"Superman: "Superman, Gridiron Hero"": Superman chases after a driver that had committed a hit-and-run. The car stalls on some train tracks. Superman is barely able to get the driver out of the car in time. Unfortunately, the driver has suffered a heart attack. Superman sne
Action Comics #4 is an issue of the series Action Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of September, 1938.
- 1 Appearing in Superman: "Superman, Gridiron Hero"
- 2 Synopsis for Superman: "Superman, Gridiron Hero"
- 3 Appearing in Chuck Dawson: "The 4-G Gang (Part 4)"
- 4 Synopsis for Chuck Dawson: "The 4-G Gang (Part 4)"
- 5 Appearing in Pep Morgan: "The All-Star Athlete"
- 6 Synopsis for Pep Morgan: "The All-Star Athlete"
- 7 Appearing in "Bad Bill and the Menace of the Hills"
- 8 Synopsis for "Bad Bill and the Menace of the Hills"
- 9 Appearing in "Adventures of Marco Polo (Part IV)"
- 10 Synopsis for "Adventures of Marco Polo (Part IV)"
- 11 Appearing in Tex Thomson: "The Sealed City (Part III)"
- 12 Synopsis for Tex Thomson: "The Sealed City (Part III)"
- 13 Appearing in Scoop Scanlon: "Brady's Revenge"
- 14 Synopsis for Scoop Scanlon: "Brady's Revenge"
- 15 Appearing in Inspector Donald and Bobby: "The Protection Racket"
- 16 Synopsis for Inspector Donald and Bobby: "The Protection Racket"
- 17 Appearing in Zatara: "The Night Club Murder"
- 18 Synopsis for Zatara: "The Night Club Murder"
- 19 Notes
- 20 Trivia
- 21 See Also
- 22 Recommended Reading
- 23 Links and References
Appearing in Superman: "Superman, Gridiron Hero"
- Tommy Burke (a backup on the Cordell University team)
- Coach Randall (Single appearance)
- Mary (Tommy Burke's girlfriend)
- Oliver Stanley (Cordell University football coach)
- Wallace Dodd (Cordell University tennis champion)
- Ray Martin (Cordell University football player)
- Cordell University
- Cordell University
Synopsis for Superman: "Superman, Gridiron Hero"
Superman chases after a driver that had committed a hit-and-run. The car stalls on some train tracks. Superman is barely able to get the driver out of the car in time. Unfortunately, the driver has suffered a heart attack. Superman sneaks into the car, where he hears Coach Randall, the football coach of Dale University, is hiring two ringers to play in a game against Cordell University and rough up the star player, thereby giving Dale University the win, and allowing the coach to keep his job.
Superman decides to pose as Tommy Burke, a perennial backup on Cordell University's team. Tommy Burke's girlfriend, meanwhile, tells Burke that she's broken up with him, and is dating the tennis champion, Wallace Dodd, instead. As Burke is taking a walk to cool down, he comes across Superman, who has made himself to look like Burke. He stabs Burke with a hypodermic needle that makes him lose consciousness. When Burke wakes up, Superman explains that he's going to steal his identity for a few days.
Superman heads to the football locker room, but doesn't know which locker is his. He opens a locker at random, and ends up wearing the uniform of Ray Martin, another player. Martin challenges him to a fight, and Superman knocks him out cold. Coach Oliver Stanley hears the noise, and kicks Superman (posing as Burke) off the team.
Superman decides to come out onto the practice field anyway, immediately making an interception. When the coach notices him, he tells the other players to grab him and throw him off the field. The entire team piles onto him, as he drags them all into the touchdown. The coach changes his mind, and decides to start Burke in the big game against Dale.
Coach Randall hears that Burke has become Cordell's star player, so he tells the thugs to kidnap him the night before the big game. They come across the real Tommy Burke, who is tied up and under the influence of a sleep-inducing drug that Superman gave him, and re-kidnap him to a new location.
