Posts tagged ‘Gorrah’

Action 38 – Superman gets arrested, Pep Morgan hunts down kidnappers, the Black Pirate runs into an old friend, the Three Aces loot Atlantis, and Mr America vs the Gorrah


Lots of stories to talk about in Action 38 (July 1941), so I’m not even going to banter about the cover.


Jerry Siegel, Leo Nowak and Ed Dobrotka dish out a Superman story that gives Sergeant Casey a run for his money.


People are committing crimes with no memory of having done so.  The police are run ragged, and have no idea what is behind the rash of thefts.  Sergeant Casey and Lois Lane get locked in a bank vault, and though Superman rescues them, his presence at so many crimes scenes prompts Casey to arrest him – or at least try to.


Superman gets away, but then Casey decides that Clark Kent must be behind it, following similar reasoning.  Although not named, Jimmy Olsen cameos in one panel, looking more like himself.

Both as Clark and Superman, our hero must evade the police, until he figures out that the man behind it all is using radio waves to take over people’s minds.


George Papp puts Pep Morgan through the ringer in this story, when Slim gets kidnapped. His wealthy uncle whines about not having the cash on hand to pay the ransom, so Pep decides to fake out the kidnappers and rescue his friend himself.


Pep succeeds, and is reunited with Slim. The final panel shows them back in their college dorm, happily bantering.  Aww.


After skipping last issue (because of a boring Atlantic crossing), Jon Valor lands to rest and restock before continuing on to Barcelona.  Docked alongside him is the ship of Don De Avila, an old friend of the Black Pirate, who has fallen out of favour with the crown.


Don and Jon are happy to run into each other, and De Avila invites his friend to a banquet that night. Bonnie has misgivings, fearing that De Avila intends to imprison the Black Pirate, and turn him over for the reward, but Jon trusts in his friend.

He shouldn’t.

Nicely ominous ending, the walls of the castle.  The story continues in the next issue.


The Three Aces continue their trip into Atlantis in this story.


It reminds me a bit of Jack and the Beanstalk. Our heroes steal radium from the underground city, attack its leaders and leave the palace in ruins.  Hurrah!  Some triumph.


Although the Mr America series pits Tex largely against spies and saboteurs right now, the Gorrah makes his final appearance in this issue, working with Nazi agents, in this story by Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily. The Gorrah betrays them in the end, preferring to pursue his goal of vengeance over their plot against the army.


At first Gorrah believes Tex to have died, and is out to kill Bob, but he learns the truth, and the identity of Mr. America, just before perishing in the explosion intended for a educator’s convention.  It’s really odd to see the one-eyed character dressed in an ordinary suit.

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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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 27 – Superman and the orphanage, Pep Morgan goes back to school, the Black Pirate buys a ship, more Gorrah, and Clip Carson goes Hollywood


A really good rendering of the 1940s version of the Superman chest emblem on the cover for Action 27 (Aug. 40), but you gotta feel sorry for the lion.


Although this story starts out with Lois accepting a date with Clark Kent, any hint of romance is quickly jettisoned as Siegel, Cassidy and Dennis Neville recount the horrors of an orphanage.  There had already been an orphanage story in the pages of Superman, but this seemed a frequent subject in the era.


After talking to a boy who escaped, Clark insists they contact the police, and leaves to do so, although of course he really just changes to Superman.  Lois accompanies the boy back into the home, where she runs afoul of the corrupt owners, and their nasty dog Black Satan.


Lois Lane’s soul searching while held captive is a bit difficult to judge. It seems wrong for her to think her “barging into” things is bad, as it is what gets her most of her stories.  On the other hand, contacting the police definitely would have been the wise move.


Once the action gets going, the story seems to really want to show off Superman’s invulnerability, as object after object shatters against him.


Pep Morgan is back in university in Ardale in this story by Fred Guardineer.  His pro career having gone nowhere, Pep seems to want more out of life than just being a hired goon, and so has returned to complete his education.


Perhaps he should have left the sports alone, as once again he gets all tangled up with gamblers trying to fix a track meet.


A great pose by the Black Pirate to open this chapter, by Sheldon Moldoff.  Captain Ruff’s brother was the mysterious man who entered the inn at the end of the previous issue, and he and Jon Valor fight.  Valor wins, of course.


The Black Pirate then sails back to Bristol, where he uses some of the treasure to buy himself a ship.  But the jewels he used for the purchase are recognized as belonging to a collection stolen from a queen.  Oh, oh!


The Gorrah returns, once again seeking vengeance on Tex Thompson in this Baily tale.  Maloney makes a brief appearance, and introduces his daughter, Janice.  This is almost certainly the same woman who returns as his daughter, Peggy.


