Posts tagged ‘Janu’

Action 261 – Superman gives tours of his Fortress, Congorilla ends, and Streaky the Super-Cat debuts


Great cover for Action 261 (Feb. 61). Sadly, the Superman story, by Siegel, Boring and Kaye, is not nearly as entertaining.


Superman starts giving guided tours of his Fortress of Solitude.  He inspects the guests for hidden weapons or devices, but misses a bomb hidden in a lead thermos.


Superman relates stories about his most dangerous foes – none of which are characters we have seen before or since.  Some Kandorians become aware of the bomb plot, but are unable to warn Superman because of a rainbow gem.  They do alert Superman in time, when the bombers cover the gem with the lead thermos lid.


Congo Bill’s long -running series reaches the end of its run in Action Comics with this story by Robert bernstein and Howard Sherman.


It’s not a great note to go out on.  Congo Bill accidentally rubs his ring while giving a performance, and the Golden Gorilla uses his body to run rampant.  Janu knows what is going on, and tries to calm the creature, but some hoods dressed as police take the boy down.


It’s a lot of chaos and confusion.  Some parts are fun, and it’s a change of pace, but the switch back at the end of the story is the result of a bullet grazing the ring, which really should not have any effect at all.

The Congorilla series is not done, it simply moves to the pages of Adventure Comics.  But those stories are not that great, and the series ends within the year.


Streaky, the Super-Cat gets introduced in this story by Siegel and Mooney.


Linda rescues a stray cat, and names him Streaky, due to his markings.  Linda had also been experimenting with kryptonite, trying to find a cure. Streaky comes across some residue from her experiment, called x-kryptonite, which endows him with super-powers.


The first thing he does is take vengeance on the dog that had attacked him earlier.  Supergirl discovers Streaky, and they play together for a while.


Streaky’s powers vanish as quickly as they came.  Supergirl has no idea what caused them, and of course Streaky cannot explain.  The story leaves it open to the readers, as to whether Streaky’s powers will return.  And the readers clearly responded positively, as the cat will come across more x-kryptonite in the future.

Action 256 – Superman sees the future, Janu becomes Congorilla, and Dick Wilson debuts


A true classic cover on Action 256 (Sept. 59), for the Superman story by Binder, Swan and Kaye.


Superman undergoes a scientific experiment that transforms him into a future man, the Ultra-Superman.  He can foresee the future, and even show his thoughts to others as images.  He announces four disasters that will strike, and tries to prevent them.


Three attempts end in failure, and Ultra-Superman loses faith in his ability to change what he has foreseen, the assassination of the US president, presumably Eisenhower, although he is not named.


But no, the whole thing was an elaborate hoax, designed to draw out the would-be assassins.  The Swan art makes this fun, and I love the cutaway on the egg-head, revealing the camera.


Janu makes his first appearance in a Congorilla story, although Howard Sherman presents the tale as if Janu is already familiar with the animal and situation.  Janu is working as a stunt double for an obnoxious child actor on a film set in the jungle.  Janu does things for the movie like swim next to crocodiles, and Congo Bill allows this.  For some reason.


Janu swipes Bill’s ring, and becomes Congorilla, using the ape to humiliate the actor.


Congo Bill knows what is going on, and has no trouble with it. The director finds the apes antics cinematic, and the child star gets replaced by Janu, while Bill takes the ape role as Congorilla.

So really, the story is about them taking over a production, and making themselves the stars.


Dick Wilson is introduced in this story by Binder and Mooney.  He sees Supergirl flying near the orphanage, and tries to figure out who she might be.


As Linda is not aware that Dick is onto her, her carelessness leads him to suspect her.  From then on, the story is a gender reversal of the Lois Lane or Lana Lang stories, as Linda has to prove that she is not Supergirl. The odd thing is that no one yet knows Supergirl even exists.

I do love the panel where Linda super-sorts the steel from the dumbbell up her nose.


Superman has created a Supergirl robot, and gives it to Linda as a gift, to help protect her identity.

Dick Wilson will return.  He eventually gets adopted, and his last name gets changed to Malverne.


Action 226 – Superman fights a glass thief, Janu joins Jungle Joe, and Space Billboards!


Another not-quite-but-sort-of Bizarro character is featured in Action 226 (March 1957), by Binder, Boring and Kaye.


A giant, white, monstrous alien is found buried in the Earth, and brought back to Metropolis to be displayed.


Luthor attempts to kill Superman, firing a synthetic kryptonite bullet. It misses the hero, but hits the monster, and the radioactivity brings the creature out of its dormant state.  It promptly goes on a rampage, but an unusual, collecting broken glass along the way.


The creature also displays powers that are similar to Superman, although sometimes backwards, like flame breath instead of cold breath.


In the end, it turns out to be a perfectly rational alien, who had crashed on Earth, and was suffering greatly due to our climate.  Superman helps send him back to his ice world.

