Sunday, May 24, 2009

Episode #75: "Action Comics" #75 & "Superman" #75!

This special episode of Superman Fan Podcast features the 75th issues of Action Comics and the original Superman title. After this episode, every 25th episode will look at the next milestone. For instance episode #100 will feature Action Comics #100 and Superman #100, and so on. Since I didn't think of this earlier, this episode will highlight the basic story information about issues #'s 1, 25 and 50 of both titles. Thanks to the web sites and for being valuable resources.

Podcast Note: Episode #74 was late being uploaded to the original host sight because of technical problems with the web site itself. I finally got the episode uploaded earlier this week. That episode is also avialable at the gcast feed, at: , and at the internet archive at . Just do a search for Superman Fan Podcast audio files. The episodes will not be in order on the latter two sites because, instead of being listed in chronological order, they are listed, at least on the gcast site, in the order in which they were uploaded. I will keep you posted about the mypodcast site. Meanwhile new episodes will continue to be uploaded to the other two web sites on schedule. Now back to our regularly scheduled podcast.

First of all, let's look at the earlier milestone issues of these titles. Action Comics #1, the June 1938 issue, first appeared on newsstands around May 3, 1938. The original editor was Vincent A. Sullivan. The issue contained 64 pages and sold for a dime. While it was by far not the first comic book published, it was the first big hit, and established American comic books' long connection with the super hero genre, which dominates the American comic book industry today. Most of these early stories were untitled, and according to, were given names for the archive collection.

The first story, Superman, Champion Of The Opressed, a thirteen page story, oddly did not include the first four pages of the original story Siegel and Shuster had done. It did establish the foundation of Superman mythos. After a brief introduction about an orpahn from a dying planet rocketed to Earth, it jumped into the middle of the story, with Superman bringing a murderess to the Governer's mansion with proof of her guilt in the killing of a Jack Kennedy. The Governer issued a stay of execution for the woman who had been convicted of the crime. Superman then stoped a wife beater. Clark reported for work at the Daily Star newspaper (the original name of the Daily Planet newspaper) and asks Lois for a date. On the date Lois was kidnapped. Superman rescued her and left the kidnapper for the police.

The next story was the untitled six page story The A - G Gang starring the character Chuck Dason, a western adventure created by writer and artist Homer Fleming.

Zatara starred in the only titled story in this issue, The Mystery Of The Freight Train Robberies, an occult story done by Zatara creator and writer and artist Fred Guardineer.

A two page text piece, included so that comic books could qualify for better postage rates, titled South Sea Strategy, an adventure story written by Captain Frank Thomas was next.

Stick Mitt Stimson, a four page crime story created by writer and artist Russell Cole.

Marco Polo, in an untitled four page story, appeared in a period story created by writer/artist Sven Elven.

Pep Morgan, The Light-Heavyweight Championship (untitled), a four page adventure story created by writer/artist Fred Guardineer.

Scoop Canlon, The International Jewel Thief, (untitled) a six page adventure story by writer/artist William (Bill) Ely.

Tex Thompson, Murder In England, (untitled), a twelve page adventure story by writer/artist Bernard Bailey.

The Superman story was reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archive vol. I, and Superman Chronicles vol. I. The other stories were collected in a reprint of Action Comics #1, Milennium Edition: Action Comics #1, February 2000.

Superman #1, cover date simply 1939, was published on May 18, 1939. Vincent Sullivan was also the editor on this title originally, which also contained 64 pages for ten cents. The first story contained a reprint of the first Superman story from Action #1, with the missing pages from its beginning included. All of the stories in this first issue were originally untitled but were named when collected into the archive edition.

Superman, Champion Of the Opressed was 18 pages with the missing pages from Action #1 included. It showed how Clark Kent was hired by editor George Taylor at the Daily Star. Superman overheard editor Taylor receiving a phone call from someone with a tip about a mob at the jail. Superman then stopped an attempted lynching and got a tip himself from the intended victim about the real murderer of the crime he and another woman were convicted for, night club singer Bea Carroll. Superman confronted her, and then the issue reprinted the rest of the story from Action #1.

In War In San Monte, untitled, a 13 page story, Clark is shown working for the Evening News paper. Superman took a weapons manufacturer who had been selling to both sides, and forced him to enlist in the army along with a disguised Superman. After facing battle the businessman learned his lesson. Superman then got both generals together, who realized that they had been manipulated and agreed to peace terms. Superman also saved Lois from a firing squad for being falsely accused of being a spy.

Superman Battles Death Underground, untitled, a 13 page story, again with another crooked businessman, this time a mine owner who cut corners on mine safety equipment. After a mine accident victim gave Clark a tip about unsafe working conditions, Superman caused a cave in that trapped the mine owner and his party guests. The owner decided to have a party in the mine to show how safe his mine was. After everyone passed out, Superman cleared a way to safety and the owner reformed.

