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"Superman: "The Strong-Man Robberies"": A series of robberies occurs around Metropolis. Each witness describes the suspect as a muscular strong-man wearing a leopard skin leotard. Daily Planet editor George Taylor sends Clark and Lois out to cover the story. While walking the city streets, Lois

Quote1.png Man the guns, my fine cutthroats! We'll blow the blimey tub to blazes! Quote2.png
Jon Valor, the Black Pirate

Action Comics #28 is an issue of the series Action Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of September, 1940.

Synopsis for Superman: "The Strong-Man Robberies"

A series of robberies occurs around Metropolis. Each witness describes the suspect as a muscular strong-man wearing a leopard skin leotard. Daily Planet editor George Taylor sends Clark and Lois out to cover the story. While walking the city streets, Lois spots a billboard advertising a circus that just rolled into town. The main attraction: Herculo, the strong man, who appears in a leopard print just like the strong-arm bandit.

The two reporters meet with Mr. Jenkins, the circus owner. He lets Clark and Lois sit in on a show as they talk about the thefts. Jenkins admits that he himself has suspected Herculo, since every town the circus has been to have had similar incidents. Nevertheless, he brings Clark and Lois to meet Herculo, with Clark faking pain as the strong-man squeezes his hand in greeting. Herculo attempts to woo Miss Lane by boasting that he is the strongest man around, which Lois shoots down by saying that Superman could best him any day. Herculo says that he'd challenge this Superman guy to a test of strength, and his friend the circus clown offers to play ref if that ever happens. Clark goes to buy some tickets from Jenkins to give away to some orphaned kids, letting Lois deal with her muscle headed admirer. Once he is out of sight of everyone, Clark secretly sprinkles a fine powder over some bills, a precaution that may help catch the thief later. On their way out of the circus, Lois and Clark come face to masked face with the strong-arm bandit, who grabs the wad of cash out of Clark's hand and runs off, unpursued. Lois is disgusted with Clark's lack of spine and storms off alone.

Later that same day, Clark and Lois return to the circus accompanied by children from the Metropolis Orphanage to see the show. While Lois and the kids watch the show, Clark slips away to change into Superman. Herculo and the clown are preparing for the show in their tent. Superman uses his X-Ray vision to spy on them, but he is noticed by Herculo, by the shadow he casts on the tent. The strong-man charges Superman, being flipped on his back for his trouble. The noise brings Jenkins over to see what was causing all the commotion. On seeing Superman and his strongman engaged in a scuffle, the circus' owner is thrilled. He decides to make him part of the act tonight, to which Superman readily agrees. The audience is given a surprise for the next act: Superman and Herculo in a contest of strength! Herculo puts forth his fiercest moves, but the Man of Steel takes it all in stride. It soon becomes obvious that Superman is by far the stronger of the two. Not content to leave yet, Superman decides to give the crowd a show in acrobatics and aerial feats.

Jenkins pays a visit to the Performers' Tent, while Superman wows the audience with aerobatic leaps and whirls. He notices the clown trying to wipe something off his hands. Suspicious, Jenkins asks the clown to show his hands, seeing a red paint covering his palms. The clown pushes Jenkins out of the way, running out of the tent in a panic, which is how he fails to notice Herculo rushing towards him. A single uppercut lays the clown flat.

After Superman changes back into his Clark Kent duds, he wanders to the scene where Lois and Jenkins help make sure the clown doesn't try to escape again. Clark explains that he covered the wad of bills in a powder that turns flesh red when touched. The clown was once the circus' original strongman, until Herculo arrived. Still jealous after all this time, the clown became the Strong-Arm Bandit to try to frame his replacement. Clark had told Jenkins about the powder, and that's how he was able to tell who the real thief was!

Appearing in Superman: "The Strong-Man Robberies"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • The Strongarm Bandit (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • Herculo (Single appearance)
  • Mr. Jenkins, circus impressario (Single appearance)

Locations:


Synopsis for Pep Morgan: "The Southpaw"

Pep Morgan is practicing his Discus toss for the upcoming athletic meet. He works on throwing with his left hand, to improve his "south paw" accuracy. A gang of gamblers are planning to put big money down on the game. If they can injure Morgan so that he can't compete, then Gormon, of Middletown, would be a shoe-in for victory. That evening, as Pep is walking home, a car being driven by the gang very nearly runs him over! The gamblers get out and rush at Pep, not realizing that he is an intercollegiate boxing champ! Pep evades their punches and delivers a few knockout hits of his own. When it looks like the gang has had enough, Pep goes on his way.

