"Superman: "The Black Gold Oil Well"": Clark Kent investigates the story behind a man who committed suicide. He discovers the man was clutching his shares of the "Black Gold Oil Well". He soon learns that Meek and Bronson, a pair of brokers, have bilked many people out of m
Action Comics #11 is an issue of the series Action Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of April, 1939.
Synopsis for Superman: "The Black Gold Oil Well"
Clark Kent investigates the story behind a man who committed suicide. He discovers the man was clutching his shares of the "Black Gold Oil Well". He soon learns that Meek and Bronson, a pair of brokers, have bilked many people out of money relating to that oil well. Superman breaks into their office and gets a list of all the people who have stock in the oil well. He pretends to be a businessman named Homer Ramsey and buys all the stock from all the people, at the price for which they originally purchased it. Then he runs to the oil town and discovers that no work is being done. He sneaks into the oil well and digs for oil all night, with no luck. As he's walking away, the well strikes oil. He runs back to Cleveland.
In the meantime, Meek and Bronson have discovered that the well has struck. They immediately try to buy back the stock from all the people they sold it to. They discover that all the stock has been sold to this Homer Ramsey, who has no interest in selling. They hire Louie the Rat and Nate the Snake to kill him. The two confront Clark Kent and take him to a deserted road. He roughs them up and leaves them on Bronson's doorstep. As Bronson is driving to Meek's house to tell him what happened, Clark Kent jumps into Bronson's car. He says he's willing to sell the shares for $1 million. They balk, until they realize that they can make more than $1 million on the oil well. They quickly make the deal.
Later that night, Superman kidnaps both Meek and Bronson. He carries them to the oil well, then has them watch as he destroys all the equipment. He then lights a torch and throws it in the oil, burning it all up. He tells Meek and Bronson that they'd better stop selling stocks, or he'll pay another visit.
Appearing in Superman: "The Black Gold Oil Well"
- Bronson (Single appearance)
- Louie the Rat (Single appearance)
- Meek (Single appearance)
- Nate the Snake (Single appearance)
Synopsis for Scoop Scanlon, Five-Star Reporter: "The Lefty Laroway Gang" (Part III)
Rusty has been shot! Lefty Laroway and his gang welcome "One-Eye", who's really Scoop Scanlon, back into their ranks. When their car pulls away, Rusty's body begins to move. He picks himself up and dusts himself off, glad that Scoop had such spectacular aim, hitting his belt buckle. Now to get back to the Bulletin with the photos and documents he had taken of Lefty's crime ring. Rusty shows the list of names to his editor, but tells him not to publish anything until Scoop is back safe. Meanwhile, as a show of renewed trust, Lefty offers "One-Eye" his own headquarters and introduces him to the judge, who will keep his operation off the radar for a small cut.
But soon, police all across the city are cracking down on the public figures that worked with Lefty. Members of the Laroway gang are being carted off to jail thanks to Rusty's evidence. But Scoop is still working undercover as one of Lefty's lieutenants. Lefty and his boys hole up at Scoop's safe house, since he hasn't been hassled by the cops yet. The reason for that soon becomes apparent, when two members of the gang come running in, accusing Scoop of being a cop! They saw Rusty, whom Scoop was supposed to have murdered, riding with the police during a chase. And if he was still alive, it meant they had been tricked. The police had the place surrounded, now!
Lefty turns on Scoop, gun ready to execute him, but one of the others stops him. He'd be much more valuable to them alive, as a hostage to help them get away. The remaining gang steps out of the house with Scoop between them and the police line. It seems like there isn't much choice but to let them go. But then, Scoop drops to the ground, and the cops take advantage by opening fire on the thugs. It is a brutal crossfire, one that Lefty's gang would never win. Mace, one of the gangsters, turns around and fires on Scoop!
Appearing in Scoop Scanlon, Five-Star Reporter: "The Lefty Laroway Gang" (Part III)
- Rusty James
- Lefty Laroway
- Lefty's gang
- Bulletin Editor
- G-Men Agents
- Lefty's getaway car
Synopsis for Pep Morgan: "Shanghaied Part Two"
Pep was given a tour of his friend's ship while visiting him in the city. But, on his way back, he was ambushed and knocked out by a pair of rough looking sailors. When Pep next opened his eyes, he and some others found themselves locked in a hold below a ship's deck. Now the first mate opens the hatch, and tells them that Captain Sindra wants to speak to the stowaways personally. Pep pleads his case, that he wasn't a stowaway, that they brought him here against his will, but it's no use. The captain isn't listening. Later that night, in the crew quarters, Pep learns the ship is bound for the republic of Latara, in South America.