The Gorrah manages to capture Tex, and get him under his spell.  Miss X shoots Tex to prevent him from becoming a murderer, and though it’s just a glancing wound, the shock breaks Tex out of the spell.


Clip Carson heads to Hollywood for four issues, in this Moldoff story, and begins work as a consultant on a movie called “Adventure Pictures,” which really sounds like a lame title for a movie.  Nonetheless, everyone seems to think it will be a massive success.


There is a rival film crew that sets up in hidden locales to film the same action, hoping to release their version first, and a foreign film company trying to delay the shooting so they can release theirs first.  Amidst this, actors keep getting murdered on set.

Action 18 – X-ray vision!, Pep uses his throwing arm, the Gorrah controls Tex Thompson, Three Aces debuts, and Zatara visits Atlantis


An unusual air battle on the cover of Action 18 (Nov. 39), with Superman firmly ensconced in the corner of the page.

A rival newspaper, the Morning Herald, is introduced in this Siegel and Shuster story.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Tex Thompson remains a prisoner of the Gorrah, as Baily continues this storyline.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Zatara has barely left Ophir when Sepat materializes on his ship in this Guardineer story.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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 4 – Superman plays football, Tex Thompson and the Gorrah spirits, and Inspector Donald and Bobby ends

There’s a Mountie on the cover of Action 4 (Sept.38), so that must mean all the stories inside take place in Canada.  Or at least one takes place in Canada.  Or a Mountie is on vacation in the US?  Nope.  Just a Mountie on the cover.


Once again, Superman is not in his costume for the bulk of the story, by Siegel and Shuster.  He is at the beginning, as he prevents a train crash.


Superman overhears a football coach hire professional thugs as ringers for a big game.  But he does not use his super-hearing for this.  That is still in the future.  Superman ducks down behind a couch to listen in.  He decides the best course of action is to take the place of one of the players on the opposing team, and take down the thugs during the game itself.  Instead of just standing up and stopping them immediately after hearing their plan.


So Superman disguises himself as one of the players, drugging him and keeping him sedated in his room for “a few days.”  Wow.


He plays exceptionally well, better than the person he is pretending to be, and his actions win the love of a girl the player liked.  Superman takes down the thugs, and exposes the coach, but not as himself.


At the last minute, he switches places with the real player, who fumbles and gets mercilessly tackled.  But his new girlfriend demands he give up the game, and the fakery never gets known.

The embrace in the final panel is so very very similar to Bart and Sally’s embrace in the final panel in most of the first 24 installments of Spy.


Tex Thompson and Bob Daley finish their first story arc with the Gorrahs in this issue, by Bernard Bailey.


Although the fake Gorrah is supposedly dead, and the real Gorrah on the throne again, there are enough people confused about this that chaos is breaking out.  Tex basically wins by scaring the crap out of everyone, telling them to shut up and obey the guy on the throne.  He does this by pretending to be a Gorrah spirit, which not only looks nothing like either Gorrah, but just really goofy in and of itself.

Of all the Gorrahs in this storyline, only the fake, dead one would return repeatedly.  So who’s the real Gorrah, when it comes right down to it?


Inspector Donald and Bobby have their second and final outing in this issue.  A mob is running a protection scam, and the police apparently know nothing about this.  Bobby informs his father, after hearing about it from one of his friends.


Bobby thinks the shop owners should stand up for themselves.  Since they will not, he writes a letter, claiming to represent a union of the shop keepers.  This gets interpreted to mean one of the mob is out to take over from the big guy, and turns into a huge shoot out.  Inspector Donald shows up after most of the mob is dead, with his son in tow, and the boy winds up in the middle of a shoot out in the street.


The story ends with the father gently suggesting that Bobby should not have written the letter, but certain that everything will be fine.  Because the mob has no connections, and is not known to take any sort of reprisals after many of their members have been killed.

Inspector Donald and Bobby never appear again.  Their bodies remain undiscovered to this day.

Action 3 – Superman helps the miners, Scoop Scanlon checks out a dance hall, Pep Morgan burns rubber, Marco Polo in the desert, Tex Thompson vs the Gorrah, and Zatara visits an escort agency


It’s another generic image on the cover of Action 3 (Aug. 38), and a curious one at that.  I wonder what is upsetting the man so much?


Superman appears for only one panel in costume in this story, by Siegel and Shuster, part of the first page of the story.  Clark hears about a mine collapse, rushes there as Superman, but then disguises himself as a miner, and stays that way for the bulk of the story.


