Posts tagged ‘Rainbow Man’

Action 156 – Lois Lane becomes Superwoman, Tommy Tomorrow meets the Metal Men, and the Rainbow Man lights up the sky


Lois Lane takes on the identity of Superwoman, but the appearance of Supergirl, in the Al Plastino story in Action 156 (May 1951).


The story begins as Lois displays her usual respect for authority, heading right through a door labelled “no admittance, ” and turning on a machine whose function she has no idea of.  But you have to give her credit.  When all the electrical charges start blasting her she neither screams nor runs, just wonders what the effect will be.


Of course, it endows Lois with powers much like Superman, so she adopts the identity of Superwoman again.  This time, she dons a blond wig, in the hopes of keeping her identity a secret.

Before the actual introduction of Supergirl at the end of the 1950s, there would be quite a few try-out variations of the character, such as this story.


Luthor has been spying on Lois, and discovers that she is Superwoman.  He uses his machine to give one of his men powers, and dresses him up as Superman, using him to lure Lois into a trap.


It’s a complicated but entertaining story, with all the fakes and phony identities.  Luthor doesn’t get a lot to do, but Lois is clearly the star of the story.  Superman reveals how he knew her identity – the scent of her perfume.  That’s almost romantic.


Years before the introduction of the Metal Men, the name would be used in this Tommy Tomorrow story, by Swan and Fischetti, for the inhabitants of a planet populated by robots.


When rumour reaches the Planeteers of this robot world, Tommy is sent out to investigate, as they fear an invasion of killer robots.  Tommy finds the world, without much difficulty.  The robots consider Tommy, and other humans, as weak and inferior creations.


But as the story progresses, Tommy and the robots work together, and gain mutual admiration and respect for each other.  In fact, as the story ends, Tommy lies to his superiors, keeping the robot world off the charts, in order to protect them from his own people.


The Rainbow Man is back again, in a story by Bob Brown, which puts the villain back in the urban setting he is more suited to.


The colour wheel seems to short out, sending a kaleidoscope of colours into the sky, neatly warning Vigilante that his old enemy is back.  Kind of like a reverse Bat-Signal, announcing a villain’s intent.


The story isn’t bad, but neither Vigilante nor Stuff is given anything great to do – the Vigilante-cycle gets to star.

Action 123 – Superman’s punchboard of doom, and the Rainbow Man’s colour organ


Al Plastino takes the art chores on Action 123 (Aug. 48), as Superman becomes a target in  an odd competition.


Various criminals take over an uninhabited island.  They decide to have a competition to determine who gets to rule over them.  The winner will be the one who kills Superman.  But rather than allow each man to come up with his own scheme, they build a giant punchboard, with 50 potential methods of murder.  Each person has to try the method their punch reveals.


After that bizarre premise, the story proceeds with a large number of scenes of Superman surviving various attacks.  At least it’s interesting to look at.  The final attempt involves trying to kill Lois.  Cause that just has to happen somewhere.


At the end, with the final hoods imprisoned in the punchboard itself, Superman flies the island into US jurisdiction, and shows off his camera ring, with which he filmed their murder attempts.


The Rainbow Man is back again, thanks to Meskin and Roussos.  Vigilante must be getting really tired of this guy.  I do like the colour wheel on the splash page, though.


And the Rainbow Man does pull off an impressive “white” escape, blending in with his cell walls.


He uses a colour organ to spin the colour wheel, and later, as a device of, umm, torment?  Vigilante and Stuff look like they were possibly given psychedelic drugs before being put in front of the colour organ’s screen.  Vigilante holds it together enough to throw the wheel into the screen, and save them from becoming hippies.


It’s kind of amazing that this is the very first Rainbow Man story to end on a rainbow bridge, with the villain landing in a pot of gold.


Action 119 – Clark Kent pretends to be Superman, Zatara powers up a piper, and Vigilante rides the jet-aquacycle


Edmond Hamilton and Win Mortimer tell an early version of a common tale, as Clark Kent has to pretend to be Superman, in Action 119 (April 1948).


A series of robberies using a helicopter are the crime motivating this tale.  Superman does not want Lois on the case, figuring it is too dangerous, and lies to her, saying he will be out of town, in hopes that this will discourage her.  After 10 years, you think he would know better.  Lois forces Clark to dress as Superman and accompany her, to scare away any dangerous men they encounter.  The difference in physique between Clark and Superman is addressed in this story, and explained by Superman’s super muscle-control.