Days pass, Pep has settled into the routine of his "reluctant crewman" status, and made friends with his fellow captives. One day, the ship enters a hurricane. Pep holds onto a rope when a large wave hits, sweeping one of the crewman overboard! Another wave sends the man back on deck, injured and near-drowned. Pep drags him to a safe place inside the vessel. Later, after the storm has died down, the captain reprimands Pep that it would have been better to let the crewman drown, instead of him becoming another useless mouth to feed. Pep slugs him for the remark, earning him a one-way trip to the brig. Very fortunately for him, the brig comes with a few loose boards on one side, leading to the cargo hold. Inspecting the crates, Pep finds they are loaded up with guns and ammo! Captain Sindra and his men are weapon smugglers! One of the guns goes off in his hands, surely they heard that. Pep hides just as the hatch opens and the captain and his first mate climb down the ladder. When their backs are turned, Pep quickly climbs up the ladder. Sindra spots him and opens fire, Pep has no choice now but to keep running, and dive off the side! He swims for the distant South American shore. Captain Sindra is positive the sharks will get him, so he and his men get back to work. Pep's luck continues, when sharks who aren't hungry at the moment swim by him.
The moment he reaches shore, Pep heads for the local police station. The chief in charge is told about the incoming ship carrying smuggled weapons, and so he sets up a sting operation at the dock. When the crew is observed carrying out the cargo, the chief gives the signal. His men arrest the others, while he and Pep rush on board to get the captain. Pep and Captain Sindra each fire a shot at each other. Luckily, the captain's aim hasn't improved, while Pep's shot knocks the gun out of Sindra's hand. He is arrested and taken to jail. Pep is commended, but warned that he may have made a bad enemy in the captain this day. Pep shrugs it off, he'll be halfway back to the United States by the time Sindra makes it behind bars.
Appearing in Pep Morgan: "Shanghaied Part Two"
- Captain Sindra (First appearance)
- Joe (Single appearance)
- Jensen (Single appearance)
- Lataran Police Chief (Single appearance)
- merchant steamship
Synopsis for "The Adventures of Marco Polo (Part I of XI)"
It is the Polo family's last day at Rajah Dahg's castle, and so the Rajah organizes a grand hunt before they go. It's decided that they will hunt the mighty leopard, a dangerous predator in this land. Nicolo is fascinated by the hunting party's use of trained Cheetahs to help sniff out a trail. The party takes off into the wilds to begin the hunt.
As dawn turns to dusk, a sound is heard, it's the howling of jackals, as they fight amongst each other over a bit of leftover carrion. This is a sure sign that a beast of prey was lurking about nearby. Following the trail of blood, they soon enough find the creature responsible. The leopard leaps towards Rajah Dahg, who reflexively raises his spear. The animal is impaled upon the point. A fine kill!
The party continues on. Through a thicket, a female leopard is seen at play with her cubs. Marco gets excited, wishing to own one of the cubs so he may train it, like the cheetahs. He charges towards the leopardess on horseback. Fearing for her cubs' safety, the leopardess pounces, catching the horse in her jaws and throwing Marco from his saddle. When the fearsome beast turns her attention to Marco and pounces again, a hail of swords and spears from the rest of the party assault her. She is slain and Marco is spared. He joyously grabs one of the cubs, announcing that it will get to be his companion on his journey. The Rajah comments to Nicolo that his boy has some fierce courage. Even he would never dream of charging such a beast unarmed. Nicolo simply replies that Marco is a true Polo.
Appearing in "The Adventures of Marco Polo (Part I of XI)"
- Nicolo Polo (Marco's father)
- Siab Dagh (Final appearance)
- Nadir (Single appearance)
- Maffeo Polo (Marco's Uncle)
- trained hunting cheetahs
- two adult leopards (both die)
- a baby leopard
Synopsis for Tex Thomson: "Queen of the Malays, Part 2 of 3"
Tex Thomson and Bob Daley, previously shanghaied, now join forces with Lord Chester Raynolds, and the vengeful Captain Devoe, on their search for the "Queen of the Malays," the white female ruler of an ancient island civilization of Malays. This promotion is owed in part to the fact that Tex knew Reynolds's niece, Deborah, from way back. Tex and Bob decide to help Reynolds prove his story.
The ship reaches the mysterious island and drops anchor just off the coast. They row ashore, but soon are waylaid by Malay soldiers. Meanwhile inside the island's great palace, the princess asks her high priest when she will meet her soul mate. He chants that her betrothed will appear with skin as fair as her own, and his presence will be accompanied by a loud noise. Meanwhile back on the beach, Raynolds, (who has studied the Malay language), speaks to the native soldiers. He asks the chief, very respectfully, to show them to their honorable leader, the Princess. When they are brought before her presence, her initial reaction is to have Deborah, the ward of Lord Reynolds, tossed in the dungeon. But Tex pulls out his gun and fires at one of the approaching guards. The bullet hits the man's shield, but the sound nevertheless throws the chamber into a brief silence, because the loud bang from the gun fulfills the prophecy told by the high priest.
