"Superman: "The Hand of Morpheus"": Clark Kent drives Lois Lane to Brentville for her vacation. As they drive through town, they find that it's quite literally a sleepy little burg. Every single person Clark can see is sleeping, and when he looks over at Lois, he finds that she has fallen asle
Action Comics #31 is an issue of the series Action Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of December, 1940.
- 1 Synopsis for Superman: "The Hand of Morpheus"
- 2 Appearing in Superman: "The Hand of Morpheus"
- 3 Synopsis for Pep Morgan: "The Unconscious Tip-Off"
- 4 Appearing in Pep Morgan: "The Unconscious Tip-Off"
- 5 Synopsis for The Black Pirate: "Escape from the Mine"
- 6 Appearing in The Black Pirate: "Escape from the Mine"
- 7 Synopsis for Three Aces: "The Hidden City of Death"
- 8 Appearing in Three Aces: "The Hidden City of Death"
- 9 Synopsis for Tex Thomson: "The Fake-Accident Racket"
- 10 Appearing in Tex Thomson: "The Fake-Accident Racket"
- 11 Synopsis for Clip Carson: "The Missing Archaeologist"
- 12 Appearing in Clip Carson: "The Missing Archaeologist"
- 13 Synopsis for Zatara: "European War"
- 14 Appearing in Zatara: "European War"
- 15 Notes
- 16 See Also
- 17 Links and References
Synopsis for Superman: "The Hand of Morpheus"
Clark Kent drives Lois Lane to Brentville for her vacation. As they drive through town, they find that it's quite literally a sleepy little burg. Every single person Clark can see is sleeping, and when he looks over at Lois, he finds that she has fallen asleep as well. A car with a sleeping driver dangles precariously over the rail of a bridge, so Clark uses his super strength to pull it back onto the road. Whatever was affecting the town hasn't worked on Clark, perhaps due to his superhuman abilities. Placing some gas masks he found at a fire station over his and Lois face, Clark continues to drive until he comes to a house on the town's outskirts. The man inside, Professor Hunter lets him in to use the phone so Clark can call the sheriff of a nearby town. But when another man, Kolb, hears him on the phone, he rushes Clark, grabbing the receiver out of his hand and slamming it down. Clark's kicked out of the house after Kolb calls him a liar, all the while the Professor seemed very confused.
The sheriff had sent some of his officers in a patrol car to investigate Clark's call. But as soon as they enter Brentville, the cops fall asleep behind the wheel, and their patrol car careens toward a sleeping child in the road! Luckily, Clark is nearby to see the impending disaster. He pinches a nerve in Lois' neck to knock her out, then rushes to tackle the speeding auto, exerting his super-strength to halt the vehicle a mere inch away from the child. Just as Clark returns to the car and revives Lois, a loud explosion is heard. With his telescopic X-Ray vision, Clark sees a group of men robbing Brentville's bank. Lois runs toward the action before Clark can stop her. One of the bank robbers grab her as she nears the entrance and pulls her gas mask off, causing Lois to lose consciousness. Clark changes to his Superman identity and rushes to Lois' rescue. The bandits are knocked out with ease. Superman removes their gas masks to ensure they stay out for awhile.
Meanwhile, others from the neighboring town are alerted by the sound of the bandits safe-blasting. Each of them immediately fall asleep soon after they enter Brentville. Soon, news of the phenomenon in Brentville reaches the desk of another town's sheriff. He goes along with his men, making sure to put on gas masks, to get to the bottom of the strange happenings.
Clark and Lois are arrested by investigating officers because they were wearing gas masks just like the bandits. Clark protests, explaining that he was the one who made the call to them earlier, from Professor Hunter's house. This can easily be verified, so the police take them to the Hunter residence and knock on the door. The man who threw Clark out before, Kolb, answers, acting as housekeeper. The police ask him if Professor Hunter allowed Clark to make a call on his phone. Kolb replies that his master has been away for at least a week, denying ever having seen Clark before. Clark and Lois know he's lying, but they can't do anything right now. The sheriff has them handcuffed and locked in a room while he and his men finish questioning the bank robbers.
