Action 32 – the Krypto-Ray Gun, Pep Morgan gets a friend, the Black Pirate vs Captain Treble, and the Three Aces find the Dalai Lama
Boy, the cover of Action 32 (Jan. 41) really really looks like a scene from a story, doesn’t it? Well, it’s not. Nor will any of the 1941 covers reflect the Superman story inside. So I’m going to stop pointing that out.
Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley tell a story in this issue that begins by resembling one of the early social commentary stories, before become just a gigantic ad.
A gambler’s attempted suicide is prevented by Superman, and Clark takes his story to the Daily Planet. George Taylor assigns him and Lois to get the goods on the Preston Gambling Club, but that is easier said than done. The mayor is on the side of the club, and gives them advance warning before Clark arrives. Lois manages to get in, but is discovered to be a reporter, and given a drink that removes her memory.
The super-hypnotism that Superman uses to restore Lois’ mind will pop up occasionally over the years, often as a deus ex machina. But more significant (for this story) is Clark’s creation, the Krypto-Ray Gun.
It’s basically a camera than can reverse and also project pictures, and though it is used to show proof of the club’s crimes, it’s a pretty limited invention.
But look, you can buy one yourself!
The name of the device is also a bit of a problem. At this point, Superman had no idea where he came from. He would not learn about Krypton for another 8 years! So his use of the word “krypto” in the name of the gun is meant to be a total coincidence. Although if he had never heard of Krypton, one wonders why he would use part of its name in the first place.
Pep Morgan’s college roommate, Slim, is introduced in this George Papp story, and will stick around for a while. Slim is also an athlete, and comes from a very wealthy family.
Slim invites Pep to join him at his uncle’s cabin in the country, where they can hunt down escaped convicts. That’s not actually part of the invitation, it’s not a regular weekend hunt or anything. Just what happens in the story.
Sheldon Moldoff keeps the Black Pirate hopping in his adventures. In a few pages, Jon Valor finds and defeats Captain Treble, frees his enslaved miners, and makes them his new crew.
The first ship they attempt to takeover turns out to be run by a woman, who simply refers to herself as the Queen of the Seas. The Black Pirate has too much chivalry to take her ship from her. Besides, she looks like she could be (and will be) a more interesting recurring character.
The Three Aces are in Tibet in this issue, preventing a kidnapping of the new Dalai Lama, in a story that must have been very timely. The Dalai Lama had been “found” in 1937, not too much earlier.
The art on the series definitely goes up a notch with this story. One subtle note about this strip. Up to this point, the characters would refer to their days fighting in the Great War, but as the Second World War grows, those references get dropped. Likely because it makes the characters seem too old.