Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Episode #139: An Imaginary Summer 2010, Part III: Superman, Matinee Idol!

The imaginary stories for this episode came from Superman #19, November / December 1942, published on September 4, 1942. The editor at this time was Whitney Ellsworth. Jack Burnley drew the cover, which showed Superman carrying an automobile missing tires on its wheels, with a family on board, running down the street. That's road service, Superman style. This issue was reprinted in Superman Archives vol. V. The first and last story of the issue were also reprinted in Superman From The Thirties To The Eighties.

The first story for this episode was the 13 page story Case Of The Funny Paper Crimes, written by Jerry Siegel, pencilled by John Sikela and iked by Ed Dobrotka. Two men fought on top of a moving train. Machine Gun Mike threw Detective Craig off the train as it crossed a train bridge. This was actually a comic strip on the comics page of that day's edition of the Daily Planet, that Clark and Lois were reading. Clark's favorite was the Detectvie Dan strip, while Lois was partial to Prince Peril (a Prince Valiant style strip)who fought Torgo the Giant to protect a princess. Other comic strips that the Planet carried were The Solitary Rider, a western, who fought the Black Rider, Streak Dugan (a Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers sci-fi strip) who fought Goola, the Martian villain, and Happy Daze (similar to Mandrake the Magician or Zatara) who fought the Viper.

As Clark and Lois were looking at the comic strip page, Torgo the Giant robbed the National Bank in Metropolis. Clark changed into Superman and attacked Torgo, but flew threw him as if he were a ghost. Torgo then disappeared. A round face appeared in the sky, identifying itself as Funny Face and taunted superman. Then it vanished also.

When Clark turned in his story to the Chief, he told Clark that next he'd say that Machine Gun Mike was running wild. Just then a voice on the police scanner altered that Machine Gun Mike was robbing the Minton Museum. Superman sprang into action again. he foiled the gang who were attempting to steal the museum's valuable paintings. When the Man of Steel lifted the get away car, loaded with the gang, to the police station, a giant hand lifted the car away from Superman. It was none other than Machine Gun Mike, who fired his machine gun at the Man of Steel. He was surprised when bullets bounced off Superman, but no more than the Man of Steel was when he flew through Machine Gun Mike as he tried to hit him. The villain disappeared and Superman turned in the gang to the police, then put on his Clark Kent clothes.

Lois appeared at the scene of the attempted robbery, and, using the Planet's comic strip page as a clue, guessed that the next robbery would be at the Metropolis stockyards. Lois was unable to convince the stockyard aministrator that his business was threatened, when a giant Black Rider appeared over the stockyards. The Black Rider kidnapped Lois as she called Clark at the newspaper office. Superman got to the stockyards just as rustlers had finished loading trucks with livestock. He stopped the rustlers and chased after the Black Rider, who still had Lois. Superman was stopped when floating Funny Face heads appeared around him, then vanished, along with the Black Rider and Lois.

Superman then stopped the Martian comic strip villain Goola robbing a gold train from his spaceship, which floated above the train station. Funny Faces appeared again, then vanished along with Goola and his ship.

Following the pattern of the Daily Planet's comic strip page, Superman went to an old folks home, what we would today call a retirement home, to warn the administrator that Viper, from the Happy Daze strip, would rob the center. A giant Viper appeared above the facility, then his face changed to that of Funny Face. Superman noticed that the words "Carter's Canyon" were written on the side pocket of Viper's jacket. The canyon was located outside Metropolis.

In a farmhouse at Carter's Canyon, Funny Face had imprisoned Lois. At the house, Funny Face had a device which allowed him to convert figures from the printed page into 3-D figures that could walk around the "real" world. When Viper returned to funny Face, the villain noticed the message on Viper's side pocket that Lois had written. fummu Face used his device to materialize all of the comic strip villains to attack Superman.

After Funny Face left the farmhouse to watch the fight, Lois used the device to materialize all of the comic strip heroes. While the heroes battled the villains, Funny Face took his revenge on Lois by transforming her to a flat figure on a page. When he ignored Superman's demand to restore Lois to normal, the comic strip heroes roughed up Funny Face until he agreed to restore Lois. After all of the comic strip characters were returned to the printed page Superman destroyed the device and unmasked Funny Face. His real name was not given, but he was a failed comic strip creator who invented the device to gain illegal profits. The villain was intentionally drawn as Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel.

