"Superman: "The Man with the Radioactive Touch"": An accident at the Chalmers Laboratory leaves one Brett Bryson dead. Shortly after, district attorney Tom Spaulding tries to pin charges of negligence on the lab's owner, Frank Chalmers. Clark and [[Lois Lane (Earth-Two)|L
Action Comics #39 is an issue of the series Action Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of August, 1941.
Synopsis for Superman: "The Man with the Radioactive Touch"
An accident at the Chalmers Laboratory leaves one Brett Bryson dead. Shortly after, district attorney Tom Spaulding tries to pin charges of negligence on the lab's owner, Frank Chalmers. Clark and Lois interview Chalmers, both believing that Spaulding was just using the case as a means to secure his re-election. Later, the court agrees that the accident was due to the victim's own carelessness, despite being warned of the danger. Chalmers is cleared of all charges.
At midnight, a jewelry store is robbed by a figure wearing a white hood and cloak. The night watchman spots the ghostly being and fires a few shots into him. The bullets have no effect. The figure grabs him, its hands burning at the touch. The next morning, police find the watchman dead of radium burns. Soon, Metropolis is hit by a new series of robberies committed by the same figure. The description that he can't be harmed by bullets leads Sergeant Casey to believe that Superman was to blame! That night, Clark hears reports of another ghost sighting at the Gallagher Company over the police scanner. As Superman, Clark flies out to the site of the robbery just in time to see the ghost tossing a police officer off the roof of the establishment. Abandoning the ghostly figure for the moment, Superman performs a rescue dive to save the policeman before he hits the ground. When he returns to the roof, the ghost was already gone.
The next morning, the rival newspapers all have the same headlines: "Policeman Dies of Radium Burns after Encounter with Superman". Perry White, upset that the Daily Planet is behind on the news, sends Clark and Lois out to the police station to learn of any developments in the case. While there, Clark's super-hearing lets him overhear a conversation between Casey and the police chief. Fingerprints found on one of the victims been matched to the records of one particular individual. Brett Bryson. The sergeant was going to pay a visit to Frank Chalmers at his home to get to the bottom of this mystery. Superman was going with him, after making a quick detour to check on something.
Frank Chalmers and his assistant Davis are together when Superman flies through the window. He demands the men tell him what was really going on. He used his X-Ray vision on Bryson's grave and discovered it was empty! Chalmers confirms that, yes, Brett Bryson survived the accident and gained odd powers, but he also only had a week to live. So Chalmers came up with the idea for Brett to start robbing businesses dressed in his ghost disguise, so that he can leave enough money to his wife, May, to see her through after he was gone. He then pulls a strange gun from under his desk and fires it at the Man of Steel, stopping him in his tracks. It was a radium gun, Chalmers explained, it should completely sap Superman of his strength. Suddenly, Bryson himself, wearing his ghostly outfit, enters the room with a newly gained bag of cash. Superman uses the distraction to make his move. He had only pretended the gun affected him. Now grabbing Davis, he roughly orders the man to tell him the truth! Davis revealed that he and Chalmers never intended to give the money to Brett's wife, and what's more, Chalmers had Brett's accident planned from the start. Bryson is furious at this, and chokes Chalmers to death! The tremendous emotional outburst causes Bryson to collapse, dead alongside Chalmers.
The bodies are delivered to the police. Sergeant Casey admits his mistake in accusing Superman of the robberies, and things go back to normal.
Appearing in Superman: "The Man with the Radioactive Touch"
- Ghost (Dies)
- Frank Chalmers (Dies)
- police officer (Dies)
- May Bryson
- Tom Spaulding
- Chalmers' Radium Gun
Synopsis for Pep Morgan: "The Jailed Star"
Pep is the top pitcher on his college's baseball team. A gambler decides to fix the odds and stage a fight that gets Pep thrown in jail so he can't play during the big game. Switching clothes with a cellmate who didn't want to leave his cushy prison life, Pep is mistakenly freed by the guard. He manages to make it back to the stadium in time to save his team from a loss. The gambler is taken away by police Pep uses his fists to convince the man to confess.
