Action 49 – the Puzzler debuts, the Rainbow Man returns, the origin of the Queen Bee, and Congo Bill on the Burma Road
With a pretty good name for a villain from this era, the Puzzler debuts in Action 49 (June 1942), in a story by Jerry Siegel, John Sikela and Ed Dobrotka.
The Puzzler is very much along the lines of a Batman villain, sending clues to the police. He sends a note to Clark Kent, for them to meet, but Lois intercepts it and goes in his place. The Puzzler has an immense ego, but no costume as such.
The Puzzler challenges Superman, but when he loses, reneges on his deal. He shows himself not only not as intelligent as he claims, but not even willing to live up to his word. He has a lot to learn about comic book villainy.
Jimmy Olsen has a very small role in this story.
The Puzzler escapes at the end, and returns a few months down the road in Superman, but never becomes a significant villain.
The Rainbow Man returns, courtesy of Mort Meskin and Cliff Young, escaping from prison by using cans of paint as a distraction.
He wastes no time launching into another colour-coded crime spree. Greg Sanders has been associated enough with the Vigilante that the Rainbow Man sends a note to Greg, relayed by Stuff, to challenge Vigilante.
The story is ok, but not great. There are no cool light globes or anything.
Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily provide the origin of the Queen Bee in this month’s Mr America story.
We meet her scientist father, and learn that it was a failed experiment with a machine that would eliminate worry that caused her to lose all sense of right and wrong.
The Queen Bee gets captured, and her father manages to de-program her, ending her criminal career. He also smashes the machine, preventing anyone else from falling victim to it. Poor Mr America, he just lost his best villain, and no chance of re-creating her.
Congo Bill isn’t even near the African coast in this Fred Ray story. It opens in Washington DC, as Bill meets with FDR, who personally commissions him to lead a shipment down the Burma Road, to reach Chaing Kai-Shek.
It’s a good story, tense, and the soldier who travels with Bill, dying at the hands of the enemy, is handled well. As with last issue, this could be from a 50s war comic.