Locked in the basement of a house the police are using as temporary HQ, Lois and Clark believe that Professor Hunter was in trouble. With super-speed, Clark snaps his bonds and renders Lois unconscious by pinching a nerve. After resuming his Superman identity, he notices a needle poking its way through the keyhole. A seeping liquid-gas begins to emit from the tip, filling the room with deadly hydrocyanic acid. In order to save Lois, Superman pulls the bars from the window and, grabbing her in his arms, leaps outside. Placing Lois on the second floor of a garage where she'll be safe, Superman returns to Hunter's home. His telescopic vision lets him see into the attic window, where Kolb and another man were examining a map of Brentville. Superman hung outside the window so he could hear what they were discussing. The other man turned out to be a foreign Baron by name of Munsdorf. Kolb was supposed to find Hunter's secret formula, and the Baron was not pleased with his lack of progress. Kolb allowing his thugs to rob a bank has now brought the police down on them, so the Baron orders Kolb to go to the cellar and make the Professor talk.
Hearing enough, the Man of Steel burrows his way underground to the cellar, where Professor Hunter is tied. The Professor explains that he had created a new anesthetic gas formula for the United States. Baron Munsdorf and Kolb were part of a foreign spy ring that wanted the formula for their own country's use. One of Kolb's men stole a sample and spread it across the town, putting people to sleep while they staged a bank robbery. Superman breaks through the cellar wall carrying Hunter to safety outside, then makes a turn-around to deal with Munsdorf and Kolb. As he re-enters the house, he witnesses Munsdorf gun down Kolb in cold blood for letting the Professor escape. Munsdorf turns the gun on Superman to find that it has no effect. Searching Hunter's lab, the Baron grabs another weapon, a death ray, and aims it at the hero. Superman only feels a minor effect from the ray, nothing that will slow him down. Changing tactics, Munsdorf aims the ray out the window at the garage where Lois was still unconscious! The building bursts into flames and Superman moves fast to get Lois out and clear of the danger. In those few minutes, Baron Munsdorf has found Professor Hunter and prepares to destroy him with the beam. But Superman streaks down from above, blocking the beam of death with his hand. The lethal force bounces back and hits Munsdorf himself, killing him instantly!
After the Professor corroborates Clark's story to the sheriff, he and Lois are set free. The rest of the bandits are put under arrest. The people of Brentville should be coming out of their induced sleep any moment now. And Lois is free to enjoy the rest of her vacation. Or she would if she wasn't so determined to get back to Metropolis and write up the story before Clark!
Appearing in Superman: "The Hand of Morpheus"
- Baron Munsdorf (Only appearance; dies)
- Kolb (Only appearance; dies)
- Kolb's gang
- Professor Hunter (Single appearance)
Synopsis for Pep Morgan: "The Unconscious Tip-Off"
Pep is playing for his college football team. Somehow, the opposing team always knows when Pep is about to pass the ball, and are able to intercept. It's like Pep has a tell that he is about to pass the ball, without realizing it. With the help of Nancy and her new camera, Pep needs to find how he signals to the other team so he can adjust his technique. Otherwise Midtown college's big game against state will be lost.
Appearing in Pep Morgan: "The Unconscious Tip-Off"
- Nancy (Single appearance)
- Stretch (Single appearance)
Synopsis for The Black Pirate: "Escape from the Mine"
After being made a slave of the cruel Captain Treble, the Black Pirate, Jon Valor, is forced to work in a mine that was dug into a submerged mountain. He and the other slaves would be locked in the lowest section of the mine, deep beneath the ocean, behind a thick cell door. Valor comes up with a plan to dig into the wall letting the water gush through. The pressure would knock open the heavy door, and they could all float to the top of the mine where they'd then make their escape. Some slaves drown as the water rushes forth, but most are able to keep their heads above water. Jon gets ahead of his fellow prisoners, finding high ground and a waiting guard. He holds the guards heads below the water until he drowns.
Meanwhile, Captain Treble and his men flee to the top. Treble orders the door to the shaft be closed, sealing the slaves inside to their doom. But above, the Black Pirate watches. A scheme forms in his mind, to save his comrades in the mines...
