"Superman: "The Puzzler!"": The Daily Planet's two top reporters, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, are attending a ping-pong tournament. The ping-pong champion, Carl Prentice, hits the ball so hard he shatters it. Clark's x-ray vision ale
Action Comics #49 is an issue of the series Action Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of June, 1942.
- 1 Synopsis for Superman: "The Puzzler!"
- 2 Appearing in Superman: "The Puzzler!"
- 3 Synopsis for Vigilante: "The Rainbow Man"
- 4 Appearing in Vigilante: "The Rainbow Man"
- 5 Synopsis for Three Aces: "The Mystery of the Meandering Mansion"
- 6 Appearing in Three Aces: "The Mystery of the Meandering Mansion"
- 7 Synopsis for Mr. America: "The Crime Machine"
- 8 Appearing in Mr. America: "The Crime Machine"
- 9 Synopsis for Congo Bill: "The Last Shipment"
- 10 Appearing in Congo Bill: "The Last Shipment"
- 11 Synopsis for Zatara: "The Story of the Magical Mobsters"
- 12 Appearing in Zatara: "The Story of the Magical Mobsters"
- 13 Notes
- 14 See Also
- 15 Links and References
Synopsis for Superman: "The Puzzler!"
The Daily Planet's two top reporters, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, are attending a ping-pong tournament. The ping-pong champion, Carl Prentice, hits the ball so hard he shatters it. Clark's x-ray vision alerts him to something dangerous in the replacement ball. He excuses himself momentarily so he can change clothes and become Superman, then returns and catches the ball before Carl hits it. Zooming high into the air, Superman crushes the ball in his hands, which causes it to explode; it's a tiny bomb, designed to kill Prentice! Later, Clark and Lois learn that Carl Prentice has had his life threatened for not paying any tribute to a new crime boss calling himself the Puzzler. Figuring Prentice to be still in danger, Clark follows him after the tournament, as Superman. During his drive home, Carl's vehicle is targeted by thugs with Tommy guns. Superman quickly puts himself between the thugs and the car, managing to catch each bullet fired. Then he grabs the men responsible and flies with them to the police station.
The next day, headlines spread of a jailbreak, perpetrated by the Puzzler. At the Daily Planet, Lois finds a message addressed to Clark. It's from the Puzzler, granting Clark an interview if he comes to the Ajax Building alone. Never one to turn down an exclusive opportunity like this, Lois decides to head to the location and get the interview herself. The Puzzler welcomes Lois after she explains that she'd be performing his interview, and offers her a seat. He begins by telling her about his brilliant skill of solving puzzles, a skill he eventually started to utilize in committing the perfect crimes. Lois rebukes him, his crime wave was bound to head for a decline. She is surprised when metal clamps unexpectedly pop out and pin her to the chair. A wheel, with sections colored blue and red, appears in the wall and is spun by the Puzzler. If the indicator lands on a red space, a strangling device will rob Lois of her breath, and her life! Lois cries out in anguish. Suddenly, Superman bursts through the wall, knocking the wheel over. He lifts the Puzzler up off the ground, but then a henchman appears behind a control panel. The Puzzler threatens that if Superman hurts him, Lois will be electrocuted on the spot! Puzzler does offer an alternative; a simple game of checkers. If Superman wins, Lois goes free, but if he loses, he'll have to stand aside while she dies. The game is set, and after a few moments, the Puzzler realizes he's losing. Using an old sleight of hand trick, he palms one of Superman's pieces. Clark has noticed the villain's subtle cheat, so he responds in kind. Moving his hand so fast it can't be seen, he shifts the positions of the Puzzler's pieces on the board. During his next turn, Superman captures all of his opponent's pieces, winning the game. Conceding with the deal at first, the Puzzler removes the clamps holding Lois. But then, he pulls a hidden lever, sending the wall crashing down towards the duo! Superman pushes the heavy wall up and back. He catches all the Puzzler's thugs in the hideout, but the Puzzler himself has escaped.
