Posts tagged ‘Mort Weisinger’

Action 46 – Superman vs the Domino, Vigilante vs the Rainbow Man, Mr America vs the Queen Bee, and Zatara vs Adolf Hitler

act_46

Hey, the cover of Action 46 (March 1942) reflects the story!  Lois and Clark go to a fair, which is being menaced by the Domino, in a story by Jerry Siegel and Paul Cassidy.

act_46_001

The villain is masked – but it’s not a domino mask. It makes one wonder exactly why he chose that name.  His goal is force the fair to allow gambling, so I imagine he must be talking about gambling on dominoes, which would give a reason for that name.

act_46_002

The Domino sets off all sorts of sabotage on the various rides, but Cassidy does not really play this to the hilt. It’s all rather tame in execution.  Lois gets captured, and must be rescued.  I think I could write that sentence blindfolded.

The Domino is unmasked and defeated, and never returns.

act_46_003

The Vigilante, on the other hand, has his first match against the Rainbow Man, who would become one of his most frequent enemies,in a story by Weisinger and Meskin.

act_46_004

The Rainbow Man looks and acts nastier than his name would imply.  He has his men commit crimes according to colour themes.

act_46_005

The Rainbow Man captures Vigilante and Stuff, but his murderous machine is really just a colourful light globe, so it’s not too surprising that they manage to escape, and prevent his “white” crimes, as they pose as doctors.

act_46_006

The Queen Bee returns in this Fitch and Baily story to menace Mr. America and Fat Man.

act_46_007

The Queen Bee and her men have forced an inventor to build a giant robot, which emerges from a volcano as Vol-Kan, and heads through the city on a destructive rampage.  Fat Man sprays oil into the robots eyes, and it destroys itself trying to clear its vision.  Mr. America doesn’t slack, he takes down the Queen Bee’s men, but she escapes to return next issue.

act_46_009

I haven’t cared much for the Zatara series since Joseph Sulman took over the art, but he and Gardner Fox have a story that definitely merits inclusion.  It was released in early January 1942, so must have been written and drawn before the attack on Pearl Harbour, but features Zatara wading right into the war.

act_46_010

It is the Nazis that Zatara is fighting, along with Tong.  There is no mention of the Japanese.  Zatara makes bombs behave like humans (sort of), in one of Sulman’s better pages.

act_46_011

The story culminates as Zatara faces Hitler.  Hitler admits defeat, calls off the war, and heads into exile.

Ok, so as this CLEARLY is not what happened, how to interpret the ending?

Going off of Roy Thomas’ later work, with the Spear of Destiny being used to insulate the Axis against beings with super-powers, I suggest that this story was one used by the German high command as a sort of “it could happen here!,” and to back up the use of the Spear to generals who might be doubting why such magic would be needed.

 

Action 45 – Superman builds an ark, the Vigilante meets Stuff, the Chinatown Kid, and the Three Aces find survivors of Lemuria

act_45

Another generic Superman image on the cover of Action 45 (Feb. 42).

act_45_001

The Superman story, by Siegel, Nowak and Dobrotka, begins with Lois and Clark taking a trip to the zoo, only to discover that there are very few animals there.  The zoo has not been able to afford to buy any.  And apparently is not very good at keeping the ones they have alive and reproducing.  Superman builds a giant ark and flies to Africa to restock the zoo.

act_45_002

Once there, he runs into Count Von Henzel, and the story suddenly weaves into the Most Dangerous Game.  Despite the fact that they make the count German, the story avoids anything about the war.  And it still winds up showing Superman beating up animals and carting them back to the zoo.  You’d think they might have been aware of the parallel between the count imprisoning and hunting people, and the zoo imprisoning, if not hunting, the animals, but they weren’t.

act_45_003

More amazing art on the Vigilante story, as George Roussos takes the inks on Meskin’s pencils for Weisinger’s story.

act_45_004

The villain of the story is the Head, who sometimes appears as a giant head.  The story seems  be a “yellow peril” one, set in Chinatown, although it deals with silk thefts rather than opium or white slavery.