At home, Pep eats dinner while his mother answers a knock at the door. Joe, the mastermind behind the gambling operation, kindly greets the woman, asking to see Pep. He puts on a nice-guy façade for Pep, apologizing for the trouble his boys have caused, offering his hand. But soon as Pep grabs hold, he feels a burning sensation on his hand, like acid. He rushes to the sink to rinse his hand with water, which serves to neutralize the acid, though the pain is still very noticeable.

The team's doctor examines Pep's hand. The damage isn't severe, but it will stop Pep from competing in any weight-tossing events. At least, with his right hand. Pep enters the event anyway, having practiced his tossing with his left hand. From the stands, the gamblers can't believe what they're seeing. Pep wins each event toss, the shot-put, and the discus throw, all left-handed, winning the gold for his team.

Appearing in Pep Morgan: "The Southpaw"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

  • Coach Foxx

Antagonists:

  • Joe, gambler
    • his gang

Other Characters:

  • Mrs. Morgan
  • Gormon

Locations:

  • Middletown (See Notes.)

Synopsis for The Black Pirate: "The Chase"

A good night's sleep at the inn is rudely interrupted by a pounding on Jon Valor's door. It is Captain Andago, and a host of guards! He had discovered that the treasure, used by the Black Pirate to buy the Sea Queen ship, was the same that was stolen from Queen Maria weeks ago! Jon slides a note under Jeanne's door to tell of his departure, then pulls out his sword to fight through the guards. The battle is short, as Valor cuts right through the platoon and escapes onto the street. He sprints to the docks, where his new crew is waiting aboard the Sea Queen. They cast off and set sail but before they can clear the harbor, the Sea Queen is intercepted by an English Man o' War! After one quick exchange of cannon shots, the English ship catches fire. The Sea Queen makes a clean getaway, sails into a storm to evade detection, and is gone.

A few days later, the storm clears and land is sighted. The Sea Queen sails into an uncharted cove, where the Black Pirate's next adventure awaits.

Appearing in The Black Pirate: "The Chase"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

  • Valor's Sea Queen Crew (First appearance)

Antagonists:

  • Captain Andago (Final appearance)
    • his dozen men-at-arms (some wounded, some killed)
  • English Man o'War crew (some wounded, some killed)

Other Characters:

  • Jeanne (Final appearance)

Locations:

Vehicles:

  • The Sea Queen (Valor's ship)
  • English Man o'War (Destroyed)

Synopsis for The Three Aces: "The Easter Island Gods"

The Aces have returned from South America, where they rescued a missing flier. They find that their adventures have made them famous as aviators, deluged with propositions from all types of people, one of which finds favor: Frank Bucker visits the Aces to ask their help in exploring Easter Island. His mission is to solve the mystery of how the Easter Island statues were made, and who placed them along the island's perimeter. Fog, Will, and Bill put it to a vote, and it's unanimous! The Aces are going to Easter Island!

They land their planes at the missionary settlement on the outskirts of the island. The man in charge grants them passage, but warns that the natives have grown resentful of white explorers. With that done, the Aces jump back into their planes and fly further inland. Over the mountain range they go, until they spot an open valley that they can land in. Just then, they are attacked by the natives. Without guns to protect them, Frank and the Aces make a run for it. Fog Fortune loses his footing on the edge of a cliff and slips off, luckily he is able to grab an overhanging tree branch. His weight causes a hole in the cliffside to open up, the branch having served as a secret lever to a hidden entrance!

The cavern inside is vast, stretching onward with large stone statues lining the halls. Frank examines the statues more closely. To the Aces' surprise, he announces the statues are actually fossils! Giant men must have lived here thousands of years ago. Whistler Will finds a chest holding ancient tablets written in the Egyptian language. Frank translates some of them, learning the history of Easter Island and the origin of its statues, actual giants, who perished after a meteor hit the Earth, bringing a deadly sickness. The smaller human species was unaffected by the virus, but the giants fell one after the other. Frank grabs the rest of the tablets to take with them back to America. This discovery will bring fame and fortune his way, and he promises to see to it that the Three Aces would get credit as well.

