Posts tagged ‘Miss X’

Action 30 – Superman vs Zolar, Pep Morgan changes schools, the Black Pirate enslaved, Miss X dumps Tex Thompson, and Zatara hunts for a killer

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Is he flying?  Sure looks like he’s flying on the cover of Action 30 (Nov. 40).

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Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley pits Superman against an evil genius, Zolar,  in this story.  Despite it being summer, Metropolis is stuck in a winter blizzard.

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There are little floating balls of glowing heat – but those are more likely to incinerate you than warm you.

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Some Arabs appear to be behind the weather madness, and Superman follows them.  He falls victim to the glowing balls, although they do not destroy him , simply render Superman unconscious.  I actually have my doubts that they even do that.  I suspect Superman is feigning, so that the bad guys will take him to their leader – which is exactly what happens.

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Zolar looks an awful lot like the Ultra-Humanite – and of course, what Luthor would come to look like as well.  Bald geniuses seem to be the biggest threat to Superman.  He defeats Zolar, as well as his female accomplice, pretending to be one of his victims.  Zolar dies at the end of the story, but with Luthor around, he really was no loss.

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There isn’t much to the Pep Morgan story in this issue, by George Papp, aside from the fact that he is now attending Midtown College, instead of Ardale.  The story itself deals with the fact that Pep always loses races to one guy, although he overcomes this “jinx” and wins by the end.

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The fact that this story makes it clear that Pep has lost many races, in contradiction to what we have seen in his strip so far – backs up my contention that some of Pep’s stories are lies that he tells. I suspect that Pep’s battle with the Cambodian dinosaur last issue was a story he told upon enrolling at Midtown, trying to make himself look special.

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Jon Valor is having a really rough time of it in Moldoff’s story this month.  The Black Pirate does manage to defeat the raiders who stole his ship last issue, but no longer has a crew to man it.

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Jon winds up getting captured by Captain Treble, who makes the Pirate one of his slaves, sending him to work in a phosphate mine.

The story continues next issue.

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Miss X makes her final appearance in the Tex Thompson series in this story by Bernard Baily.  The villain is a gangster named Dr. Mixxo, who is out to steal a fur shipment.

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Tex winds up getting captured by Mixxo, and Bob Daley once again shows himself to be completely useless.  It’s Miss X who saves Tex, though she remains stand-offish towards him.  She never returns, and neither does Janice/Peggy Maloney.  Despite Tex’s comment last issue that he knows who Miss X is, there is never any reveal of her identity.  A poorly dropped plot thread.

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The Tigress returns, working with another magician to commit a series of murders using a poisonous insect in this story, by Gardner Fox, with art by Joseph Sulman.

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The Tigress’ new magician is never named.  He is clearly just some dupe she picked up along the way, probably hoping he would serve as a defense against Zatara.  There seems little of the comraderie that used to exist between Zatara and the Tigress in this issue.  Indeed, Zatara insists she be sent to prison at the end of the story, instead of letting her go, as he often did in the past.  Zatara claims that her crime of murder demands punishment, but he let her go once before after she was part of a murder scheme.  Nope,this is jealousy on Zatara’s part.  How dare the Tigress work with a rival magician?

 

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Action 29 – Superman and the life insurance scam, Pep Morgan fights a dinosaur, the Black Pirate gets raided, and Tex Thompson takes the train

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Another all-purpose Superman image on the cover of Action 29 (Oct. 40), but it is the first cover of this book to show Lois Lane.

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Jerry Siegel scripts this tale, and Jack Burnley is on the art.  While in the last issue, Burnley seemed to be trying to make his work look as much like Shuster’s as he could, in this one he shows more of his own style.

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The story deals with a life insurance “club,” whose members keep dying in accidents.  Lois and Clark and investigating this for the paper.

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Sergeant Casey, a recurring friendly police officer from the pages of Superman, makes his first appearance in this book.  The scam is not really subtle enough to be effective. Not only do the ones behind it run down their clients, they even poison them!  Superman has little trouble with this case.