act_45_005

Betty Stuart makes her final appearance. Can’t blame her, she has been sidelined in every story so far.  Stuff, later to gain the nickname the Chinatown Kid, enlists the aid of the Vigilante when his grandfather is framed for the thefts.  He also rescues the Vigilante after he is captured by the Head and subjected to Chinese water torture.

act_45_006

Ironically, despite the water torture and the Chinatown location, the Head is actually Japanese.  He is a foreign agent, sent to try to stir up a gang war.

act_45_007

The Three Aces find a golden city high in the California mountains, and discover it populated by survivors of Lemuria, an Atlantis-like sunken ancient city.

act_45_008

With humans continuing to encroach upon them, the Lemurians have decided to use their advanced weaponry to destroy mankind.  The Three Aces win by blasting everything to bits.  Many of their stories see them triumph by destruction.

Action 44 – Superman vs a caveman, the Vigilante vs the Shade, and Congo Bill stays behind

act_44

The US was not yet part of World War 2, but Superman seems to have chosen a side on the cover of Action 44 (Jan. 42).

act_44_001

Siegel, Nowak and Dobrotka helm this story, in which a caveman is discovered in the ice, and thawed out and revived.

act_44_002

Lois Lane and Clark Kent are there covering the story when the “dawn man” breaks free.  Lois, trying so hard to succeed in a “man’s” profession, has no trouble playing on her gender when it gets her what she wants .  “Ladies first!”

act_44_003

The caveman goes on a murderous rampage, but it turns out there are really two of them.  A real caveman, but also a fake one, committing intentional murders that are blamed on the neanderthal.  Superman figures it all out.

act_44_004

The two Morts pull off another great Vigilante story in this issue, bringing back the Shade.

act_44_005

The Shade is having his men kill horses, for unknown reasons.  Vigilante tries to protect the animals,but winds up accused of killing them himself.

act_44_006

Billy Gunn comes to Vigilante’s help when he’s being accused of being the horse killer, and Betty Stuart is also around, but does little.

The Shade gets captured, and is revealed to be a radio announcer, who had been around throughout the last couple of stories.  The horses had been used to smuggle in maps of stolen bonds.  This Shade never appears again.

act_44_009

Fred Ray brings about some changes in the Congo Bill strip this issue.

act_44_010

Bill continues to work with the British against the Germans in Africa.  Professor Kent winds up his research, and heads back to the US, and Sheila Hanlen goes with him.  I guess they hit it off between panels. Neither character will appear again, but it’s nice that they were formally written out.

act_44_011

As for Congo Bill, his series shifts from adventure stories to war stories.

 

 

 

Action 43 – Superman and the plane crashes, Vigilante meets Billy Gunn, and Mr America fights giant puppets

act_43

Superman fights the Nazis on the cover of Action 43 (Dec. 41).  And though one might associate the cover date with the US entry into the war,in fact this book was printed and on sale in mid-October of the year.

act_43_001

The Superman story in this issue, by Jerry Siegel, Leo Nowak and Ed Dobrotka, is average.  Lois Lane is sent out to write a story about an airline whose planes keep crashing.  Superman follows, to rescue her periodically.

act_43_002

He gets into his Clark Kent clothes, claiming to have followed her.  This happens largely so that they can be captured and bound together, to make it difficult for Superman to get away.  But the scene ends in a lame cop-out, as Lois knocks herself out, banging her head while trying to escape.

act_43_003

The Vigilante story, by Mort and Mort (Weisinger and Meskin) is much more fun.  It introduces a villain, the Shade, who is not the same as the later, and more famous, Flash villain.  He does spend most of his time in the dark, and seems to have the power to disappear.

act_43_004

The Shade is pursuing an old man, Billy Gunn, although Gunn has no idea who the Shade is, or why he is after him.

act_43_005

Billy Gunn mets Greg Sanders while appearing on a gong show that he is hosting.  Gunn gets gonged fast, and Greg feels sorry for him.  That woman next to him is Betty Stuart, Greg’s girlfriend, who was actually introduced in his first story, but I forgot about her.

act_43_006

Although Billy Gunn dresses and talks like a cowboy, he is an easterner, who just admires the west.  Still, when Vigilante gets captured by the Shade, it’s Billy who comes to his rescue, and sticks around, becoming his sidekick.

