneak out, before being sent on another assignment.  Only a few months in, and having a boss is already grating on the man.

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Bill gets sent to the Kimberly diamond mines in South Africa, after a theft.  But as the story progresses, Bill comes to believe he is on a wold goose chase, and the manager of the mine is the true thief.

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Binder, Swan and Fischetti take us back to the amazing future of 1988 in this Tommy Tomorrow tale.

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Tommy is watching robots playing football as the story opens. We also discover that criminals are now kept in prisons made out of hollowed asteroids – a forerunner of the “prison planet” idea that would grow in Legion of Super-Heroes.

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Tommy spends much of this story chasing an escaped prisoner through our solar system.  The memorial to the first moon landing is kind of neat.  Good thing there is no date on it though!

Action 81- Superman saves a theme park, Congo Bill is back in Canada, Stuff learns magic, and Zatara in Rio

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A New Year’s cover on Action 81 (Feb. 45).  Considering that the end of World War 2 was in sight, the cover seems very appropriate.

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Superman gets cast in another light-hearted but enjoyable story, by Ira Yarborough.

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Superman helps a millionaire build Playland Isle, a theme park for children.  His heirs think it’s a waste of money. The millionaire promptly dies, although his body is not found.  The will disinherits the heirs, unless they can prove the theme park is dangerous.  Not too hard to see where this story is going.

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Lois and Clark come to inspect the park, and Lois goes undercover as a little girl, in a hilarious disguise.  The heirs have hired goons to sabotage the park, although they come to regret their actions as the day goes on.

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The most is made of both the park and Superman’s speed, as he defuses bombs on a variety of attractions, all timed to go off at once.

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The park’s friendly Santa Claus turns out to to be the millionaire, who faked his death to teach his heirs the value of not blowing up theme parks, or something like that.

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Congo Bill is back in Canada in this story by Ellsworth and Daly.  I think it’s set in what was then the Northwest Territories, although the story describes it as “Hudson’s Bay country.”

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Congo Bill is pursuing diamond thieves, who performed the robbery in Toronto – the city is even named in the story!  Sometimes I have a problem with Congo Bill stories set far from Africa that make no use of the lead characters skills, but in this one he gets to show his abilities with a dogsled, so that works for me.

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Samachson and Meskin give Stuff a more important role than usual in this issue.

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Stuff has been learning magic tricks, which he entertains Greg Sanders with.  He hasn’t mastered it yet, and is better with card tricks than animals.

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They go to an exhibition of lightweight, futuristic furniture, which is apparently so valuable it is worth stealing.  Vigilante and Stuff get captured, but Stuff shows that he has learned the first principle of magic, misdirection, and keeps the hoods entertained while Vigilante sneaks up behind them.

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Later, Stuff manages to hold off half the gang, simply by entertaining them with card tricks, as Vigilante takes down the rest of the thieves.  A really good role for Stuff, and the magic tricks are well-used.

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Zatara gets involved in a jewel smuggling plot in this story by Cameron and White.

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Zatara is on a cruise down to Rio when the jewels go missing.  He suspects they have been tossed into the harbour, and heads down to retrieve them, winding up rescuing a man from an octopus with really emotive eyes.

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Although Zatara appears to be underwater for most of the story, the water itself is “parting” around him, which explains why his top hat remains comfortably in place throughout the story.

 

Action 80 – Superman vs Mr Mxyztplk, and Congo Bill on vacation

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Don Cameron and Ira Yarborough bring back Mr. Mxyztplk, the 5th dimensional sprite introduced a few months earlier in the pages of Superman, for his second appearance, in Action 80 (Jan. 45).

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Mr. Mxyztplk is fully aware of Superman’s secret identity as Clark, but has no interest in exposing him. He really just wants to play.  It’s just that his way of “playing” involves tormenting and annoying people.

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Lois Lane makes the mistake of insisting that the previous encounter with Mr Mxyztplk did not really happen, and the imp toys with her until she admits he exists.

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Because the imp’s other-dimensional “magic” can do pretty much anything, the character is never made truly evil or malevolent.  And his stories are always visually dynamic.

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Superman tricks him into saying his own name backwards, and uses a simple but effective ruse in this one, pretending to have forgotten the name.

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Congo Bill goes on vacation in this story by Frederic Ellsworth and John Daly.  One has to wonder what a world-traveller does while on vacation, or where they go.  The answer turns out to be Hubb City, an otherwise unremarkable location in the US.

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Bill goes to the park, and sees the reservoir being drained.  This puts him on the trail of criminals trying to retrieve evidence hidden there earlier.  So a “vacation”for Congo Bill just means solving crime in a city instead of in the wild.

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