Ironically, before their success as comic book creators, Siegel and Shuster failed in selling Superman as a comic strip to just about every syndicate in the country.

The second story for this episode is Superman's Amazing Adventures. This particular story was originally untitled, but was so named for inclusion in Superman Archives vol. V. The story was written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Leo Nowak. Since I do not have a copy of any of the Superman Archives, and it was not reprinted in Superman From The Thirties To The Eighties, I had to rely on the plot synopsis provided by Mike's Amazing World Of DC Comics at

The story began with Clark and Lois being attacked by racketeer Street Monahan's gang after their exposes were published in the Daily Planet. Clark and Lois were buried in rubble. Clark freed them, but not before Lois awoke to see Clark use his superpowers, thus revealing his secret identity. Monahan's ally, Professor Hunt, teleported Clark and Lois to another dimension. As Superman, he protected Lois from a number of attacks by the dimensions creatures. They are teleproted back to Earth, only to have Lois turned to stone and shattered. Before Superman could act, Clark awoke to realize it had all been a dream after he was knocked unconscious after the attack. Clark was able to free himself and Lois without revealing his secret identity, and, as Superman, capture the entire gang.

The main story of this episode is Superman, Matinee Idol, written by Jerry Siegel, pencilled by Joe Shuster and inked by John Sikela. This story was reprinted in both Superman Archives vol. V and Superman From The Thirties To The Eighties. A caption on the title page proclaimed, Our Very First Imaginary Story.

Since they both had the afternoon off, Clark asked Lois if she wanted to go to a theater to see a movie. Lois suggested the Empire Theatre so that she could watch one of the new Superman cartoons, because she had missed the first several cartoons of that series. She rebuffed Clark's suggestion of attending other theaters and accused him of being jealous of Superman. Clark finally agreed to go to the Empire Theatre.

Once inside the theater, Clark was worried about the cartoon giving away his secret identity. As the opening credits to the Superman cartoon began, Clark told Lois the plot of the first Superman cartoon, which was unofficially was called The Mad Scientist. When the credit appeared which stated that Superman appeared in Action Comics and Superman magazines, Lois said that she had never seen those magazines before. Clark wondered how they could know so much about him.

The cartoon began as a sequel to the original Mad Scientist cartoon. He had been incarcerated at Prison Island, but escaped. The screen showed a series of Daily Planet headlines stating that the Mad Scientist had escaped. When the cartoon showed the Daily Planet building, Lois commented that it looked like the real thing. Thinking fast, Clark claimed to have something caught in his throat and asked Lois to help him to a water fountain.

In the lobby, Lois missed seeing the cartoon Clark and Lois talk about the Mad Scientist. The cartoon Clark was worried, while cartoon Lois said he was probably hiding.

The real Lois rushed Clark back to their seats in time to watch the Mad Scientist return to his mountain hideout. There, he activated a giant robot and sent it to terrorize Metropolis. The robot captured a plane. The pilot radioed an alert to the control tower, who then called the Daily Planet. Clark knocked Lois' purse on the floor and told her that it had fallen on the floor. While Lois searched the floor for her missing purse, on the screen the Editor-in Chief asked Clark to cover the story because it was too dangerous for Lois. Lois expressed how she felt by locking Clark in an office and covering the story herself. The cartoon Clark took the opportunity to change into Superman, which the real Lois did not see.

She found her purse in time to watch the robot begin to destroy buildings and terrorize the city. Superman saved the cartoon Lois from being stepped on by the robot. In the audience, the real Lois cheered the onscreen Superman, embarrassing Clark to no end. The robot threw a building at the cartoon Superman and captured Lois, while the Mad Scientist watched on a closed circuit monitor. The robot threw Lois, who was caught by Superman. The Man of Steel fought the robot and eventually destroyed it. Lois and Superman then broke into the Mad Scientist's hideout. The villain fired a gun at Lois. Superman stopped the bullet inches from her face, and threw the bullet at the gun, destroyinng the weapon in the Mad Scientist's hands. He thencaptured the Mad Scientist. The Man of Steel returned him to prison, and Lois to the Daily Planet building.

In the audience, Clark insisted they leave because the excitement had given him a dizzy spell. Lois was disgusted with Clark and vowed to never go to a movie with him again. As they left the theater Lois did not see Clark and the cartoon Superman wink at each other, relieved that their secret identities were safe from both the real and cartoon Lois Lanes.

Next Episode: Showcasing Lois Lane In Showcase #10!

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