Posts tagged ‘Greg Sanders’

Action 198 – Lois Lane’s delusions of grandeur, Janu falls in love, and Vigilante ends

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Lois Lane gets the cover and the core of this story, by Woolfolk, Boring and Kaye.

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It opens as Superman flies out to help at a disaster, and discovers Lois Lane there, dressed as Florence Nightengale, and acting as a nurse.

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Superman figures out that Lois has gone insane after seeing him change from Clark into Superman, and is taking on the identities of the various women she recently wrote about in a special article on notable women for the Daily Planet.

He pulls a trick to make her think she saw both men at the same time, which restores her mind.  Sigh.  These kind of stories need to be really fun to work.  This isn’t.

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Congo Bill’s logo has changed in this story, for reasons I will mention a bit further down, but it’s worth noting that Janu the Jungle Boy now receives credit as well, although the creative team of Miller and Smalle do not.

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The story has Congo Bill become concerned when Janu starts paying a lot of attention to a young girl as they guide her father on a safari.  But the story also has a man trying to kill Bill, and the father is really an impostor.  It’s very complicated for the few pages it runs.  But Bill is relieved at the end when Janu tells him he was only concerned for the girl’s safety, and not in love with her.  I guess Congo Bill still holds his heart.

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Oh, remember my comment about the logo?  It has been changed to match that of Congo Bill’s new, short lived, book.  The ad is actually from issue 197.

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Vigilante has his final story, by Howard Sherman, in this issue.

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Greg Sanders is starring in a movie as a singing cowboy, but they are concerned that the stunts are too dangerous for him, and hire Vigilante to do them.  So Greg has to run around, pretending to be two people.  There is also a man trying to kill him, just to add to the drama.

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Stuff does not appear in this story, he made his final bow in the previous issue.

At some point after this story, the Vigilante teamed with the other Seven Soldiers of Victory against the Nebula Man, and Vigilante got sent back in time to the old west, where he remained until rescued by the Justice League and Justice Society, in the big Unknown Soldier of Victory storyline in the early 70s. But another Vigilante, Greg Saunders (instead of Sanders), had already appeared by then, also in the pages of Justice League of America.

Stuff would not return until the Vigilante series in World’s Finest, in the late 70s.

 

Action 134 – Super-Cowboy, cheap travel to Mars, and Vigilante vs the Four Horsemen of Villainy

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William Woolfolk scripts the Superman story in Action 134 (July 1949), with art by Boring and Kaye.

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In what very much feels like the opening to a late 50 or early 60s story, a man comes to the Daily Planet, asking for help running a crusading rural newspaper. Perry White thinks this is a great idea, and orders Lois and Clark to come with him.

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The story actually deals very little with the rebuilding of the newspaper, and dives instead into the western environment.  Superman may not ever put on a cowboy hat, but he does spend most of the story dealing with cowboy-type problems, like rescuing Lois from a stampeding herd.

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Binder, Swan and Fischetti deal with the economics of 1989 in this tale.  Mars needs workers, but the price of travel there is prohibitive.  A man is selling contained space suits, advertised as being able to make the entire voyage for a very low price, and gets many takers.

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The men get stranded partway there, as the suits are not even close to being able to do the trip.  Tommy, as colonel in the Planeteers, captains the ship that rescues them.  But the men accuse him of not caring about their situation, when he announces that he will return them to Earth.

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So Tommy finds a variety of reasons to keep moving his ship towards Mars, including fighting a space dragon.  The creatures ability to fly in a vacuum is ascribed to ether-currents.  Whatever they are.  The other Planeteers on the ship work to repair and upgrade the suits, and Tommy releases the men close enough to Mars that they can complete the journey.

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Vigilante has to face a team of murderous thieves in this story by Gardner Fox and Dan Barry.

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The Four Horsemen of Villainy wear identical black garb, and for a while, people think there is only one man, capable of astounding feats.  People are so frightened that Greg Sanders finds his show has been cancelled.  He is pretty mad about this, as he and Stuff travelled all the way out there, so he gets into his Vigilante costume and starts tracking the Horsemen.  He figures out that there have to be more than one man.