Luthor’s appearance in the story is so minor, but is one of the things that does make this reminiscent of Bizarro.


Congo Boy and Janu meet Jungle Joe, a Tarzan-like character, in this Howard Sherman story.


When Congo Bill falls ill, Janu starts to hang out with Jungle Joe instead.  As Bill recuperates, he becomes openly jealous, and wants to prove to the boy that he is just as good as Joe.


Jungle Joe turns out to be one of the raiders who had been causing them problems, and he had no interest in Janu, aside from taking him away from Bill to make the man miserable. He almost kills Janu, but Congo Bill intervenes and saves the boy.


Binder and Mooney created this Tommy Tomorrow story, about billboards in outer space, that makes me laugh so much.  It’s not played for comedy, I just find the space billboards idea hilarious.


Defacing planets is all in a days work for these guys – although Tommy has to step in to help, after the billboard creator is wounded by thieves.


Eventually Tommy picks upon the colourful clue the artist left on his last work, and captures the attacker.


Action 224 – Superman Island, and Congo Bill meets the Golden Gorilla


Superman Island, the cover story for Action 224 (Jan. 57), by Boring and Kaye, is one of those stories that just leaving you shaking your head in puzzlement.


Superman builds a giant island in the shape of himself, even colouring it appropriately, and then demands that no one set foot on it.  Of course, this is more than Lois Lane could possibly handle, and she sets out to get onto the island.


Some thieves, who figure Superman must be hiding something of value, have also found their way onto the island.  They capture Lois when they run across her, because everyone captures Lois.  They do find a hidden secret, which Lois has already figured out.


Superman has been gathering up all the kryptonite he could find.  It was intended to be used as a power source, but the experiment to convert it failed.  Superman tosses the island and all its kryptonite into space.  BUT  If you want to hide all the kryptonite and use it in an experiment, why build something that will attract so much attention?  Why not just put up a big sign saying SECRET STUFF HERE!

Aside from that annoying element, the important thing in this story is the amount of kryptonite shown to be on Earth. Up to now, it has been synthetic kryptonite, created by Luthor, that has been used in stories.  This tale makes it clear that there is more than enough lying around for anyone to use.


Congo Bill and Janu meet the Golden Gorilla in this Howard Sherman story. It bears a passing resemblance to the Congorilla story a while back, as the intelligent gorilla saves Congo Bill’s life twice.


The gorilla then embarks on a crime spree, but Bill continues to protect it.


It turns out there are two Golden Gorillas.  The real one, and a painted fake, trained to steal by thieves.  They figured they would play on Bill’s devotion to the animal that saved his life. In fact, the Golden Gorilla winds up saving Bill and Janu at the end of the story as well, taking down the criminals.


Action 215 – the Superman of 2056, and Congo Bill and the butterfly collector


Boring and Kaye take the art on Action 215 (April 1956), as Superman flies into the future to meet his successor.


Superman answers a cross-time distress call, and meets the Superman of 2056.  This man is from Earth, with no actual powers, but with a suit that gives him identical abilities.


As would be the rule for so many future variations of Superman, his alternate identity also matches that of Clark Kent, as Craig King is a reporter for the Daily Planet, working under an editor who looks just like Perry White.  There is a woman at the paper who thinks King is really Superman, and an evil genius with an alliterative name.


Still, it’s a fun story, if not a mind-blowing one.  And though this future Superman would never return, there would be many more to come.


Miller and Smalle share a very entertaining Congo Bill story in this issue, as he and Janu watch over a butterfly hunter.


The man is so intent on collecting the rare species he spots, that he seems completely oblivious to the wild animals that repeatedly threaten his life.  Bill is driven almost to exasperation by the man.


The butterfly collector turns out to be a bit more on the ball than Bill thought, and gets them out of trouble when they run into some angry natives.  But he still puts his butterflies above all else.

Action 203 – The International Daily Planet, and Congo Bill as gladiator


The Daily Planet goes world-wide in Action 203 (April 1955), by Boring and Kaye.


Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are each sent out to oversee the opening of new branches of the paper, in Bombay, Paris and London, respectively.  It’s a bit odd that Jimmy would be sent out, as he has little status within the organization.  Perhaps Perry White just wanted a break from him for a while.


Sadly, the story really does not make much use of its varied locales, getting mired in a smuggling plot.  But international editions and offices of Daily Planet would continue to pop up from time to time.


The mid-50s were the heyday of the gladiator movie, and Miller and Smalle manage to weave Congo Bill into the mold, and yet keep the story on a reasonable level.


While guiding an archaeological expedition, Congo Bill comes across the extensive remains of a Roman ampitheatre, as well as some abandoned gladitorial gear.  No sooner has he done this than a lion attacks, allowing for Bill to step right into the gladiator role.


Bill also bests a cape buffalo, toying with it as if it were a bullfight.  Janu only shows up at the very end of the story, and believes none of Bill’s gladitorial achievements.

