Posts tagged ‘Gargantua T Potts’

Action 25 – Superman vs a hypnotist, Pep Morgan at sea, the Black Pirate captured, Tex Thompson and the amnesiac, Clip Carson defeats the rebels and Zatara vs Asmodeus

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Once again, the cover of Action 25 (June 1940) appears to show Superman in flight, before the stories themselves acknowledge this ability.

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Jerry Siegel and Paul Cassidy helm this tale, which begins with a bank robbery by thieves with no recollection of the events.

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Lois Lane mentions a psychic and hypnotist to Clark, Medini, whom she is going to consult, in order to find out Superman’s secret identity.  Ironically, that’s the same information Medini is trying to extract from her.

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Superman confronts Medini, who uses hypnosis to paralyze him.  Once Medini has gone, Superman’s powers begin to return, but he lacks complete control over his abilities until he jumps high into the stratosphere, which removes the effects of the hypnosis.  Pondering this sequence, it would seem that Medini must actually possess some degree of mystical powers, as only magic would be able to have such an extended effect on the hero.

Once his powers are back, Superman quickly dispenses of this one-shot villain.

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With this issue, Guradineer has Pep travelling to England as a war correspondent, despite having no experience or training in this field whatsoever.  But that is only the first odd thing about this tale.

After not only the ship Pep is on gets torpedoed, but the rescue ship as well, the lifeboat capsizes.  Pep swims around tirelessly saving people until the sub surfaces and they are brought on board.  Despite being an American kid and not in the military, Pep is brought before the sub`s commander, and manages to get his gun from him and single-handedly take over the sub.

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The commander of the sub wears a white uniform, which I thought was odd.  As they are showing England at war, why would they not depict the Nazis as they appeared?

Then it become clear.  The art “error” is our clue to confirm that this story is a preposterous tale – this is the story Pep told people to explain why he left for a while, rather than telling them the truth about his dismal Florida tryout.

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Sheldon Moldoff continues the Black Pirate’s adventures, as he falls into the hands of the angry Captain Ruff, who demands to know where Jon Valor hid his treasure.

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The Black Pirate breaks free, and sets fire to Captain Ruff’s ship.  Everyone winds up in shark-infested waters, ass the Black Pirate heads for a mysterious ship he saw on the horizon.

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Gargantua T. Potts makes his final appearance in this Baily story, spending some time with Tex and Bob Daley at Tex’s camp in Maine, Golden Gates.

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They encounter a mysterious amnesiac, being pursued by gangsters.  For a few panels it looks like Gargantua will be the one to save the day, but again he is reduced to racist comic relief.  I’m just so glad this character is being dropped, it’s worth mentioning his final tale.

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Moldoff winds up Clip Carson’s Verdania adventure in this issue.

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Surprisingly, for the era, the rebels turn out to be financed by an American oil man, trying to manipulate the situation in the country for his own benefit.

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The final panel, the hanging of the revolutionaries, is coloured so darkly, it’s almost in silhouette.  But it does add a very somber tone.

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Zatara faces off against Asmodeus, a powerful villain who uses science and magic against the hero, in this story by Gardner Fox and Fred Guardineer.

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The Tigress also returns in this story.  She is working for Asmodeus, but winds up being of very little assistance, as Zatara draws the villain’s plans and location from her mind, before shrinking her to doll size to keep her out of trouble.

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Asmodeus makes a really good villain for Zatara, and the battle between them easily carries the few pages that it lasts.  It’s a shame this villain never made a return.

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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 19 – Superman and the purple plague, Pep Morgan goes home, Clip Carson goes to Africa, Tex Thompson vs the Zombies, and the Three Aces solve a friend’s murder

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Superman is back on the cover of Action 19 (Dec. 39), and will stay there from now on.

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A purple plague hits Metropolis.  The doctors are baffled, and the death toll keeps on rising.

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Clark Kent is shown to be immune to the plague, because of his “super-resistance” to disease, another new attribute of his powers.  Though what really strikes me about this page is the horse drawn cart full of rotting bodies.  This seems anachronistic, but I expect that it is not.  Movies from the time period show horses and carriages in towns, so perhaps they were still used this way.

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The Ultra-Humanite is behind the plague, and makes an appearance relatively early in the story, rather than being saved for the last few pages.

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The Ultra-Humanite is trying to kill the doctor researching a cure for the plague, but Superman rescues the man, falling into the hands of the Ultra-Humanite himself.  An electric gun is capable of knocking Superman out, though not seriously wounding him.  The villain attempts to use a mind-control device on Superman, but it fails.

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The Ultra-Humanite really seems to be dead at the end of this story.  Is he?

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Pep Morgan, back in the US, heads home to Ardale in this story by Fred Guardineer.  But nothing seems to go smoothly for Pep anymore.

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Escaping thieves hop the train he is taking, though Pep alerts the police, who are there and ready to capture them when the train pulls into town.

We briefly get to meet his parents, and another boy, who seems to be his younger brother.

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The gang the thieves belong to try to take vengeance on Pep, but he evades that, and the gang gets captured.

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Clip Carson heads to Kenya (spelled Kenye) in this Bob Kane story.  He gets hired to protect a shipment of ivory from a notorious raider, Wolf Lupo.

