Posts tagged ‘Tigress’

Action 30 – Superman vs Zolar, Pep Morgan changes schools, the Black Pirate enslaved, Miss X dumps Tex Thompson, and Zatara hunts for a killer

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Is he flying?  Sure looks like he’s flying on the cover of Action 30 (Nov. 40).

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Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley pits Superman against an evil genius, Zolar,  in this story.  Despite it being summer, Metropolis is stuck in a winter blizzard.

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There are little floating balls of glowing heat – but those are more likely to incinerate you than warm you.

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Some Arabs appear to be behind the weather madness, and Superman follows them.  He falls victim to the glowing balls, although they do not destroy him , simply render Superman unconscious.  I actually have my doubts that they even do that.  I suspect Superman is feigning, so that the bad guys will take him to their leader – which is exactly what happens.

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Zolar looks an awful lot like the Ultra-Humanite – and of course, what Luthor would come to look like as well.  Bald geniuses seem to be the biggest threat to Superman.  He defeats Zolar, as well as his female accomplice, pretending to be one of his victims.  Zolar dies at the end of the story, but with Luthor around, he really was no loss.

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There isn’t much to the Pep Morgan story in this issue, by George Papp, aside from the fact that he is now attending Midtown College, instead of Ardale.  The story itself deals with the fact that Pep always loses races to one guy, although he overcomes this “jinx” and wins by the end.

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The fact that this story makes it clear that Pep has lost many races, in contradiction to what we have seen in his strip so far – backs up my contention that some of Pep’s stories are lies that he tells. I suspect that Pep’s battle with the Cambodian dinosaur last issue was a story he told upon enrolling at Midtown, trying to make himself look special.

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Jon Valor is having a really rough time of it in Moldoff’s story this month.  The Black Pirate does manage to defeat the raiders who stole his ship last issue, but no longer has a crew to man it.

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Jon winds up getting captured by Captain Treble, who makes the Pirate one of his slaves, sending him to work in a phosphate mine.

The story continues next issue.

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Miss X makes her final appearance in the Tex Thompson series in this story by Bernard Baily.  The villain is a gangster named Dr. Mixxo, who is out to steal a fur shipment.

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Tex winds up getting captured by Mixxo, and Bob Daley once again shows himself to be completely useless.  It’s Miss X who saves Tex, though she remains stand-offish towards him.  She never returns, and neither does Janice/Peggy Maloney.  Despite Tex’s comment last issue that he knows who Miss X is, there is never any reveal of her identity.  A poorly dropped plot thread.

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The Tigress returns, working with another magician to commit a series of murders using a poisonous insect in this story, by Gardner Fox, with art by Joseph Sulman.

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The Tigress’ new magician is never named.  He is clearly just some dupe she picked up along the way, probably hoping he would serve as a defense against Zatara.  There seems little of the comraderie that used to exist between Zatara and the Tigress in this issue.  Indeed, Zatara insists she be sent to prison at the end of the story, instead of letting her go, as he often did in the past.  Zatara claims that her crime of murder demands punishment, but he let her go once before after she was part of a murder scheme.  Nope,this is jealousy on Zatara’s part.  How dare the Tigress work with a rival magician?

 

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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.

Action 23- Luthor debuts, Pep busts a strike, Black Pirate debuts, Clip Carson in South America, and Zatara and the Tigress race for treasure

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Superman is still not able to fly, though you wouldn’t guess that from the cover of Action 23 (April 1940).

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Clark Kent and Lois Lane continue to investigate the war between Toran and Galonia in this story by Siegel, Shuster and Cassidy.

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General Lupo alerts them to a peace conference, but also arranges for it to be ambushed.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Superman destroys Luthor’s base, sending it all crashing to the ground, but Luthor returns in the pages of Superman the following month.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The series starts slow, but with the standard pirate story ships and treasures.

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Clip Carson arrives in South America in this Moldoff tale.  The previous issue saw him sail from Africa, solving a poorly written mystery.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Action 22 – the second L.L., Chuck Dawson ends, and the Tigress returns

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A kind of lower key cover for Action 22 (March 1940), considering that Superman’s story in this issue puts him in the middle of a war.

