Posts tagged ‘Jack Burnley’

Action 34 – Superman and the coal mine heiress, and Black Pirate to the rescue

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Superman comes to the rescue of some incredibly stupid villains on the cover of Action 34 (March 1941).  Had their plan to blow up the dam succeeded, they would have died almost immediately.

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Siegel and Burnley provide a villain with a bot more intelligence in the story inside.  Perry White sends Lois and Clark out to get a story about a woman who inherited a coal mine. Lois doesn’t think it much of a story, and when they are rebuffed at the gate, she chooses to sit this one out.

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Clark is far more determined, and a good thing, too. The woman’s shady lawyer tries to arrange her death, after failing to persuade her to sell the mine.

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Burnley’s art is excellent.  And while the story is not bad, it’s also not much of a challenge for our hero.

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The only other story in this issue I find notable is Moldoff’s Black Pirate, but I’m such a sucker for this series.  I love Moldoff’s art on it.

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With virtually nothing to guide him, Jon Valor tracks down the junk, on which the Queen of the Seas is being held.  He rescues her, although the ship gets set on fire while he is doing this.

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Action 33 – Clark Kent becomes a lumberjack, Black Pirate has a drink, and Tex Thompson becomes Mr. America

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The growing boom of super-heroes hits Action Comics with issue 33 (Feb. 41), as Superman is no longer the only masked hero in the book.

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Siegel and Burnley open the issue with a story about a lumber millionaire, who intends to leave his fortune to fund a home for underprivileged youth.  He gets murdered, and though it is fairly simple to figure out that his assistant is behind it, the story carries itself along well.

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Perry White makes his first appearance, although one might note that he looks very much like George Taylor has come to look.  And though both Taylor and the Daily Star had ceased to appear by the end of 1941, they would retroactively become defining features of the Earth-2 Superman, and return decades down the road.

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Lois and Clark head out to the lumber camp to investigate the murder.  Clark takes on a job as a lumberjack, while Lois becomes a camp cook.  The camp is plagued by “accidents,” and while Clark easily survives these, Lois winds up once again in deadly danger, and must be rescued.

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The Black Pirate gets a bit of a rest in this Moldoff story.  The Queen of the Seas stays in his mind, and he hopes to encounter her again.

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He doesn’t put much effort into it, though, preferring to hang out at an inn with his men and drink.  Meanwhile, the Queen of the Seas takes on an Asian junk, and loses.  She gets captured.  And though Jon Valor cannot possibly know this, he sets out in search of her anyway as the story ends.

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Tex Thomspn resigns from Maloney’s staff when he is given a special assignment by the war relief commission, to accompany a ship across the Atlantic, and prevent a plot to blow it up.  He fails at that, the ship gets sunk and Tex is believed dead.  Later, a black haired man wearing a red cape, white shirt and blue trousers, a domino mask and carrying a whip tracks down those behind the explosion and brings them to justice.  He calls himself Mr. America, but Bob almost immediately recognizes him as Tex.

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Tex decides to maintain the Mr. America identity, for some reason feeling that it’s important that the world believe Tex Thomson to have died when the ship sunk.  In reality, of course, this simply reflects the growing popularity of costumed heroes.  And the change in Bernard Baily’s series is really just on the surface.  With no powers, there is little that makes a Mr. America story different than a Tex Thompson one.

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 31 – Superman puts Lois to sleep, the Black Pirate swims out, and Clip Carson heads to Mexico

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Wow, that’s sure a dramatic scene on the cover of Action 31 (Dec. 40).  Would have been nice if they shared that story with us.

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Instead, Siegel and Burnley provide a story in which people fall asleep.  Joking aside, it’s a decent tale.  But Lois really gets the short end of the stick in this one.

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The people in a small town are all put to sleep, so that the town can be robbed.  Lois and Clark happen to be passing through.  Clark retrieves some gas masks, but with Lois around, it’s difficult to turn into Superman.  So what does he do?  Put her to sleep.

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He does this not once, but twice during the course of the story, moving her somnolent body around as he switches from Clark to Superman and back again.  The gas masks they have make the police think they are part of the gang, adding to the problems.

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Towards the climax of the tale, one of the villains fires an atomic gun at Superman.  The panel of his upper body, with the crackling energy around him, is absolutely one of the finest panels of Superman from the Golden Age, in my eyes.

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The Black Pirate takes some big risks in this Moldoff tale.  Determined to not be a slave in the underwater phosphate mine, Jon Valor digs a hole right through the side, allowing the water to enter.

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He has what must be almost super-human strength, as he swims against the in-rushing water, making it into the open sea.  Captain Treble seals the exit to the mine, as the waters rise and imperil the rest of the captives.

The story continues next issue.

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George Papp has also taken the reins on the Clip Carson series. Clip has remained in Hollywood for the past few months, solving a variety of murders.  An old friend shows up, and Clip heads down Mexico way to help him out.

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Clip’s friend, Professor Quint disappeared after finding an Incan temple.  This really would be quite a remarkable find in Mexico.  After this, Clip heads down to Colombia for a three-part story that is among the weakest of his run.