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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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 194 – the return of Mala, Congo Bill brings Janu to Africa, and Tommy Tomorrow chases a ship


Mala and his two brothers, Kizo and U-Ban, make their second and final appearance in Action 194 (July 1954), in a story by Finger, Boring and Kaye.  These Kryptonian villains had been introduced a few years ago in the pages of Superman.  Found guilty of crimes on Krypton, they were put into a rocket and shot into space in suspended animation, which is a fairly extreme form of punishment.  They got free, and caused problems for Superman, who imprisoned them at the end of that tale.  After a brief re-introduction, they get free again, and Mala heads straight for Earth. The other two don’t show up until the end of the story.  Maybe they stopped to get something to eat.


Although he has no idea of Superman’s alternate identity, Mala decides to impersonate Clark Kent, whom he knows as Superman’s friend.


Clark begins acting much tougher and more dynamic, which of course draws Lois Lane’s attention.  Not realizing that he is actually speaking the truth, Mala reveals that Clark Kent is Superman.  And where is the real guy?  Mala has been stealing and replacing monuments from around the world, and Superman is busy examining them, trying to figure out what Mala is up to.  Far more important than stopping a crazed Kryptonian from hanging out with those he loves.


Sadly, this story gets even worse, as Mala reveals his true self to Lois Lane before shooting her off into space.  Superman rescues her, and takes her back to Earth, which they discover is unpopulated.  It doesn’t take Superman long to figure out that this is a fake Earth, built by Mala.Presumably Mala thought they would just stay there forever, without questioning the situation.


Superman then rounds up Mala and his brothers, seals them in a bubble permeated with kryptonite, and sends them out into space.  TO DIE!  The bubble is coated in kryptonite for goodness sake!  He doesn’t say that he intends them to die, but what else are we to think?  The characters never appeared again.

Of course, the reason they didn’t appear, except in some comprehensive life story of Superman tales, was that they were soon supplanted by the Phantom Zone villains.  And the fact that Superman killed them.


Congo Bill is clearly back in Africa in the Miller and Smalle story in this issue.  A lion is central to the tale, after all.  And while in previous stories Congo Bill would run into Janu in the wild, in this one Janu accompanies Bill.  So it’s safe to say that, just before this issue, Bill persuaded Janu to travel back to Africa, and has been taking care of the boy since then.


That’s really the primary reason I included this story, which deals with a man selling fake charms against danger, but travelling around behind the guy he sold it to, shooting blowdarts into any animals that threaten him.  It’s hardly surprising that Congo Bill figures out the scam.  It’s more surprising that anyone would go to so much trouble to sell a fake good luck charm.


The Tommy Tomorrow story, now with art by Jim Mooney, deals with a dangerous, thieving space ship that seems to have no one at the controls.


The ship turns out to be controlled by a brain in a jar, which comes from an entire planet of brains in jars.  I only point this out because later Legion of Super-Heroes stories would also feature brain in jar creatures, possibly the same.



Action 191 – Superman plays sick, and Congo Bill meets Janu


Many stories deal with Superman performing operations, or showing medical training.  The one in Action 191 (April 1954), entitled “Calling Doctor Superman,” does not.


Instead, Hamilton, Boring and Kaye relate a tale in which a man is shot by a bullet that Supermna is particularly interested in retrieving.  To stay near him, Clark Kent  convinces the small town doctor attending the man that he is sick as well.


Lois Lane shows up, hearing that Clark is sick.  She recognizes the hoodlum in the next bed, and notices that Clark seem healthy, so figures there must be a scoop involved, and sticks around to nurse him.  So the story descends into the normal territory of fooling Lois, and all the while helping the doctor as Superman as he gets phony emeergency calls to draw him away.


It’s all a bit more comedy than adventure, culminating in a scene where Superman makes the bad guys, who have kidnapped Lois, cause everyone kidnaps Lois, into thinking that they all have come down with a deadly swamp fever.


Congo Bill is in Saigon in this story by Miller and Smalle, when his help is sought in bringing a wild boy in from the jungle to receive proper schooling.  The white boy’s father was killed, leaving him an orphan, and he has been raised by animals. So basically, he is Mowgli.  But in Saigon.


Congo Bill finds the boy, whose name is Janu, although he asks to be called Johnny, as his US pen pal calls him.  Somehow he learned how to speak English though having a pen pal.  This kid is a genius.  He also displays a lot of resourcefulness in the wilds.


Congo Bill discovers that the boy is taking correspondence courses by mail.  Exactly how he does this strains the imagination, but Bill accepts it as true, and decides the boy does not need proper schooling.  Janu remains a supporting character, although for the next few stories he continues to live in the wold, being visited by Bill.  The stories move location to India, so Janu really gets around.  At the start of the story in the following issue, Bill is calling him Johnny, but the boy asks to be called Janu again, as that is what his father called him.


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