The next day, Superman quickly scores several touchdowns in succession. Meanwhile the real Tommy Burke escapes out of where the thugs were holding him prisoner and makes his way to the football field. He enters the bleachers to discover that his Doppelgänger is scoring repeatedly. He plans to tell the police, until he hears his ex-girlfriend tell Wallace Dodd that she wants to date Burke again.
The thugs attempt to stab Superman with a knife, but he quickly dispatches them. Coach Randall resigns in disgrace. At half time, Superman switches places with Tommy Burke, allowing him to play the second half. Burke grabs hold of the ball, and is quickly knocked unconscious. When he wakes up, his girlfriend is kissing him, but she tells him that she wants him to quit football, because it's too dangerous. He quickly agrees.
Appearing in Chuck Dawson: "The 4-G Gang (Part 4)"
- Blacky, Chuck's horse
- John Burwell (Behind the scenes)
- Trigger Holt
- Sheriff of Red Gulch
Synopsis for Chuck Dawson: "The 4-G Gang (Part 4)"
Chuck has overheard the 4-G Ranch's owner John Burwell talk to his hired gun, about his plan to use Chuck's stolen horse, Blacky, in a new crime. Chuck finds his horse tied down by the river, being approached by Steve, one of Burwell's henchman. He waits until Steve has mounted Blacky and ridden him off a ways before whistling, making his well trained horse throw Steve off his back. Chuck takes his horse back and rides off.
Back in town, Burwell's other two henchmen, Trigger and Butch, find the sheriff and tell him that Chuck Dawson is stirring up trouble. Soon Chuck's got three mounted men chasing him, and before long, he and his steed are forced up a steep mountain trail. The sheriff, still believing Chuck to be a criminal, suggests they spread out and cover all the exits down the mountain. From his vantage point, Chuck notices that his pursuers have left their horses tied up and unguarded. Securing his lasso to a sturdy boulder, he climbs down to the flatter land, and very stealthily loosens the knots in the horses' reins, and sends them running off. But while he is climbing back up to Blacky, Butch arrives and spots the rope that is dangling off the ledge.
Appearing in Pep Morgan: "The All-Star Athlete"
- Camp Director (Single appearance)
- Charley (Single appearance)
- Bobby (Single appearance)
- Jimmy (Single appearance)
- Harry (Single appearance)
- Camp Indian Head
Synopsis for Pep Morgan: "The All-Star Athlete"
Pep spends the summer days at Camp Indian Head training for the swimming competition. But during the race, one of the kids gets a cramp and goes under. Pep abandons the race to rescue him, as the other swimmers pass by to the finish. Luckily, the boy is all right, and Pep isn't bothered that he lost the race.
Later, one of the kids runs up to Pep, telling him that two brothers took a canoe out onto the rapids and were now in trouble! Pep alerts the camp's director to get a lifesaving device. He then races to the river, where the two kids and their boat were being washed down the rapids towards a waterfall. Pep jumps in the water, swimming against the current until he reaches the craft. He grabs the boys and carries them out of the canoe while the director throws a line for them to grab on to. The boy's father is relieved his sons are safe. Pep suggests the next time they go canoeing, they should remember to bring an anchor.
Appearing in "Bad Bill and the Menace of the Hills"
- Bad Bill (Single appearance)
- Sheriff Joe (Single appearance)
- Unnamed Stranger (Single appearance)
- Out West
- bulletproof vest
- Sheriff's Automobile
Synopsis for "Bad Bill and the Menace of the Hills"
Bill is a bad seed in town. He shoots a stranger just because he doesn't like his face, then he begins to run from the Sheriff. They wind up in a rocky area with boulders strewn about. After a brief gun battle, Bill is surprised from behind by the man he shot earlier. The man was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Appearing in "Adventures of Marco Polo (Part IV)"
- Niccolò Polo (Marco Polo's father)
- Maffeo Polo (Marco Polo's uncle)
- caravan camels
- lion & lioness
- constricting, fanged snake
Synopsis for "Adventures of Marco Polo (Part IV)"
Marco and the guide, Niku, are caught in a sandstorm while out hunting. By keeping their heads down, they are able to brave the blinding storm and make it back to the camp.