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Siegel, Shuster and Cassidy acknowledge that a war has broken out in Europe, as George Taylor, looking like he has some grey hair now, sends Lois and Clark across the ocean to report on the war for the Daily Star.  Oddly, rather than deal with the real war, this story is about a war between Toran and Galonia, neither of which is made to seem like any specific, actual nation.

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Shipboard, Lois and Clark see the famous “foreign” actress Lita Laverne.  The second of the L.L.s in Superman, but the first indication that this might become a theme.  Lita Laverne plays hot and cold with Clark, but does invite him and Lois to a party once they land.

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It doesn’t take Clark very long to realize that Lita is a spy, and her party is simply a way for her to pump the guests for information.

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Clark spends the rest of the story trying to enforce neutrality.  He brings down a couple of bombers, and stop a submarine from torpedoing a ship.  As he does this, he demonstrates another super-power.  The ability to talk while underwater.  There is no one for him to be talking to, but perhaps he is just testing this ability out for his own edification.

Lita Laverne gets exposed as a spy, and arrested.  She never appears again.  Firing squad for sure.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Chuck Dawson’s bland western series comes to a bland finale in this issue.  Chuck is still wearing that same red plaid shirt he has been wearing since his strip began.  It must smell awful.

Instead, in his final outing, Chuck yet again comes across a dead body and is accused of the murder.  The last time this happened (it happened a lot) Chuck simply proved himself innocent, and couldn’t be bothered to actually solve the crime.  This time he actually tracks down and apprehends the killer, a hired gun working for the foreman of the Slash D Ranch, who killed the fiancee of Miss Parsons, the ranch’s owner, in hopes of marrying her and taking over the ranch.

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I think poor hapless Chuck wound up sticking around after this case.  Miss Parsons was now desperately in need of a ranch foreman and a boyfriend.  I could have Chuck just continue wandering aimlessly, finding dead bodies left right and centre and always being accused of murder, but I would rather have him just settle down.  Maybe Miss Parsons not only washed his shirt, she even bought him a new one!

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The Tigress returns in this issue’s Zatara story, by Fred Guardineer.

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She is working for a man called The Mask.  When not wearing his head covering, he impersonates other people.  In this case, a bank manager the Tigress was supposed to kill.  Zatara saved the man’s life, ruining their plot, though the bad guys do not realize this at first.

The Mask is not, as one might think, some sort of disguise artist, or even shape changer.  He is a man willing to undergo repeated surgeries to alter his face, for the impersonations.

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The Mask has himself operated on again, to impersonate Zatara, and tests it on the Tigress.

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Later, Zatara will turn the tables, pretending to be the Mask, and getting his plans out of the Tigress.  During this sequence, the Tigress admits that she is now broke.  In one year she somehow squandered her entire share of Genghis Khan’s treasure.

Zatara uses his magic to give the mask a horrendous, dog-like face that no surgery will remove.  He lets the Tigress go, on her promise to leave the country and never return.

The Tigress returns next issue.

Action 10 – Superman in jail, Scoop Scanlon in the mob, Marco Polo in Persia and Zatara in Mongolia

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A dynamic pose for Superman on the cover of Action 10 (March 1939), though the story itself has no relation to the picture.

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The image inside is far more important.  That rendering of Superman would be blown up and used as the cover for the first issue of his own book, later in the year.

Siegel and Shuster’s story takes us back into the realm of social commentary, and the horrifying conditions in some prisons.  I’ve seen the movie “I Was a Fugitive From a Chain Gang,” which deals with similar abuses, and may well have been an influence on this story.  Taylor gets a mysterious phone call at the Daily Star, and sends Clark out to investigate.

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Clark meets a chain gang fugitive, who shows off his awful bruises, and tells him about the torture in the camp.  Clark goes to the camp itself to question to question the warden.  He and his men browbeat Clark, and force him to lead them back to the escapee.

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Back at the Star, Clark is reviled for his actions.  Jimmy Olsen (not yet named, but now with red hair!) makes his second appearance.  Lois is even more contemptuous towards Clark than normal.  You can tell because her words are larger than normal.  Only when Clark is being yelled at by George Taylor does he come clean.  He intended the man to be taken back to prison, as they need evidence of the warden’s actions.  Clark intends to go undercover into the prison and get that proof.  Taylor is impressed.