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George Papp takes the reins of the Pep Morgan series with this issue.  The story has Pep heading to Cambodia on summer vacation from university.  Seems a little odd, considering that he just started up again at school.

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But the story gets even weirder, as Pep finds and fights a dinosaur.  And after the earlier tales, which aroused my suspicions, I have a feeling that this is yet another of Pep’s tall tales.

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Jon Valor is on the run in this issue, wanted for stealing the jewels that he used to purchase his ship.  He doesn’t even try to explain or defend himself, but I guess if one is nicknamed the Black Pirate, one is not likely to be believed.

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He falls prey to the Red Raiders in this story, who take his ship and toss him into the sea.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Tex Thompson and Bob Daley are taking the train back east as this Bernard Baily story begins.  On board, they run into Peggy Maloney, who I believe is the same person as the Janice Maloney introduced a few issues earlier.

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The story is quite convoluted, with a bomb on the train, attempted murders, and a secret message transferred onto Bob’s skin by a sunlamp.  Miss X shows up once again to save Tex.  As the story ends, Tex announces that he suspects that he knows who Miss X really is.  And as there is only one recurring female in this series, even if her first name is given in a couple of different ways, it shouldn’t be hard for the reader to figure it out as well.

 

 

Action 27 – Superman and the orphanage, Pep Morgan goes back to school, the Black Pirate buys a ship, more Gorrah, and Clip Carson goes Hollywood

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A really good rendering of the 1940s version of the Superman chest emblem on the cover for Action 27 (Aug. 40), but you gotta feel sorry for the lion.

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Although this story starts out with Lois accepting a date with Clark Kent, any hint of romance is quickly jettisoned as Siegel, Cassidy and Dennis Neville recount the horrors of an orphanage.  There had already been an orphanage story in the pages of Superman, but this seemed a frequent subject in the era.

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After talking to a boy who escaped, Clark insists they contact the police, and leaves to do so, although of course he really just changes to Superman.  Lois accompanies the boy back into the home, where she runs afoul of the corrupt owners, and their nasty dog Black Satan.

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Lois Lane’s soul searching while held captive is a bit difficult to judge. It seems wrong for her to think her “barging into” things is bad, as it is what gets her most of her stories.  On the other hand, contacting the police definitely would have been the wise move.

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Once the action gets going, the story seems to really want to show off Superman’s invulnerability, as object after object shatters against him.

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Pep Morgan is back in university in Ardale in this story by Fred Guardineer.  His pro career having gone nowhere, Pep seems to want more out of life than just being a hired goon, and so has returned to complete his education.

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Perhaps he should have left the sports alone, as once again he gets all tangled up with gamblers trying to fix a track meet.

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A great pose by the Black Pirate to open this chapter, by Sheldon Moldoff.  Captain Ruff’s brother was the mysterious man who entered the inn at the end of the previous issue, and he and Jon Valor fight.  Valor wins, of course.

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The Black Pirate then sails back to Bristol, where he uses some of the treasure to buy himself a ship.  But the jewels he used for the purchase are recognized as belonging to a collection stolen from a queen.  Oh, oh!

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The Gorrah returns, once again seeking vengeance on Tex Thompson in this Baily tale.  Maloney makes a brief appearance, and introduces his daughter, Janice.  This is almost certainly the same woman who returns as his daughter, Peggy.

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The Gorrah manages to capture Tex, and get him under his spell.  Miss X shoots Tex to prevent him from becoming a murderer, and though it’s just a glancing wound, the shock breaks Tex out of the spell.

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Clip Carson heads to Hollywood for four issues, in this Moldoff story, and begins work as a consultant on a movie called “Adventure Pictures,” which really sounds like a lame title for a movie.  Nonetheless, everyone seems to think it will be a massive success.