The next morning, the caravan awakens to a surprising change in landscape. What had been a flat plain the day before, has become a mass of hills, thanks to the sandstorm. The hike is tiresome as the Polos lead the camels over the dunes. They eventually happen upon a stream. Seeing it as a good place to rest, the caravan unpacks under the oasis, while Marco and his uncle enjoy a race through the refreshing water.
The camp remains peaceful until the next morning, when a horrifying shriek reaches their ears. Marco and his family race towards the source of the noise, through a forest lane where they peer into the brush. A lion and his mate are fighting with a very large snake. The lioness is forced off after a few bites from the creature, but the lion remains fiercely on the attack, getting trapped in the snake's coils. As the Polos inch closer, the lion shakes free. The snake then notices its new prey and, its fanged mouth wide open, quickly slithers straight for the Polos!
Appearing in Tex Thomson: "The Sealed City (Part III)"
- Rabb Khazan (Single appearance)
- One-Eyed Gorrah (Mentioned only)
- True Gorrah of the Sealed City (Final appearance)
- Hawntem (Final appearance)
- Scharem (Final appearance)
- Yukatrama Volcanic Area
- The Sealed City
- The Sealed City
Synopsis for Tex Thomson: "The Sealed City (Part III)"
The true Gorrah of the Sealed City, having reestablished his place on the throne after the defeat of the usurper, now invites Tex Thompson and Bob Daley to stay a while in his castle. It isn't long before the two adventurers are called to the throne room. The Gorrah explains that a new villain has emerged, Rabb Khazan and his followers, and not wishing to put Tex and Bob in further danger, he has made arrangements for their departure. But Tex declares that he'll stay and help the Gorrah fight off this new threat, which Bob backs up.
Later, while investigating a noise on the balcony, a blunt arrow strikes Tex in the head and knocks him out. Meanwhile deep in the forest outside the city's walls, Rabb Khazan sits waiting. One of his guards shuffles through the trees, bringing two tied-up captives: the Gorrah and Bob.
Back at the castle, Tex soon recovers and notices he is alone. While wandering the halls, he comes upon two of Khazan's men. He subdues the goons, and after searching the castle for Bob and the Gorrah, he comes to the realization that Rabb Khazan has likely kidnapped them while he was out. Tex enters the forest, following a random direction, until he hears some voices. He watches from behind a boulder as his friends are forced to follow Khazan through a trapdoor in the ground. Just as he's about to follow, Tex is surprised by Hawntem and Scharem, the false Gorrah's goons, who were waiting behind him. At first, they make to charge with their swords, but then Scharem spots the real Gorrah, just as he disappears below the ground. Tex explains that their master, the phony, is dead, but if they help him, he'll see that the Gorrah grants them full pardons for their crimes. The two men debate amongst themselves then agree to the terms. Tex asks them to take him back to the castle, a plan forming in his mind.
In his hidden underground lair, Rabb Khazan gives his "guests" a tour of the torture rooms, featuring horrible devices. When Bob and the Gorrah are told that theses devices will be used on them, Bob passes out. This probably saves their lives temporarily, as when Bob comes to, they are locked in a holding cell. Bob fakes stomach pains and tells the Gorrah to call the guard. When the guard comes in to investigate, Bob attacks and knocks him out, then uses the guard's knife to cut their bonds. Together, they sneak back outside and begin to run back to the castle. Unfortunately, neither Bob nor the Gorrah see the pit-trap until they fall into it. Khazan appears above them, gloating that he knew they'd try to escape.
A sound in the distance makes Rabb Khazan and his men turn. Three tall, hideous figures come raging over the hill. The men scatter in fear, believing the beings to be the spirits of past Gorrahs come to punish them for their sins. Khazan himself is frozen in fear, as one of the figures approaches him, ordering him to release the captives and to dedicate the remainder of his life serving the will of the Gorrah, "or else". Only after Khazan has vowed his pledge and run off, do the "spirits" reveal their true selves: Tex, Hawntem, and Scharem emerge from beneath a bunch of ceremonial robes and masks.
