Posts tagged ‘Joe Shuster’

Action 554 – creating Superman

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Wolfman and Kane provide an epilogue of sorts to the Forgotten Heroes story in Action 554 (April 1984).

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The story is set on an alien world that kind of resembles Earth, although it is under the domination of some scary other aliens.  Two young boys, named Joe and Jerry, very loosely based on Siegel and Shuster, conceive of a noble and powerful hero that could save them from the alien overlords.

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They design Superman, and then devote their energies to believing in their created hero.

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This belief is enough to pull Superman from the void he vanished into in the previous issue.  He defeats the aliens, and then heads back to Earth.  The story is dedicated to Siegel and Shuster.

A lot of people really liked this story.  It was ok.

Action 83 – Superman meets Hocus and Pocus

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Siegel and Shuster are credited with the Superman story in Action 81 (April 1945), the first story by them in this book for quite a while.  If the credit is correct.

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The story introduces Hocus and Pocus, a pair of wanna-be magicians.  A few random coincidences convince them that they really have acquired magical powers, but also draw Superman’s attention.

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Hocus and Pocus wind up joining up with a gang of thieves, wanting to pull off one robbery for the thrill of it, and believing that they could use their magic to return the money afterwards.  Superman winds up helping them along, sometimes unintentionally, as he pursues the actual thieves.

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At no point during the course of the tale do Hocus and Pocus figure out that they do not actually have powers, and decide to open up a detective agency, to make a profit off of them.  Superman attempts to set them straight, but they simply don’t listen.

Hocus and Pocus would return a few months down the road, and be frequent supporting characters over the next couple of years.

 

Action 24 – Superman uses microscopic vision, Pep Morgan gets a try-out, Black Pirate finds the treasure, and Clip Carson gets shot down

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Action 24 (May 1940) features another could that could, but doesn’t, reflect the Superman story inside.

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The story, or at least the climax of it, bears some resemblance to the first Superman story.  It begins with Clark being sent out to get the story behind an ad a wealthy man posted in the Daily Planet.

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The man has a wastrel son, and he asks Superman’s help in making the boy straighten out.  Superman uses many of his abilities in this issue.  X-Ray vision is shown a bit more like it was the first time, with the dissolving wall.  Super-hearing is just shown by Superman leaning in towards a wall.

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The boy gets framed for murder, and in investigating to find proof of his innocence, Superman uses microscopic vision, for the first time, to find a second bullet, buried in a wall.  Sadly, this is not given any visual form, and is simply mentioned in the narrative.

The story ends with Superman rushing to the governor to call off the execution, just in the nick of time.

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Pep Morgan heads to Florida for this Guardineer story, as he is given a try-out with a professional baseball team.

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He gets wind of a plot by gamblers to kill the primary pitcher, Fog Bellows, and Pep messes up his tryout to save Fog’s life.  He gets booted, and although at the end he is told he is back on, this must just mean he is allowed to finish the tryout, as Pep is never shown playing for this team.

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Another brief but beautiful Black Pirate story by Moldoff in this issue.

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Jon Valor races Captain Ruff to his treasure horde, and gets there first.  He hides it, so that when the pirate captain arrives, he cannot find it.

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Moldoff’s art also shines in the Clip Carson story in this issue, which continues from the previous one.

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Clip’s plane gets shot down, and he winds up in the hands of the rebels.  He is sentenced to death, but manages to escape and make it back to the region controlled by the government forces.  Clip vows to bring down the rebel general, setting up next issue’s conclusion to this tale.

 

 

Action 23- Luthor debuts, Pep busts a strike, Black Pirate debuts, Clip Carson in South America, and Zatara and the Tigress race for treasure

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Superman is still not able to fly, though you wouldn’t guess that from the cover of Action 23 (April 1940).

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Clark Kent and Lois Lane continue to investigate the war between Toran and Galonia in this story by Siegel, Shuster and Cassidy.

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General Lupo alerts them to a peace conference, but also arranges for it to be ambushed.

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Superman trails Lupo to a secret base inside a mountain, guarded by a stone face.  Luthor is first mentioned, as Lupo gives up his bosses name, just before being killed for doing so.