Appearing in The Three Aces: "The Easter Island Gods"

Featured Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Easter Island Natives

Other Characters:

  • Frank Bucker (Single appearance)

Locations:

Vehicles:

  • The Aces' red dive bombers

Synopsis for Tex Thomson: "The Gorrah's Blackmail Racket"

Tex Thomson and Bob Daley spend the day in their office looking through photos in an attempt to deduce the identity of Miss X, with no luck. District Attorney Maloney interrupts their research to hand them a case. Miss Van Stryke, an heiress running for city council, was being blackmailed with compromising photos from her college days. She's refused to pay the blackmailers, and requested Tex's and Bob's help.

The duo drive to the Van Stryke home, but are rebuffed at the door by a huge rude man who tries to slam the door on them then pulls a gun when that doesn't work. Tex knocks him out and they run inside, with Tex racing upstairs. Miss Van Stryke is there with another man, who grabs her as soon as Tex arrives. Tex throws a couple of punches, sending the assailant tumbling down the stairs, where Bob keeps an eye on him and the doorman. The grabby tumbler turns out to be Miss Van Stryke's husband, and she's afraid of what will happen if those two are arrested.

In college, Miss Van Stryke had gone on a date with Nick Blair, to the Blue Cougar, a road house notorious for illegal gambling. This was on the night that the police raided the place, with news photographers snapping away. A few days later, she met Nicky again, and he asked her to marry him, so she did.

After that, she hadn't seen him again for years, until the time the blackmail started. Nicky had the negatives from some of that night's photos, and had heard that she was going into politics, so he had a deal for her, and it was expensive. Tex promises to fix the problem, and they head downstairs, to find Bob unconscious on the floor, and the two goons gone. Miss Van Stryke finds a jellybean on the ground, probably dropped by one of the men, and if so, they could lift a fingerprint from it. Tex and Bob head back to the investigation office. Going through the police files of Wanted men, Tex and Bob find a match, with Red Karns, a member of the Dawson Gang, residing in the part of the city known as Satan's Playground.

That evening Tex and Bob disguise themselves and visit that rundown section of slums. Tex muses that if only the city would break for a few inexpensive homes and a place for the kids to play, it could make all the difference. Speaking of kids, Bob distressingly points out a child on the road about to be hit by a speeding car! Tex is quick, tackling the boy out of the way of the vehicle! The boy's father runs up to thank Tex for saving his son. Through a miraculous coincidence, the father turns out to be Red Karns himself! This is the best shot Tex has at finding the blackmailers. He pretends that he and Bob are criminals on the run from the police, and Red offers to let them stay at his hideout for awhile.

Nicky Blair is already at the hideout, fortunately he doesn't recognize Bob or Tex, but unfortunately the leader of the blackmailing gang appears, and it's their old enemy, the one-eyed Gorrah! Tex and Bob are grabbed and tied up. Nicky and Red are sent on their way to tie up loose ends, namely one Miss Van Stryke. In the meantime, the Gorrah explains how he set all this up, just to catch his old pair of nemeses. He didn't care about Blair's grudge with his wife, but the Gorrah knew a case like that would draw Tex in! He tosses them both into an empty room, dropping a gas pellet inside before locking the door, and leaving. The pair struggle against the ropes binding them, as the gas quickly envelops the room. To their surprise, the door opens back up, and Red Karns quickly steps in to untie them and get them free of the gas. Red explains he couldn't just let Tex die, not after he saved his kid. Tex asks Red for help in stopping Nicky from murdering Miss Van Stryke. They rush through traffic towards the auditorium where Van Stryke was delivering her campaign speech. Tex spots Nicky hiding in the back with a gun, grabbing him by the arm to throw off his aim. Tex then holds him until the police arrive, but the Gorrah has long since gotten away.

Later, Miss Van Stryke's campaign is a success and she is elected to Council. She promises Tex she'll use the city's money to rebuild Satan's Playground into a place that's safe for families to live. She will even help Red find a decent job to help provide for his son. As for the Gorrah, Tex has a feeling their paths will cross again soon.