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Clip must be considered quite a threat, as Lupo’s men try to kill him the first night, putting a cobra in his tent.  Clip falls into the hands of some cannibals, but manages to win them over by playing a harmonica.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Bernard Baily also sends his hero to Africa, with Bob Daley and Gargantua T Potts tagging along.  There was just no space for Ali Baba.

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Tex is asked to help find a missing son, who left behind a note announcing that he has been attacked by zombies.  Now, zombies in the 1940s were not exactly the way we envision them now.  The whole brain eating thing was not a part of the concept.  Zombies were slaves, unable to act of their own volition.

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There is an appallingly awful sequence with Gargantua befriending a monkey, which I am not even going to show.

The story continues in the next issue.

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The Three Aces return.  They are flying in formation with their fellow reservists, when one dies mid-flight.  They discover his widow in the arms of one of their buddies, and fake them out into confessing murder.

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Although there is some aerial action at the start of the story, the rest of it reads like any other mystery.

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 17 – The Ultra-Humanite sinks a ship, Pep Morgan on a ranch, Marco Polo ends, the Gorrah returns, and Zatara in Ophir

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It’s hard to tell whether the soldiers are more amazed at Superman, or the really strange looking tank that he is lifting on the cover of Action 17 (Oct. 39).  He not only gets the cover image this month, the bullet with his picture sticks around as well.

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Siegel and Shuster once again save the Ultra-Humanite for the last few pages of this story.  It begins with a ship sinking, and Superman heading out to help.

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Reporting on the disaster as Clark Kent, he learns that sabotage was responsible.

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Skipping ahead to the pay-off, the Ultra-Humanite was behind it.  Superman suspected him when he overheard a phone call, which did not pass through the telephone lines, but was beamed directly to the phone.  Superman actually had to lift up a receiver to listen in, though.  No super-hearing yet.

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It’s questionable whether the Ultra-Humanite ever makes a physical appearance in this story.  The person that talks to Superman is simply a projected image of him.

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Mr. Smith is so pleased with Pep that he asks him to come to the ranch, with him and his daughter.  Is Mr. Smith trying to set them up?  I certainly think so, reading everything I can into these stories.  Arriving at the ranch, they see one of the hands, Pedro, abusing the horses and fire him.  He vows vengeance, which will comprise the rest of the tale.  No time for romance.

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Pep saves Mary from a rattlesnake, shooting it.  Although honestly, Guardineer’s art makes it look like bullet misses the snake.  Maybe it dies of fright.  The Pedro starts shooting at them.  Later, he sets the cabin on fire.  This is one seriously disgruntled ex-exployee.

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Pep finally tackles Pedro.  It’s a good story, marred by the rendering of Pedro’s accent.

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The Adventures of Marco Polo end in this issue, without ever making it to Kublai Khan.

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Marco fled his abusive slave owner in the previous issue, and got lost.  He is rescued in this one, and treated kindly by a powerful man, who turns Polo’s former owner over to him.  The man starts to run, and that’s where the story cuts off.

Now, since we know what happened to Marco Polo, I think he caught the man, extracted the locations of his father and uncle, and they got back together, and figured it was time to move on to China.  They were so humiliated about being sold into slavery that Marco chose to just leave all of this out when he told his story to Rusticello.

Marco Polo appears in a variety of DC comics over the years, but never again gets his own series.

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Tex Thomspon heads to Istanbul in this story by Bernard Baily. He has been called in by the president of Turkey to oversee the safety of the Dardanelles.  Quite an honour!

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With Bob’s help, Tex disguises himself as a Turk, and that actually looks pretty good.  Gargantua is only in the first couple of pages, and that helps the story as well.

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The story then jumps back to the apparent death of the Gorrah a year or so ago, and shows how he survived, vowed vengeance on Tex, and eventually tracked him to Istanbul.  It’s really no surprise that the Gorrah is back, as he is shown by the logo.

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Tex spots the Gorrah, as he walks openly through the streets of Istanbul.  But then, nobody else reacts to seeing the one-eyed creature, so I guess he feels at home.  Tex has found a new sidekick, Ali Baba, who accompanies him as he follows the Gorrah – and walks right into a trap.  Tex’s make-up was not as good as it seemed.

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Zatara comes to aid of a young woman in distress in this tale by Fred Guardineer.  They are all on a ship bound for Europe, where Zatara is going on vacation.  In the late summer of 1939.  Because Zatara either never reads the news, or finds battlefields peaceful.

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Doesn’t much matter, they don’t make it to Europe anyway.  They are taken away to the magical city of Ophir.

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Sepat, the Queen of Ophir, wants the young woman so that she can drain the youth from her and regain hers.

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Zatara is kept from being all-powerful simply by tossing a blinding liquid into his eyes.  He has no eye wash spell, and must wait for a combination of sweat and tears to clear his eyes.  By then, the transformation has already happened.

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Zatara calls upon the power of the flame of Atlantis to reverse Sepat’s aging, and the two women return to their proper ages.

Sepat both flirts with Zatara, and threatens him.  You know they will meet again (because the narration in the last panel says so.)

 

 

 

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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