Posts tagged ‘Paul Cassidy’

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Action 41 – Superman and the saboteur, Pep Morgan ends, the Black Pirate chooses to forget, and Congo Bill battles for loyalty

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Very nice cover for Action 41 (Oct. 41).  I like the puff of steam at the side of the train, helps convey forward motion.  I can’t draw for the life of me, and spotting those kind of “tricks” always impresses me.

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Jerry Siegel and Paul Cassidy turn out another story about foreign saboteurs in this issue.  The politics and motivation of those behind it are kept muddy, though.

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Sergeant Casey is featured again.  He is no longer hunting Superman, and they are buddies again.  Casey tracks down the man who planted the bomb which began the tale, and Superman winds up having to protect him, while tracking down his boss, who is trying to have him killed.

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Lois Lane gets captured, and must be saved, but the whole sequence is so quick it seems almost jammed in because it “had” to be there.

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Pep Morgan’s series comes to a close with this issue, which follows from the previous story. Don Alvera brings him to his ranch in the country, where Pep is pitted against the local bandit king, Tuerto, whom he kills.  Don Alvera seems to actively be trying to set up Pep with his daughter, though Pep’s first comments to her are about her father’s wealth.

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The last we see of Pep he is embracing the prone Juanita, as her father Don Alversa looks on approvingly.  After his failed gay relationship, his failed professional baseball career, and his many failed attempts at college, Pep settles down in Chileanos, becoming the muscle behind the powers the run the country.  And after marrying Juanita, and becoming heir to Don Alvera, Pep was sure to rule like a warlord.

I imagine, in the end, Pep was unable to accept the frailties of age, and attempted some fight or daring act when his body was no longer capable of it, and died stupidly.

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The Black Pirate is given a one-issue tale by Moldoff in this issue, which seems derived from Haggard’s novel She.

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Jon docks the ship, and goes ashore, discovering an albino “goddess,” and her giant black slave.  He doesn’t have time to do much more than break a jar and run back to his ship.  He decides to forget about the adventure, and never tell anyone about it.  If it wasn’t for Moldoff’s art, I probably would have forgotten about it, too.

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I probably should have written about Congo Bill’s adventure in the previous issue, as it introduced Sheila Hanlen, who continues as a supporting character.  The story was a silly one, though, about finding a valley of dinosaurs.  I guarantee it is not going to be the only story in which Congo Bill finds dinosaurs, and I’m sure there are better versions than the one by Fred Ray.  But Sheila is back in this story anyway, which deals with World War 2 again.

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Congo Bill and Professor Kent, along with Sheila, return to a British fort, and discover that a German agent is trying to rouse the natives against the British.  Bill goes out to fight the man, as apparently the natives will follow whoever wins.  It’s kind of insulting, really, and ignores the huge reasons the Africans had for not siding with their alien overlords.

Action 37 – Clark Kent, Police Commissioner, the Three Aces head to Atlantis, and Congo Bill begins

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The cover of Action 37 (June 1941) would have been perfectly suitable for last issue’s Superman story.  Ah well.  There is no Black Pirate story in this issue, but it returns next month.  I assume this was because nothing at all happened during the voyage to Spain.

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Crime and city corruption are at the core of this story, by Siegel and Cassidy, as the Police Commissioner is drummed out, but every new one appointed gets murdered by the mob.

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The mayor is in a panic, and decides to appoint Clark Kent as Police Commissioner.  Lois Lane actually backs up the idea, surprisingly, pointing out that, as a reporter, Clark has been a crusader for justice.

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The mobsters attempts to kill Clark fail, because, you know, that whole Superman thing. The mob then go after the mayor, trying to burn him alive, but Superman rescues him.  The former Police Commissioner is revealed as the leader of the mob.  Sergeant Casey has a very small role in this.

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The Three Aces head to the Azores, where they are enlisted by a friend, Ingrid, to explore the lost city of Atlantis.

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She has found a massive hole in the Earth, a “pit” big enough for the Aces to fly down into – and also big enough for cool looking Atlantean rockets to emerge from.  Though aside from flying out to show themselves, the Atlanteans don’t do anything, just fly back down, it seems.  The Three Aces fly down into the pit.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Congo Bill moves over from More Fun Comics, effectively trading places with Clip Carson.  But while Carson would have a short run in his new book, Congo Bill’s run in Action would last almost two decades. Indeed, he would outlast every other series currently running in the book, aside from Superman.  The jungle adventurer made a solid home here.

Frank Long and Fred Ray launch his series, which brings Professor Kent along.

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They stop off at a military post run by a friend of Kent’s, which has been seriously depleted of men due to plague.  They worry about an attack from an enemy post while they are at their weakest, and Congo Bill helpfully leads an attack on the camp, rescuing the major’s daughter and capturing the enemy leader.   It’s a World War II story, frankly, although it avoids specifying who the white rival combatants are in Africa.

Action 36 – Superman fights saboteurs, Pep Morgan doesn’t want to kiss in public, the Black Pirate duels for the ship, and Clip Carson ends

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While the cover to Action 36 (May 1941) is not militaristic, the Superman story inside is. No robots 😦

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Jerry Siegel, Paul Cassidy and Paul Lauretta do a story about “fifth columnists,” saboteurs and spies from a foreign nation, plotting against the US.

