Monday, April 18, 2011

February 1939: Action Comics #10

Cover by Joe Shuster

'Superman' (by Siegel and Shuster) deals with a prison superintendent who is incredibly brutal to the inmates.  The strip spends a long time in building this guy up and making into the most evil jerk you could imagine.  By the time Superman gets around to giving him what he deserves I was hating the guy, and it was very satisfying to see him brought down.  It's always great when Superman goes undercover, and it was fun seeing him in prison just nonchalantly ignoring the tortures he's subjected to.  And if there were any doubts that Siegel and Shuster are liberals, this strip should squash them; they firmly support the rights of prisoners not to be whipped and jammed in sweatboxes.

'Scoop Scanlon, Five Star Reporter' (by Will Ely) and his partner Rusty go undercover with the Larroway gang to stop their stolen car business.  Things go pear-shaped, as they do in any undercover op, and by the end of the strip Scoop has had to shoot Rusty in the stomach to keep his cover. To be continued! This is a cut above the usual fare for Scoop, and it has a good cliffhanger.

'Pep Morgan' (by Gene Baxter) is playing basketball this month, against a team of roughnecks who injure his leg just as he sinks the winning basket.  The championship is next week, and he's told not to play by the doctor, but of course he ignores the advice and wins the game for his team.  I think it's safe to say that comics are not the ideal medium for portraying a basketball match.  Also, it's safe to say that Pep Morgan is intolerably good at everything and I hate him.  As a final note, this strip comes perilously close to some full-frontal male nudity.  Fred Guardineer needs to watch it with those locker room shower scenes, is all I'm saying.

'Marco Polo' (by Sven Elven) attends the wedding of the Persian princess Shela, who he rescued from bandits a few strips ago.  A jealous suitor tries to kill the groom, but Polo stops him.  That groom is one hardcore dude; he gets stabbed, but soldiers on through the wedding ceremony, and only collapses once it's done.  Also, this strip features the world's worst doctor, and I quote: "No, nothing serious, just a loss of blood. He'll be alright soon." He doesn't even bandage the guy!

'Fighting Spirit' (by Richard Martin) is about a little kid who is bullied, but grows up to be a champion boxer.  He even beats an opponent named Tiger Powers, which has got to be the greatest name ever.  I was ready to dismiss this story, but who can resist Tiger Powers?  Geoff Johns needs to dust that guy off.

'Tex Thomson' (by Bernard Baily) gets kidnapped and forced to serve as crewman on a ship, only to find that he knows the daughter of the lord who is financing the trip.  Once Tex is freed from slavery, Lord Chester tells him that they're going to investigate stories of an island of savages ruled by a white girl who washed up there as a baby. The ship's captain wants revenge on Tex, and that's the set-up. It's hard to say if this story will be good or not, but this strip has a history of weird plot twists, so I'm optimistic.

'Chuck Dawson' (by Homer Fleming) is still trying to rescue the girl Virginia.  He is captured, then he escapes.  Come on Fleming, retire already.

'Zatara' (by Fred Guardineer) is on the trail of the treasure of Genghis Khan, with the Tigress not far behind him.  It all gets a bit Indiana Jones when they reach the Khan's grave, with three tests to pass, all under the supervision of a sexy lady genie.  The genie has to be killed to claim the treasure, and when Zatara refuses, the Tigress pops out and blows her away. And then a weird thing happens; Zatara splits the treasure with her and they go their separate ways. Sure, Zatara seems a bit sad about the genie's death, but he's more than willing to let the Tigress win despite her treachery.  I tells ya, those two are in True Love!

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