Later, back at the castle, the Gorrah commends Tex on his clever ploy. Bob remarks that he could tell that it was his buddy Tex under there the whole time, despite that at the time his knees were shaking more than Khazan's. Tex tells Bob that he believes him. With a wink.
Appearing in Scoop Scanlon: "Brady's Revenge"
- Rusty James
- Brady (Behind the scenes)
- "Big Fist" Logan (Single appearance)
- "Tate" (Single appearance)
- "Dopey" (Single appearance)
- "Finger" (Single appearance)
- "Squeaky" (Single appearance)
- The Bulletin's Editor
- Sal Di Marco (Single appearance)
Synopsis for Scoop Scanlon: "Brady's Revenge"
The offices of the Bulletin newspaper are shaken up when a bomb is tossed through the window. Everyone gets out safely but the blast destroys everything inside. The editor wants Scoop to find the culprit. Scoop has a hunch that it was one of Brady's goons, since the Bulletin was responsible for getting him locked up. They were never able to positively identify any of his thugs before, but Scoop is willing to try again. He takes Rusty along to investigate some of the places where the criminal element is known to hang out.
Hours later, Scoop and Rusty still haven't learned anything about Brady's thugs. Changing tactics, they track down Sal di Marco, who just got released from prison after Brady played him. They locate Sal at a bar, and Scoop finds that he's more than willing to help, even giving him the names of the guys who threw the bomb. Sal leads them to an old factory where the gang is meeting. Scoop thanks him and tips Sal a ten-spot as he sends him on his way.
Before doing anything else, Scoop phones his boss and gives him all the info he's got, along with the address of the factory where the police can meet him. Rusty waits outside for the cops while Scoop enters around the back. Voices are talking upstairs. Scoop carefully makes his way until he is outside the door where the thugs are hiding. From a nearby window, he can see Rusty talking to the police. Pulling out his gun, Scoop opens the door and shouts for the men to come quietly. The mobsters fire their guns, Scoop takes cover and fires back. They soon retreat out into the waiting cuffs of the police officers. One of the gang confesses that they did indeed toss the bomb into the Bulletin office. The cops congratulate Scoop, and Rusty moves in to snap some pictures.
Appearing in Inspector Donald and Bobby: "The Protection Racket"
- Inspector Bob Donald (Final appearance)
- Bobby (Final appearance)
- Tim Riley (Final appearance)
- Snappy (Single appearance)
- Evans (Only appearance; dies)
- Frank (Only appearance; dies)
- Mike (Only appearance; dies)
- Sarah (Single appearance)
- Sid (Single appearance)
Synopsis for Inspector Donald and Bobby: "The Protection Racket"
A Gangster named Evans is operating a new protection racket in town. The store owners who don't comply have their businesses trashed by Evans' boys. Bobby's friend, Sid, tells him that his father is being forced to pay the racketeers to protect his store. Bobby tries to go tell his father about it, but his dad's partner Tim Riley tells him that he's out of town. So Bobby comes up with an idea of his own. He tries to get the store owners to help, but they're all too afraid to act against Evans, so Bobby acts on his own.
The next day, Bobby waits from a safe distance outside as the crime lord Evans reads his mail. He is furious when he reads a note telling him to pay the protection fee. Is one of his own men trying to shake him down? Or have they all turned against him? He calls the rest of his gang into the office. Accusing them of trying to cut him out of the racket, he opens fire. But Snappy, the gangster's second-in-command, takes cover, and while Evans manages to kill his other two cronies, Snappy hits his boss in a fatal chest shot. Alive, but wounded, Snappy goes outside where the police, having arrived after hearing the gunshots, put cuffs on him.