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The climax leaves Stuff to the side, as Vigilante fights and defeats all four of the horsemen.

Action 109 – The Prankster wipes out currency, Congo Bill protects elephants, and Billy Gunn returns

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John  Sikela does the art on the Prankster’s latest scheme, in Action 109 (June 1947).

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The Prankster releases a gas in the mint that wipes out all the printing on the money, leaving everyone with blank notes.  Chaos sweeps the US.

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The government turns to Superman, who finds some gold meteors, flings them to Earth, and melts them down, turning them into money.  I wonder if this story is meant to be some commentary on the gold standard?

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What makes the story fun is Superman’s scam on the Prankster.  The Prankster is buying all the blank currency for pennies, clearly because he intends to restore the printing on it.  Superman pretends to help, bringing him huge amounts of blank paper – but he keeps selling the Prankster the same paper over and over – and it isn’t even the real money, but fake stuff Superman had printed up.

Once the real money is restored, the story doe snot address what happens with the massive gold reserves Superman just created.  Are they spread around for the good of humanity? I doubt it.

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Congo Bill gets a really solid African adventure in this story by Samachson and Smalle, aiding a tribe that protects the elephants in their territory from poachers.

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The tribe gets forced by the poachers to build fake elephant skeletons, creating a phony elephants burial ground, but the more interesting thing is the backstory between Bill and the tribe, who made him a member after he saved their leader.

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Some really nice art on the elephants as well.

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Billy Gunn. not seen in this strip for years, returns in this story by Don Cameron and George Roussos.

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Still in Times Square, Billy meets two former Texas Rangers, and convinces them to get jobs with the police.

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Together the Rangers, Vigilante and Billy Gunn stop some thieves.  Stuff is nowhere to be seen in this story, but in a previous tale, he was given his own radio show spin-off from Greg’s show, so I assume this is the night he is recording.

Action 105 – Santa Claus gets fat, and the Vigilante heads west

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Siegel and Sikela send out another Superman Christmas story in Action 105 (Feb. 47).

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The art is top drawer as evil Jasper Rasper heads to the North Pole, in order to fulfill his dream destroying Christmas.

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He has developed a drug that causes huge weight gain, and gives it to Santa Claus and his reindeer.  Superman is close behind, and spends the rest of the story trying to help Santa lose weight.

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Yes, there are laughs aplenty as Superman flies Santa Claus in circles around a volcano, one of the most common methods of weight loss in the late 40s.

But it’s silly, and fun, and the art is excellent.

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This story sees the Vigilante in the west, as Greg Sanders travels on a radio tour.  It begins a trend of moving the urban cowboy into a more rural setting.  The western genre had a huge boom in these few years, and the Vigilante series made the most of it.

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The story itself is mostly set within a town, and deals with a corrupt sheriff, and a crusading newspaper.  So it has some western stereotypes, as well as a saguaro cactus.

Action 91 – Superman on the Great Lakes, and the Vigilante and Fiddler jam in a big band

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When I first saw the cover of Action 91 (Dec. 45), I thought it likely a re-drawn image, intended as a World War 2 cover.  Just change the men’s garb to uniforms, and that’s what it would be.  And though it may have started out that way, it actually turns out to be an image representing a scene in the Superman story!

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Shipping problems on the Great Lakes are at the core of this Ira Yarborough story.

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Lois and Clark read about ships sinking, and Clark suspects that they may not be accidental.  He flies out as Superman, and accompanies as ship as it passes through Lake Huron, and into Lake Michigan. Sadly, the other three lakes are not really a part of the story, and all of the locations mentioned or shown are on the US side.

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There is a mysterious “ghost gun,” which the villains use to give the sinking ships a supernatural air. This is the gun pictured on the cover.

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Superman raises all of the sunken ships, carrying them to the various cities they were intended for.

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Mort Meskin gives the Fiddler one final story, which sees him and Greg Sanders perform together in the same band.

