Posts tagged ‘John Sikela’

Action 112 – Mr. Mxyztplk’s chess game

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John Sikela does the art as Mr. Mxyztplk returns, in Action 112 (Sept. 47).

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The 5th Dimensional imp comes back to Metrolpolis, but finds his usual mayhem not as interesting.  Superman attempts to reason with him, suggesting he do something less destructive to occupy his mind, like playing chess.  This spurs Mxyztplk into creating a life sized chess game.

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One of the most entertaining bits of this story deals with two men inside the castle that Mxyztplk takes for his set.  Although they get flown across the ocean, the men continue having tea, unconcerned and unaware of what is going on.

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Lots of good art, and a fun story, ending with a special piece that Superman adds to his side of the board.  A Klptzyxm!

Action 111- the newsreel blimp, and a rival shooting gallery

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John Sikela helms this story, which deals with two former GIs who set up a newsreel company in Gotham City, in Action 111 (Aug. 47).

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The blimp the GIs use appears right at the top of the story, and Lois Lane notices it, as it advertises a perfume that does not really exist. Apparently Lois is so into perfume that she knows every single brand.  Among the people mystified at how the newsreel footage is being taken are Clark Kent, and also the head of a rival newsreel firm.

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Some of the art is extremely good.  And the story isn’t bad.  Superman takes a liking to the boys, and works to help them, especially when their rival tries to sabotage them.

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Billy Gunn returns in the Vigilante series in this story by George Roussos.  Once again, Stuff is nowhere in sight, and probably recording his radio show.

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Billy Gunn (called Popp Gunn in these stories, matching the name he uses in the Vigilante movie serial, runs a shooting gallery in Times Square.  A rival gallery has opened, offering big prizes, to lure customers away.  Vigilante uses his shooting skills to win every prize they have, turning them over to Gunn to offer himself at his gallery.  The assumption is made that the rivals want to drive Gunn out of business, and will then no longer offer prizes, but that’s a pretty weak justification for Vigilante’s actions.  But the rivals than firebomb Gunn’s stand, so all bets are off.

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There is a good scene, with Vigilante captured an bound behind a target, which Gunn is encouraged to shoot at.

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 106 – Superman meets King George VI

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John Sikela is the artist on the Superman story in Action 106 (March 1947), in which Clark learns a possible origin for himself.

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Clark is approached by lawyers representing a British lord, whose son was kidnapped many years earlier. They have some loose evidence linking the boy and Clark.  Clark does not believe he is really British, but at this point has no idea of his actual origin, beyond being found in a rocket by the Kents.

Clark heads to England to assume the role of heir, and gets involved in a dispute with the miners who work on the lord’s land.  Clark even takes a seat in the House of Lords, and votes for a bill that will ensure the safety of the miners.  Lois accompanies him, but is really just a distraction in the story.

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Superman receives a royal invitation, as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth make a cameo.

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The story reaches a very happy ending, with the leader of the miners revealed as the actual heir.  Superman builds a new mining town, and moves the castle so that everyone can live happily together.

 

Action 105 – Santa Claus gets fat, and the Vigilante heads west

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Siegel and Sikela send out another Superman Christmas story in Action 105 (Feb. 47).

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The art is top drawer as evil Jasper Rasper heads to the North Pole, in order to fulfill his dream destroying Christmas.

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He has developed a drug that causes huge weight gain, and gives it to Santa Claus and his reindeer.  Superman is close behind, and spends the rest of the story trying to help Santa lose weight.

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Yes, there are laughs aplenty as Superman flies Santa Claus in circles around a volcano, one of the most common methods of weight loss in the late 40s.

But it’s silly, and fun, and the art is excellent.

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This story sees the Vigilante in the west, as Greg Sanders travels on a radio tour.  It begins a trend of moving the urban cowboy into a more rural setting.  The western genre had a huge boom in these few years, and the Vigilante series made the most of it.

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The story itself is mostly set within a town, and deals with a corrupt sheriff, and a crusading newspaper.  So it has some western stereotypes, as well as a saguaro cactus.

Action 97 – Hocus and Pocus at the Magician’s Convention

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Jerry Siegel and John Sikela put Hocus and Pocus centre stage in Action 97 (June 1946).

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Perry White assigns Clark to do a story on a Magician’s Convention, which seems kind of tame.  But he does order Clark to find a better story there than any other paper.  Hocus and Pocus also plan to attend, and Superman decides to once again make their magic come true.

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Fortunately for Clark, there seem to be a lot of criminal magicians attending the convention, competing for the grand prize.  He flies around at super-speed, making the spells of Hocus and Pocus come true as they round up their evil rivals.

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Superman’s activities ensure that Hocus and Pocus win the big prize, which they then donate to charity.  And as before, they remain completely ignorant of the fact that they do not have powers.

But you do have to feel sorry for the other, honest, magicians who lost out to them.

Action 95 – the Prankster makes Superman the laughing stock of Metropolis

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John Sikela handles the Prankster story in Action 95 (April 1946), in which the Prankster nearly succeeds in driving Superman to quit.

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The Prankster’s goal is to continuously publicly humiliate Superman, but using intermediaries, so that Superman will not realize that it’s a plan.

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The Prankster gets away with it a few times, undermining Superman’s self-confidence.  After getting a pie int he face at a ceremony meant to honour him, Superman decides to hang up his cape, and announces his retirement, as the city doesn’t love him anymore.

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Later, once he gets a grip on himself, Superman figures out the Prankster’s scheme, and goads him into confessing onstage.

Sikela’s art on the Prankster is a bit odd.  He doesn’t look quite right.

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