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The story’s light-hearted moments are a little bizarre.  Basically, humour is found in the ease with which Superman endures the back breaking work and inhuman conditions the prisoners must suffer through.  But it works.

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Superman then puts the warden in his own hot box, and grabs the Governor, bringing him to witness a confession clearly extracted under threat of death.  The Governor yells “but, wait!” as Superman leaves, doubtless wanting to explain that the confession was meaningless.  The story Clark writes for the Daily Star was probably of more use in gaining a conviction.

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Wow, look at all that text.  Pages like this just beg to be read, don’t they?  Go on, I dare you.

Scoop Scanlon infiltrates the Larrowman gang, along with his faithful photographer Rusty, as this four part story continues.

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Scanlon, in disguise, shows off his remarkable shooting skills.  He ought to be skilled, for all the times this reporter pulls out his gun.  Rusty has no dicernable skills to merit inclusion in the gang, but he’s along for the ride anyway.

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At least, until the gang find his notes.  Rusty is assumed to be a cop, and Scoop is ordered to shoot him.  Which he does.  Just can’t resist that gun.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Marco Polo has an enjoyable one-issue adventure in this issue.  He and his family have been hanging out in Persia on their way east for the last few issues, and get invited to a wedding in this one.

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There is an attempted assassination of the prince getting married, and Polo helps get the man.  But the prince decides to spare him, as he can understand the man wanting to kill for the bride.  Which is kind of nice.  The art is a bit above the norm for this series as well.

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Zatara finds a book in Shanghai, which gives him information on the location of Genghis Khan’s treasure, in this story by Fred Guardineer.  The Tigress just happens to be close enough to overhear as Zatara explains his plans to Tong.

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Then it’s off to Mongolia.  Zatara tries to get more information out of a witch there, and does what I would call a Plastic Man impersonation, except there was no such character yet.

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Zatara breaches unbreachable gaps, endures challenges and battles Mongol hordes, all the while with Tigress tailing along behind, taking advantage of his work.

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Zatara finds the treasure, guarded by an immortal priestess, who will only turn it over if she is killed.  Zatara refuses, which is kind of surprising, but the Tigress is happy to oblige, and blasts the woman, who turns into a giant diamond as she perishes.

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They loot the treasure together, and Zatara turns it all into dried peas to make it easier to transport.  What happened to that flying spell?  Could have flown them and the treasure back.  He gives Tigress her share, and turns the rest over to the Explorer’s Club, keeping one chest for himself.  He makes the curious observation that he is wealthier than he’s ever been.  Ever dreamed might have sounded more emphatic.  Anyway, it’s certainly clear that Zatara will never have to worry about money again, and presumably neither will the Tigress.  She disappears for a while now, not returning for almost a year.

Action 9 – Superman hunted, Scoop has a plan, and Zatara and the Tigress in Tibet

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Still no appearance of Superman on the cover of Action 9 (Feb. 39), but he does get mentioned, in red yet!  I would like to say that the cover depicts the Pep Morgan story in this issue, but it doesn’t.  Pep is racing sleds on ice.

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Siegel and Shuster continue the Superman story from last issue, although in a sort of weird way.  Police Chief Burke returns, but now he is completely against Superman. He brings in a detective, Captain Reilly, to track him down and catch him.  Reilly in turn offers a huge reward for information.

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Clark Kent asks Lois Lane for a date, and she rejects him, professing her love for Superman.  Clark has to leave the room before he laughs in her face.

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A man sees Superman change out of his clothes, which he leaves in a heap in an alley.  He tells Reilly, but gets no reward from him.  He decides to stake out the clothes himself, and he and Reilly spend so much time fighting with each other than this miss Superman retrieving Clark’s garb.  They almost track him again, through an invitation that was in Clark’s jacket, but again their rivalry gets him off the hook.

Captain Reilly is sent home in disgrace, and I expect Burke is forced out as well, as he never appears again.

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Scoop Scalon begins a four part story in this issue, his longest tale.  Scoop and Rusty come across the victim of a mob killing, after seeing two goons they recognized, Mace and Stoop, leaving an alley.