Appearing in The Black Pirate: "Escape from the Mine"
- his crew
- Captain Treble
- Treble's slaves
Synopsis for Three Aces: "The Hidden City of Death"
The Three Aces are flying over the Arabian desert when they spot a woman trudging through the sand. Luckily, the sand in the area is flat, so they can land and help the girl. She tells them that her father was an explorer, and that he had just discovered a long buried city. She explored it with him, until they came across an old temple. He told her to wait outside for him, as he sensed there was danger lurking within. Only a few minutes passed when she then heard a horrible gnashing sound, followed by her father's screams. She ran in terror, and has been wandering through the desert since, looking for help. Gunner, Whistler, and Fog calm her down, promising to go look for her father. Dropping the woman off at a mission, the Aces then fly off in the direction she indicated. Eventually, they find the ancient city and land nearby.
Inside, Gunner leads the way towards the temple where the girl's father went missing. Fog and Will are told to wait at the entrance, and to shoot straight without missing if they hear anything big coming. Gunner heads further in, past murals and statues depicting a great serpent. Steps lead farther down into a cavern. Gunner finds what he suspected killed the girl's father: a giant snake. The serpent takes notice of him, its eyes glaring menacingly. He was an intruder in its home, and the snake intended to have Gunner for a meal.
Gunner runs back up the steps, but he slips just before reaching the top. The snake is upon him, about to strike! Fortunately, Fog and Will hear the noise from their position and run inside, and shoot the snake's eyes out with their rifles. While it thrashes around in pain, Gunner, Whistler, and Fog rush out of the temple, being sure to push close the large door, to seal the dying snake inside. The girl's father was dead, but at least no one else will be a victim of the serpent.
Appearing in Three Aces: "The Hidden City of Death"
- A giant serpent (Only appearance; dies)
- Nona (Single appearance)
- The Aces' Planes
Synopsis for Tex Thomson: "The Fake-Accident Racket"
Tex and Bob are called in to Maloney's office. Maloney introduces them to James Thorne, an old friend from Kiwan City. Thorne's been hearing of Maloney's success against countless rackets, and is hoping he could borrow Tex and Bob to help out with a problem plaguing Kiwan. The insurance company he runs has recently been paying out an unusually high amount for the past eight months, and Thorne thinks there's an organized ring that's committing insurance fraud. Tex and Bob are raring to get to work on the case, and so they go home to pack.
The next morning, Tex and Bob arrive in Kiwan, bags in hand. As they head down the sidewalk, Tex spots a man about to be hit by a car! He rushes over and pulls the man out of the car's path. However, instead of a 'thank you,' Tex receives an angry tirade. It was almost as if the man wanted to be hit. He storms off as the driver of the car runs over to thank Tex. Introducing himself as Tim Waldron, a chauffeur, he reveals it would have been his third accident in two months, and he would've lost yet another job. Each accident had resulted in his former employers dishing out big sums of money to the insurance company. Tex writes down Tim's address in case he needs to talk to him again later.
The next day, Tex passes by a gentleman leaving James Thorne's office. It's Simmons, Thorne's general manager, fresh from getting yelled at by Thorne, for paying out one hundred thousand dollars in accident insurance claims. Tex has a plan to draw out the scam ring, but before he starts talking, he notices Thorne's intercom had been turned on. Someone was listening! It may not be the best time after all to go into details, though Tex does ask James for a five hundred thousand dollar policy on a car, for himself. He then sends Bob out to rent a chauffeur's outfit, while he goes to the dealer and rents a car. He is stealthily followed by a shady figure, and when Tex turns into the alley to tie his shoe, he is walloped from behind! His attacker searches Tex's pockets for his notepad, then runs off before Tex can recover. Tex needs to hurry now, things are about to be blown wide open. At the auto sales room, Tex buys a car on his deposit. Before he meets Bob, Tex makes a quick side-trip to the mechanic to get some special work done.
Bob drives down the road, with Tex instructing him not to brake if he sees anyone jump out in front of them. They needed to hurry to Tim Waldron's place. His address was written in the notebook, and Tex had a feeling there was going to be trouble. As Bob steps on the gas, a man steps into the path of their car, letting himself get hit. An officer patrolling nearby runs to the scene as the "victim" moans bloody murder. Tex tells the policeman not to bother with an ambulance, because the man on the ground can't possibly be hurt. He had the bumper covered in four inches of rubber, expecting someone to try to fake an accident. The supposedly-injured man tries to get away, getting tackled by Bob for his trouble. Tex offers to take the man with them to answer some questions. The cop is just glad to be rid of him. On Tex and Bob go, as fast as they can, to Waldron's residence. Their new passenger refuses to answer any questions, no matter what Tex tries.
