Posts tagged ‘George Taylor’

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.

 

Action 32 – the Krypto-Ray Gun, Pep Morgan gets a friend, the Black Pirate vs Captain Treble, and the Three Aces find the Dalai Lama

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Boy, the cover of Action 32 (Jan. 41) really really looks like a scene from a story, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not.  Nor will any of the 1941 covers reflect the Superman story inside.  So I’m going to stop pointing that out.

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Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley tell a story in this issue that begins by resembling one of the early social commentary stories, before become just a gigantic ad.

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A gambler’s attempted suicide is prevented by Superman, and Clark takes his story to the Daily Planet.  George Taylor assigns him and Lois to get the goods on the Preston Gambling Club, but that is easier said than done.  The mayor is on the side of the club, and gives them advance warning before Clark arrives.  Lois manages to get in, but is discovered to be a reporter, and given a drink that removes her memory.

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The super-hypnotism that Superman uses to restore Lois’ mind will pop up occasionally over the years, often as a deus ex machina.  But more significant (for this story) is Clark’s creation, the Krypto-Ray Gun.

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It’s basically a camera than can reverse and also project pictures, and though it is used to show proof of the club’s crimes, it’s a pretty limited invention.

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But look, you can buy one yourself!

Lame.

The name of the device is also a bit of a problem.  At this point, Superman had no idea where he came from.  He would not learn about Krypton for another 8 years!  So his use of the word “krypto” in the name of the gun is meant to be a total coincidence.  Although if he had never heard of Krypton, one wonders why he would use part of its name in the first place.

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Pep Morgan’s college roommate, Slim, is introduced in this George Papp story, and will stick around for a while.  Slim is also an athlete, and comes from a very wealthy family.

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Slim invites Pep to join him at his uncle’s cabin in the country, where they can hunt down escaped convicts.  That’s not actually part of the invitation, it’s not a regular weekend hunt or anything.  Just what happens in the story.

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Sheldon Moldoff keeps the Black Pirate hopping in his adventures.  In a few pages, Jon Valor finds and defeats Captain Treble, frees his enslaved miners, and makes them his new crew.

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The first ship they attempt to takeover turns out to be run by a woman, who simply refers to herself as the Queen of the Seas.  The Black Pirate has too much chivalry to take her ship from her.  Besides, she looks like she could be (and will be) a more interesting recurring character.

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The Three Aces are in Tibet in this issue, preventing a kidnapping of the new Dalai Lama, in a story that must have been very timely.  The Dalai Lama had been “found” in 1937, not too much earlier.

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The art on the series definitely goes up a notch with this story.  One subtle note about this strip. Up to this point, the characters would refer to their days fighting in the Great War, but as the Second World War grows, those references get dropped.  Likely because it makes the characters seem too old.

Action 28 – Superman and the strongman, Black Pirate on the run, the Three Aces on Easter Island, and the Gorrah is the Eye

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There is little point in repeating my flying comment in relation to the cover of Action 28 (Sept. 40).  Just give in and admit Superman can fly.

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Jack Burnley does the art on this Jerry Siegel story, and would be one of the major Superman artists from this era.

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George Taylor is looking mighty old now, as the editor of the Daily Planet. He sends Lois Lane and Clark Kent out on a story about a number of thefts committed by a someone dressed as a circus strongman.

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They see a poster for a circus with a similarly dressed strongman, Herculo, and go to check it out.  Superman confronts Herculo in the ring, humiliating him.  Superman then does a page or two of circus tricks.  Just cause.

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And poor Herculo isn’t even the guilty party.  He has been set up by the clown.  Nothing spectacular, but at least the bad guy was not as obvious as he night have been.

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Jon Valor is being pursued in this Moldoff story, assumed to have stolen the jewels he purchased his ship with. And, you know, he did steal them.  Just from a pirate who had stolen them first.

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The Black Pirate eludes his pursuers, and sends a note to Jeanne explaining the situation, and telling her he will return.  But we never see Jeanne again.  Love’em and leave’em.

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The Three Aces stories have, up to now, been really kind of dull.  They completely ignore the war in Europe, which feels odd for a series about war pilots.  But this issue sparks up a bit, as they head to Easter Island.

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TI’m not sure the artist ever saw any pictures of what the stone heads actually look like, but the story doesn’t really feature them much anyway.   The Three Aces discover an ancient city under the island, and discover that the original islanders were giants who became fossilized after a comet passed close to the earth thousands of years ago, and the mysterious heads on the island are the actual heads of the giants who lived there.

