Posts tagged ‘Queen Bee’

Action 562 – Queen Bee meets King Alexander

act_562

Alexander the Great, aka the Planeteer returns, now calling himself King Alexander, in the Rozakis, Schaffenberger and Hunt story in Action 562 (Dec. 84).

act_562_001

The story has a subplot about Steve Lombard,who was fired from WGBS by Morgan Edge in the pages of Superman.  He is starring in a production of Damn Yankees, and has sent opening night tickets to Clark, Lana, Jimmy and Perry White.  Perry actually winds up stopping a pair of robbers during the show, and his wife Alice gets a small role.

act_562_002

Queen Bee gets most of the attention in the story.  She has been causing magnetic anomalies throughout Metropolis.  She has found an immortality serum that needs a constant recharge of magnetic energy to allow her to stay mobile.

act_562_003

And who should also be back in Metropolis but the magnetically powered Alexander?

act_562_004

They hit it off, and Alexander thinks its true love and world conquest, unaware that he is being drugged, and his power drained, by Zazzala.

act_562_005

Mind you, even when Superman explains to him what is going on, he just chooses not to believe it.  He has fallen hard.  Superman uses the couple’s magnetism against them.

This is the final appearance of Alexander the Great aka Planeteer aka King Alexander, and the Queen Bee is next seen in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths.

And Steve Lombard’s revival of Damn Yankees closes after one night.

Action 443 – Superman saves the Justice League

act_443

Maggin, Swan and Blaisdel give Superman a big line up of allies and enemies in Action 443 (Jan. 75).

act_443_001

The story opens in a very disorienting way, with Superman as a nebbishy newscaster, picked on by Steve Lombard and rejected by Lois Lane.

act_443_002

While Clark Kent is the one leaping into heroic action against Queen Bee and her drones.

act_443_003

Queen Bee is leading a host of villains against the Justice League of America.  Most of them are regularly appearing big names – Chronos, Sinestro, Ocean Mchroaster, Grodd and Brainiac.  Matt Hagen makes his first appearance in over a decade as Clayface.  Merlyn and the Harpy are both newcomers. Harpy, the villain assigned to Black Canary, had appeared in Green Lantern, while Merlyn, who would go on to become a regular Green Arrow enemy, had only debuted recently in Justice League of America.

act_443_004

The assembled villains had already triumphed over the rest of the Justice League, and in flashback we see them taking down Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Aquaman, Atom and Red Tornado.  At this point, Wonder Woman and Hawkman were not members of the JLA.

act_443_005

Superman has used a Kandorian machine to reverse people’s perceptions of Superman and Clark Kent, simply to puzzle the villains.  They bring him aboard their ship, which is what he wants.  As he struggles with Grodd and Clayface, his heat vision pierces the capsule the Flash is being held in, and the Flash exploits this, and frees himself, and the rest of the League.

act_443_006

A lot of characters.  The story is fun, but I cannot honestly say it makes the most of its cast.

 

Action 49 – the Puzzler debuts, the Rainbow Man returns, the origin of the Queen Bee, and Congo Bill on the Burma Road

act_49

With a pretty good name for a villain from this era, the Puzzler debuts in Action 49 (June 1942), in a story by Jerry Siegel, John Sikela and Ed Dobrotka.

act_49_001

The Puzzler is very much along the lines of a Batman villain, sending clues to the police.  He sends a note to Clark Kent, for them to meet, but Lois intercepts it and goes in his place.  The Puzzler has an immense ego, but no costume as such.

act_49_002

The Puzzler challenges Superman, but when he loses, reneges on his deal.  He shows himself not only not as intelligent as he claims, but not even willing to live up to his word.  He has a lot to learn about comic book villainy.

Jimmy Olsen has a very small role in this story.

The Puzzler escapes at the end, and returns a few months down the road in Superman, but never becomes a significant villain.

act_49_003

The Rainbow Man returns, courtesy of Mort Meskin and Cliff Young, escaping from prison by using cans of paint as a distraction.

act_49_004

He wastes no time launching into another colour-coded crime spree.  Greg Sanders has been associated enough with the Vigilante that the Rainbow Man sends a note to Greg, relayed by Stuff, to challenge Vigilante.

