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

act_146

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.

act_146_001

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

act_146_002

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.

act_146_003

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.

act_146_004

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.

act_146_005

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.

act_146_006

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.

act_146_007

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

act_146_008

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.

act_146_009

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

 

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

act_131

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.

act_131_001

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.

act_131_002

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.

act_131_003

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.

act_131_004

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

act_131_005

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.

act_131_006

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.

act_131_007

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.

act_131_008

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.

act_131_009

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

act_130

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

act_130_001

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.”

act_130_010

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

act_130_002

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.

act_130_003

No wonder Lois is so angry throughout this tale.

act_130_004

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.

act_130_005

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.

act_130_006

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.

act_130_007

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.

act_130_008

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

act_130_009

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

act_119

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).

act_119_001

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.

act_119_002

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.

act_119_003

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

act_119_004

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.

act_119_005

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

act_119_006

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!

act_119_007

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.

act_119_008

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

act_119_009

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

act_110

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

act_110_001

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.

act_110_002

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.

act_110_003

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

act_110_004

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.

act_110_005

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.

act_110_006

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

act_110_007

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.

act_110_008

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.

act_110_009

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.

act_110_010

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

act_109

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

act_109_001

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.

act_109_002

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?

act_109_003

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.

act_109_004

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.

act_109_005

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.

act_109_006

Some really nice art on the elephants as well.

act_109_007

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

act_109_008

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

act_109_009

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

act_104

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

act_104_001

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.

act_104_002

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.

act_104_003

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.

act_104_004

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.

act_104_005

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 101 – Superman gets nuked, Congo Bill pulls the eye, and Vigilante knows his horses

act_101

Win Mortimer and George Roussos are the artists on the Superman story from Action 101 (Oct. 46), which actually does have Superman filming a nuclear explosion as part of the story.

act_101_002

At first, it seems as if the story will have no relation to the cover.  It deals with some criminals who have developed a serum that drives people crazy.  They use it in a blackmail scheme, only providing the antidote when the relatives of the wealthy victims pay up.

act_101_003

Superman gets onto the case, after a famous actor goes crazy during a performance, and almost kills his scene partner.

act_101_004

The serum proves to even affect Superman, and he goes into a wild flight around the world.  He winds up at a Pacific atoll, and is at ground zero for a nuclear test.  But all that does is clear his mind, and he grabs a camera and films the next explosion, just to be a nice guy.  And, sane again, has no problem rounding up the bad guys.  An odd and roundabout way of reaching the cover.

act_101_005

Congo Bill gets shipwrecked, winding up on a small island with a scientist and his criminal assistants, in this story by Alvin Schwartz and Edwin Smalle.  The scientist is so into his giant octopus, which he calls the devilfish, that he has not noticed that the men who work for him are intentionally causing shipwrecks to loot the cargoes.

act_101_006

Bill figures it out pretty fast, but the men are also wary of him, and decide to kill Bill and their boss.

act_101_007

And of course the big octopus gets involved in the climax of the action, and Congo Bill grabs the eyeball of the creature to get loose.  Look at that.  He almost pulls it right out of the socket.  Oh, my gosh that is so gross.  I think I’m traumatized.

act_101_008

Samachson, Meskin and Roussos provide a much less disgusting story for the Vigilante.  Some enterprising thieves begin pulling horseback robberies of the carriages that drive around in parks in the US.  I’m guessing this is meant to be New York’s Central Park, as that’s the one always shown with these type of carriages.

act_101_009

Vigilante knows his horses, and recognizes the one on the poster for a travelling rodeo as the same as one of the horses used in the robberies.  This puts him and Stuff on the trail pretty fast.

act_101_010

Still, it’s a fun story, with both hero and villain on horseback by the end, and an impressive jump off of a bridge.

Action 81- Superman saves a theme park, Congo Bill is back in Canada, Stuff learns magic, and Zatara in Rio

act_81

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.

act_81_001

Superman gets cast in another light-hearted but enjoyable story, by Ira Yarborough.

act_81_002

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.

act_81_003

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.

act_81_004

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.

act_81_005

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.

act_81_006

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.”

act_81_007

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.

act_81_008

Samachson and Meskin give Stuff a more important role than usual in this issue.

act_81_009

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.

act_81_010

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.

act_81_011

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.

act_81_012

Zatara gets involved in a jewel smuggling plot in this story by Cameron and White.

act_81_013

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.

act_81_014

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

act_79

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.

act_79_001

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.

act_79_002

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.

act_79_003

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

act_79_004

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.

act_79_005

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.

act_79_006

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.

act_79_007

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

act_79_008

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.

act_79_009

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

act_79_010

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.”

Tag Cloud