Posts tagged ‘Joe Samachson’

Action 146 – Superman vs the Statue of Liberty, Tommy Tomorrow creates rotation, and the Vigilante finds the ship in a desert

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It’s really curious that a generic Superman image was chosen for the cover of Action 146 (July 1950), considering the amount of dynamic visuals in the story.

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Stone statues begin to come to life throughout Metropolis, in this story by Woolfolk, Boring and Kaye.  Luthor is the one behind it.

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Luthor brings the Statue of Liberty to life, to battle Superman.  He has quite a time with it, not wanting to destroy the monument, and finally manages to bind it to its pedestal.

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As a refreshing variation, Luthor brings to life a statue of Lois Lane, and endangers it, distracting Superman as he kidnaps the real woman.  The story culminates in Superman battling a giant statue of himself.  The ending is far too quick and simple, though.

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Tommy Tomorrow works to make uninhabitable worlds safe for settlement in this story by Binder, Swan and Fischetti.  It opens showing that there is dire need for this Planteers mission, as colonists have been stuck on worlds where they can barely survive. You have to wonder about why they were settled there in the first place.

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The story is fun, and I love Curt Swan’s art, but the scene where they give a planetoid rotation using their space ships is just goofy.

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I was struck by this page.  The lightning world, and the wold beasts.  It’s two different worlds, but the juxtaposition brings to mind Korbal, the planet of the lightning beasts, which appeared much later in Legion of Super-Heroes stories by the same team.

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The Vigilante and Stuff are on the trail of another legend in this story by Joe Samachson and Dan Barry.

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The mysterious ship int he desert, an actual legend, is called the Donna Louise in this story.  An expedition is mounted to find it, and Vigilante rides a special sort of tank-cycle to navigate the desert sands.  The Fiddler, not seen in many years, returns in this tale.  The ship is a fake, as is the treasure found on it, and the Fiddler is pulling a huge scam.

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The story clips along, lots of action and twists, and great art throughout.  One of the best Vigilante tales.

 

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Action 131 – Luthor sends Superman into the 4th dimension, Tommy Tomorrow at the centre of the Earth, and Vigilante eats tortillas

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Lex Luthor hasn’t appeared much in Action Comics recently, but he returns in full force, with a cover appearance, in issue 131 (April 1949), in a story by Joe Samachson and Al Plastino.

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Luthor has invented a machine that moves people and objects into and out of the 4th dimension (isn’t that where we already exist?)  He announces the plans for his next crime to Lois Lane, intending the press to cover the crime, as he transports his men far from the scene.

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Clark Kent writes the story for the Daily Planet, and winds up on the chopping block when Perry White and the Planet get sued by the thieves.  Luthor transported them across the country, and they have witnesses to place them thousands of miles away.  Clark finds that his reputation has been ruined, and no other paper will hire him.

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Luthor then uses his machine on Superman, trapping him in the 4th dimension.  Essentially, this puts him into the same state as the Phantom Zone, though that would not be introduced for many years to come.  But as with the Phantom Zone, Superman finds he is able to mentally influence an electric typewriter, although that is credited in the story to the wonderful sensitivity of the machine itself.  Lois gets to act as Superman’s agent, finding Luthor, and reversing the machine to free Superman.

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Tommy Tomorrow is given the rank of colonel in this story by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and John Fischetti.

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His rank must have been conveyed for one of his earlier stories, as he already has it as he leads an expedition into the centre of the Earth, finding a society based on slavery in the core.  I would suspect the rank was given to him after his treaty with the 10th planet.

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Tommy discovers that the reason the inner world relies on slavery is the scarcity of water, and the necessity for a huge work force to produce it.  Somehow, that does not sound like a reason for it, just an excuse.  But Tommy provides them with some water from Lake Tanganyika, and frees the slaves, earning a statue in centre of the world.

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Some really excellent art by Dan Barry on this George Kashdan Vigilante story.  It opens with a chef, and a fan of Vigilante, inviting him to his nebulous South American country.  The reference in the story to “pampas” would seem to indicate that Argentina is the location.

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The story is really fun.  Vigilante has to deal with rampaging cattle, and rustler, and other typical problems, but the focus of the tale is the cooking.  The tortillas the chef is so proud of are all but inedible.

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Eventually, the source of the problem is discovered.  The river the chef got his water from has oil running through it.  The ostrich has nothing to do with that, but looks just great.

 

 

Action 130 – Superman meets Ann Blyth, Tommy Tomorrow discovers the 10th planet, and Zatara unseats a tyrant

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Hollywood actress Ann Blyth appears in Action 130 (March 1949), playing herself, in a story by Al Plastino.

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Best known for playing the thankless daughter in “Mildred Pierce,” for which she was nominated for an Oscar, this story ties in to a recent film she made, “Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid.”

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Ann Blyth is in costume for this, when men in a mechanical octopus try to capture her.

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Superman saves her, but Lois insists the entire thing was a publicity stunt.  Ann winds up in the bad guys hands a second time.  Essentially, she takes Lois Lane’s role in this story, poking around, finding the bad guys, getting captured and getting rescued.

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No wonder Lois is so angry throughout this tale.

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Binder, Swan and Fischetti advance the year of Tommy Tomorrow’s adventures to 1989 in this story, which deals with the search for the tenth planet.  Pluto had only been discovered in the early 1930s, and many people still believed there was another, undiscovered, large planet beyond it.