Appearing in Tex Thomson: "The Gorrah's Blackmail Racket"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

Antagonists:

  • the Dawson Gang (Single appearance)
    • Red Karns (Single appearance)
    • Nicky Blair, as "The Blackmail Gang" (Single appearance)
  • One-Eyed Gorrah

Other Characters:

  • Miss Van Stryke, candidate (Single appearance)
  • Raymond Drew, philanthropist (Mentioned only)
  • Red Karns' son (Single appearance)

Locations:

  • Brooklyn
    • Thomson's apartment
    • East Starr Street
      • Van Stryke cottage
    • D.A.'s office
    • Satan's Playground neighborhood

Synopsis for Clip Carson: "The Hollywood Jewel Theft Ring"

A series of jewel thefts sweeps Hollywood, with each witness giving a different description of the thief. The police are baffled. Clip Carson is being shown around Hollywood by his friend, newspaper columnist Buzz Bailey, when Detective Sweeney recognizes Clip as the famous adventurer, and tries to enlist his help on the jewel theft case. Clip, however, is on vacation and declines.

That evening, they spot a man trying to steal a paper from the newsboy across the street. Clip rushes over and wallops the guy, who swears he'll get even before running off. Buzz recognizes the guy as former actor Harold Weston, who was so unpopular he was forced to retire by public demand. As Clip continues on his way, he is followed by the boy he saved. The kid, Billy, figures Clip is a "sort of detective," and offers him some information on the jewel robberies. Billy would always sell papers at the world premieres and for the last two months, he has noticed something odd: a guy who would sit out of sight in his car with a camera, and just take pictures. It was the same guy every time, and he only focused on people who were wearing jewelry. Clip now is interested, and he already is coming up with a plan.

Buzz Bailey and his wife Betty join Clip the next night for the premiere of "Old Bill." All of Hollywood's finest are turned out for the event. Sure enough, Billy's tip turns out accurate, when Clip notices out of the corner of his eye where two men are in a car, one of whom is taking pictures. Clip has already let the Baileys in on his plan, and ensured that Betty wore her finest diamonds to the event. It pays off when the men take notice of her, and now it looks like they are about to act. Clip gives the signal for Betty to fake a fainting spell, allowing Clip to "catch" her, casually removing her jewels as he does so. The strangers in the car see this, mistaking Clip for another thief working solo.

After the movie, Clip sits at home with his terrace window left purposely open. Earlier he had been followed, so now all that is left to do is wait. A man sneaks into the room through the window, and Clip lets him get close before turning around and landing a sucker punch to the intruder's jaw. He squeals. His boss just wants to know why Clip has muscled in on their territory tonight. Clip plays his role of a ne'er-do-well thief, and gets invited to the man's gang hideout, where he can unload the jewels he stole tonight.

Clip is introduced to the rest of the gang at the hideout. Thinking he's just like them, they explain how their operation works; they shoot pictures of any people wearing fancy jewelry, then they show the pictures to the boss, who gets himself invited to the owners' homes, and secretly shoots his own pictures of where they keep the "rocks." That way the gang can come up with a plan to steal them without hassle. Clip asks where the boss is right now. He is answered when a man wearing a kerchief over his face comes out of the backroom holding a gun on him! He recognizes that Clip is working for the police, and has his guys tie him up! They decide to dispose of Clip by throwing him in the kiln, which should eat away at him until nothing remained.

On the course of his adventures around the world, Clip's picked up many tricks from people he's met, such as the ability to slip out of any kind of bindings, learned from a Hindu fakir. This comes in handy now, just as he's about to be dunked in the lime, Clip catches the gang off guard, knocking them down with a few swift punches and kicks. The boss makes a break for it, but Clip tackles him. Behind the mask is Harold Weston, the washed-up actor who had threatened him last night! The police arrive to take the gang to their new home behind bars.

Back at his house, in thanks for the helpful tip, Clip Carson treats Billy the paper boy to a treat of ice cream and pie.

Appearing in Clip Carson: "The Hollywood Jewel Theft Ring"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:

  • Buzz Bailey
  • Betty Bailey (Single appearance)

Antagonists:

  • Harold Weston (Single appearance)
  • Morelli (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • Detective Sweeney (Single appearance)
  • Billy, paperboy (Single appearance)
  • Eddie Cantor (Cameo)

Locations:

Synopsis for Zatara: "The Gringo Gang"

Zatara takes a train out to the West Coast. Suddenly, the train comes to a stop, yet the next station is still several miles away. When he tries to head forward to talk to the engineer about this, Zatara gets knocked out by a masked man. Other masked thugs enter the car, robbing the passengers of all their valuables. The robbers collect wallets and watches, and kidnap one passenger, Mr. Eldon Carmer, then leave, on horseback. Carmer's niece, Jane, wakes up Zatara with a splash of water, and enlists his help. He tells her and the other passengers that he'll get the hostage and their valuables back.