Billy had inherited a mine, and the Shade had been out to kill him and get it.

The Shade returns in the next issue.

act_43_007

Mr. America and Fat Man fight giant puppets in this story by Fitch and Baily.  It’s actually quite a bit better than the previous sentence would imply.

act_43_008

Bob learn that Tex knows his identity in this story.  Which is good, because Tex is not a total idiot.  It is also the final appearance of the flying cape.  Tex uses it to escape from German agents who have been sabotaging factories, making it fly while it is still around his neck.  Although he does get away, I think it likely caused some major neck strain, probably why he retired it.

 

Action 42 – Superman and the city in the sky, the Vigilante debuts, the Black Pirate ends, and Fat Man joins Mr America

act_42

A fairly generic Superman cover for Action 42 (Nov. 41).

act_42_001

Jerry Siegel and Leo Nowak provide a very non-generic story for Superman on the inside.  A number of prominent men go missing in Metropolis, which Clark covers for the Daily Planet.

act_42_002

Perry White approves of the series, and Jimmy Olsen makes a small cameo.  Superman has some theories as to who is behind the kidnappings, but the trail keeps ending when his suspects keep getting killed by beams coming down from the sky.  Sergeant Casey is also on the case, with no idea what is going on.

act_42_003

Things only start to move towards an explanation when Clark Kent gets grabbed, and taken up to a city floating high in the stratosphere, ruled by an alien, Zytal.  Clark’s articles made him worthy of being collected. Zytal’s intention of collecting people from different worlds in a search for knowledge vaguely resembles Brainiac’s motivation, many years down the road.

act_42_004

But Zytal is really Luthor in disguise.  He manages to use electricity to not only paralyze Superman, but also put him under Luthor’s mental control for a while.  This is when he puts Lois in danger.  Cause Lois always has to be in danger at some point in the tale.  Superman breaks free, and rescues the people from the city, although Luthor seemingly jumps to his death.

act_42_005

Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin introduce a really successful blend of the western and superhero genres in this issue, with the Vigilante.  A modern day cowboy who fights crime in the big city, his first case centres on a supposedly executed felon, whose death was faked.

act_42_006

Vigilante’s origin is covered briefly.  Greg Sanders was the soon of a sheriff, who taught him gunslinging and gave him his taste for justice.  After his father was murdered, Greg adopted the guise of the masked Vigilante.  In his everyday life, he is a country music singer.

act_42_007

Meskin’s art is extremely dynamic, and the story is fun to read.

act_42_008

Sheldon Moldoff ends the Black Pirate’s run in Action with a really quick, but mediocre tale.

act_42_009

Jon spots a man adrift, and takes him on board, though Bonnie harbours doubts about him.  Once again, Bonnie is dead on, as the man is working with others to take over Valor’s ship.  The Black Pirate defeats him. From here, the series moves over to join the starting line-up on the new Sensation Comics.

act_42_010

Sidekicks are popular, right?  So the Mr America series could only be improved by introducing a sidekick, right?

act_42_011

In this story, by Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily,  Bob Daley decides to take on a masked identity of his own.  He puts on long red underwear and a lampshade on his head, and armed with a broom and a squirt gun of ink, takes to the streets as Fat Man.

act_42_012

Tex has no idea of Fat Man’s identity at first, he has been busy in his secret cabin/laboratory in the woods making his cape function as a flying carpet.  Together they face the Queen Bee, the first of many DC villainesses to use that name.  The Queen Bee returns later in the run.  So does Fat Man.  Sadly.

Tag Cloud