Superman gets through the case through a mix of outright lies, and ingenuity. He manages to duplicate a few of his super-stunts right in front of Lois’ eyes, though she gains no admiration for Clark’s resourcefulness.  At the end, she simply condescends that Superman wouldn’t have needed to come up with his clever solutions.


Zatara’s story in this issue, by Samachson and White, is better than the series has been in a long time.


A broke but honest piper uses his music, and some concealed gas, to lure and capture some wanted men.  Zatara is impressed, and endows the man with the power to create “magic music.”  That’s kind of vague, and indeed, the music functions in a variety of ways, creating illusions, even transforming criminals into rats.


Zatara gives the man complete credit for the big criminal round up, and nothing indicates that these powers will wear off.


Don Cameron, Mort Meskin and George Roussos bring back the Rainbow Man for an adventure so demanding, it requires Vigilante to use BOTH his sidekicks!  Yes, Stuff and Billy Gunn, together at last!


To be fair, Stuff falls into the hands of the Rainbow Man right at the top of the story, so Billy Gunn gets most of the actual sidekick time in this tale.  Rainbow Man captures Stuff more or less at random.  He does not recognize the boy, which is very odd, considering how many encounters they have had, and  that Stuff wears no disguise.  Perhaps it’s just that Stuff has become increasingly white which throws him off.


Vigilante’s motorcycle shows itself to be as good as a sidekick, as it becomes a “jet-aquacycle” – capable of travelling on the water.


Rainbow Man? Some more colour crimes, of course, but he almost gets lost amid everything else in this tale.

As the underscript on the final page indicates, Vigilante is also now starring in a series in the new Western Comics.

Action 115 – Superman steals diamonds, and the Rainbow Man spins his wheel


Ira Yarborough is the artist on the Superman story in Action 115 (Dec. 47).


The story opens with a rich but lonely boy who writes a letter to Superman.  The letter is grabbed by a crow, which promptly get shot by a farmer, who intercepts the letter.


The farmer then does a really lame job impersonating Superman, but it’s good enough for the boy, who lets himinto the house.  The phony Superman steals diamonds from the safe, and takes off, leaving the boy devastated at his hero’s betrayal.


The news of Superman’s apparent theft reaches the Daily Planet, which gets the real Superman on the case.  The boy has fallen ill, and is being treated by a doctor who seems to have little faith in his own profession, insisting that the best cure is solving the crime.


And it turns out the doctor was right.  Superman finds the farmer, retrieves the diamonds, and gets the man to confess to his impersonation.  The boy is cured, as his faith in Superman is restored.


George Roussos really goes to town on the Vigilante story in this issue, which clips along at a rapid pace, with excellent visuals.


It’s more crimes by the Rainbow Man, using his colour wheel.  Unlike the last story that featured that wheel, which seemed to imply that the crimes were only conceived after the colour was chosen, this one makes it clear that the Rainbow Man has a number of plans ready to go, and just uses the wheel to pick the next one.


He pulls off quite a few robberies during the course of the story, with Vigilante and Stuff constantly on his trail.  They succeed at capturing him at the end, spray painting him and his men green to aid in their identification.


Action 103 – Superman finds an ancient civilization, and the Rainbow Man uses a colour wheel


Action Comics continues to attempt to evoke laughter with its Superman cover on issue 103 (Dec. 46).  Myabe it worked on you, it didn’t on me.


The story in the issue is pretty good, though.  Ira Yarborough does the art, as Lois and Clark accompany an expedition in Central America.  They find the entrance to a buried city, and light restores the inhabitants to an active state.


This follows many such stories, with the ancients having knowledge far greater than that of the modern world.  In their eyes, spreading their culture, and eradicating the current one, is all for the greater good.


Superman sees the city begin to spread out through the jungle, and uses it as an excuse to explain where Clark Kent went.


In an interesting twist, rather than battling the ancients, he takes them on a tour of Metropolis, showing them the wonders of the “present,” which is some cases exceed anything the ancients had managed to achieve.  He wins over most of them, though there is a climactic fight with one who still wants to destroy the outside world.  This battle winds up demolishing the machine the ancients used to spread their world.  The story leaves them in Central America, no longer immortal, and unable to reconstruct their society.  So I guess Superman just sort of left them to be eaten by wild animals.