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Luthor is not given a first name in this story, or indeed, in any story until his origin in Adventure Comics in the early 60s.  He is a red-haired genius in this tale, manipulating the situation between the two countries as part of his world domination goal.  He has a base high in the stratosphere.  A giant dirigible, which supports a massive platform capable of supporting entire buildings.

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And while Superman cannot fly, he can jump high enough to reach the dirigible.  By and large, if one does not read the text, simply looked at the illustrations, one would believe Superman was flying.

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Lois gets captured, as she once again shows more curiosity than common sense, and Superman and Luthor have their first of many meetings, each puffing to show superiority to the other.

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Superman destroys Luthor’s base, sending it all crashing to the ground, but Luthor returns in the pages of Superman the following month.

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As the story ends, Clark sends his report to the paper – the Daily Planet!  But it had been the Daily Star that sent him out there.  I have read a couple theories, which have either Lois or Clark leave the Star for the Planet, and the other one following them there.  But I cannot see that.  The change happens while both reporters are overseas.

No, what I think is that the Daily Star fell victim to the Depression.  Later tales would show that the Daily Planet prints newspapers in other cities in the US, and around the world.  Nothing like that is ever shown about the Daily Star.  So I believe that the Star wound up being sold, and was purchased by the expanding empire of the Daily Planet, which changed the paper’s name, as they were making Metropolis the hub of the Planet.

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Pep Morgan heads to Pennsylvania in this Guardineer story, to help a cousin who owns a mine, where the miners are on the verge of striking.

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Everything I have ever read about the conditions of mines in the US at this time puts me firmly on the side of the miners, but that’s not the slant the story has. The miners are being forced into striking by thugs, and the mine owners are the good guys, and victims.  Pep helps stop the strike, but it’s amazing that he succeeds at this, when he waves a flashlight at them, claiming it’s a gun.  He has far more luck when he grabs a pipe and starts hitting them over the head with it.

Pep Morgan has become little more than a goon.

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The Black Pirate makes his debut in this issue, by Sheldon Moldoff.  At first the strip is only four pages in length, and serialized.  Jon Valor is called the Black Pirate, presumably because he wears all black clothing, but it is not a secret identity, simply a nickname.  Those he fights, the men of Captain Ruff, know him by both names.

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The series starts slow, but with the standard pirate story ships and treasures.

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Clip Carson arrives in South America in this Moldoff tale.  The previous issue saw him sail from Africa, solving a poorly written mystery.

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In this story, Clip gets enlisted to help run weapons deep into the interior, to aid government troops against rebels in the nation of Verdania.

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Clip helps the army massacre the rebels, and has so much fun doing it, he decides to stick around for a while.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Zatara runs into an old high school friend in this Guardineer story, who tells him about a fabulous treasure, left in a tower by a wealthy inventor.

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The Tigress is also on the trail of this treasure, and the two of them compete to acquire it.  A mysterious man in the tower controls a number of deadly traps and devices.

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It turns out to bethe inventor himself.  The treasure was simply a lure to draw innocents in, so that he could kill them in elaborate ways.  Zatara destroys the tower, and the treasure gets divvied up, although Zatara declines his share.  But the Tigress must get some of it then, right? Maybe?

Action 22 – the second L.L., Chuck Dawson ends, and the Tigress returns

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A kind of lower key cover for Action 22 (March 1940), considering that Superman’s story in this issue puts him in the middle of a war.

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Siegel, Shuster and Cassidy acknowledge that a war has broken out in Europe, as George Taylor, looking like he has some grey hair now, sends Lois and Clark across the ocean to report on the war for the Daily Star.  Oddly, rather than deal with the real war, this story is about a war between Toran and Galonia, neither of which is made to seem like any specific, actual nation.

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Shipboard, Lois and Clark see the famous “foreign” actress Lita Laverne.  The second of the L.L.s in Superman, but the first indication that this might become a theme.  Lita Laverne plays hot and cold with Clark, but does invite him and Lois to a party once they land.

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It doesn’t take Clark very long to realize that Lita is a spy, and her party is simply a way for her to pump the guests for information.