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Big Band music was in its heyday, and the Fiddler, although contemptuous of the music itself, joins one of the bands.  He uses his outrageous musical antics onstage to communicate with his gang, finally hearkening back to his very first story.

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Vigilante and Stuff are on the Fiddler’s trail, but cannot figure out how he keeps vanishing after the crimes.  Ultimately, Greg winds up performing alongside the band the Fiddler is in.  He even shares the stage with him, and does not recognize the man until thinking back on it later.  This is also sort of unforgivable on the Fiddler’s side.  After all the times he captured Vigilante, are we supposed to believe he never pulled that handkerchief down and looked at his face.  Or better yet, the handkerchief slipping on it’s own in the heat of battle?  These two men really ought to have seen each other.  I guess they were both too carried away with the music.

Anyway, after the performance, Vigilante figures it out, and the Fiddler is captured.  This is, I believe, his final appearance, and the prominence given to the Flash villain of the same name has pretty much ensured he will never return.

 

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 71 – Valentine’s Day for Superman, Vigilante and Rainbow Man are polite, and Congo Bill in the desert

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Don Cameron and Ira Yarborough give Jimmy Olsen his first major role in this book in Action 71 (April 1944), in a story that works its way into all-out farce.

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Jimmy wants to impress Betty Roxmore, and buys what is, for him, an expensive present.  Superman decides to give Lois Lane an insulting present, and then something nice as Clark, to move her affections towards the identity he wants her to respond to.  But there is also a phony count, and a diamond necklace.  And then ALL the gifts get mixed up.

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Mix-ups and romantic misunderstandings galore in this silly but enjoyable story.  Jimmy does wind up impressing Betty, with Superman’s help.  But being the hero does not work as well for Clark, as Lois winds up thinking he was the one behind the insulting present, not Superman.

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The Rainbow Man escapes from prison to pester the Vigilante once again, in this story by Samachson and Meskin.  Rainbow Man no longer wears his colourful shirt, but his colour-themed crimes do persist.

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Greg Sanders is performing at a society function, and spots the Rainbow Man from the stage. But he does nothing, simply finishes his set, before leaving and changing to Vigilante.  Rainbow Man spots the hero, but rather than fleeing, gets a group of fans to start talking to him.  Vigilante stops his pursuit of Rainbow Man to chat with his fans.

This is so low-key it’s almost laughable.

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Eventually things do get hopping, as Vigilante figures out Rainbow Man’s art thefts, replacing them with forgeries which he sells as originals.

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Congo Bill is back in the desert in this story, illustrated by Smalle.  A cheetah (which doesn’t look very much like a cheetah) winds up becoming his ally and saviour in this tale.

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But I didn’t include this story because of the cheetah.  Rather, this is the first Congo Bill story in a very long time that is neither a World War 2 adventure, nor a globe-trotting excursion.  Bill is back in Africa, fighting with and against the native tribes.

Action 67 – Superman plays matchmaker, and the Fiddler teaches his craft

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A oddly specific image, considering that it does not in any way reflect the Superman story in Action 67 (Dec. 43).

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Don Cameron, Sam Citron and George Roussos put Superman into the middle of a thirty year romantic quarrel in this story.  The military intend to build a base in Metropolis, but three people refuse to sell their houses.

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Two of the houses are occupied by a couple who had a silly fight when they were young, and have spends decades living two houses away from each other, but both refusing to apologize and patch things up. The other house is owned by hoods, so Superman gets the requisite crime and action in the story.

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But the lovers plotline even steals the show power-wise, as Superman spends a busy night moving and reconstructing the couple’s homes as they sleep.

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They wake to a merged mansion on the outskirts of the city, and finally end their fight, living happily for however many years they have left.

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The Fiddler returns in this Vigilante story by Joe Samachson and Mort Meskin, with inks by Joe Kubert.

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It’s one of the Fiddler’s better schemes, as he impersonates a music teacher, after arranging for him to go out of town.

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He cases the houses of the wealthy people he instructs, and then returns with his gang in the evenings to rob them.  Greg Sanders is asked to perform at one of these houses, and he and Stuff wind up on the scene, taking the Fiddler down.