The Rainbow Man escapes prison again, and Vigilante is hot on his tail in this story by Roussos.  For some reason, the Rainbow Man spins a colour wheel to determine the theme for his next crime, rather than planning it out in advance.  Perhaps that why this spree does not work very well.


He pulls off a gold themed crime, attending a fund raiser disguised as an artist.  Greg Sanders is also performing at the benefit, and has learned to pay attention to those he shares the stage with.  He spots Rainbow Man, who can tell that he has been recognized.  For some reason, Rainbow Man does not put two and two together, and figure out that Greg is the Vigilante.


The Rainbow Man eludes Stuff and the Vigilante, and spins his wheel again.  His red crimes do not succeed, though, and he gets captured.  But will return!

It’s odd that Rainbow Man, who has faded into obscurity, outlasted the Dummy, and made more appearances in the Golden Age than that villain.

Action 77 – The Prankster’s newspaper stand, the Rainbow Man goes colour-blind, and Zatara vs Pan


Don Cameron and Ed Dobrotka give the Prankster one of his more devious schemes in Action 77 (Oct.44).


The Prankster takes over a newsstand in the business centre of town, and makes a deal with a failed entrepreneur.  The Prankster sells men fake copies of the Daily Planet, with news of the destruction of their factories or resources, and the businessman then quickly buys their company at a low price.


Of course, it’s not long before the Planet gets involved.  Lois Lane and Clark Kent both have their names attached to phony stories.  Superman figures out what has happened, but the Prankster has another twist to his plan, forcing his dupe to sell the companies to him for pennies, so the Prankster can then sell them back to their owners at hugely inflated rates.

Superman then steals what the Prankster has bought, making everything worthless again.  It takes a while, but Superman finally makes sure that everyone owns what they did at the start, and the Prankster is back in prison, for a few months at least.


Mort Meskin gives the Rainbow Man a really hard time in this month’s Vigilante story.


The Rainbow Man’s men take advantage of the lax security when their boss is taken to the hospital, and break him out.  Vigilante and Stuff learn from the doctor that the Rainbow Man really is quite sick, but doesn’t realize it.


In an enjoyable twist, Rainbow Man’s illness gives him colour-blindness.  Ignoring his own men’s objections, Rainbow Man wears a green suit to match others wearing red.  Vigilante spots him immediately, but wonders what his motive is in wearing the wrong colour.


Eventually Vigilante figures out the colour-blindness, but Rainbow Man basically does himself in, stopping his car at a green light, thinking that it’s red.


In the best Zatara story in a long, long time, Gardner Fox and William White pit the hero against the Greek god Pan. For his own amusement, Pan creates a coin that makes the owner’s every wish come true.  Pan ensures that the coin eventually winds up with criminals.


For a while now, Zatara has been casting complex spells simply by saying them normally, and the “be it so” backwards.  Kind of a cheap shortcut.


Still, Zatara does an impressive job outwitting Pan and the gang of thieves.

Action 71 – Valentine’s Day for Superman, Vigilante and Rainbow Man are polite, and Congo Bill in the desert


Don Cameron and Ira Yarborough give Jimmy Olsen his first major role in this book in Action 71 (April 1944), in a story that works its way into all-out farce.


Jimmy wants to impress Betty Roxmore, and buys what is, for him, an expensive present.  Superman decides to give Lois Lane an insulting present, and then something nice as Clark, to move her affections towards the identity he wants her to respond to.  But there is also a phony count, and a diamond necklace.  And then ALL the gifts get mixed up.


Mix-ups and romantic misunderstandings galore in this silly but enjoyable story.  Jimmy does wind up impressing Betty, with Superman’s help.  But being the hero does not work as well for Clark, as Lois winds up thinking he was the one behind the insulting present, not Superman.


The Rainbow Man escapes from prison to pester the Vigilante once again, in this story by Samachson and Meskin.  Rainbow Man no longer wears his colourful shirt, but his colour-themed crimes do persist.


Greg Sanders is performing at a society function, and spots the Rainbow Man from the stage. But he does nothing, simply finishes his set, before leaving and changing to Vigilante.  Rainbow Man spots the hero, but rather than fleeing, gets a group of fans to start talking to him.  Vigilante stops his pursuit of Rainbow Man to chat with his fans.

This is so low-key it’s almost laughable.


Eventually things do get hopping, as Vigilante figures out Rainbow Man’s art thefts, replacing them with forgeries which he sells as originals.


