Posts tagged ‘Tong’

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.

 

Action 14 – The Ultra-Humanite returns, Pep Morgan rows, Clip Carson debuts, Tex Thompson gets confused, Chuck Dawson saves the ranch, and Zatara finds the Fountain of Youth

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Zatara gets his second, and final, cover appearance in Action 14 (July 1939).  The image even represents his story!  Superman once again gets his little bullet to the side of the cover.

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Siegel and Shuster bring the Ultra-Humanite back in this story, though that’s not clear until the last few pages.  I guess the idea was to keep him like a Professor Moriarty, in the background.  While this was a common trick in novels to keep a powerful villain shadowy and ominous, it does not work as well in these stories.

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This story starts off dealing with an attempted murder in the subway system.

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Superman’s inability to fly comes up again.  He tries scaring a confession out of one hood by dangling him out a window, only to have his compatriots push Superman all the way out.

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The bad guys start to flee, with Superman in hot pursuit.  Only when their car vanishes does it become clear something big is going on.

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And it’s the Ultra-Humanite, back for the last couple pf pages, and another woefully inadequate death-trap.  The Ultra-Humanite explains his survival, using a parachute, but the experience was clearly traumatic for him, as he has lost what little hair he had.  The red headed assistant, who may be Lex Luthor, is at his side again.

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Superman escapes the death-trap, and the Ultra-Humanite escapes Superman, plotting his revenge in the final panel.

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Pep Morgan’s voyage home continues in this story, by Guardineer.

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The ship gets caught in a terrible storm, and it does not help matters any that one of the mutineers is still on board, killing off members of the crew.

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The ship begins to sink, and Pep gets the opportunity to show of some of his athletic prowess.  Not only does he row the lifeboat, he dives in to rescue the pilot of a seaplane that has also crashed as a result of the storm.

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Clip Carson, Soldier of Fortune, was created by Bob Kane, debuting less than a month after Batman.  Clip travels to exotic locations, fighting even more exotic villains.  This should have been a big hit, but maybe it’s the giant grin always on Clip’s face, or his constant upbeat chatter, but he fails to be a hero you are interested in.

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His first three-parter sees him in Egypt, meeting archaeologist Jim Blake, on the track of buried pharonic treasure.

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There is some really good art by Kane in this strip, better than his work on Rusty and his Pals.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Bernard Baily has also notably improved, as this issue Tex Thompson demonstrates.

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The story is not the greatest.  Bored, Tex puts an ad in the paper, looking for people to help, as Bob Daley takes a short vacation.  Tex goes to see a woman concerned about her father, but he barely learns what the case is about before they get attacked.

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Tex wakes up, to find a different woman there, insisting that Tex was drunk, and there never was any other woman.  Tex has no idea what is going on.

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Bob shows up, which helps Tex get a grip on his sanity.

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The resolution to the story becomes tortuously convoluted, but there are some great moments along the way.  The bandaged patient, really the first woman, now held captive, is straight out of The Lady Vanishes, and I do think Hitchock’s early films influenced this one-shot story.

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Hey, whatever happened to Chuck Dawson?  I wrote about him in the first issue, but haven’t touched on his series since.  Well, that’s largely because it’s very repetitive, even the art.

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A serial has been running, with Chuck trying to get his land back, as I mentioned before, but long the way Chuck discovers Burwell is sending out men to take over the Diamond H Ranch, and heads there to warn them, and of course help them battle Burwell’s men.  The daughter of the rancher, Virginia, gets captured, and the foreman, Zebe, joins with Chuck to find and rescue her.

This sort of ties up with this issue.  The Diamond H Ranch is saved, and Zebe and Virginia are re-united, but Chuck is no closer to getting vengeance or his land.

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Zatara hears of the Fountain of Youth while at the Explorer’s Club, and sets out to find it in this Guardineer tale.

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Zatara leads an expedition to the lost “Red City.”  It doesn’t go nearly fast enough for him, and he seems to have remembered his flying spell, which speeds things up.

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He encounters the mysterious snake woman from the cover, but she is really just a decoy, not the guardian of the Fountain.

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Zatara dispenses with the snakes, and uses his magic to draw the location of the well from the mind of the guardian.

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Zatara sends Tong in to retrieve the water from the Fountain.  What are servants for, after all?  The water does seem to make Tong get younger.  But the water itself warns them not to drink it.  Though Zatara and Tong make it back safely, presumably with the water, they do not drink it.

 

 

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.

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