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Tommy Tomorrow does, indeed, find this mysterious planet.  Although the surface is largely barren, there is a huge civilization living underground. They turn out to be Atlanteans, who fled Earth when their civilization sunk.

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These people are not happy about their hidden world being discovered, and have plans to conquer the Earth.  Or so it’s stated.  Tommy prevents them from taking any action, sealing off their air supply and threatening to kill them all unless they sign a peace treaty.

Tommy muses at the end on how war has been eliminated. Because sealing off an air supply and threatening to kill everyone is so much better.

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Zatara gets an entertaining story in this issue, by Samachson and White.  A company hires a former soldier, expecting he will bring his regimented ways to the office, increasing efficiency.  In fact, he quickly turns into a micro-managing tyrant, who loves inflicting punishments.

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The company’s owner approaches Zatara after one of his charity shows, and gets him to come to the office.

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The scene I really like has Zatara bring to life the medals the man wears, which expose him as a coward and impostor.

 

 

Action 119 – Clark Kent pretends to be Superman, Zatara powers up a piper, and Vigilante rides the jet-aquacycle

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Edmond Hamilton and Win Mortimer tell an early version of a common tale, as Clark Kent has to pretend to be Superman, in Action 119 (April 1948).

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A series of robberies using a helicopter are the crime motivating this tale.  Superman does not want Lois on the case, figuring it is too dangerous, and lies to her, saying he will be out of town, in hopes that this will discourage her.  After 10 years, you think he would know better.  Lois forces Clark to dress as Superman and accompany her, to scare away any dangerous men they encounter.  The difference in physique between Clark and Superman is addressed in this story, and explained by Superman’s super muscle-control.

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Superman gets through the case through a mix of outright lies, and ingenuity. He manages to duplicate a few of his super-stunts right in front of Lois’ eyes, though she gains no admiration for Clark’s resourcefulness.  At the end, she simply condescends that Superman wouldn’t have needed to come up with his clever solutions.

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Zatara’s story in this issue, by Samachson and White, is better than the series has been in a long time.

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A broke but honest piper uses his music, and some concealed gas, to lure and capture some wanted men.  Zatara is impressed, and endows the man with the power to create “magic music.”  That’s kind of vague, and indeed, the music functions in a variety of ways, creating illusions, even transforming criminals into rats.

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Zatara gives the man complete credit for the big criminal round up, and nothing indicates that these powers will wear off.

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Don Cameron, Mort Meskin and George Roussos bring back the Rainbow Man for an adventure so demanding, it requires Vigilante to use BOTH his sidekicks!  Yes, Stuff and Billy Gunn, together at last!

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To be fair, Stuff falls into the hands of the Rainbow Man right at the top of the story, so Billy Gunn gets most of the actual sidekick time in this tale.  Rainbow Man captures Stuff more or less at random.  He does not recognize the boy, which is very odd, considering how many encounters they have had, and  that Stuff wears no disguise.  Perhaps it’s just that Stuff has become increasingly white which throws him off.

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Vigilante’s motorcycle shows itself to be as good as a sidekick, as it becomes a “jet-aquacycle” – capable of travelling on the water.

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Rainbow Man? Some more colour crimes, of course, but he almost gets lost amid everything else in this tale.

As the underscript on the final page indicates, Vigilante is also now starring in a series in the new Western Comics.

Action 110 – Susie and Mother Goose, Zatara teaches safety, and Vigilante helps a “girl sheriff”, and gets a movie serial

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Susie returns in the Ira Yarborough tale in Action 110 (July 1947), although the story does not have her usual theme of telling lies.

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Lois tricks Clark into accompanying her and Susie to a Mother Goose show for children.  Susie gets bored and wanders off, and you can’t really blame her, the show looks awful.

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Hoods are trying to rob the show, dressed in costume.  Between Superman’s efforts to stop them, and the fact that the audience thinks the robbery is just part of the show, they fail dismally.

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One of the reasons I am including so few Zatara stories is that they have gone from being silly and jokey to preachy.

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This story by Samachson and White is a perfect example.  Zatara is performing for a group of school children, and all his magic is dedicated to traffic safety.

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As a kid I really hated any story that worked so obviously to push its message, and the magic just isn’t dramatic enough to carry it above the spoon-fed authority.

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The Vigilante and Stuff are in the west again, at Benton City’s centennial, in this story by George Roussos.

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The town elected the great-granddaughter of the founder as sheriff for the centennial year, but she is having a difficult time maintaining her status, as the criminals are trying to discredit her.  Although it is clearly unusual to have a female sheriff, she is shown to be fully capable of her duties.  Vigilante helps her out, but this is obviously meant to be a special case.

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Stuff is looking a little less Chinese now, although he is still called the Chinatown Kid.  His odd hat, which was clearly meant to convey some sort of Chinese headgear, is nowhere in sight.  The Vigilante’s cycle has almost reached its classic state, although it’s a horrible green in this story.

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The most awkward moment in the story comes when Stuff has to pull the badge off the sheriff’s ample chest, to use to cut them free.

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The Vigilante serial was advertised in this issue.  Greg Sanders is made an actor, rather than a singer, and Stuff is made into a young, white adult.  The actor idea would not take hold on the comics, but Stuff’s race change would.

 

 

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 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.

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