The story is ok, but not great.  There are no cool light globes or anything.

act_49_005

Ken Fitch and Bernard Baily provide the origin of the Queen Bee in this month’s Mr America story.

act_49_006

We meet her scientist father, and learn that it was a failed experiment with a machine that would eliminate worry that caused her to lose all sense of right and wrong.

act_49_007

The Queen Bee gets captured,  and her father manages to de-program her, ending her criminal career.  He also smashes the machine, preventing anyone else from falling victim to it.  Poor Mr America, he just lost his best villain, and no chance of re-creating her.

act_49_008

Congo Bill isn’t even near the African coast in this Fred Ray story.  It opens in Washington DC, as Bill meets with FDR, who personally commissions him to lead a shipment down the Burma Road, to reach Chaing Kai-Shek.

act_49_009

It’s a good story, tense, and the soldier who travels with Bill, dying at the hands of the enemy, is handled well.  As with last issue, this could be from a 50s war comic.

 

Action 48 – Superman vs the Top, Mr America vs the Pied Piper, and Congo Bill fights the Japanese

act_48

The trend towards having covers that represent the story inside comes to an abrupt end, an exceptionally indirect result of the bombing of Pearl Harbour.  Superman would be engaged in war on the covers of Action Comics, even while his stories inside tended to avoid even mentioning the conflict.

act_48_001

In this issue Jerry Siegel and John Sikela match Superman against the Top, a mysterious villain whose evil scheme largely consists of selling defective cars.

act_48_002

Lois and Clark become targets of the Top when they start publishing stories implicating the dealership.

The Top never appears again, and has no connection to the later Flash villain.

act_48_003

Fitch and Baily send Mr America and Fat Man for another round with the Queen Bee in this story.  This time the Queen has a Pied Piper working for her, using his music to mind control the wealthy into following him, and turning over their money.

act_48_004

I have to admit, even though I have never really cared for this series, Baily does give it his all, and the action in this issue particularly is well rendered.

act_48_005

Congo Bill gets even more into the war with this Fred Ray story.  Aside from a couple of panels, this story could fit into any of the later DC war books.

act_48_006

Bill joins the British forces fighting against the Japanese in the “East Indies,” which I think means islands in the Indian Ocean.

Action 47 -Luthor wants the Powerstone, the Three Aces enter the War, Mr America fights living skeletons, and Zatara vs the Brain

act_47

Luthor makes his first cover appearance in Action 47 (April 1942).  Too bad it’s not in any way flattering.  The story, by Jerry Siegel and John Sikela, is officially Luthor’s first appearance since issue 42, but I believe that Luthor is the same person as Lightning Master, and this story follows his appearance in Superman.

act_47_001

Luthor wears the same green robes as Lightning Master, minus the headdress, and has electrical powers.  These are not explained in any way.  But could be a logical extension of the end of the Lightning Master story.  When I reach that Superman story, I will argue this further.

act_47_002

Luthor goes on a mad spree using his new powers.  He is able to stun Superman with them, but not kill him.  Luthor sets up an entertaining scam, holding a contest for the richest man, in order to award him millions more.  The panel I reproduced above is worth reading, for all the different characters who come for the prize.  Luthor simply holds them all for ransom.

act_47_011

Superman shows up, and Luthor threatens to kill the men unless Superman retrieves the Powerstone for him, from a buried temple in India.

act_47_003

Superman brings Luthor the Powerstone.  The villain is thrilled to have the stone, which will grant him greater powers than even Superman.  But the stone is a fake, Superman kept the real one.

Luthor is defeated, but returns, as does the real Powerstone, in the next issue of Superman.

act_47_004

Three Aces undergoes a dramatic change with this issue, written in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

The Three Aces are now part of the US airforce, operating off of the carrier USS Roosevelt. No further mention is made of them being in the First World War.

act_47_005

The magic carpets, lost civilizations and Mongol treasures are shoved to the side as they face the Japanese fleet and airforce.  The heroes get shot down a fair bit, being taken prisoner by the Japanese a few times, though they always manage to escape. The stories are neither better or worse than before, really, and the series continues to leave me cold. But the change is notable.

act_47_006

Fitch and Baily bring back Queen Bee for another round with Mr. America and Fat Man.

act_47_007

Although the Queen Bee barely appears in the tale, and once again escapes, the story itself is a good read.  She has caused the dead to rise, the skeletons dressed in old armor.  Not a deep tale, but visually interesting throughout.

act_47_008

Zatara deals with a twisted genius, master of an underwater city in this story by Fox and Sulman.

act_47_009

The Brain has great mental powers – strong enough to be able to act as a counter to Zatara’s magic.

act_47_010

Sadly, the Brain winds up dying, and his city gets destroyed.  I would have easily accepted any excuse for his return.  It’s very rare for anyone to be able to challenge Zatara effectively.

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 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