A few hours later, a message reaches Superman from the Puzzler. It is a new challenge to the Man of Steel, a jigsaw puzzle piece with a single word written on one side, and the name of a location on the other. Superman flies to the location given, finding another puzzle piece, with another word and another location. Clark heads to each location given, every time he finds another piece to the puzzle, with a trap he has to escape. He's soon got four pieces in all, with the words coming together to say "World's Toughest Intellectual Game", but what does it mean?
Back at the Planet, Lois tells Clark about a series of kidnappings occurring across Metropolis. The victims were Elmer King, John Bishop, Sylvia Queen, Cornelius Knight and Philip Clausen. King, Queen, Bishop, Knight. Clark knows the answer to the message! The world's toughest intellectual game was chess! And Philip Clausen was the owner of a Pawn shop. Next came the "castle", and the most likely person was Amos Castle, owner of Castle Steel Mills. Flying over there, Superman sights a figure being thrown into a car by a hoodlum, who starts to drive off. Superman stops the auto only to find he's been duped. The "figure" was just a dummy, with a playing card taped to its chest. Another puzzle! Taking the card, and adding Dummy, which refers to a player in the game of Bridge, so Superman figures he should head for the bridge and search for clues.
In a secret chamber under the city bridge, the Puzzler kept his kidnap victims tied up in chairs. His men start to question why he'd leave clues for Superman to find. He replies that he did it for his own vanity; he likes feeling smarter than Metropolis' hero. Right then, the ceiling crumbles, as the Man of Steel crashes through. His X-Ray vision has helped him find the hideout. But the Puzzler had anticipated this, and pulls back a curtain. Lois is trapped inside a strong glass tube, which Puzzler explains also hides a deadly gas contained just above. Photoelectric cells surrounded her encasement, so if Superman tries anything, she'll die a painful and torturous death. Puzzler offers Superman another proposition. A game of cards, this time with him and his men against the Man of Steel. Given no other choice, Clark accepts the Puzzler's challenge. His henchmen mention that they've never been able to beat their boss, losing their salaries back to him for each time they tried. Superman gets a clever idea! He suddenly calls the Puzzler out on running a crooked game, saying that each card has been marked! Using his x-ray vision, Superman tells the others each card they were holding, making them think he was right. They attack the Puzzler, upset that he took their money by cheating. Taking advantage of the distraction, Clark burrows under the photocells to Lois and breaks her out of the tube. Together with the other kidnap victims, Lois escapes from the underground lair. Meanwhile, the Puzzler manages to escape from his men, but Superman spots him climbing to the top of the bridge. He gives chase, but the Puzzler, panicked, jumps into the water. He never comes back up.
Later, at the Daily Planet, Clark's story about the round-up of the Puzzler's gang makes its rounds. Lois remarks that the greatest puzzle may be how Clark always gets his facts and story turned in before she does.
Appearing in Superman: "The Puzzler!"
- The Puzzler (First appearance) (Apparent Death)
- his gang
- Carl Prentice
- Elmer King
- John Bishop
- Sylvia Queen
- Cornelius Knight
- Philip Clausen
Synopsis for Vigilante: "The Rainbow Man"
The Rainbow Man has spent the last few months in prison thanks to the Vigilante. He is finally able to make his escape with the help of his men. By being a model prisoner, Rainbow Man was able to gain the trust of the warden, who asked him to paint a mural on his wall. Once he had access to paint supplies, the Rainbow Man painted himself and his henchmen black so they'd be harder to spot at night. Then they slip away, with the guards unable to spot them. The next day, Stuff, the Chinatown Kid reads about the escape in the local paper. He receives a message from his pal, the Vigilante, to meet at the Railway Terminal. Earlier, Greg Sanders was sent a note from the Rainbow Man, with a color coded hint. With some thinking, Greg concluded that the Rainbow Man was planning a heist at the railroad terminal.
On the terminal's track 29, Rainbow Man's henchman, Dictionary, leads the other thugs as they relieve a train car of its bags full of cash and bank bonds. Their carefully planned robbery gets interrupted by Vigilante and Stuff. Vigilante lashes out at the thugs with flying fists, taking them out one-by-one, except for Dictionary, who makes a desperate break for freedom with a fortune of bonds in his grasp. Stuff hops on a trolley cart and gives chase, but soon finds himself in trouble when his ride swerves towards a track with an oncoming train! Vigilante saves his little partner's life by roping him with his lariat and pulling him back. This act of heroism gives Dictionary and the other thugs enough time to get away with the bonds. A note is dropped as they leave; another message from Rainbow Man to his arch-foe, inviting Vigilante to meet him at his studio "where all color are blended". Since blending all colors gets you white, Vig concludes that Rainbow Man's hideout is in the White Building.