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It’s a middling story at best, and it hardly helps that the enemy is identified only as “Nation X.”

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Forthe last few issues, Pep has constantly been in the company of his wealthy roommate, Slim, who has taken him flying in his new plane, and spent time together at his house. In this one, Papp opens the story by having Slim say he could kiss Pep, and Pep replying that that is “just like him.”  Pep’s main objection seems to be to kissing in public, which could well have proven fatal at a hockey game in 1941.

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The rest of the story has to do with Pep stopping some fur thieves. But one of the thieves is female, and contrary to most stories, there is no hint of romance redeeming her.  Nothing sparks at all between her and Pep. So is she just around to confirm what the first page seems to be implying?

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The Black Pirate looks quite dandified in the first panel of Moldoff’s story in this issue.  Quite a change from the shorts he has been stuck in for the last few issues.

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The crew that has stolen his ship wake up to discover that he has steered it back to their old one, and as Jon Valor fights the captain, the two crews take each other on. The Black Pirate triumphs, finally getting his ship back.  He intends to sail to Barcelona and leave Bonnie there, as he does not feel the ship is an appropriate place for her. But Bonnie has other plans…

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Clip Carson has his final adventure in Action, courtesy of George Papp, and it’s one of his greatest successes.

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Clips’ plane gets brought down by Central American revolutionaries, as they overthrow the president, and take his daughter hostage.  In a few pages, Clip saves the daughter, defeats the revolutionary general, bombs the rebel base and re-installs the president.  Whew!

Clip Carson moves over to More Fun Comics for the remainder of his run, a final year of largely unremarkable stories.

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.

Action 25 – Superman vs a hypnotist, Pep Morgan at sea, the Black Pirate captured, Tex Thompson and the amnesiac, Clip Carson defeats the rebels and Zatara vs Asmodeus

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Once again, the cover of Action 25 (June 1940) appears to show Superman in flight, before the stories themselves acknowledge this ability.

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Jerry Siegel and Paul Cassidy helm this tale, which begins with a bank robbery by thieves with no recollection of the events.

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Lois Lane mentions a psychic and hypnotist to Clark, Medini, whom she is going to consult, in order to find out Superman’s secret identity.  Ironically, that’s the same information Medini is trying to extract from her.

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Superman confronts Medini, who uses hypnosis to paralyze him.  Once Medini has gone, Superman’s powers begin to return, but he lacks complete control over his abilities until he jumps high into the stratosphere, which removes the effects of the hypnosis.  Pondering this sequence, it would seem that Medini must actually possess some degree of mystical powers, as only magic would be able to have such an extended effect on the hero.

Once his powers are back, Superman quickly dispenses of this one-shot villain.

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With this issue, Guradineer has Pep travelling to England as a war correspondent, despite having no experience or training in this field whatsoever.  But that is only the first odd thing about this tale.

After not only the ship Pep is on gets torpedoed, but the rescue ship as well, the lifeboat capsizes.  Pep swims around tirelessly saving people until the sub surfaces and they are brought on board.  Despite being an American kid and not in the military, Pep is brought before the sub`s commander, and manages to get his gun from him and single-handedly take over the sub.

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The commander of the sub wears a white uniform, which I thought was odd.  As they are showing England at war, why would they not depict the Nazis as they appeared?

Then it become clear.  The art “error” is our clue to confirm that this story is a preposterous tale – this is the story Pep told people to explain why he left for a while, rather than telling them the truth about his dismal Florida tryout.

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Sheldon Moldoff continues the Black Pirate’s adventures, as he falls into the hands of the angry Captain Ruff, who demands to know where Jon Valor hid his treasure.

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The Black Pirate breaks free, and sets fire to Captain Ruff’s ship.  Everyone winds up in shark-infested waters, ass the Black Pirate heads for a mysterious ship he saw on the horizon.

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Gargantua T. Potts makes his final appearance in this Baily story, spending some time with Tex and Bob Daley at Tex’s camp in Maine, Golden Gates.

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They encounter a mysterious amnesiac, being pursued by gangsters.  For a few panels it looks like Gargantua will be the one to save the day, but again he is reduced to racist comic relief.  I’m just so glad this character is being dropped, it’s worth mentioning his final tale.

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Moldoff winds up Clip Carson’s Verdania adventure in this issue.

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Surprisingly, for the era, the rebels turn out to be financed by an American oil man, trying to manipulate the situation in the country for his own benefit.

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The final panel, the hanging of the revolutionaries, is coloured so darkly, it’s almost in silhouette.  But it does add a very somber tone.

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Zatara faces off against Asmodeus, a powerful villain who uses science and magic against the hero, in this story by Gardner Fox and Fred Guardineer.

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The Tigress also returns in this story.  She is working for Asmodeus, but winds up being of very little assistance, as Zatara draws the villain’s plans and location from her mind, before shrinking her to doll size to keep her out of trouble.

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Asmodeus makes a really good villain for Zatara, and the battle between them easily carries the few pages that it lasts.  It’s a shame this villain never made a return.

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