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Clark spends the rest of the story trying to enforce neutrality.  He brings down a couple of bombers, and stop a submarine from torpedoing a ship.  As he does this, he demonstrates another super-power.  The ability to talk while underwater.  There is no one for him to be talking to, but perhaps he is just testing this ability out for his own edification.

Lita Laverne gets exposed as a spy, and arrested.  She never appears again.  Firing squad for sure.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Chuck Dawson’s bland western series comes to a bland finale in this issue.  Chuck is still wearing that same red plaid shirt he has been wearing since his strip began.  It must smell awful.

Instead, in his final outing, Chuck yet again comes across a dead body and is accused of the murder.  The last time this happened (it happened a lot) Chuck simply proved himself innocent, and couldn’t be bothered to actually solve the crime.  This time he actually tracks down and apprehends the killer, a hired gun working for the foreman of the Slash D Ranch, who killed the fiancee of Miss Parsons, the ranch’s owner, in hopes of marrying her and taking over the ranch.

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I think poor hapless Chuck wound up sticking around after this case.  Miss Parsons was now desperately in need of a ranch foreman and a boyfriend.  I could have Chuck just continue wandering aimlessly, finding dead bodies left right and centre and always being accused of murder, but I would rather have him just settle down.  Maybe Miss Parsons not only washed his shirt, she even bought him a new one!

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The Tigress returns in this issue’s Zatara story, by Fred Guardineer.

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She is working for a man called The Mask.  When not wearing his head covering, he impersonates other people.  In this case, a bank manager the Tigress was supposed to kill.  Zatara saved the man’s life, ruining their plot, though the bad guys do not realize this at first.

The Mask is not, as one might think, some sort of disguise artist, or even shape changer.  He is a man willing to undergo repeated surgeries to alter his face, for the impersonations.

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The Mask has himself operated on again, to impersonate Zatara, and tests it on the Tigress.

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Later, Zatara will turn the tables, pretending to be the Mask, and getting his plans out of the Tigress.  During this sequence, the Tigress admits that she is now broke.  In one year she somehow squandered her entire share of Genghis Khan’s treasure.

Zatara uses his magic to give the mask a horrendous, dog-like face that no surgery will remove.  He lets the Tigress go, on her promise to leave the country and never return.

The Tigress returns next issue.

Action 20 – Superman meets Dolores Winters, Pep Morgan becomes a mechanic, Clip Carson plays the harmonica, Tex Thompson needs a rescue, and Zatara faces the Moon Men

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The cover of Action 20 (Jan. 40) continues to feature Superman, if not the story that he was in.

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George Taylor sends Clark Kent out to Hollywood to do a series of stories on movie stars for the Daily Star.  It’s actually meant to be his vacation time, but Clark does not complain.  Taylor looks definitely stockier than he used to.

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Siegel and Shuster start his Hollywood time by having Clark meet actress Dolores Winters.  Although she is friendly at first, and agrees to an interview later, she becomes cold and distant, cancelling it when Clark shows up.

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Dolores invites a bunch of Hollywood big names to a party aboard her yacht, which she turns into a big kidnapping.

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Superman is on the case.  He uses his x-ray vision, which is shown closer to the way it would be, as beams emerging from his eyes.

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Superman reaches the ship, and one look into Dolores Winters’ eyes is enough to convince him that, somehow, this is really the Ultra-Humanite.  Probably because there was no easy way to have him figure it out.  And Dolores explains how his/her men put his brain into her body.

She dives overboard at the end, escaping from him, but will return.

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Pep is still in his hometown in this Guardineer story, and is playing baseball on the city team when Jimmy Dee crash lands his plane on the diamond.  Pep helps save the man, who offers him a job as his mechanic as he competes in the Air Races.

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Apparently aside from needing no qualifications, the mechanic sits in the rear seat of the biplane – perhaps to perform repairs while the fly.

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At any rate, Jimmy passes out and with no teaching time whatsoever, Pep takes the controls and wins the race.

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Bob Kane continues Clip Carson’s adventures in Kenya.  Clip gets captured by the raider he is meant to stop, Wolf Lupo.