Appearing in Pep Morgan: "The Jailed Star"
- Monk (Single appearance)
- "Odds" Renaldi (Single appearance)
- Jerry (Single appearance)
- Joe (Single appearance)
- Midwest College
- Midwest College
Synopsis for The Black Pirate: "Escape from the Palace"
Don De Avila orders his palace guards to seize Jon Valor and Bonnie. Jon draws the men away from Bonnie, making his way up the stairs while fending off attacks with his sword. Once he gets high up on the castle walls, Valor leaps! The mounted soldier below never sees the figure that knocks him off his mare. But his companions quickly give chase to the fleeing Black Pirate.
Riding back on to the busy streets of Barcelona, Jon manages to lose his pursuers. He heads back to his ship, to warn them that the Spanish fleet now considered them enemies. He sends his crew sailing away to Gibraltar, where he promises to meet them again. But first, he has an appointment to keep tonight with Avila.
Appearing in The Black Pirate: "Escape from the Palace"
- Don De Avila
- Jon Valor's ship
Synopsis for The Three Aces: "The Medicine Thief"
Up in the snowy tundras, the Aces are sent to examine a few gold mine properties for a man in the states. They discover the local Indian tribe is being forced to mine gold in order to pay for medicine that should be free.
Appearing in The Three Aces: "The Medicine Thief"
- Pierre La Salle
- Douglas MacLean (Single appearance)
- Angus (Only appearance; dies)
- the Aces' planes
Synopsis for Mr. America: "Vs. the Fifth Columnists"
A car carrying a reluctant passenger was speeding down a country road. The occupants inside didn't notice the strangely garbed man clinging to their roof. Not until the figure dropped a red ,white, and blue feather in through the drivers-side window, accompanied by the whistling of "Yankee Doodle". The calling card of Tex Thomson, aka Mr. America! He swung expertly into the vehicle, kicking the driver out. Once the car has stopped, Mr. America orders the passenger and the driver to explain what was going on., but a loud BOOM, followed by the ground shaking, takes Tex by surprise. The driver uses the distraction to make his escape. Only the other man remained, and he was pleased to be saved. The hostage was Ed Blake, a photographer for "The Globe" newspaper. He and a reporter had been planted at a spy camp, which was suspected of actually being a group of foreign saboteurs, but they were caught. The explosion Tex had just heard was likely the aircraft munitions factory being completely destroyed by the saboteurs bomb.
The next morning, the spy camp receives a new recruit. Tex, in plainclothes, is given a uniform and a place to change. On the way, he catches a young woman snooping around in the file room. The saboteur leader spots them and gives Tex a right-hook for his trouble. The girl is locked up to be dealt with later. She must be the reporter that was captured before. Later on that day, Tex finally changes into his Mr. America outfit. First, he pays a visit to the guardhouse, to set the woman free. She identifies herself as Doris Dare, and tells Tex that a package was just sent out that must not reach it's destination! They chase the messenger down via a shortcut. The package contains a letter from the leader that confirms the bombing of the factory. Tex gives it to Doris so she can show it to her editor. Now all they had to do was shut down the saboteurs for good.
The editor of The Globe allowed Doris to print the story, even without definitive evidence, if only to help expose the foreign spies before they had a chance to strike again. And now, thanks to the article, the local townsfolk were aware of the goings-on at the camp, and are taking it upon themselves to save their home from the saboteurs. All of the lower ranking men are rounded up. The leader tries to run for his car, but Tex catches his foot with the bullwhip. He returns to the crowd with the saboteur boss in tow, telling them that he'll make sure to send the leader on a one-way trip back to his home country.
Appearing in Mr. America: "Vs. the Fifth Columnists"
- Ed Blake (Single appearance)
- Doris Dare (Single appearance)
- Mr. America's Bullwhip
Synopsis for Congo Bill: "The Secret U-Boat Base"
British convoys are being sunk by undersea German U-Boats, the supplies they are delivering lost. Bill is asked by a British officer to locate the submarine base. He is given a small plane to aid the search.
After visiting several other cities and villages for any information he could learn, Bill flies next to a remote isle to investigate. His plane is suddenly shot at by a hidden anti-air emplacement. Bill ejects to safety while his plane plummets down in flames. Within a few minutes, a squad of German Nazi soldiers gather around the plane's wreckage, watching it burn itself down into a molten, twisted skeleton. One of the Nazis tells their captain that the pilot could not have survived.