Tex and Bob enter Waldron's apartment with their "guest" in tow. At first, it seems no one is home, but then a man emerges from behind the door, holding a gun on the two investigators. The man Tex had brought with him helps his friend tie Tex and Bob up. The thugs dial up their boss while in the next room, Tex listens closely, memorizing the number by counting the clicks. The two men are told by their boss to come back to headquarters, this city was getting too hot for them to stay. The thugs light a fire around Tex and Bob, then they leave them to their fate. Luckily, a police officer notices the smoke and enters the room, recognizing Tex and Bob and quickly untying them. While the officer calls the fire department, Tex uses a phone booth outside to contact the operator. He repeats the number he heard the thugs dial, and writes down the address he is given.
Tex directs Bob to the location of the insurance racketeers' hideout. The police are already at the house, and there are shots fired! One of the thugs gets hit and goes down. Tex and Bob head around to the back, just in time to catch the boss of the operation trying to escape through a window. It was Simmons, James Thorne's general manager!
With nowhere left to go, Simmons confesses all. He was in a prime position to get the info on all big policy holders. His men would then use various tricks and gimmicks to fake some injuries when they'd jump in front of the heavily insured cars. He never counted on Tex installing a rubber bumper on his vehicle, catching his man in the act.
Appearing in Tex Thomson: "The Fake-Accident Racket"
- Bob Daley
- D.A. Maloney
- Simmons (Single appearance)
- Lefty (Single appearance)
- Shorty (Single appearance)
- James Thorne (Single appearance)
- Tim Waldron (Single appearance)
- Kiwan City
Synopsis for Clip Carson: "The Missing Archaeologist"
Sancho, an old friend of Clip Carson, visits him in his Hollywood hotel room. Sancho is acting as a guide for Professor Quirk, a mutual friend of theirs, as he and his daughter June are on the search for an Incan temple containing an ancient treasure. They were all staying in a friendly Indian village, when the professor wandered into the jungle one night and never came back. The only clue Sancho had was the fact that they met two other white men in the village: a Mr. Mason, and his guide Carlos, who also vanished right after the Professor...
A man climbs up to Clip's window and throws a knife, missing Sancho by a hair! Sancho pulls out his own knife and tosses it, this one hitting its mark! The assassin falls off the ledge to the ground below, dead on impact. Clip notices the man was Indian, likely having followed Sancho, to try to silence him. Regardless, it was enough to convince Clip to make the trip to Mexico with Sancho, to find Professor Quirk.
Traveling by plane, Clip and Sancho arrive in Mexico and hike out to the village where the Professor was staying. No sooner have they arrived than a Mexican man appears, with Quirk's daughter June struggling in his grip. Sancho recognizes the man as Carlos, the guide that came with Mason. Hostage in hand, Carlos tries forcing his way past, but Clip knocks him out with a well-placed punch. After they're safely hidden away, June tells Clip that Carlos offered to take her to see her father if she agreed to come by herself. Initially wary, she refused, and that's when Carlos became more forceful. Clip thinks it's too suspicious that she was asked to go alone, though he also suspected that Carlos probably did know where the Professor was. Maybe it'd be worth it for June to agree to go with Carlos, if Clip and Sancho followed them from a distance.
Through the jungle Clip and Sancho go, trailing the path June and Carlos take. Eventually, they reach a native camp. Clip watches which hut Carlos and June go into, silently sneaking closer and closer. Inside, Professor Quirk is being held captive by the angry Mr. Mason. Frustrated that his beat down of the Professor yielded no answers to the Incan treasure's location, he instead decided that Quirk might talk if he threatened his daughter. But before Mason's assistant Carlos can bring his fist down on the girl, Clip charges in, hitting the Mexican with the butt of his rifle! He then lays down Mason with a heavy right hook. Sancho gets to work tying the two kidnappers up, as shouts rise up from outside. The natives! Worse, the Professor checks his barometer, discovering a storm coming, making escape even more difficult! Of course, Clip's ingenuity comes into play then, and maybe the natives, and the storm combined could actually help their escape. Modifying his voice, Clip bellows out of the hut in a command-like manner; he is the god of rain, and the natives have displeased him. No sooner did he finish speaking than the storm started. The natives were terrified, and ran for cover back in their huts! After the storm abates, Clip and his friends start the trek back to the friendly village.