As soon as he's away from the train, Zatara turns himself into a bird and flies over the land, searching, until he spies two men on a horse. One of the men is Eldon Carmer, so the other is his kidnapper. A spell is cast over Mr. Carmer to turn him invisible. This confuses and upsets his captor. Zatara causes invisible Eldon and the invisible valuables to fly back to the train, on a giant summoned bird. Jane and her uncle are reunited, and the rest of the passengers are happy to get their stuff back. Zatara wants to go after the bandits, but Eldon suggests he wait until they get to Kanaka City, where he can get the help of the police chief.

The Kanaka Chief of Police is well aware of these bandits, or the "Gringo Gang", as they call themselves. Zatara learns how the gang has the police running scared by making threats against the station. A report comes in then, the Gringos are raiding near the creek. Zatara tells the chief to take his men out, while he followed a little way behind, in case of a trap. And there is one; a bridge that the police cruiser is traveling over explodes! Zatara gives the car the wings of a bird so it can fly safely back to the city. The bandits witness this from their hidden location nearby, and STILL don't give up. It's now official: the only way they could continue operating in Kanaka was if the magician was rubbed out.

Inquiring around town, they find out where Zatara is staying, a hotel called the Wesford Arms, and they plan to blow it up, tonight, ridding themselves of the meddlesome magician once and for all. Zatara detects their approach without even trying, just on instinct, and perimeter-checks the hotel, and so comes upon the Gringo Gang, in possession of a lot of sticks of dynamite. Zatara whispers a spell that turns the sticks into candy, then follows it up by changing the bandits into bawling toddlers. They run off into the night screaming for their parents until the spell wears off. But afterward, they STILL don't give up, not completely. Their new plan is to leave the city, after one last big heist on the city bank.

Next morning starts off on a tight schedule. The bandits are in a rush to steal enough money to start over somewhere else, and Zatara needs to hurry over and stop them. Soon, the whole bank levitates right off the ground with the gang still inside! Zatara lets it hover for awhile, giving the bandits inside a good stirring, before returning the bank to its foundation in the city. The crooks are whisked out the window on a cloud, their guns made too hot to touch. A few trips through the air on a gust of wind, and the tight-lipped thugs are more than ready to confess to their crimes. As the saying goes: Crime doesn't pay.

Appearing in Zatara: "The Gringo Gang"

Featured Characters:

Antagonists:

  • Gringo Gang (Single appearance)
    • Joe (Single appearance)

Other Characters:

  • Eldon Carmer (Single appearance)
  • Eldon's niece Jane (Single appearance)
  • Chief of Police (Single appearance)

Locations:

  • Out West
    • Kanaka City
      • train station
      • Wesford Arms, hotel
      • bank

Vehicles:

  • Streamlined Passenger Train

Notes

  • Published monthly by Detective Comics, Inc.
  • This issue's Black Pirate episode is continued from last issue and continues into next issue.
  • Clip Carson has the ability to slip out of any kind of bindings, learned from a Hindu fakir.
  • Pep Morgan:
    • Last issue for Fred Guardineer art, replaced next issue by George Papp.
    • Just last issue, Pep Morgan was attending Ardale College; now without explanation he is attending Middletown College.
  • Superman:
  • Zatara:
    • Zatara gets head-konked unconscious, with a pistol butt.
    • Zatara's manservant Tong doesn't appear in this episode.
  • Also appearing in this issue of Action Comics were:
    • "Supermen of America" (full page text advertisement for the fan club)
    • "Here Comes Superman Again!" (1/2 page ad for the current issue of Superman #6) (same ad as previous issue)
    • "The Whole Story" (text story) by John Hilton
    • Fantastic Facts: "Napoleon Bonaparte, Pepi II, Toothbrushes" by George Papp
    • "The BIG SIX comic magazines still lead the field!" (3/4 page ad for the current issues of Action, Adventure, Detective, All-American, More Fun, and Flash Comics)
    • "For Swell Vacation Reading" (1/2 page ad for the current issues of All-Star Comics #1 and Mutt & Jeff #2)
    • "On Sale Aug. 2nd" (1/2 page ad for the current issue of New York World's Fair Comics #2)
    • Sport Close-Ups: "Howard Jones", uncredited
    • "Superman is on the Radio!" (1/2 page ad for The Adventures of Superman (radio series))



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