In the 13 page untitled story Superman: Gridiron Hero, Superman foiled a crooked college football coach who hired ringers for his team to defeated his biggest rival. Superman kidnapped a benchwarmer on the other team who he resembled and earns a spot on the starting lineup. The disguised Superman then singlehandedly wins the game himself. He let the real player into the game at the end so that he could take all the glory for winning the game (so I guess all was forgiven).

Action Comics #25, June 1940 issue, published around April 23, 1940, also had 64 pages for a dime. Whitney Ellsworth was the editor by this point.

The first untitled Superman story was Amnesiac Robbers, written by Jerry Siegel, with art by Paul Cassidy. In this 13 page story, Bank messengers developed amnesia, and the money they were transferring was missing. The culprit eventually turned out to be a hypnotist who hypnotized the bank employees to do his dirty work.

The next story was Enemy Sub starring Pep Morgan, in a six page adventure story drawn by Fred Guardineer.

The Black Pirate starred in the four page period story Captured By Captain Ruff, drawn by Sheldon Moldoff.

The Three Aces appeared in the six page adventure story The Living Statues, written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Chad Grothkopf.

Next was the ten page Tex Thompson adventure story The Kidnapping, written and drawn by Bernard Bailey.

Gardner Fox wrote the two page text only adventure story Message To The Major.

Sheldon Moldoff drew the six page Clip Carson adventure Calero The Rebel Leader.

Zatara starred in the final story of the issue, the eleven page occult story The One Man Crime Wave, written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Fred Guardineer.

The Superman story from this issue was reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archive vol. II, and Superman Chronicles vol. III. There is no reprint information available about the other stories from this issue.

Superman #25, the November/December 1943 issue, was published around September 3, 1943. It contained 56 pages and sold for 10 cents. The editor for this issue was Jack Schiff, and the cover artist was Jack Burnley. The cover showed a boy at a drawing board creating pictures of Superman, with the real deal autographing them and several happy boys behind them with their own autographed Superman drawings. All of the stories in this issue were each twelve pages long.

In the story The Man Superman Refused To Help a Major was implicated as a member of an organization of American Nazi sympathizers. Superman believed the evidence until the major was kidnapped by some of the real members of the organization. Superman rescued him and gathered evidence to clear his name.

I Sustain The Wings was written by Mort Weisinger, a name that would loom large over Superman comics in later years (which was how Mort liked it). Fred Ray drew the story about Clark enlisting as a cadet in the the Army Air Forces Technical Training Command. (During WWII the Air Force was part of the Army. It became its own separate branch of the military around 1948.)

King Of The Comic Books was written by Jerry Siegel, pencilled by Joe Shuster and inked by Ira Yarbrough. Clark and Lois planned a newspaper story about the comic book Geezer, which angered the Nazi's because of how it lampooned them. Superman would rescue creator Henry Jones from an assassination attempt. (Alter Ego issue #79 contained an article about the legend that Superman comic books were banned by Adolph Hitler because he was created by Jews. The article dispels that urban myth and gives some historical context. It should still be available from publisher .)

The story Hi-Jack -- Jackal Of Crime was written by Bill Finger, pencilled by Ed Dobrotka and inked by George Russos. Superman was challenged and outwitted twice by the mysterious thief Hi-Jack. The Man of Steel is challenged a third time over the silver in the vault of banker Jack Jackson. The silver would apparently be robbed but Superman would eventually expose Mr. Jackson as the thief Hi-Jack, who was then arrested.

These stories were reprinted in The Superman Archives vol. VII.

Action Comics #50, the July 1942 issue, was published around May 19, 1942, containing 64 pages for a dime. Whitney Ellsworth was still the editor. All of the stories in this issue were untitled except for the last story which starred Zatara.

The Superman story was the thirteen page The Professional Baseball Player written by Jerry Siegel, pencilled by Leo Nowak and inked by Ed Dobrotka. While traveling, Clark and Lois discovered a very talented baseball player, Stan Doborak, in a small town. Clark convinced Stan to travel to Florida and try out for the Metropolis Ravens during spring training. Stan was turned down by the manager because Clark had somehow angered him. Superman got Stan his chance to make the team, which he did. However, Stan's girlfriend Mabel secretly worked for a gambling racket, (and I assume she tempted Stan to throw games). But Superman exposed both Mabel and the racket, and Stan was able to continue his pro career unhindered.

Next was a one page feature Supermen Of The U. S. Army, a true story which featured Major H. J. Trapnell, possibly created by writer and artist Cliff Young (records aren't complete about creator credits in this era).

Three Aces starred in The Island Where Time Stood Still, a six page adventure story drawn by Louis Caseneuve.