So now Tex is thought to be destined to marry the Princess, and her attitude towards him changes completely. That is, she practically throws herself at him, and orders all the guards to fall back. Tex is completely confused, so Reynolds translates what just happened. Tex can't believe it and wants no part of it and says so. However, Raynolds reasons it would be better if he played along for now, so as not to upset the numerous well-armed guards. The Princess is overjoyed and begins to prepare for the wedding. The high priest stops her. The stranger may be the destined mate, but by the laws, he must still pass the tests of valor, as any who wish to earn the hand of her highness must do. Perfect, all Tex has to do was lose on purpose, and he won't have to be married.
For the first test, Tex is given a blade and shown to a chamber with a large pool. The floor drops out beneath him and he plunges into the water. A gate opens on the opposite side, releasing a shark into the pool! They fight, Tex wins, the shark dies. As Tex climbs out of the pool, it becomes clear to him that failing any of these trials could result in his death. The exit is up ahead, and blocking it is a single warrior, armed for battle. A sword is dropped from the gallery above; Tex picks it up and readies himself for the warrior's assault. He dodges and parries the swings, until he spots an opening, and rams his sword through the man's chest! The second challenge complete, Tex makes for the exit. A wall of flame suddenly sprouts up between him and the door! Tex tears down a flag that's hanging off the wall, then wraps it around himself as he dives back into the pool. When he climbs out, he wears the dripping wet flag around him like a robe and runs through the fire and out the door.
The Princess is overjoyed! She commands her guards to bring her betrothed to her immediately.
Appearing in Tex Thomson: "Queen of the Malays, Part 2 of 3"
- Bob Daley
- Chester Reynolds
- High Priest (First appearance)
- Captain Devoe
- Malay Princess (First appearance)
- Chief of Malay Warriors (First appearance)
- Kinog (Single appearance)
- Lord Raynolds' seagoing yacht
Synopsis for Chuck Dawson: "The 4-G Gang (Part 11 of 14)"
The sound of hoof beats approach the shack that holds Chuck Dawson. Chuck can tell it's a lone rider, and he is ready for him! The rider, named Baldy, knocks on the door, calling for his partner (who Chuck sent down the trapdoor earlier). Chuck hides behind the door when Baldy steps inside, then attacks! Baldy is thrown to the ground and disarmed. With Chuck holding his gun on him, Baldy closes the trapdoor, with a hidden pull-string outside. Baldy mutters about "The Cougar" killing him for this, so Chuck presses him for info. Baldy responds that was what the big boss-man calls himself: The Cougar. More hoof beats, now it's two riders, Chuck that hasn't seen them before. He buries the gun in Baldy's back and whispers some directions, as the riders approach. Baldy introduces Chuck as the replacement for Slug, who "ran off". The riders say that they're needed back at headquarters, another raid is being planned. Chuck gets on his horse and, following closely behind Baldy to keep him from squealing, lets the group lead him to their hideout in small cleft in the mountain. There, their boss, and the rancher's daughter Virginia, would be found.
One of the riders, Wolf, mentions that he's going around back to check on the hostage. Chuck needs to get away from the others and follow him! He rides up behind Baldy as they enter the cleft, threatening the bandit that if he tries tattling on him or if he turns around, he'll get a bullet in the back! Chuck begins following in the rear, and then, before passing through the cleft, he dismounts, letting Blacky ride on without him. The sound of hoofs behind him should fool Baldy long enough for Chuck to get on Wolf's trail. Wolf heads down an old smugglers trail, unaware that he is being shadowed. Chuck's horse doubles back as told to, and meets his master at the trail. The path runs down to the base of the cliff, where Wolf dismounts and removes a mask from his satchel. Chuck grabs a rope from his saddle bag, telling Blacky to wait while he proceeds on foot. Chuck begins tying the rope around a rock above Wolf, preparing to make the rustler talk, no matter what.
