Posts tagged ‘Joe Samachson’

Action 73 – Superman and the Hobby Robber, Stuff gives money to the Fiddler, Congo Bill in Canada, and Americommando vs Dr Ito

act_73

Siegel and Citron pit Superman against the Hobby Robber in Action 73 (June 1944).  The cover does not directly tie in with the story, but is generic enough that one could stretch it to be symbolic of it.

act_73_001

The Hobby Robber steals rare collections, and then ransoms them back to the owners.  This story attributes Clark Kent as collecting clocks.  Not that he has ever been shown to do this before, or after.

act_73_002

Siegel does craft a nice scene.  Superman has laid a trap for the Robber, but Lois Lane has also picked up the trail, and sneaks into Clark’s apartment, hiding in one of his clocks.  Superman spots her in time to keep his identity a secret, but must then allow himself to be knocked out.  Lois gets discovered, and Superman figures he is sick of rescuing her, so he lets her die.  No, just checking to see you’re still awake.  He rescues her.  Again.

act_73_003

At least the scene is a dramatic one, as the Hobby Robber tries to kill Lois by throwing her into a giant, man-eating plant.

Although this particular Hobby Robber never returns, Siegel will recycle the name later on for an early Superboy villain.

act_73_004

The Fiddler returns in this story by Samachson, Meskin and Paris.

act_73_005

The Fiddler teaches his gang to sing, part of his scheme to worm them into the house of a well-known millionaire with a soft touch.  In fact, the man is so willing to help the needy that he gives Stuff $50 when he sees him on the street, assuming the boy to be a homeless waif.  Perhaps Vigilante should buy Stuff some new clothes. The poor kid has been wearing the same thing for years.

act_73_006

Stuff then happens across the Fiddler and his men.  In a really touching scene, Stuff gives the Fiddler the $50, in hopes that it will deter him from his next crime.  It doesn’t, but you have to admire the simple faith of the boy.

act_73_007

The Fiddler and his men get taken in and fed by the millionaire, after hearing their plaintive songs.  But this is just part of their plan to steal his art treasures.  Stuff tells Vigilante about running into the men, and they arrive at the millionaire’s house just in time to stop the thefts.

act_73_008

Congo Bill heads to Canada in this story, with art by Smalle.  You can tell it’s Canada because everything is covered in snow.  He is dealing with a man who is illegally selling guns to the natives, attempting to stir up a “tribal war.”  In Canada?

act_73_009

The story claims to be set above the Arctic Circle, but shows natives dressed as if they were living on the plains.  They also seem impervious to the cold, running through the snow in loincloths.  It’s not an awful story, but doesn’t show much familiarity with Canada.

act_73_010

Dr. Ito arrives in Tokyo to smoke out Americommando in this Greene and Baily tale.

act_73_011

Ito suspects Captain Brand almost immediately, as well he should.  Americommando does little in the way of disguising himself, aside from his uniform.  Tex does pull off a clever ruse to keep his identity safe – rigging a drop of leaflets at the same time he is with Ito as Brand.

 

Action 71 – Valentine’s Day for Superman, Vigilante and Rainbow Man are polite, and Congo Bill in the desert

act_71

Don Cameron and Ira Yarborough give Jimmy Olsen his first major role in this book in Action 71 (April 1944), in a story that works its way into all-out farce.

act_71_001

Jimmy wants to impress Betty Roxmore, and buys what is, for him, an expensive present.  Superman decides to give Lois Lane an insulting present, and then something nice as Clark, to move her affections towards the identity he wants her to respond to.  But there is also a phony count, and a diamond necklace.  And then ALL the gifts get mixed up.

act_71_003

Mix-ups and romantic misunderstandings galore in this silly but enjoyable story.  Jimmy does wind up impressing Betty, with Superman’s help.  But being the hero does not work as well for Clark, as Lois winds up thinking he was the one behind the insulting present, not Superman.

act_71_004

The Rainbow Man escapes from prison to pester the Vigilante once again, in this story by Samachson and Meskin.  Rainbow Man no longer wears his colourful shirt, but his colour-themed crimes do persist.

act_71_005

Greg Sanders is performing at a society function, and spots the Rainbow Man from the stage. But he does nothing, simply finishes his set, before leaving and changing to Vigilante.  Rainbow Man spots the hero, but rather than fleeing, gets a group of fans to start talking to him.  Vigilante stops his pursuit of Rainbow Man to chat with his fans.