The Rainbow Man tells Dictionary to spin the color wheel, so they can plan their next crime. The wheel stops on the gray strip between green and blue. Dictionary offers to spin it again, but Rainbow Man insists on only one spin per crime. They would simply use those three colors for their next job. Suddenly, Vigilante and the Chinatown Kid burst through the door! They were expected, however, and a button is pushed that opens a trap door below them. Rainbow Man laughs at their plight, as the walls of the chamber start to slowly close in on them. He activates a spotlight that shines down, explaining that the hue of the light will grow darker until they are crushed to death! Then Rainbow Man and his gang leave Vigilante and Stuff to their fate. Time passes, and the walls continue moving closer... even closer... Vigilante remains patient, waiting for the right time. Once the walls are near enough to each other, Vig climbs up the shaft by spreading his legs and using the spurs on his boots to get a grip on both walls. Once at the top, Vigilante lowers a rope for Stuff to climb out. The walls come together, with the spotlight hue going black, just as Stuff pulls his legs up and over.
Vigilante and Stuff peer out the window to see Rainbow Man and his thugs climbing out of a van marked "Grandma Grey's Pies", filled with bags of money. One of the gang notices them and warns the others. They get back in the van to escape. Just as they leave, Vigilante takes a flag pole with the American flag and sharpens one end. As the vehicle pulls out from the curb, Vig launches his new makeshift spear onto the van's roof. It sticks in, the flagpole staying upright as the thugs merge with the traffic. A police car soon notices them and begins to follow with the lights flashing. They stop the van and keep their guns drawn as the villains surrender. Rainbow Man tries to run for it, but Vigilante reaches him first and lands an uppercut on his jaw. The gang has been caught! The police never would have noticed them if Vig hadn't planted a flag being flown upside down on top of their van, which was illegal. In the end, the Rainbow Man was foiled by the colors of Red, White and Blue!
Appearing in Vigilante: "The Rainbow Man"
- Morgan (prison guard) (Single appearance)
- Mike (armored truck driver) (Single appearance)
- Vigilante's Lasso
Synopsis for Three Aces: "The Mystery of the Meandering Mansion"
The Aces spot a distress flare while flying over the desert at night. The signal was sent from a large mansion, currently occupied by unwanted guests. The Nazi Party had set a trap for them, in an attempt to hijack their planes. The boys fight back, however, beating the Nazi gang and setting free the woman who owned the house, whom the Nazis had used as a slave worker.
Appearing in Three Aces: "The Mystery of the Meandering Mansion"
- Lydia Lemon (Single appearance)
- The Aces' Planes
Synopsis for Mr. America: "The Crime Machine"
The Queen Bee's gang has just robbed a bank in the city! Escaping in their car, the thieves make a getaway through the gathered crowd! The police are unable to catch them for fear of hitting a civilian. Mr. America and Fatman arrive too late, no sign of the gang remained. Dismayed at missing the Queen Bee yet again, Tex laments the lives that continue to be lost by the gang's reckless ways. Just then a rock with a note tied to it lands on the ground in front of them. The message is from someone who claims to know how to stop the Queen Bee. They want Mr. America to meet them at the park tonight. Bob worries it's a trap, but Tex believes it's worth looking into. That night, Mr. America rides his magic carpet to the meeting place in the park, where a nervous looking gentleman was waiting. He was glad that Mr. America showed up, introducing himself as Doctor Arnold Raven. As for the Queen Bee, Dr. Raven reveals a startling secret. She was, in reality, his daughter, Lissa! At one time, she had been sweet and gentle, until one tragic day...