Bobby's father, Inspector Bob Donald, meets him on his way home. Bobby tells him he was the one who sent the note in order to shake up Evans and make him careless, but he didn't expect a shootout to occur. His father explains that while sending the note was the wrong move to make, at least some good came of it, and the shopkeepers could go about their business without having to worry about "protection fees". He adds that Bobby will have to make a statement to the court during Snappy's trial.
Appearing in Zatara: "The Night Club Murder"
- Big Bill (Only appearance; dies)
- Butch (Single appearance)
- Ike (Single appearance)
- Joan (Single appearance)
Synopsis for Zatara: "The Night Club Murder"
Zatara wants to spend a night having fun at the Nite Hawk Club. Tong notes that his master doesn't have a date, Zatara replies that he's sure they'll find someone once they get there. During the drive over, a bullet crashes through their rearview window, just missing Zatara's head. Tong suspects trouble brewing. Once at the dance, just as Zatara predicted, a young woman comes running towards them. Only she is being followed by an angry looking man yelling after her, calling her "Joan". She exasperatedly says the man has been hounding her all night. Zatara takes off his jacket and engages in fisticuffs in Joan's defense. It's a quick fight as the magician seemingly knocks the guy out with one punch. But upon closer inspection, the man had been shot dead at the same time Zatara had struck him.
Tong phones the police, who arrive quickly to confirm the death. Zatara looks around, but Joan is nowhere in sight! That's enough for the police to suspect her, but Zatara isn't so quick to judge. He puts himself in a meditative state and uses his astral body to locate the girl. It turns out she had been taken by two thugs to the upstairs office, to drill her for a safe combination they thought she had. Zatara snaps to and, the police following him, rushes up the club's stairs to the office. Using his magic, Zatara turns the thug's pistol into a squirt gun. With no sign of the girl anywhere, he threatens the lone thug for information on her whereabouts. The man buckles, revealing they knew the great magician was coming to the club tonight, and tried to have him whacked en route before he caught wind of them. The girl was moved to their hideout on Moy Street.
Sirens wailing, Zatara and the police drive to the address given them. Zatara heads up first, telling the cops to wait for his signal. Concentrating, Zatara makes himself invisible. He enters the room where Joan is being kept, seeing a crook standing over her about to shoot. Zatara turns the gun into a snake that wraps around the crooks arms, then it becomes a pair of handcuffs. He unties Joan. She explains that the man who had been harassing her was one of them, by the name of "Big Bill". The other crooks wanted to get into Bill's safe, but shot him before they could learn the combination. They assumed because she had spent so much time talking with him, that Bill had told her the combination. But Joan was actually annoyed at his advances on her, and would never give him the time of day, much less let him tell her any kind of secret code. If Zatara hadn't stepped in, she'd be dead right now. Instead, the thugs will be staying a long time at a new club, called Prison.
- Published by Detective Comics, Inc.
- Last issue for Inspector Donald and Bobby by Leo O'Mealia.
- Scoop Scanlon, reporter, packs a gun.
- "Superman Plays Football" was reprinted in Superman #1, Famous First Editon #C-61, The Superman Archives Vol. 1, Superman: The Action Comics Archives Vol. 1, Millenium Edition: Superman #1, Superman Chronicles Vol. 1 and Superman: The Golden Age Omnibus, Volume 1.
- "Superman Plays Football" is not the original title for this story; it was later re-named as "Superman, Gridiron Hero" in Superman: The Action Comics Archives Vol. 1. The title used in this article is taken from the index page at the Grand Comics Database.
- Superman looks just like this college football player Tommy Burke, enough so to fool his teammates and coach.
- Superman definitely does not have X-ray vision in this story, hence his difficulty with picking the right locker, before the practice game.
- Superman drugs, kidnaps, and imprisons Tommy Burke, whom he knows to be completely innocent of anything. He really was a lawless vigilante in those days.
- Tex Thomson breaks the Fourth Wall in the final panel of his story, and winks at the readers.
- Also appearing in this issue of Action Comics was:
- "Legion Loyalty" (text story), by Frank Thomas
- 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.
- Russell Cole is credited as Edwin Alger in this issue.