This is so low-key it’s almost laughable.

act_71_006

Eventually things do get hopping, as Vigilante figures out Rainbow Man’s art thefts, replacing them with forgeries which he sells as originals.

act_71_007

Congo Bill is back in the desert in this story, illustrated by Smalle.  A cheetah (which doesn’t look very much like a cheetah) winds up becoming his ally and saviour in this tale.

act_71_008

But I didn’t include this story because of the cheetah.  Rather, this is the first Congo Bill story in a very long time that is neither a World War 2 adventure, nor a globe-trotting excursion.  Bill is back in Africa, fighting with and against the native tribes.

Action 69 – Lost and Found with the Prankster, the Dummy gets smaller, and Zatara fights evil magicians

act_69

The Prankster returns in a story by Sam Citron in Action 69 (Feb. 44).

act_69_001

The story deals with preposterous ads about lost items, which run in the Daily Planet.  The first is for a needle in a haystack, which winds up starting a stampede.  The items are actually rare, and stolen, and the Prankster’s ads elicit a blackmail payment as a reward.  Lois and Clark take a while to piece the story together, and it’s made even harder for them as the Prankster’s men pretend to be Planet reporters, extorting money to keep the true story from the papers.

act_69_002

The Prankster’s scam only really falls through when he kidnaps Lois Lane.  Astoundingly, the Planet has no trouble running the ad about this, although they do send the copy to Perry White before the paper goes out.

act_69_003

Samachson, Meskin and Kubert produce one of the best Vigilante stories in this issue.

act_69_004

The Dummy steals an experimental machine that can make people smaller.  He first uses it on himself and his gang, so they can pull off an impressive in-flight robbery.

act_69_005

Vigilante and Stuff get on his trail, but the Dummy uses the machine on them, and leaves them prey to a chicken. I just love that sequence.  Vigilante and Stuff manage to survive until the effect wears off, and then turn the tables on the Dummy, capturing and shrinking him (again), and bringing him to jail in a birdcage.

act_69_006

Gardner Fox and William White pit Zatara against two Eastern mystics in this story.  It touches on racist, with the Hindu magicians, but avoids the extremes common in the era.

act_69_007

The two men are shown to have magical powers equal to those of Zatara.  He manages to defeat them largely through subterfuge, and then by knocking them out with his fist. Still, the Hindu mystics are not shown to be phonies, or cowards, or anything other than criminally bent.

Action 67 – Superman plays matchmaker, and the Fiddler teaches his craft

act_67

A oddly specific image, considering that it does not in any way reflect the Superman story in Action 67 (Dec. 43).

act_67_001

Don Cameron, Sam Citron and George Roussos put Superman into the middle of a thirty year romantic quarrel in this story.  The military intend to build a base in Metropolis, but three people refuse to sell their houses.

act_67_002

Two of the houses are occupied by a couple who had a silly fight when they were young, and have spends decades living two houses away from each other, but both refusing to apologize and patch things up. The other house is owned by hoods, so Superman gets the requisite crime and action in the story.

act_67_003

But the lovers plotline even steals the show power-wise, as Superman spends a busy night moving and reconstructing the couple’s homes as they sleep.

act_67_004

They wake to a merged mansion on the outskirts of the city, and finally end their fight, living happily for however many years they have left.

act_67_005

The Fiddler returns in this Vigilante story by Joe Samachson and Mort Meskin, with inks by Joe Kubert.

act_67_006

It’s one of the Fiddler’s better schemes, as he impersonates a music teacher, after arranging for him to go out of town.

act_67_007

He cases the houses of the wealthy people he instructs, and then returns with his gang in the evenings to rob them.  Greg Sanders is asked to perform at one of these houses, and he and Stuff wind up on the scene, taking the Fiddler down.

 

 

 

Action 62 – Superman fights Nazis, Americommando in Romania, and Congo Bill in the Arctic

act_62

Action 62 (July 1943) does put Superman into a World War 2 adventure, but the cover does not depict the actual story.

act_62_001

Don Cameron and Ed Dobrotka take an interesting route to telling a World War 2 story with Superman.  It was difficult to show the heroes in battle.  The course of actual events could make the stories very inappropriate.

act_62_002

This one starts off in the distant future, a happy, peaceful one.  The story is told in flashback, but set in 1943.  Lois Lane is doing an article on a fisherman, Captain Zeb.  She and the rest of the crew get captured by Nazis.

act_62_003

Superman finds an underwater Nazi base, and destroys it.

act_62_008

The last couple of panels of the story show Superman alive in this distant future, over 200 years old, and not appearing to have aged a bit.  This may be the first time that Superman’s longevity has been discussed.  I will keep an eye out when I come to his own book.

