Thursday, March 17, 2011

August 1938: Action Comics #4

Cover by Leo O'Mealia

'Superman' (by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster): Superman begins his adventure by chasing down a hit-and-run driver, but is quickly sidetracked into a plot by a crooked coach to hire thugs to help him win his next football match.  Superman decides to go undercover in the opposing team, and in a jaw-droppingly uncharacteristic moment, knocks the player he is to impersonate out with a hypodermic needle.  Superman spends the next few pages being awesome at football and beats the thugs with ease.

This is the second month in a row that Superman has spent the majority of the story in disguise, and it somewhat dilutes his impact. He's also getting involved in the same types of stories as all of the other characters; the only difference is that he can outrun trains and physically overpower everyone he comes across. I'm looking forward to him getting into some more fantastical stories.

'Chuck Dawson' (by Homer Fleming): Chuck steals his horse back, then makes the horses of his pursuers stampede. I was okay with this strip when I thought it would be Chuck seeking his vengeance, but it seems to be going in tedious circles like Fleming's other serials.

'Pep Morgan' (by Gardner Fox and Fred Guardineer): Pep wins a diving contest, is winning a freestyle swimming race before he has to turn back and rescue another swimmer with cramp, and saves two boys from going over a waterfall in their canoe. The moral of this story?  Pep Morgan is awesome at everything.

'Bad Bill' (by Russell Cole): In this story an ornery varmint just hauls off and starts shooting everyone in town for no reason.  I'm not sure if it was supposed to be funny, but I laughed anyway.  He's beaten when his first victim reveals he had a bullet proof vest on, but that doesn't help the other people he shot.

'The Adventures of Marco Polo' (by Sven Elven): After surviving last issue's sandstorm, Marco Polo finds time to engage in some horseplay before the strip takes a sharp turn into a fight between two lions and a giant snake.  That's quite the non-sequitur.  For the record, the snake wins.

'Legion Loyalty' (by Capt. Frank Thomas): This is a prose story about a French Foreign Legionnaire rescuing his friend from an Arab warlord.  It was set up to be a decent action/adventure yarn, but in such a short space there's no time to set up any jeopardy for the protagonist.  He just fulfills his mission without a hitch, and there's no good drama in that.

'Tex Thomson' (by Bernard Baily): Surprisingly, Tex is still in the Sealed City hanging out with the Gorrah.  With little in the way of explanation, they are suddenly menaced by the evil Rabb Khazan, who Tex defeats by dressing his friends up as the ghosts of the dead Gorrahs of the past.  It's hard to get invested in this when the new villain is just there, with no explanation for why he even wants to attack the Sealed City, or where he came from, or even who he is.  In other news, I believe that Tex Thomson is the first DC character to wink at the audience in the last panel of a story.

'Scoop Scanlon' (by Will Ely): Scoop takes down a gang responsible for bombing his newspaper office in vengeance for exposing their boss as a crook.  And once again there's no drama and no jeopardy, because the good guys always win without even half trying.

'Inspector Donald and Bobby' (by Leo O'Mealia): Donald and Bobby encounter a protection racket menacing the local shops, and Bobby takes it on himself to fix things. He sends a note demanding protection money to the head of the racket, and the ensuing confusion causes the racketeers to kill each other.  It's yet another generic strip.

'Zatara' (by Fred Guardineer): Zatara comes up against some goons who kill a nightclub owner and kidnap his girl for the combination to his safe.  Compared to last issue Zatara barely does any magic at all, and none of it is in his patented backwards-speak.  Disappointing.

No comments:

Post a Comment