Congo Bill is back in the desert in this story, illustrated by Smalle.  A cheetah (which doesn’t look very much like a cheetah) winds up becoming his ally and saviour in this tale.


But I didn’t include this story because of the cheetah.  Rather, this is the first Congo Bill story in a very long time that is neither a World War 2 adventure, nor a globe-trotting excursion.  Bill is back in Africa, fighting with and against the native tribes.

Action 60 – Lois Lane – Superwoman, the Rainbow Man’s toy train deathtrap, and the Three Aces in the Philippines


Superman is busy delivering care packages to soldiers on the cover of Action 60 (May 1943), but that’s ok, as he is not really the lead in his story this month anyway.


Lois Lane gets a chance to shine in the first of many, many, many stories that will see her adopt a Superwoman identity.


Jerry Siegel and George Roussos helm this tale, which opens with Lois getting hit by a car.  She is in critical condition, and Superman flies off to get the best surgeon in the world. And maybe delivers care packages to soldiers on the way?  It’s really not hard to tell that the story transitions into a dream sequence, with Superman giving Lois a blood transfusion, which results in her gaining super-powers.


No one believes her when she announces she moved a huge filing cabinet on her own, and jumping on a chair at the sight of a mouse just further convinces the men that she is lying.  It’s a weird scene, frankly, and out of character for her.


Once Lois discovers that she can fly, she whips herself up a Superwoman outfit and goes out to fight crime.


Who does she happen to run into but Clark Kent.  Kent recognizes her, so she flies him around, threatening to drop him if he ever reveals her identity.


Lois finds Superman, and as they now equals, proposes marriage and he accepts. And then, of course, she wakes up.

It’s not a terrible story, and the dream sequence is cued enough to not be a lame cop-out.  But there would be far too many variants on this theme.


The Rainbow Man returns to plague the Vigilante in this story by Meskin and Paris.


This time round the Rainbow Man is using models of the city to plan out his gang’s crimes.  Among the crimes is stealing the things needed to build models of the city, so it’s a bit of a circular thing.


What really makes this story notable is the deathtrap, worthy of the 60s Batman tv show.  The Vigilante and Stuff are tied to toy train tracks, and trains with poisoned needles are approaching them.  Vigilante’s escape from the trap is reasonable, and plays out beautifully.  Better than the rest of the story.


The Three Aces are in the Philippines for this tale, which also serves as a handy guide to Pidgin English.  I had no idea “chop-chop” for “in a hurry” was Pidgin.


The Three Aces are sent out to aid a lieutenant, who turns out to be a woman, Betty Allardyce. Though the men are surprised by her gender, at no point is she made out to be any less of a competent officer because of it.

Action 53 – Superman vs Night Owl, and the Rainbow Man’s black crimes


Superman fights the Nazis, but only on the cover of Action 53 (Oct. 42).


Inside, Jerry Siegel, John Sikela and George Roussos create a new villain for Superman, Night Owl.


Robberies are being pulled off in complete darkness, although the villains are able to see.  The darkness is not just at night, it moves through the city during the day.  The art on the cloud of darkness is particularly good.


The man behind it is Night Owl, who keeps control over his gang using a trained and viscous owl.  Sergeant Casey captures one of Night Owl’s men, but he is too afraid of his boss to talk.


Superman takes the hood to his mountain fortress, the forerunner of the Fortress of Solitude, this had been introduced a couple of months earlier in the pages of Superman.  Superman disguises himself as the bad guy, in order to infiltrate Night Owl’s group.  Lois Lane also has her plans to find Night Owl, which involve hiding in the trunk of a car, a place that usually winds up being discovered.

Superman defeats Night Owl, and saves Lois, after discovering that he cannot see in daylight.  So Night Owl is basically an evil Dr. Mid-Nite.  It’s a shame this was a one-shot villain, as much more could have been done with him later, when it got established that Superman’s powers derive from sunlight.


Meskin and Roussos bring back the Rainbow Man in this Vigilante story.  He fakes his death during a prisoner transfer by boat, but starts his new crime wave so quickly, the faked death is kind of pointless.


Possibly because his colour scheme for these crimes is black, the story just doesn’t have much “rainbow” to it, although there is a great page of Vigilante and Stuff suspended over a vat of boiling tar.


Ultimately, the Rainbow Man is done in this time by one of his own men, who is colour-blind, and lights the wrong spotlight.  The Rainbow Man kills him for his mistake, but why hire a colour-blind hood for colour themed crimes?

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


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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