Posts tagged ‘J Wilbur Wolfingham’

Action 573 – J. Wilbur Wolfingham sells the Earth

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Con artist J. Wilbur Wolfingham makes his final appearance in Action 573 (Nov. 85), getting a send off from Boldman, Schaffenberger and Oskner.  Wolfingham very rarely appeared after the 40s, and was last in an issue of Superman in 1979.

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This one has Wolfingham, with a young nephew, explaining to Superman where all the people on Earth went.  Wolfingham met a friendly alien, and pulled one of his typical scams, selling the guy a deed to the Earth.  As it turned out, the alien had the needed powers to take possession.

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The alien tries to sell the property to other beings, but Superman keeps creating disasters, making it all look unlivable.  The alien finally sells the deed back to Wolfingham, and brings all the people back.

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A decent enough story for what it is.  Very like an original Wolfingham tale.

Action 116 – Wolfingham’s arctic paradise

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I really love this cover for Action 116 (Jan. 48), probably my favourite J Wilbur Wolfingham cover.

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The story itself, however, would not be among my favourites.  Wolfingham buys the deed to a worthless gold mine, located near a natural hot spring in the arctic.  He then enlists a real estate developer into setting up a housing project on the land, planning to just take the guys money and forget about it.

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The hot springs are nowehere near enough for the tropical paradise the man envisions, and Superman learns of Wolfingham’s scam, and flies north to help the man.  Superman wreaks environmental havoc, moving tropical plants into the arctic to try to make this paradise a reality.

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News of this allows Wolfingham, to start selling lots up there.  Lois Lane steps in, trying to prevent from fleecing unwitting buyers, as the land will revert to its arctic state.  Wolfingham keeps Lois quite by pulling a gun on her and threatening to shoot her.

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Superman winds up constructing permanent heat lighting, to keep this tropical arctic silliness going.  Towards the end of the story, Wolfingham insists he cannot be arrested, as he has not broken any laws.  Because pulling a gun on Lois and threatening her is apparently not illegal?

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It seems it isn’t.  Lois doesn’t even seem bothered by it, giving Wolfingham some spare change as the story ends.  I guess since having her life threatened is a regular occurrence, she has just gotten used to it.

Action 107 – J Wilbur Wolfingham in 1972

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Don Cameron and Ira Yarborough work on the Superman story in Action 107 (April 1947), which doesn’t really have anything to do with the cover.

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The story centres on con man J Wilbur Wolfingham, who opens the story by catching a cat.  For a con man, he is remarkably unaware of his surroundings, as he is being watched by Clark Kent, who turns into Superman to rescue him, and Wolfingham noticed nothing.

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Wolfingham is using the cat in a scam to put people into suspended animation, while their money accumulates over the years, so they will wake up rich.  His system is a fake, but Superman makes Wolfingham think it actually works, and pulls a huge con on him.

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With dozens of people helping him, Superman convinces Wolfingham that he has been awakened from suspended animation in 1972.  So many people did this, that no one kept working, nothing new was produced, and their vast riches are valueless.

Of course, once Superman’s con is revealed, there is no reason for Wolfingham to change his tactics, but he is apparently so traumatized by the experience that he does.

Action 104 – The Prankster’s Candy Town, and Congo Bill and the onion thefts

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Jerry Siegel and Ira Yarborough give the Prankster the cover of Action 104 (Jan. 47), for his latest tricky gambit.

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The Prankster convinces a confectioner to create an entire town built of candy, as a way of luring children and promoting their products.  It’s so devious, it must be legal.  Superman and Lois Lane are just chomping at the bit, trying to catch the Prankster at something.

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The Candy Town opens, but Superman immediately demolishes it.  The Prankster has a bus handy, and takes the patrons to his rival candy town, which he has just opened.  The Prankster had “spiked” the candy of the real town, making it taste awful.  Superman rebuilds the town, without the awful flavours.

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In a really nice touch, the Prankster discovers that he does not actually own the rival town, the confectioner does.  The Prankster refers to buying the company from a man named Wolfingham, obviously a reference to J. Wilbur Wolfingham.

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Samachson and Smalle return Congo Bill to Africa, in a curious tale that sees men attack someone in order to steal what appear to be onions.

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Bill follows their trail, and winds up in a lush jungle of rare and exotic plants, and realizes that the “onions” were actually bulbs of these expensive flora.  The art really makes the most of the jungle setting.

Action 79 – Superman vs J Wilbur Wolfingham, the Fiddler teaches birds to sing, and a charm against Zatara?

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J Wilbur Wolfingham, a frequent adversary in the pages of Superman, makes the cover of Action 79 (Dec. 44), the first time he appears in this book.

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Sadly, it’s really not one of his better stories.  Don Cameron and Ira Yarborough seem to be going through the paces on this one.  Wolfingham buys up a lot of land, then convinces the seller that there is gold on the property, so they will buy it back at higher prices.

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Superman outwits Wolfingham, and the land owners learn that there is silver, not gold, under their land.  And Wolfingham winds up broke, if not in prison.

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Wolfingham is always a con artist, but usually a better one.  The look of his character is based on W.C. Fields.

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Joe Samachson and Mort Meskin also seem a little tired in the Vigilante story.  The splash page is great, and the story idea itself is pretty good.

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The Fiddler has figured out how to teach birds to sing like humans, and puts his teaching skills on the market.  He cases the homes of those who hire him – essentially the same set-up as when he impersonated the music teacher.

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From there on, the story is all the usual formula.  Vigilante and Stuff fall into his hands.  Fiddler puts them in a deathtrap, from which they escape.  They defeat him and send him back to prison.

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And finally, in this issue I find somewhat disappointing, comes a Zatara story by Fox and White that almost makes me angry.

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A man claims to have figured out how to neutralize Zatara’s magic, and sells hoodlums a special box, containing the secret.  More amazingly, this winds up working, and the bad guys are indeed immune to Zatara’s spells.

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Zatarais mystified, but shows off some other abilities, which he uses to make some deadly dogs turn into friendly and helpful allies.

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Where this story gets me is the explanation.  The “secret” turns out to be ear plugs – and the idea behind this that if one cannot hear Zatara’s spells, they will have no effect. This makes absolutely no sense.  Often his spells are cast an inanimate objects, or on people at a distance, who could not possibly hear him.

Thankfully, this does not become Zatara’s “weakness.”

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