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There is a rival film crew that sets up in hidden locales to film the same action, hoping to release their version first, and a foreign film company trying to delay the shooting so they can release theirs first.  Amidst this, actors keep getting murdered on set.

Action 26 – Superman and the Cobalt Clinic, Pep Morgan in Canada, the Black Pirate tells his story, Tex Thompson meets Miss X, Clip Carson in Canada, and Zatara in Alaska

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If Superman still can’t fly, then he has leaped higher than skyscrapers with the two thugs on the cover of Action 26 (July 1940).  No wonder they look so scared.

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The story is by Jerry Siegel, but the art is by Paul Cassidy and Paul Lauretta.  The story deals with a phony doctor and his Cobalt Clinic. promising a cure for infantile paralysis.

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Much of this story has Superman frantically going from place to place.  He has been captured as Clark Kent, and keeps heading back to maintain that fiction.  Between those times, he frees Lois Lane from Cobalt, takes down the quack and his men, get help for some of his patients, and keeps checking in with George Taylor at the Daily Planet.

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Superman also displays a new ability – speed reading, and memorization of what he reads.

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Fred Guardineer sends Pep Morgan into “the Saskatchewan district” of Canada for this story.  It’s all the same things one sees in Canada stories. Snow, trees, polar bears, guys named Pierre.  No Mounties though.

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Pep fights off a bear, and performs other heroic acts, but I have deep suspicions about this story.  I think it might just be another lie to explain his time in Florida.  Aside from the reference to the Saskatchewan district, which makes me think that he has not really been to Saskatchewan, the fact that the story just shakes out all the old expected stereotypes makes it sound even more like something Pep made up.

But there is a reference to a red flag on a cabin signalling a plague.  It’s not so much that that adds realism, as that it will pop up again, in this very issue!

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Moldoff gives a happy ending to the first adventure of the Black Pirate. The mystery ship is on Jon Valor’s side, and he returns to Savannah.

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Jon rides to a small inland town, and stops at an inn.  There he finds Jeanne, his love, and friend since childhood.  He regales her with his battle against Captain Ruff, and neither sees a cloaked figure enter the inn.

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As od this issue, Gargantua is gone.  We learn that he has enlisted with the French army as a cook, and that he is of Senegalese descent (meant to explain why he did such a thing).  While I was glad to see the last of him, this story was cover-dated July of 1940, meaning Gargantua joined the French army just in time for the Nazi invasion of France.

In this issue Bailey also introduces Special Prosecutor Maloney, who swears Tex and Bob in as agents reporting directly to him, needing their skills to help fight a crime wave.  Tex infiltrates the main gang, discovering that their leader is the supposedly honourable Vander Wallace.  Tex winds up shooting and killing Vander Wallace as he gives a public address, the audience completely unaware of Wallace’s criminal ties.  One would expect this to have some major repercussions, but Maloney is content to keep Tex and Bob as his staff.

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This story also introduces Miss X, a woman with knowledge of the mob, who sometimes seems to be working with them, but who also acts to protect or aid Tex.  Both Maloney and Miss X will return for the next few issues.

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Clip heads to New York City in this Moldoff story, and from there to Canada to help Miss Trent find her missing father.  The man had discovered a mine in “Hudson Bay country,” but been captured by evil Metis claim jumper Jacques Frontenac.

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Oh, look.  Snow, trees, french people and wild animals.  It must be Canada.  But “Hudson’s Bay country?”  In the same issue with “the Saskatchewan district,” nonetheless.  Do they actually have any real maps of Canada in the US?

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By the time one reaches the Zatara story by Gardner Fox and Fred Guardineer, one has to wonder if there was an attempt by the editor to create a theme issue.  Cause Zatara is surrounded by snow, trees, and french people.  There’s even a red plague flag on a cabin!  But a mention towards the end of the story of the city of Nome makes it clear this gold mine story takes place in Alaska.

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It stands above the other two, simply because Zatara turns his own airplane into a battling, flying robot to stop the claim jumpers.

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