Dr. Raven was a brilliant brain specialist. He had many patients who sought his help, and he wanted to help them. With his daughter Lissa's help, Dr. Raven built a machine that would blot out the emotion of Worry for a time. He had hoped it would help the mentally ill feel more at ease. There only remained one final step; the test! Arnold Raven was prepared to yest it on himself, but Lissa objected, asking instead that he let her be the guinea pig. Before he could interfere, she had thrown the switch and hurled herself into the device's main chamber. The machine sparked to life! His fear for his daughter's safety makes him cut the power. But the change had already come over his lovely young daughter. Her eyes showed no more compassion, only wickedness. He asks if she's okay, calling her by name. She snaps at him. No longer wanting to be called "Lissa", she now dunned herself the Queen Bee! Then she pushes her father aside and walks out, shouting that she was going to conquer the world! It didn't take long for the doctor to realize what had happened. The machine had blotted out not her worries, but her conscience. She no longer understood the concept of right and wrong.
Now, Arnold was begging Mr. America for help to return his daughter to normal. After destroying the old machine, he started working on a new one; a machine that would restore the common sense and goodness to her. Tex agrees to help. Unseen by either man, one of the Queen Bee's thugs was spying from the nearby bushes. He pulls a gun and aims right towards Mr. America. Suddenly, Fatman drops from a tree branch above and lands right on top of the man! The gunman runs off to tell his boss what he heard. Tex tells his partner to let him go. They needed to lure the Queen Bee to her father's lab, so he can put her in the machine.
Mr. America and Fatman follow Arnold to the building he rented out. Inside, they saw the machine sitting in the middle of the room. Tex asks if it can reform ordinary crooks, too, but unfortunately, Doctor Raven only designed it to work on his daughter. It should only take five minutes to return her mind to normal. Several minutes later, the Queen Bee and her gang show up. She planned on using the machine to create a new breed of criminal, not knowing that it wasn't the same one she had been exposed to before. Mr. America and Fatman start the offensive. The gang was disarmed with a crack of Tex's whip, while Fatman manages to subdue the Queen Bee before she can fire a shot. Dr. Raven takes hold of her and leads her to the machine. Too late she notices that it was a different device than before, now that she's been secured, a switch is pulled! Tex and Bob finish mopping up the rest of the gang. Looking back towards the machine, a great change has come over the Queen Bee. She no longer had that evil glare, or a hateful demeanor. Dr. Arnold Raven had succeeded in bringing his daughter Lissa back to normal! Lissa couldn't remember anything about her criminal activities. Tex figured it was better that way. The other thugs would be turned over to the police, and Lissa would be free to live a normal life as a sweet and honest woman from now on. The Queen Bee was no more!
Appearing in Mr. America: "The Crime Machine"
- Queen Bee (Lissa Raven) (Origin) (Final appearance)
- Dr. Arnold Raven (Single appearance)
- Mr. America's Bullwhip
- Mr. America's Flying Carpet
Synopsis for Congo Bill: "The Last Shipment"
Somewhere in China, brave men prepare for the deadly journey ahead. Bill helps load the remaining supplies onto the trucks. He gives the Chinese soldiers a rousing speech emphasizing the importance of their trip. The General needed the equipment they were delivering to win China's continued freedom, to fail would mean a China enslaved! The long drive begins, down the great Burma road. Day turns to night as the convoy rounds the mountain pass. A shot rings out! One of the men has spotted a suspicious figure lurking about. Bill chases the fleeing figure down and tackles them. Rather than an enemy soldier, he found himself looking into the face of a young woman. The stowaway was named Ah Hee, and she wished only to join the noble General's forces as a nurse. Bill considers her request when, up above them, a plane being shot at catches fire! The pilot ejects in a parachute. Bill heads toward the landing point nearby. A troop of Guerrilla fighters have the pilot at gunpoint when Bill intercedes. They recognize him as the one who was leading General Chiang's shipment, and offered to help him protect it. They believed the pilot to be a German spy, which is why they shot his plane down. The man showed Bill his credentials, identifying him as an American volunteer flier from Broadway. All checked out, and "Broadway" Charlie was allowed to stay with the convoy unit, while the Guerrillas stayed farther ahead to keep an eye out for trouble. Later that night, the company sets up camp. Broadway Charlie and Ah Hee spend the time getting better acquainted, as she is fascinated by his stories of New York City. Meanwhile, Bill can't shake a bad feeling in his gut about the Guerrillas. He decides to pay them a visit at their camp to learn more. When he gets there, though, he notices something about the way the leader walks. It's not the gait of a Chinese soldier. These men were Japanese. Once they realize Bill had seen through their facade, they attack, knocking him out!