 

act_62_004

Americommando is in Romania in this story by Greene and Baily., with Dr Ito hot on his trail.  The story has Tex working with the resistance movement again, helping to blow up an oil plant.

act_62_005

There is a good, climatic fight on a train between Americommando and Ito, who appears to fall to his death *he’ll be back.)  Tex no longer wears his mask as Americommando, so seems to have completely given up on trying to disguise himself.

act_62_006

Congo Bill’s story is once again war-based.  Samachson and Smalle have him up in the Aleutian Islands, helping to defend a fort against a Japanese assault.

act_62_007

The story is good,nothing really special.  But I included it simply because it has taken Congo Bill about as far from the Congo as he could get.

Action 61 – Superman reveals his identity to Lois, the Fiddler returns, Congo Bill in Istanbul, and Zatara’s magic is duplicated

act_61

It’s not a military cover on Action 61 (June 1943), but it’s not related to the story, either. Kind of a shame, as the cover is very effective.

act_61_001

Jerry Siegel and Ed Dobrotka are behind this twisting and entertaining story.

act_61_002

The story begins by introducing a wealthy young wastrel, Craig Shaw, who starts a fire at a nightclub for his own amusement.  Disaster is only averted by Superman. Lois and Clark were at the club, and Lois writes a scathing article about Shaw.

act_61_003

Shaw is enchanted by Lois’ anger and outspokenness, no woman had ever talked to him that way before. They begin dating, as a worried Superman spies on Lois.  Shaw proposes marriage, and Lois accepts.

act_61_004

This drives Superman near into a frenzy.  He decides to propose to Lois as well, as Clark.  And he reveals that he is Superman.  Lois refuses to believe him, and the story moves into slapstick, as Clark’s attempts to prove that he has powers keep backfiring on him.

act_61_005

Then the situation gets even worse, as he discovers that Lois never had any interest in Shaw, and was just getting close to him for her story.  Shaw, meanwhile, proves himself to be much more criminal than anyone suspected.  Now Clark has to try to prove that he is NOT Superman, and winds up kidnapping and knocking out a man on the street in order to appear to be both men at once. Again, this type of story will be told many times in the future, but this early version is one of the best.

act_61_006

The Fiddler returns to face the Vigilante again in this Cameron/Meskin/Paris story.

act_61_007

This time the Fiddler accompanies his men to their crimes – no more need for subterfuge now that his identity is known.  He plays his music for inspiration and mood, rather than communicating instructions.

act_61_008 We discover that the Fiddler hates cats, and a howling kitten does a lot to help Vigilante and Stuff in this story.  Notice Vigilante’s motorcycle in the final panel.  This has become a much larger machine than it started out as.  There were no big dramatic changes with the cycle, more like small modifications from issue to issue, which will eventually create his famous cycle.

act_61_009

There is another interesting deathtrap, an electric bed, which Vigilante and Stuff get tied to.  The cat proves critical to escaping it. The Fiddler returns a few months down the road.

act_61_010 Congo Bill has left Africa to fight the Nazis again, in this story by Samachason and Smalle.  Istanbul is the location for this tale.  Love the splash for the story.

act_61_011 The story itself is really a spy thriller, with Bill having to trap spies from the German embassy.  Not really any use of jungle skills or such.

act_61_012

Gardner Fox and Joseph Sulman spread the powers around in this month’s Zatara story.

act_61_013

A man, who must have particularly good hearing, realizes that Zatara is speaking backwards to cast his spells.  From having all manner of magic abilities early in his run, his repertoire has reduced and stabilized to the backwards talking by this point.  Still, it’s impressive that the man can figure this out simply by hearing Zatara.

act_61_014

He tries the backwards speaking himself, and finds that it works sometimes, but not others.  His crime spree is not nearly as successful as he had hoped, and Zatara gets on his trail pretty fast.

act_61_015

The story ends on a very odd panel, as Zatara explains why the man’s magic did not always work, an explanation that involves the man’s bugging eyes, and really makes very little sense.  Zatara has also used his magic to wipe the man’s mind of his secret.  Mind-wiping would seem to be a Zatara family trait.

Action 58 – Superman vs Dr Menace, Vigilante vs the Dummy, Americommando vs Dr Ito, and Congo Bill vs the Nazis

act_58_013

Oh, it’s that infamous “slap a Jap” cover on Action 58 (March 1943).

act_58_001

Jerry Siegel is joined by Sam Citron on pencils and John Sikela on inks for this unusual tale.

act_58_002

An aging actor is approached by Dr. Menace, who insists he can make the actor young again.  He undergoes the surgery, only to discover that he has been left with a hideous face, and must wear a mask to appear normal.  Although really, what could one expect from a man named Dr. Menace?

act_58_003

Menace forces the man to commit crimes while wearing a leopard skin, and sends notes to the police and the papers, claiming to be the thief, and calling himself Adonis.

act_58_004

Clark and Lois get on the case when the Adonis letters arrive, and eventually Superman corners the two men, who wind up killing each other.