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Scoop decides to go undercover and join the Larrowman gang to catch the killers, rather than just writing a story about them, and Rusty tags along.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Zatara winds up in Tibet in this story, by Fred Guardineer, where he matches wits with a Lama with magical powers, who intends to take over the world.

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His plane crashes, but Zatara demonstrates a sort of long rage vision power, finding the nearest habitation.  He and Tong then fly there!  Presumably Zatara is making both of them able to fly.  Considering that he can do this, you have to wonder why he doesn’t do it more often.

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The Lama is having a big dinner party that night, for his lieutenants, who will work to help him conquer the world, in exchange for his vast wealth.  Among them is the Tigress.  Zatara casts a spell on Tong and himself, so that she will not recognize them, although it does not affect their appearance, only her memory.  So it’s kind of odd that the spell was not cast on her.

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Once the Tigress realizes how dangerous the Lama is, she joins Zatara’s side, again.  He destroys the Lama’s treasure, and restores the Tigress’ memory.

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Zatara’s battle with the Lama results in the villain’s death. The Lama evens begs for mercy, but Zatara still kills him. Zatara has no problems with this.  I guess not, considering he was fine with an entire town being wiped out a few issues ago.  He really mellowed with age.

Action 6 – Superman gets merchandised, Marco Polo strays from the path, Tex Thompson and Captain Diablo, and Zatara and the Tigress in Egypt

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When taking photographs in a jungle, always be on the lookout for killer apes.  Not that any appear in Action 6 (Nov. 38), aside from the cover.

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Siegel and Shuster lead off this issue with a story about Superman merchandise.  That doesn’t sound too odd, until one considers that this is only the sixth appearance of the character, and must have been written and drawn before sales of the first issue could have been known.  There could not possibly have been any Superman merchandise on the market when this story came out.

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A man, introducing himself as Superman’s business manager, is raking in the bucks, selling his endoresements.  Clark is furious, but cannot openly do anything.  A young, blond boy appears in a couple of panels in this story.  Not named, this would retroactively be considered the first appearance of Jimmy Olsen.

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Lois and Clark have a severely disfunctional relationship.

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The Superman song is a hoot.  The story carries itself along for quite a while just riffing on the notion of Superman becoming so popular and widespread.  It would all come to pass, more or less, though there was no way Siegel and Shushter could possibly have envisioned it.

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The last few pages get down to the action, as the phony business manager hires a phony Superman.  Lois calls out the fake, which results in her being tossed out of a window.

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From being aggressive with Superman in the last issue, Lois is now pleading and begging.  How the mighty have fallen.  And Superman is just being coy with his “hands of fate” comment.  They see each other every day.

The final panel has Superman wearing his costume backwards, as far as I can tell.

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Marco Polo’s story begins to deviate from the source in this chapter. It’s bound to happen.  The original is a travelogue, not an adventure novel.

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As Marco battles slavers to rescue a sultry looking damsel in distress, I began to wonder if this was based on some other fictionalized version of Marco Polo, or if it was the writer’s creation. There was a Marco Polo film in 1938, with Cary Grant, but it’s plot line does not match that of the comic series.

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Bernard Bailey gives Tex Thompson a new enemy in this story, Captain Diablo.  He is a rebel in the region of the “Transolian Mountains,” wherever that might be.

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Tex is flying over it, and is forced down by Diablo.  They turn out to be virtually identical twins.

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The next step to the plot is obvious, Tex impersonates Daiblo in order to escape.  He then gets shot down by the government forces.

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The story ends on a cliffhanger, as Tex in now unable to convince the good guys that he is not Captain Diablo.  perhaps he ought to have removed the monocle.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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Zatara is preparing to leave Egypt, when he discovers that the Tigress is on her way there, in this Fred Guardineer story.

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She is out to steal an emerald from inside a pyramid.  Zatara tries to scare her off, using his magic to make her ugly.

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The Tigress is too tough to be scared off with a silly trick like that, but is shocked when they come across the living mummy of Cheops.

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Once again, Guardineer’s art improves when the story deals with the bizarre and unusual.  Zatara and the Tigress defeat Cheops, while the army he is leading wipe out and kill and entire city.  Zatara appears no more distressed at the huge loss of life than the Tigress does.

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