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Tex Thompson and Bob Daley come to the aid of a blackmailed heiress in this Bernard Baily story.

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They track down the Dawson gang, who are working for a mysterious leader known as the Eye.  Unsurprisingly, this turns out to be the Gorrah.  This must be the most roundabout revenge scheme possible, as there was really no way for the Gorrah to know that Tex would even be called in on this case.

 

 

 

Action 26 – Superman and the Cobalt Clinic, Pep Morgan in Canada, the Black Pirate tells his story, Tex Thompson meets Miss X, Clip Carson in Canada, and Zatara in Alaska

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If Superman still can’t fly, then he has leaped higher than skyscrapers with the two thugs on the cover of Action 26 (July 1940).  No wonder they look so scared.

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The story is by Jerry Siegel, but the art is by Paul Cassidy and Paul Lauretta.  The story deals with a phony doctor and his Cobalt Clinic. promising a cure for infantile paralysis.

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Much of this story has Superman frantically going from place to place.  He has been captured as Clark Kent, and keeps heading back to maintain that fiction.  Between those times, he frees Lois Lane from Cobalt, takes down the quack and his men, get help for some of his patients, and keeps checking in with George Taylor at the Daily Planet.

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Superman also displays a new ability – speed reading, and memorization of what he reads.

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Fred Guardineer sends Pep Morgan into “the Saskatchewan district” of Canada for this story.  It’s all the same things one sees in Canada stories. Snow, trees, polar bears, guys named Pierre.  No Mounties though.

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Pep fights off a bear, and performs other heroic acts, but I have deep suspicions about this story.  I think it might just be another lie to explain his time in Florida.  Aside from the reference to the Saskatchewan district, which makes me think that he has not really been to Saskatchewan, the fact that the story just shakes out all the old expected stereotypes makes it sound even more like something Pep made up.

But there is a reference to a red flag on a cabin signalling a plague.  It’s not so much that that adds realism, as that it will pop up again, in this very issue!

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Moldoff gives a happy ending to the first adventure of the Black Pirate. The mystery ship is on Jon Valor’s side, and he returns to Savannah.

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Jon rides to a small inland town, and stops at an inn.  There he finds Jeanne, his love, and friend since childhood.  He regales her with his battle against Captain Ruff, and neither sees a cloaked figure enter the inn.

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As od this issue, Gargantua is gone.  We learn that he has enlisted with the French army as a cook, and that he is of Senegalese descent (meant to explain why he did such a thing).  While I was glad to see the last of him, this story was cover-dated July of 1940, meaning Gargantua joined the French army just in time for the Nazi invasion of France.

In this issue Bailey also introduces Special Prosecutor Maloney, who swears Tex and Bob in as agents reporting directly to him, needing their skills to help fight a crime wave.  Tex infiltrates the main gang, discovering that their leader is the supposedly honourable Vander Wallace.  Tex winds up shooting and killing Vander Wallace as he gives a public address, the audience completely unaware of Wallace’s criminal ties.  One would expect this to have some major repercussions, but Maloney is content to keep Tex and Bob as his staff.

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This story also introduces Miss X, a woman with knowledge of the mob, who sometimes seems to be working with them, but who also acts to protect or aid Tex.  Both Maloney and Miss X will return for the next few issues.

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Clip heads to New York City in this Moldoff story, and from there to Canada to help Miss Trent find her missing father.  The man had discovered a mine in “Hudson Bay country,” but been captured by evil Metis claim jumper Jacques Frontenac.

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Oh, look.  Snow, trees, french people and wild animals.  It must be Canada.  But “Hudson’s Bay country?”  In the same issue with “the Saskatchewan district,” nonetheless.  Do they actually have any real maps of Canada in the US?

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By the time one reaches the Zatara story by Gardner Fox and Fred Guardineer, one has to wonder if there was an attempt by the editor to create a theme issue.  Cause Zatara is surrounded by snow, trees, and french people.  There’s even a red plague flag on a cabin!  But a mention towards the end of the story of the city of Nome makes it clear this gold mine story takes place in Alaska.

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It stands above the other two, simply because Zatara turns his own airplane into a battling, flying robot to stop the claim jumpers.

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 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 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.

 

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