Appearing in Chuck Dawson: "The 4-G Gang (Part 11 of 14)"
- 4-G gunmen
- Baldy (First appearance)
- Cougar (Mentioned only)
- Speck (First appearance)
- Wolf (First appearance)
- Slug (Mentioned only)
- Virginia (Mentioned only)
Synopsis for Zatara "Sea Ghost"
Zatara and Tong believe they can finally relax after their time in China. But aboard the S.S. Kansas City, a ghost of a plantation owner, who took his life by jumping off the deck three years ago, haunts the cruise. If that weren't enough, Zatara receives a note asking for his presence at another passenger's cabin. Before he can arrive, an assassin meets him at his room. Zatara waves his hands and turns the man into a door, which he then locks to make sure he doesn't escape. Skittering along the deck as a mouse, and frightening a woman in the process, Zatara makes it to the cabin number written on the note and slips through the keyhole as a gust of wind. The cabin is full of carbon monoxide gas, with two men unconscious in their chairs! Quickly, Zatara magically creates a hole in the wall of the cabin, releasing the gas and letting in some fresh sea air. The men finally come to, thankful that the magician was able to reach them in time. They explain that they are G-men working for Intelligence. The one that attacked them was a spy, trying to get his hands on the plans for a new canal being built in Panama. They heard of Zatara and his powers, hoping he could help them defend the plans until they reach shore. Of course, Zatara says that he would be happy to. With a spell, he transforms the documented plans into a potted urn, telling the two agents to give him a call if there's any more trouble.
Returning to his room, Zatara finds he has a visitor. The beautiful Miss Kelly, the same young woman who was scared when he passed her in mouse form, now asks him if he would mind putting on a magic show for her and the other guests in the dance room. Never one to turn down a lady's request, Zatara agrees and follows her down to the deck. He wows the crowd, starting with a few simple tricks such as the appearance of a wand and cape, and then moving on to more amazing feats, like levitating himself and the entire audience onto a great big flying carpet! Suddenly, the ghost of the plantation owner appears! It seems impervious to Zatara's magic, and warns him to leave the plans for the canal alone, before it vanishes again.
Back in his room that night, Zatara can't get to sleep, being too bothered by the spirit, that his powers couldn't affect for some reason. A knock on the door interrupts his brooding. It's one of the government men, out of breath, telling Zatara his partner has been murdered by the ghost! Zatara races to their cabin where he finds the man on the floor, seemingly dead, but with no wounds anywhere on his body. As he looks around the room, Zatara notices that the fern is gone! Did someone know that it was actually the canal plans? A thought crosses his mind, only a theory, but Zatara tests it anyway, by using hypnosis on the dead man. Miraculously, the G-man awakens, not having been dead after all. What they were actually dealing with was a powerful hypnosis that made his body believe it had been killed. Zatara was beginning to understand. The "ghost" that attacked him was just an illusion, created by another magician that was somewhere on the ship!
Zatara uses his astral form to track the plans, winding up in another cabin, where the plans sit on a dresser, still in the form of the potted fern. He makes note of the cabin number, then returns to his body and travels down to the Purser's office. He gives the cabin number to the man behind the desk, and learns that the cabin belongs to someone he already knows. Before acting further, Zatara goes to the cabin and transforms the fern into a pocket watch, that he can carry around with him. Zatara sees Tong and gives him instructions to guard the two G-men, who are staying in his cabin, as a mouse. Tong doesn't see how much help he can be in mouse form, but Zatara has an inkling he'll be more useful than he thinks.
While watching the sun set over the Pacific, Zatara is approached by Miss Kelly. She asks if he would mind putting on another magic show tonight. Zatara agrees, remarking that he hopes the ghost won't appear again. The show reaches its midpoint, when the ghost makes another appearance, right on time. Zatara conjures up two visions of devils, standing beside the ghost, and with another wave, makes all three disappear. The audience wants to know what happened, but there isn't time to explain. Miss Kelly has gone missing. Inside Zatara's cabin, the G-men are threatened at knifepoint by the young woman, herself. Tong, in mouse form, skitters up to her feet, causing Miss Kelly to scream and drop the knife. Zatara appears then, holding Tong the mouse in his hands, moving towards her. She begs him to take it away, pleading that she'll tell them everything if he does. She is a magician, hired by international spies to retrieve the plans. In order to hold her until the police can board, Zatara turns Miss Kelly into a statue. He returns the plans to the agents, who promise him a reward for his help as only he could give it.
Appearing in Zatara "Sea Ghost"
- Madame Kelly (Single appearance)
- Johnny (Single appearance)
- S.S. Kansas City Passenger Ship
- Magic Carpet
- Published by Detective Comics, Inc.
- Superman: "The Black Gold Oil Well" is reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archives Vol. 1 and Superman Chronicles Vol. 1.
- This story is the first use of Superman's X-Ray vision. No explanation for it is presented.
- Clark Kent assumes the identity of "Homer Ramsey" in this issue. After "Tom Daly" in the previous issue, this is Superman's 2nd new fake identity in just 2 months.
- Tex Thomson, with a sword, kills a Malay warrior.
- In the Zatara story, the blond government agent is addressed as "Jim" early in the story and referred to as "Johnny" later.
- This early issue of Action Comics has a rare non-Superman front cover.
- Zatara writer/artist Fred Guardineer is also credited as "Gene Baxter" on his Pep Morgan story, in this issue.