Unsafe working conditions are the basis of the tale, but once again, the social commentary is integral.  The mine owner spends his money on parties, instead of maintaining a safe workplace.  He and his friends get lured into moving their party down into the mine itself, and Superman causes a collapse.


The lack of safety features now imperil the owners life, and the wealthy dilettantes have to try to dig their way out. Once Superman hears the owner admit he ought to improve things, he digs a tunnel and frees them all.


Scoop Scanlon heads to check out a murder at a dance hall in this story.


It really doesn’t take much to understand that the dance hall is a prostitution ring, even though that is never stated, or shown explicitly.


The dance hall girl is part of the ring, not merely being used by them, as is common in stories of this kind.  She has no trouble pulling a gun on Scoop, but his photographer grabs her and saves the day.


Pep Morgan has more problems with professional gamblers in this issue, as he shows off his skills as a race car driver.


When he refuses to throw the race, the gamblers try to run him off the road.  Pep not only wins the race, but also causes the bad guys to crash their car.


Marco Polo’s tale is continuing to adhere to the book.  The art is not the greatest, though.  The black cat’s night attack is a bit of a waste.


What makes this installment worthy of inclusion is that it relates Polo and family getting trapped in a sandstorm in the desert.  This the Desert of Lop, and Neil Gaiman will also handle this episode in Polo’s life in the pages of Sandman.


Bernard Bailey continues his story of Tex and Bob’s encounter with the Gorrah.  You may notice that the series itself spells his name Thomson, while I am insistently using Thompson.  Later continuity would add the “p” to his surname, and I am simply using it throughout for clarity.


The Gorrah story is a bit confusing, with real and fake ones, and underground tribes.  But the Gorrah would be Tex’s main adversary throughout his run.


The Gorrah appears to die, but as I just mentioned his status as an archenemy, you know he will return.  Bailey’s art is shockingly poor in this one, compared to his later work.


Guardineer brings back the Tigress in Zatara’s adventure in this issue.


She has been romancing wealthy men, getting them to put her in the will, and then killing them.  Not even bothering with the classic black widow marriage step.


In a suggestive panel, Zatara heads to an escort service, and finds that the Tigress is employed by them.  They give him her location, probably figuring she could do two dates in one night.


Zatara uses a “hypnotic stare” a few times in this story.  He teleports a dance hall girl to her home in this scene, and uses it to make villains see things that are not there later on.  With powers like these, it can hardly be a surprise that the Tigress’ plot gets foiled.

Action 2 – Superman stops a war, Tex Thompson gets a friend, Inspector Donald and Bobby debuts, and Zatara grows a moustache


The degree to which DC was uncertain about Superman is reflected in the covers of this, and the next few issues of Action.  Despite appearing on the cover of the first issue, Superman was not featured, or mentioned on the cover of Action 2 (July 1938), which went for a generic image, not tied to any story.


Superman’s tale, by Siegel and Shuster, continues with Superman terrorizing the pro-war lobbyist.  His inability to fly is conveyed by his landing, which sends pavement flying in every direction.  There is no control to this landing at all.


Clark Kent and Lois Lane both sail to Europe to report on a war brewing between two (fictional) countries.  They arrive in San Mateo, after spies push Superman overboard, and he swims the rest of the way. Superman forces the man who had him tossed overboard to join the army, and then joins as well, to make sure he suffers through the life of a soldier in combat.


Clark sends his report back – but not to the Daily Star!  For this story only, Clark seems to be working for the Evening News, in Cleveland.


Lois Lane’s investigation of the munitions manufacturers promoting the war gets her arrested as a spy, and once again Superman swoops in to save her.


Tex Thompson returns, by Bernard Bailey, without his stetson, but with a new sidekick, Bob Daley.


They are hunting for the legendary “sealed city,”buried by a volcano, and manage to find it fairly quickly.  It is a ruled by the One-Eyed Gorrah, but there is also the “real”Gorrah, who he has overthrown.


Although Bob Daley is short, fat, bald and wears glasses, he is not overtly played for comic relief, as are many of the sidekicks in these days.

The story continues in the next issue.


Inspector Donald and Bobby begins in this issue.  This series would only appear in two, non-consecutive, issues of Action Comics.  Bobby is the son of Inspector Donald, who is in deep trouble with his superiors as the story begins, having been framed.


Bobby shows himself to be resourceful and fearless, helping his father fight the bad guys and clear his name.


Zatara gains a pencil moustache in his second outing, by Fred Guardineer.  This makes him all but identical in appearance to Mandrake.


Still, it’s a fun story, as hoods try to get a woman to sell her farm, making her think that it is haunted.  Zatara shows the men what real magic is, though it’s Tong, who disguises himself as a ghost, that really scares them away.

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