The final panel is such a let-down though, never showing what the man looked like after the operation.

act_58_005

The Dummy is the most enduring villain of the Vigilante.  He had been introduced in the pages of Leading Comics, battling the Vigilante as he functioned as one of the Seven Soldiers of Victory.  This story, by Don Cameron, Mort Meskin and Charles Paris, was the villain’s second appearance, and first in the pages of Action Comics.  Chronologically, this story follows the Dummy’s appearances in All-Star Squadron.

act_58_006

The Dummy breaks out of prison with the help of Bobo, a relatively dumb criminal.  He is content to follow the Dummy’s instructions, as he begins a new crime spree.

act_58_007

The Vigilante and Stuff get on the Dummy’s trail.  Bobo traps the heroes, but gets tossed into the pit himself by the Dummy, who has tired of him.  Bobo quickly switches sides, helping the Vigilante escape.  In turn, Vigilante allows Bobo to give the Dummy a spanking before taking him back to prison.

act_58_008

Dr. Ito returns yet again, hunting the Americommando in this Greene and Baily tale.

act_58_009

They are both still in France, and for some reason Ito is also running a concentration camp.  Americommando is working with the French Resistance, and this time Ito does not even really get close to catching him.  Still, from the next issue, Americommando moves on from France, travelling to other occupied countries.

act_58_010

Congo Bill returns to Africa in this story by Samachson and Smalle.

act_58_011

Bill comes to the aid of Joan Reid, whose father has been killed by an “outlaw” native tribe.  Bill discovers that the tribe has been supplied by guns by the Nazis.

act_58_012

This story manages to weave the African adventure and war elements together better than most, as a stampeding herd of elephants trample the Nazi general, as Bill rescues Joan from man and beast.

 

Action 54 – Superman vs Captain Ironfist, the Three Aces identify aircraft, Americommando gets his commission, and Congo Bill in Central America

act_54

Great World War 2 cover for Superman on Action 54 (Nov. 42).

act_54_001

The story, by Siegel and Sikela, even maintains the maritime theme, if not the actual watercraft or enemy.  Captain Ironfist is the villain of the issue, a really interesting creation.

act_54_002

The story spends a long time setting up Stanley Finchcomb, obsessed with his pirate ancestor since childhood.  The ghost of Ironfist possesses him, and sets him on a life of crime.

act_54_003

Although he captains a sailing ship, he forces his men to take over steamers.  They succeed, though I wonder how they manage to board the much larger ships.  Captured Lois rescued is and be must.

act_54_004

Ironfist is not ultimately defeated by Superman, but by the ghost of Stanley’s father, for bringing shame on the family name.  Stanley dies, and presumably ends the line of descent, as Ironfist never appears again.  His supernatural nature could have made him a really interesting villain.

act_54_005

The Three Aces story in this issue continues to see the flyers fighting the Japanese in the Asian sphere.

act_54_006

The story makes a point of teaching the reader about the Japanese Nakajima plane, and the Allied Wildcat fighter, as well as explaining a fair bit of the lingo pilots used.  The fact that the Japanese plane is credited as “highly maneuverable” while being slower than the US planes I found a striking bit of honesty at this time of patriotic propaganda.

act_54_007

With this issue the series truly does become Americommando. It is also by far my favourite story out of Tex Thompson’s entire run.  Joseph Greene scripted this Bernard Baily tale.

act_54_008

Tex is secretly brought to FDR himself, and ordered to undergo extensive training to become the Americommando, proficient with all weaponry, able to pilot planes and tanks, and multilingual.  Bob is requested to stay behind and fight crime as Fat Man, and this is his final appearance, unless one considers The Golden Age miniseries from the mid-90s as canonical.  Which I do, despite the Elseworlds label on it.

act_54_009

The training sequence is well done, with Mr America’s spinning head helping to convey the massive chore in the brief time span.

act_54_010

The last panel on the page above is duplicated in two other stories, both by Roy Thomas.  The scene is shown as part of the Mr. America story in Secret Origins, and later shown in an expanded form in the pages of Young All-Stars.  Various heroes are added to the shadowy group saluting him.

To Tex’s surprise, his first mission is to impersonate a German officer, and the story ends with him being flown in, to be dropped behind enemy lines.

act_54_011

Joe Samachson and Edwin Small take the reins of the Congo Bill series with this issue, and his wartime adventures abruptly end.  Now, he is in Central America, of all places.

act_54_012

Bill deals with an unknown tribe and a secret idol.  The tribe’s leader is really a white explorer who has been hording the gold for himself. Not a great story.

 

Tag Cloud