Before Clip leaves the next day, Professor Quirk offers to show him the Inca temple. It's not such a short hike, down some rocky cliffs, and into a hidden cave behind a waterfall. there, Clip lays eyes on the treasure of the Incas. Quirk told him it would all go to the government, but he should still get a substantial reward. When they get back to the village, Sancho runs up to meet them. The police have taken Mason and Carlos into custody. Also, a telegram has arrived for Clip. It was a message from one of his friends in South America. He was in danger and needed Clip's help right away!
Appearing in Clip Carson: "The Missing Archaeologist"
- Sancho (Single appearance)
- Mr. Mason (Single appearance)
- Carlos (Single appearance)
- A savage Indian tribe (Single appearance)
- Professor Quirk (Single appearance)
- June Quirk (Single appearance)
Synopsis for Zatara: "European War"
Zatara is putting on a magic show in a foreign country, when all of a sudden the theatre starts to violently shake. It is announced that war had been declared, and the enemy was bombing the city! When the theatre's ceiling comes crashing down, only the magic of Zatara can keep it aloft long enough for the audience to evacuate. Zatara takes leave after everyone was out. In the street, a woman is nearly blown away by a nearby bomb explosion, but the magician casts a spell to save her. She thanks him and introduces herself as Yolanda, she is also an American visiting the country. She and Zatara quickly head for the American consulate to flee back home before they get caught up in this foreign war. Unfortunately, the consul behind the desk informs that there are no outgoing flights at the moment. They would need to find a ship if they wanted to leave. Yolanda begins to worry about her brother, Bill, whom she hasn't seen since the air raid. If he wasn't in the consulate, maybe he was at the docks?
Zatara takes Yolanda to an auto shop, where he uses magic to build a car out of the spare parts lying around. The pair drive towards the sea, where they hope a boat can be hired out. A captain invites the magician and his guest on board. With luck, it happens to be the boat that Yolanda's brother, Bill, also sought passage on! The siblings are reunited! The ship plows homeward to American soil, but is attacked by an enemy submarine. However, the enemy hadn't counted on Zatara being aboard. Casting a powerful spell, he separates the water where the sub was hiding, bringing it crashing to the seabed below. One enemy sailor tries firing a gun at Zatara, a useless gesture, which is repaid by having the submarine beneath their feet vanish. They are deposited on a small island in the middle of the ocean. Meanwhile, the passengers of the sinking ship are herded aboard the submarine that now sits on the deck. When the last passenger enters, Zatara closes up the rift he opened in the sea, and guides the sub onward. Enemy planes spot the sub and try bombing it, but Zatara turns the bombs back at their senders. A squadron of sea planes take notice and land on the water nearby. They invite Zatara and the rest of the American crew aboard, knowing they wouldn't have gotten far in an enemy sub.
While the other planes head for home, Zatara feels he will need to put an end to this war before any of them can be truly safe. He tells the pilot to fly over the front lines. The soldiers below soon find their guns being made useless, and their cannons floating away into the atmosphere. Then, Zatara appears, over one hundred feet tall, with a booming voice demanding hostilities to cease. Fearfully, one of the lead commanders respond that neither side wanted this war, that it was their countries' rulers that started it! So then, Zatara's next move was to pay a visit to army headquarters.
The country's leader and military commander was in war talks when Zatara turns them into tiny figures he can hold in his hand, whisking them away to the rival country of Cabbagia. When he gets the two leaders together, Zatara asks them what the cause of the fighting was. Cabaggia didn't think the other country's soup was as good tasting as theirs. Zatara settles things once and for all, creating a new recipe of soup that both leaders can agree on. Peace is declared, and Zatara can finally return home. It just goes to show, war is started over the dumbest of reasons.
Appearing in Zatara: "European War"
- Yolanda (Single appearance)
- Unnamed enemy soldiers (Single appearance)
- Bill (Single appearance)
- Unnamed Country
- Country of Cabbagia
- Ocean Liner
- Sea Plane
- Enemy submarine
- Enemy planes
- Superman: "The Hand of Morpheus" is reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archives Vol. 2 and Superman Chronicles Vol. 4.
- Superman knocks Lois unconscious with a nerve pinch, twice, in this story.
- Aside from the stories above, this issue contains:
- "Danny Dubb"
- "Vengeance Trail" by Ivan Dmytryk (text story)