Waiting in the brush, Bill ambushes a passing soldier and steals his clothes. Now that he was wearing the uniform, Bill sneaks into the hidden base camp that was concealed under the tree canopy. The radio room only has one guard on duty, who is quickly taken out by Bill's fists. He sends out the base's coordinates on the frequency he'd been given. The British soon send out a squadron of bombers towards the island. In the meantime, Bill's ruse had been discovered when the soldier whose clothes he stole wakes up and reports to the captain. They rush ton the radio room and shoot the man at the controls. It turns out, the man was one of their own, whom Bill had tied to the chair. Then, the bombs start to drop. Chaos ensues as the Nazi's try to evacuate, only to be mowed down by the party of marines rushing up onto the beach.
Bill shakes hands with the British officer, glad that the mission was over.
Appearing in Congo Bill: "The Secret U-Boat Base"
- Professor Joe Kent
- Nazi Party
- Hans (Only appearance; dies)
- Schmidt (Only appearance; dies)
- Carl (Only appearance; dies)
- Unnamed British officer (Single appearance)
- German U-Boats
- Bill's fighter plane (Destroyed)
- British R.A.F. Bombers
Synopsis for Zatara: "The Zin Diamond"
Zatara is in the Kingdom of Patona, performing magic for the queen and her guests. When the show is over, he receives a summons to a private audience with her majesty. She wishes him to deliver the precious Zin diamond to the American bank so that Patona can trade for foreign goods. Attempts have already been made to steal the diamond, but no thief would suspect Zatara of carrying it. Neither of them notice the man eavesdropping from behind the door. The stranger reports back to Bem, an international jewel thief. Bem tells him to eliminate Zatara and get the diamond.
The next morning as Zatara leaves to pick up the Zin diamond, he is clunked on the head and placed in the drivers seat of a car which is then pushed down a hill into a lake. Luckily, the shock of being submerged rouses Zatara from unconsciousness. With a spell, he rises out of the water and hovers to safety. When he finally returns to the palace, Zatara discovers that once she heard he was "dead", the Queen gave the Zin diamond to a man who claimed to be his friend. She thinks Zatara's an imposter until he proves himself by casting a magic spell. But if that were so, then the diamond had been stolen. Zatara's experience with thieves taught him that they are going to be interested in selling the diamond for a ton of cash... That gives him an idea.
Zatara visits the Mount Bisco gambling den and, using his magic, proceeds to clean out the house of it's money. Word of his unnatural luck spreads. Bem sends his boys out to get the money from Zatara, while he heads to America.
As soon as Zatara steps outside, Bem's thugs approach him. At first they try to sell him a regular diamond. Zatara is unimpressed, turning the clear crystal into a black rock. Bem's thugs then take Zatara to their hideout. They attempt to kill the magician, but a spell is cast, freezing them in a block of ice! He grabs the diamond from them and contacts the police.
Returning to America, Zatara is greeted by Bem, disguised as Patonan Embassy official. Zatara's wise to the gig however. He lets Bem take him to his home where the jewel thief plans to relieve the magician of the diamond, and his life. Zatara utters a spell just as Bem pulls a gun! The weapon falls apart and Bem is at Zatara's mercy. The thief is taken to the local police station, his international crime wave finally ended. Zatara not only delivers the diamond to the bank, he also returns all the money he won to the Patona casino, now that it's purpose has been served.
Appearing in Zatara: "The Zin Diamond"
- Bem (Single appearance)
- Ab (Single appearance)
- Queen of Patona (Single appearance)
- Captain Mulgram (Single appearance)
- Published monthly by Detective Comics, Inc.
- The Black Pirate story continues from last month and is continued next month.
- Superman: The Man with the Radioactive Touch is reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archives Vol. 3 and Superman Chronicles Vol. 6.
- On Earth-Two Clark Kent worked at the Daily Star under George Taylor while Perry White remained a reporter and Superman fought a red haired Luthor. However, there was a close hypertime reality (Earth-Two-A) which regularly interacted with Earth-Two resulting in distortions such as (but not limited to) Clark Kent working for the Daily Planet under editor Perry White and/or Superman fighting a bald Luthor.
- Aside from the stories above, this issue contains:
- "Get Your Man" by Fred Hart and art by Cliff Young (text story)