Superman is still not able to fly, though you wouldn’t guess that from the cover of Action 23 (April 1940).
Clark Kent and Lois Lane continue to investigate the war between Toran and Galonia in this story by Siegel, Shuster and Cassidy.
General Lupo alerts them to a peace conference, but also arranges for it to be ambushed.
Superman trails Lupo to a secret base inside a mountain, guarded by a stone face. Luthor is first mentioned, as Lupo gives up his bosses name, just before being killed for doing so.
Luthor is not given a first name in this story, or indeed, in any story until his origin in Adventure Comics in the early 60s. He is a red-haired genius in this tale, manipulating the situation between the two countries as part of his world domination goal. He has a base high in the stratosphere. A giant dirigible, which supports a massive platform capable of supporting entire buildings.
And while Superman cannot fly, he can jump high enough to reach the dirigible. By and large, if one does not read the text, simply looked at the illustrations, one would believe Superman was flying.
Lois gets captured, as she once again shows more curiosity than common sense, and Superman and Luthor have their first of many meetings, each puffing to show superiority to the other.
Superman destroys Luthor’s base, sending it all crashing to the ground, but Luthor returns in the pages of Superman the following month.
As the story ends, Clark sends his report to the paper – the Daily Planet! But it had been the Daily Star that sent him out there. I have read a couple theories, which have either Lois or Clark leave the Star for the Planet, and the other one following them there. But I cannot see that. The change happens while both reporters are overseas.
No, what I think is that the Daily Star fell victim to the Depression. Later tales would show that the Daily Planet prints newspapers in other cities in the US, and around the world. Nothing like that is ever shown about the Daily Star. So I believe that the Star wound up being sold, and was purchased by the expanding empire of the Daily Planet, which changed the paper’s name, as they were making Metropolis the hub of the Planet.
Pep Morgan heads to Pennsylvania in this Guardineer story, to help a cousin who owns a mine, where the miners are on the verge of striking.
Everything I have ever read about the conditions of mines in the US at this time puts me firmly on the side of the miners, but that’s not the slant the story has. The miners are being forced into striking by thugs, and the mine owners are the good guys, and victims. Pep helps stop the strike, but it’s amazing that he succeeds at this, when he waves a flashlight at them, claiming it’s a gun. He has far more luck when he grabs a pipe and starts hitting them over the head with it.
Pep Morgan has become little more than a goon.
The Black Pirate makes his debut in this issue, by Sheldon Moldoff. At first the strip is only four pages in length, and serialized. Jon Valor is called the Black Pirate, presumably because he wears all black clothing, but it is not a secret identity, simply a nickname. Those he fights, the men of Captain Ruff, know him by both names.
The series starts slow, but with the standard pirate story ships and treasures.
Clip Carson arrives in South America in this Moldoff tale. The previous issue saw him sail from Africa, solving a poorly written mystery.
In this story, Clip gets enlisted to help run weapons deep into the interior, to aid government troops against rebels in the nation of Verdania.
Clip helps the army massacre the rebels, and has so much fun doing it, he decides to stick around for a while.
The story continues in the next issue.
Zatara runs into an old high school friend in this Guardineer story, who tells him about a fabulous treasure, left in a tower by a wealthy inventor.
The Tigress is also on the trail of this treasure, and the two of them compete to acquire it. A mysterious man in the tower controls a number of deadly traps and devices.
It turns out to bethe inventor himself. The treasure was simply a lure to draw innocents in, so that he could kill them in elaborate ways. Zatara destroys the tower, and the treasure gets divvied up, although Zatara declines his share. But the Tigress must get some of it then, right? Maybe?