Some time later, Bill awakens, head throbbing. He is tied up inside one of the Japanese' tents. A radio operator works nearby, he overhears parts of the message coming through. A barricade was being set up further down the road, with more Japanese soldiers lying in wait for an ambush!. One of the officers turns and faces Bill with a gun. A shot is fired! Bill doesn't feel anything, but the Japanese soldier drops forward, dead. The tent flap opens and Charlie walks in, with some Chinese rifleman backing him up. They got worried when Bill disappeared, so they came by the Guerrilla encampment to check things out. Bill briefs Charlie of the Japanese' planned attack on their convoy. The supplies needed to get delivered, so they'd just have to risk it.
The trucks roared onward around the mountain road, until just ahead a barricade of rocks, with Japanese waiting beyond, came into view. The convoy halts. No shots are fired yet. Bill and Charlie use the time to hatch a plan. They had a truck filled with explosives. If someone were to ram the barrier full speed, it could create a pathway through. It was a suicide mission, for sure, but the supplies were all that mattered. Bill volunteers, but Charlie gets in his way. If there was any gates that needed crashing, he was the guy for the job. They fight each other over the deadly task. Neither man notices Ah Hee climb into the dynamite laden truck until she's already hauling at full-speed. The troop watches in shock as the vehicle starts getting pelted with bullets. There's only one thing to do; Charlie rushes after Ah Hee, drawing the fire off her. The Japanese switch targets, riddling the young pilot with hot lead! The next moment, the truck and barricade both blow up in a great explosion! Through the smoke and debris, Bill and the convoy guards finish off what remains of the Japanese forces.
The convoy would continue on the Burma Road to its destination. But Bill would not forget the noble sacrifice made by two brave souls.
Appearing in Congo Bill: "The Last Shipment"
- Franklin D. Roosevelt (Cameo)
- Ah Hee (Only appearance; dies)
- "Broadway" Charlie (Only appearance; dies)
Synopsis for Zatara: "The Story of the Magical Mobsters"
Monk Morris was the leader of a gang of criminals that got the idea to use sleight-of-hand magic tricks to commit their crimes. Coincidentally, they'd get their magic gear from the same place that Zatara, the master magician, went to for his magic shows. Zatara didn't like how Monk was tricking people out of their hard-earned money, so he follows the gang around town. The gang try robbing crowds, jewelry shops, and naive individuals with cheap sleight-of-hand tricks in plain sight, with the victims supposed to be none the wiser. But as Zatara casts spells to make the trick reveal itself, the criminals are foiled at every turn.
Monk tries to trap the magician by luring him to his hideout and trapping him inside a locked box which can only be opened from outside. But to his and the other gangsters surprise, just as the lid is sealed on him, Zatara walks through their door again! Another Zatara follows, and another, until Monk believes he's losing his mind. He opens the box back up to check if the magician was really in there. He was, unfortunately. Now that he was freed, Zatara's other images disappeared. The gang pull their guns out, only to have them fly up out of their hands. Zatara was in control now. It was time for Morris and his boys to head to jail. As Zatara escorts them, a street vendor spots them and asks if they'd be interested in buying one of his magic gizmos. Morris grumbles, he never wants to be reminded of magic again!
Appearing in Zatara: "The Story of the Magical Mobsters"
- Monk Morris (Single appearance)
- Pinkie (Single appearance)
- Jake (Single appearance)
Copy Edit Needed
- Published by Detective Comics, Inc.
- Congo Bill gets head-konked unconscious one more time.
- Mr. America, page 3 panel 1 caption: "That night --- Mr. America's miracle flying carpet wings across space to the rendezvous --- " This is the last time Thomson's Flying Carpet is mentioned in the captions or dialogue.
- Superman: The Puzzler! is reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archives Vol. 3 and Superman Chronicles Vol. 9.
- 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.