Action 17 – The Ultra-Humanite sinks a ship, Pep Morgan on a ranch, Marco Polo ends, the Gorrah returns, and Zatara in Ophir
It’s hard to tell whether the soldiers are more amazed at Superman, or the really strange looking tank that he is lifting on the cover of Action 17 (Oct. 39). He not only gets the cover image this month, the bullet with his picture sticks around as well.
Siegel and Shuster once again save the Ultra-Humanite for the last few pages of this story. It begins with a ship sinking, and Superman heading out to help.
Reporting on the disaster as Clark Kent, he learns that sabotage was responsible.
Skipping ahead to the pay-off, the Ultra-Humanite was behind it. Superman suspected him when he overheard a phone call, which did not pass through the telephone lines, but was beamed directly to the phone. Superman actually had to lift up a receiver to listen in, though. No super-hearing yet.
It’s questionable whether the Ultra-Humanite ever makes a physical appearance in this story. The person that talks to Superman is simply a projected image of him.
Mr. Smith is so pleased with Pep that he asks him to come to the ranch, with him and his daughter. Is Mr. Smith trying to set them up? I certainly think so, reading everything I can into these stories. Arriving at the ranch, they see one of the hands, Pedro, abusing the horses and fire him. He vows vengeance, which will comprise the rest of the tale. No time for romance.
Pep saves Mary from a rattlesnake, shooting it. Although honestly, Guardineer’s art makes it look like bullet misses the snake. Maybe it dies of fright. The Pedro starts shooting at them. Later, he sets the cabin on fire. This is one seriously disgruntled ex-exployee.
Pep finally tackles Pedro. It’s a good story, marred by the rendering of Pedro’s accent.
The Adventures of Marco Polo end in this issue, without ever making it to Kublai Khan.
Marco fled his abusive slave owner in the previous issue, and got lost. He is rescued in this one, and treated kindly by a powerful man, who turns Polo’s former owner over to him. The man starts to run, and that’s where the story cuts off.
Now, since we know what happened to Marco Polo, I think he caught the man, extracted the locations of his father and uncle, and they got back together, and figured it was time to move on to China. They were so humiliated about being sold into slavery that Marco chose to just leave all of this out when he told his story to Rusticello.
Marco Polo appears in a variety of DC comics over the years, but never again gets his own series.
Tex Thomspon heads to Istanbul in this story by Bernard Baily. He has been called in by the president of Turkey to oversee the safety of the Dardanelles. Quite an honour!
With Bob’s help, Tex disguises himself as a Turk, and that actually looks pretty good. Gargantua is only in the first couple of pages, and that helps the story as well.
The story then jumps back to the apparent death of the Gorrah a year or so ago, and shows how he survived, vowed vengeance on Tex, and eventually tracked him to Istanbul. It’s really no surprise that the Gorrah is back, as he is shown by the logo.
Tex spots the Gorrah, as he walks openly through the streets of Istanbul. But then, nobody else reacts to seeing the one-eyed creature, so I guess he feels at home. Tex has found a new sidekick, Ali Baba, who accompanies him as he follows the Gorrah – and walks right into a trap. Tex’s make-up was not as good as it seemed.
Zatara comes to aid of a young woman in distress in this tale by Fred Guardineer. They are all on a ship bound for Europe, where Zatara is going on vacation. In the late summer of 1939. Because Zatara either never reads the news, or finds battlefields peaceful.
Doesn’t much matter, they don’t make it to Europe anyway. They are taken away to the magical city of Ophir.
Sepat, the Queen of Ophir, wants the young woman so that she can drain the youth from her and regain hers.
Zatara is kept from being all-powerful simply by tossing a blinding liquid into his eyes. He has no eye wash spell, and must wait for a combination of sweat and tears to clear his eyes. By then, the transformation has already happened.
Zatara calls upon the power of the flame of Atlantis to reverse Sepat’s aging, and the two women return to their proper ages.
Sepat both flirts with Zatara, and threatens him. You know they will meet again (because the narration in the last panel says so.)