 

 

 

Action 59 – Superman meets Susie, and the Vigilante meets the Fiddler

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Superman meets Lois’ niece Susie in this issue, but not inside a Nazi tank, despite the cover for Action 59 (April 1943).

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The story itself, by Siegel, Sikela and Dobrotka, bears no resemblance to the style of Susie’s later stories.  Susie would come to be known as a “teller of tall tales,” to be polite.

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In this story, Lois enlists Clark as an emergency babysitter.  We learn that Susie is the daughter of Lois’ sister, although that woman is not named.  As Susie’s last name is Tompkins, that at least gives us the father’s name.

Clark starts reading Susie the story of Cinderella, but falls asleep while doing so.

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The rest of the story relates the Cinderella story, with Susie aged into the lead role, and Superman standing in for the fairy godmother.

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There are some men trying to kill the prince, which gives Superman an opportunity for some action.  At the end, Clark wakes, and Susie and Lois are both amused that Clark would dream that he is Superman.

Susie returns next year in this book.

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Mort Meskin and Charles Paris introduce a new foe for the Vigilante in this issue, the Fiddler.  Although superficially similar, this is quite a different character from the better known one, the Flash villain introduced a few years down the road.

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This Fiddler passes himself off as a harmless old street musician, while secretly communicating with his criminal gang through his music.

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Even after his gang winds up in a fight with Vigilante and Stuff, they have no idea that the “witness” they question is really the leader of the gang.

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Later, as Vigilante and Stuff stop a shipboard robbery, Greg hears the same music, and recognizes the man’s voice.  Stuff appears to get shot, but misses the bullet by falling overboard, and swims back in time to save Vigilante.

The Fiddler is captured and sent to prison, but returns in a couple of months anyway.

 

Action 56 – Superman protects monuments, Vigilante fights for ownership, and Americommando is wanted by Hitler

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The cover of Action 56 (Jan. 43) loosely ties in to the story, although I have a suspicion that the cover was meant to be a World War 2 one, and only linked to the story afterwards.  The Sphinx and Great Pyramid appear on the splash page, but not in the story itself.

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Siegel, Sikela and Roussos begin this piece with Lois and Clark on a trip to Washington, DC.  A storm of lightning and massive hail threatens to destroy Washington Monument, and Superman springs into action to save it.

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Other notable structures in the US are also imperiled, but none outside of the US are shown.  Superman spends a lot of time doing damage control, literally, before he can get around to finding the bad guy.  There is also a plot line about people going missing.  Lois gets onto that story, which allows her to be captured and meet the villain.

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Emil Loring has been building a modern Tower of Babel, using the kidnapped people as slave labour.  He has also been causing the destructive storms, determined to wipe out anything that might challenge the greatness of his edifice.

I think Emil has a severe case of small dick-itis.

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Meskin and Roussos touch on the exploitation of song writers in this Vigilante story.

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It features a character almost identical to Billy Gunn.  A singer and wanna-be cowboy, the grizzled old man looks very much like Gunn, and even has similar dialogue when he explains that he has never been to the west.  Greg Sanders plans to hire him to write songs for him, but some sharks get the man to sign a contract for far less money.

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Vigilante gets into the action, scaring and threatening the men who signed up his writer.  It’s a little bit shady, as Vigilante is doing this simply to ensure that the man will write his songs for Greg, so he is directly profiting from this.  But it’s clear the old man is being used by the other men.

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Greene and Baily continue with the Americommando’s undercover mission in this story.

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Now that Americommando has revealed his presence in Germany, Hitler calls in Dr. Ito from Japan.  Also called the Little One, due to his height, he is given very high status to pursue the Americommando.

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And Hitler probably made a wise decision, as Dr. Ito takes only a couple of pages to determine that Otto Riker is a fake.  With his cover blown, Tex gets into Americommando garb and fights his way free.  He remains in Germany, and Dr. Ito remains his chief enemy.  But all the effort that was put in for his big impersonation of Otto Riker proved to be a waste of time.

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