Mr. America was featured in the eight page super hero story Blackmail, written by Ken L. fitch and drawn by Bernard Bailey.

Congo Bill starred in the six page adventure story The Man Of A Thousand Lives, created by writer and artist Fred Ray.

Eric Carter wrote the two page text adventure story Sky Challenge.

Zatara was featured in the last and only originally titled story of this issue, The Case Of The Man Who Could Not Die. This occult story was written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Joseph Sulman.

The Superman story from this issue was reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archive vol. III. There is no reprint information about the other stories from this issue.

Superman #50, the January / February 1948 issue appeared on the newsstands around November 7, 1947 and contained 48 pages for ten cents. The editor was Jack Schiff. Wayne Boring drew the cover, which was inked by Stan Kaye and showed a boy and girl watching Superman standing in the middle of a lion cage while a lion tried to bite his arm.

The first story of the issue was the twelve page story The Task That Stumped Superman, written by Edmund Hamilton, pencilled by J. Winslow Mortimer and inked by George Roussos. Promoter Jasper Hawk staged a contest to find a task that Superman couldn't do. Superman realized that Hawk's scheme was to use the contest to have Superman improve his own property. Superman accomplished each task in a way that Hawk didn't profit. Hawk kidnapped Lois when she discovered his scheme. Superman rescued Lois and Hawk was arrested. Lois won the contest by asking Superman to reveal his secret identity. (It always came to that with Lois, didn't it.)

Next was the twelve page story The Slogans That Came Too True, written by Don Cameron, pencilled by J. Winslow Mortimer and inked by Stan Kaye. The Prankster commited a series of crimes based on exaggerated advertising slogans. Superman is forced to let the crooks go in order to protect innocent bystanders. To trap the Prankster Superman created his own ad. Prankster pulled a robbery based on Superman's ad. Prankster threatened Lois, but Superman rescued Lois and defeated the Prankster.

The third story was The Hunters' Club, a twelve page story written by Edmund Hamilton, drawn by J. Winslow Mortimer and inked by Stan Kaye. Three older sportsmen petitioned to join the exclusive Hunters' Club. After being rejected because of their age they decide to prove themselves by hunting big game. Superman helped them capture three rare animals, a brontosaurus, a mastadon and a sea serpent. When the elder sportsmen return with their catches, club members suspected a hoax and released the beasts. Superman stops a stamped, and after the beasts are recaptured, the three sportsmen are admitted into the club.

There was no reprint information available about the stories in this issue. The Superman Archives and Chronicles have not collected the stories from this issue as of the posting of this episode.

Action Comics #75, August 1944, was published around June 20, 1944. The issue contained 48 pages for a dime. The editor was Jack Schiff, and the cover was pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by George Roussos. It depicted a giant turtle beating Superman to the finish line.

Aesop's Modern Fables was the twelve page Superman story for this issue, drawn by Ira Yarbrough. After the petty crook Johnny Aesop escaped from prison , he began sending clues to crimes, disguised as fables, to the Daily Planet. Superman foiled Aesop's crimes but he kidnapped Lois. Superman learned that Aesop was an honest citizen until he suffered a head injury. After Superman rescued Lois he releived the pressure of Aesop's brain, which resulted in his immediate reformation. (Who knew Superman was a brain surgeon?) Superman put in a good word for Aesop with the court, and Aesop was released. This story was reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archive vol. V.

The next story starred Hayfoot Henry in the five page story The Baseball Barrage, a humorous detective story written by Alvin Schwartz and drawn by Stan Kaye.

Vigilante starred in the ten page western story Blunderbuss Booty, drawn by Mort Meskin.

The next story was the ten page jungle story Frame In Full starring Congo Bill drawn by Edwin J. Smalle, Jr.

Zatara starred in the eight page occult story The Sting Of Death, written by Gardner Fox and drawn by William F. White.

There was no reprint information available for these last four stories.

Superman #75, the March/April 1952 issue, was published around January 4, 1952, and contained 48 pages for a ten cent cover price. The three stories in this issue were each twelve pages long. There was not much story or reprint information available at or

The Prankster's Star Pupil was written by Edmund Hamilton, pencilled by Wayne Boring and inked by Stan Kaye.

Superman -- Thrill Salesman was written by Edmund Hamilton and drawn by Al Plastino.

The Man Who Stole Memories was written by William Woolfolk and drawn by Al Plastino. In this story Lois suffered amnesia. That was the extent of the story information I could find about this issue.

Next episode: Birthday wishes for artist Wayne Boring!

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at . Send e-mail to . The theme music is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royalty free music library found at the web site .

My Pull List is my spoiler free comic book review blog of the titles I read every week. It can be found at . Send e-mail about this blog to .

Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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