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Things look bad for Clip, but he pulls out his harmonica and starts playing, which calls the tribe he had showed it to last issue.  They rescue him.  So it’s not really Clip that is the hero of this issue, just the most musical person in it.

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Bernard Baily concludes Tex Thompson’s battles with the zombies in this issue.

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It’s not that great a story, and really I only included it to show this page, with both Gargantua, and Africans in it.  These are all black people, so one would expect them to be drawn in a similar style.  But that is not the case, not at all.  The Africans actually look like Africans, more or less, while Gargantua still appears as a caricature.

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Guardineer sends Zatara on another mission against aliens in this adventure, which begins as a poisonous mist starst circulating.

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Zatara meets a fairy-looking woman, Nala, who helpfully explains that the mists are sent by the Moon Men.  Despite being from the Moon, they have set up in a secret city in India.

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Nala leads Zatara to the city, and he uses a variety of magic acts to defeat and humiliate the Moon Men, before working with Nala to use their own poisonous gas against them.

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Together they completely wipe out the Moon Men.  It’s bloodthirsty Zatara back in action.  But Nala is happy with him, offering to take him to the Moon.  Despite her promise, and that of the editor announcing that next issue will see Zatara on the Moon, it never happens.  Or if it did happen, it consisted of events unsuitable for a children’s comic.

Action 19 – Superman and the purple plague, Pep Morgan goes home, Clip Carson goes to Africa, Tex Thompson vs the Zombies, and the Three Aces solve a friend’s murder

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Superman is back on the cover of Action 19 (Dec. 39), and will stay there from now on.

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A purple plague hits Metropolis.  The doctors are baffled, and the death toll keeps on rising.

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Clark Kent is shown to be immune to the plague, because of his “super-resistance” to disease, another new attribute of his powers.  Though what really strikes me about this page is the horse drawn cart full of rotting bodies.  This seems anachronistic, but I expect that it is not.  Movies from the time period show horses and carriages in towns, so perhaps they were still used this way.

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The Ultra-Humanite is behind the plague, and makes an appearance relatively early in the story, rather than being saved for the last few pages.

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The Ultra-Humanite is trying to kill the doctor researching a cure for the plague, but Superman rescues the man, falling into the hands of the Ultra-Humanite himself.  An electric gun is capable of knocking Superman out, though not seriously wounding him.  The villain attempts to use a mind-control device on Superman, but it fails.

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The Ultra-Humanite really seems to be dead at the end of this story.  Is he?

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Pep Morgan, back in the US, heads home to Ardale in this story by Fred Guardineer.  But nothing seems to go smoothly for Pep anymore.

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Escaping thieves hop the train he is taking, though Pep alerts the police, who are there and ready to capture them when the train pulls into town.

We briefly get to meet his parents, and another boy, who seems to be his younger brother.

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The gang the thieves belong to try to take vengeance on Pep, but he evades that, and the gang gets captured.

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Clip Carson heads to Kenya (spelled Kenye) in this Bob Kane story.  He gets hired to protect a shipment of ivory from a notorious raider, Wolf Lupo.

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Clip must be considered quite a threat, as Lupo’s men try to kill him the first night, putting a cobra in his tent.  Clip falls into the hands of some cannibals, but manages to win them over by playing a harmonica.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Bernard Baily also sends his hero to Africa, with Bob Daley and Gargantua T Potts tagging along.  There was just no space for Ali Baba.

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Tex is asked to help find a missing son, who left behind a note announcing that he has been attacked by zombies.  Now, zombies in the 1940s were not exactly the way we envision them now.  The whole brain eating thing was not a part of the concept.  Zombies were slaves, unable to act of their own volition.

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There is an appallingly awful sequence with Gargantua befriending a monkey, which I am not even going to show.

The story continues in the next issue.

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The Three Aces return.  They are flying in formation with their fellow reservists, when one dies mid-flight.  They discover his widow in the arms of one of their buddies, and fake them out into confessing murder.

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Although there is some aerial action at the start of the story, the rest of it reads like any other mystery.

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