Action 30 – Superman vs Zolar, Pep Morgan changes schools, the Black Pirate enslaved, Miss X dumps Tex Thompson, and Zatara hunts for a killer

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Is he flying?  Sure looks like he’s flying on the cover of Action 30 (Nov. 40).

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Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley pits Superman against an evil genius, Zolar,  in this story.  Despite it being summer, Metropolis is stuck in a winter blizzard.

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There are little floating balls of glowing heat – but those are more likely to incinerate you than warm you.

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Some Arabs appear to be behind the weather madness, and Superman follows them.  He falls victim to the glowing balls, although they do not destroy him , simply render Superman unconscious.  I actually have my doubts that they even do that.  I suspect Superman is feigning, so that the bad guys will take him to their leader – which is exactly what happens.

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Zolar looks an awful lot like the Ultra-Humanite – and of course, what Luthor would come to look like as well.  Bald geniuses seem to be the biggest threat to Superman.  He defeats Zolar, as well as his female accomplice, pretending to be one of his victims.  Zolar dies at the end of the story, but with Luthor around, he really was no loss.

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There isn’t much to the Pep Morgan story in this issue, by George Papp, aside from the fact that he is now attending Midtown College, instead of Ardale.  The story itself deals with the fact that Pep always loses races to one guy, although he overcomes this “jinx” and wins by the end.

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The fact that this story makes it clear that Pep has lost many races, in contradiction to what we have seen in his strip so far – backs up my contention that some of Pep’s stories are lies that he tells. I suspect that Pep’s battle with the Cambodian dinosaur last issue was a story he told upon enrolling at Midtown, trying to make himself look special.

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Jon Valor is having a really rough time of it in Moldoff’s story this month.  The Black Pirate does manage to defeat the raiders who stole his ship last issue, but no longer has a crew to man it.

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Jon winds up getting captured by Captain Treble, who makes the Pirate one of his slaves, sending him to work in a phosphate mine.

The story continues next issue.

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Miss X makes her final appearance in the Tex Thompson series in this story by Bernard Baily.  The villain is a gangster named Dr. Mixxo, who is out to steal a fur shipment.

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Tex winds up getting captured by Mixxo, and Bob Daley once again shows himself to be completely useless.  It’s Miss X who saves Tex, though she remains stand-offish towards him.  She never returns, and neither does Janice/Peggy Maloney.  Despite Tex’s comment last issue that he knows who Miss X is, there is never any reveal of her identity.  A poorly dropped plot thread.

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The Tigress returns, working with another magician to commit a series of murders using a poisonous insect in this story, by Gardner Fox, with art by Joseph Sulman.

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The Tigress’ new magician is never named.  He is clearly just some dupe she picked up along the way, probably hoping he would serve as a defense against Zatara.  There seems little of the comraderie that used to exist between Zatara and the Tigress in this issue.  Indeed, Zatara insists she be sent to prison at the end of the story, instead of letting her go, as he often did in the past.  Zatara claims that her crime of murder demands punishment, but he let her go once before after she was part of a murder scheme.  Nope,this is jealousy on Zatara’s part.  How dare the Tigress work with a rival magician?

 

Action 29 – Superman and the life insurance scam, Pep Morgan fights a dinosaur, the Black Pirate gets raided, and Tex Thompson takes the train

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Another all-purpose Superman image on the cover of Action 29 (Oct. 40), but it is the first cover of this book to show Lois Lane.

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Jerry Siegel scripts this tale, and Jack Burnley is on the art.  While in the last issue, Burnley seemed to be trying to make his work look as much like Shuster’s as he could, in this one he shows more of his own style.

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The story deals with a life insurance “club,” whose members keep dying in accidents.  Lois and Clark and investigating this for the paper.

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Sergeant Casey, a recurring friendly police officer from the pages of Superman, makes his first appearance in this book.  The scam is not really subtle enough to be effective. Not only do the ones behind it run down their clients, they even poison them!  Superman has little trouble with this case.

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George Papp takes the reins of the Pep Morgan series with this issue.  The story has Pep heading to Cambodia on summer vacation from university.  Seems a little odd, considering that he just started up again at school.

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But the story gets even weirder, as Pep finds and fights a dinosaur.  And after the earlier tales, which aroused my suspicions, I have a feeling that this is yet another of Pep’s tall tales.

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Jon Valor is on the run in this issue, wanted for stealing the jewels that he used to purchase his ship.  He doesn’t even try to explain or defend himself, but I guess if one is nicknamed the Black Pirate, one is not likely to be believed.

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He falls prey to the Red Raiders in this story, who take his ship and toss him into the sea.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Tex Thompson and Bob Daley are taking the train back east as this Bernard Baily story begins.  On board, they run into Peggy Maloney, who I believe is the same person as the Janice Maloney introduced a few issues earlier.

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The story is quite convoluted, with a bomb on the train, attempted murders, and a secret message transferred onto Bob’s skin by a sunlamp.  Miss X shows up once again to save Tex.  As the story ends, Tex announces that he suspects that he knows who Miss X really is.  And as there is only one recurring female in this series, even if her first name is given in a couple of different ways, it shouldn’t be hard for the reader to figure it out as well.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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