"Superman: "The Emperor of America"": People are strangely losing their initiative and becoming apathetic as observed by Clark Kent. This phenomenon is spreading across America. As it unfolds, a man takes advantage of the situation, as he easily walks into the White House a
Action Comics #52 is an issue of the series Action Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of September, 1942.
- 1 Synopsis for Superman: "The Emperor of America"
- 2 Appearing in Superman: "The Emperor of America"
- 3 Synopsis for Vigilante: "Sing a Song of Six Guns"
- 4 Appearing in Vigilante: "Sing a Song of Six Guns"
- 5 Synopsis for Three Aces: "The Battle of a Thousand Years"
- 6 Appearing in Three Aces: "The Battle of a Thousand Years"
- 7 Synopsis for Mr. America: "The Case of the Stolen Spectacles"
- 8 Appearing in Mr. America: "The Case of the Stolen Spectacles"
- 9 Synopsis for Congo Bill: "The One-Man Army"
- 10 Appearing in Congo Bill: "The One-Man Army"
- 11 Synopsis for Zatara: "Crime on Ice"
- 12 Appearing in Zatara: "Crime on Ice"
- 13 Notes
- 14 See Also
- 15 Links and References
Synopsis for Superman: "The Emperor of America"
People are strangely losing their initiative and becoming apathetic as observed by Clark Kent. This phenomenon is spreading across America. As it unfolds, a man takes advantage of the situation, as he easily walks into the White House and declares himself as "Emperor of America". No one objects and the "Emperor" soon gains control of the nation.
Superman appears to be the only individual who is unaffected by the apathy epidemic, and as Clark Kent, he writes a defamatory article about the new emperor. Consequently, Clark is charged with treason. But Clark discovers that the Emperor and his underlings are all wearing helmets designed to protect them from invisible rays, which are responsible for the apathy. As Superman, he destroys the machine creating the rays, restoring the population to normal, and bringing the Emperor to justice.
Appearing in Superman: "The Emperor of America"
- Emperor of America (Single appearance)
- his henchmen
- Combat Plane
Synopsis for Vigilante: "Sing a Song of Six Guns"
A trio of children from the rich part of town visit Stuff's school to play some songs on their instruments: Windham on the flute, Oliver playing piano, and Reginald Creed with his rare Stradivarius violin. The songs they play are from classical musicians like Bach and Beethoven, which bores Stuff even more. After school, Stuff sees the kids again as they climb into a limousine. He also witnesses a gang of thugs, led by Jiggers Jelton, a known crook. They walk up to the boys in the car and grab the Stradivarius from little Reginald's hands! The gang then runs off into the night. Reggie explains that his Stradivarius was crafted by Antonio Stradivari over two hundred years ago, and it was worth at least ten grand today. Stuff promises he knows just the guy to help: the Vigilante! But Greg Sanders is in a depressed state. The music industry has decided that his old country singing was going out of style, and they were ready to let him go as soon as his contract ran out. Stuff tries to cheer Greg up by telling him that the Vigilante would help him. Greg finally admits the truth to Stuff, that he is the Vigilante! Stuff is absolutely surprised by the revelation, not believing him one bit. So Greg goes on to tell his pal the story of how it all started: His grandfather was a hero in the battle against the Indians. Even his enemies respected him. When his grandfather finally fell, Greg's father continued his heroic legacy by fighting any lawbreakers that came to town. Greg was already starting his radio career when he got called back to Wyoming, to be told that his father had been gunned down by crooks. On that day, Greg vowed to devote his life to bringing justice to the underworld element, just like the vigilantes of old.
Greg made it known to lots of people that they could reach the Vigilante through him. But now that the radio station is letting him go, it'd be twice as hard for people to find him and ask for his help. Despite his somber mood, Greg agrees to help Stuff find the stolen instrument. Vigilante is on the job! The crime-fighting duo track the thieves to their hideout. Jiggers Jelton and his men are taken by surprise when the Vigilante and Stuff crash through their window! He lets the others deal with the intruders, while he grabs the Stradivarius and escapes through a secret hatch. During the fighting, someone knocks over a lamp, dousing the light in the room. The gang use the opportunity to slip away while Vig and Stuff fumble around in the dark. Outside, the young symphony trio has done some tracking of their own. Reginald is sure that he saw the Vigilante enter this building. When Jiggers and his gang exit the hidden passage, they bump right into the children and decide to take them along, as hostages.
Eventually, Vigilante and Stuff manage to find the hidden exit, though the gang is long gone by then. Signs of a struggle mark the area. Stuff finds Windham's flute lying on the ground. The boys are in trouble! But they have cleverly left a trail of sorts. Vigilante finds a shirt collar, while further up the road Stuff locates a necktie. The trail leads them to an old abandoned firehouse. With Stuff clinging to him, Vigilante races his motorcycle up onto a nearby bridge and leaps off, using his lariat to hook the fire house's tower and swing in from above. The two of them crash through the upper floor, knocking out the man on lookout duty. Vig rides the firepole to the floor below. The remaining crooks think they have the advantage when Jiggers Jelton holds a gun on the three kids. From the balcony above, Stuff jumps on to the child-threatening low-life, while the kids grab hold of his partner. Vigilante connects with the men's jaws, laying them out flat. As the trio recover their instruments, Reggie is pleased to find his priceless Stradivarius wasn't even out of tune. Stuff pulls the fire alarm to alert the police to come.
Days later, Greg Sanders prepares for his next gig on the radio. He tells the manager that their audience would be in for a treat today. When the announcer finishes his introduction, Greg starts singing. Listeners are suddenly surprised when the prairie troubadour's voice is joined by others. In the studio, the boys Reggie, Windham, and Oliver all join Greg with their instruments, singing backup and providing a hep beat. The show is a hit! Greg's contract is renewed for five more years along with a pay raise!
Appearing in Vigilante: "Sing a Song of Six Guns"
- Vigilante (Greg Sanders) (Flashback and main story) (Origin)
- Jiggers Jelten (Single appearance)
- Fisheye (Single appearance)
- Legs (Single appearance)
- Bill (Single appearance)
- Muriel (Single appearance)
- Mr. Tupper (Single appearance)
- The Symphony Kids (Single appearance)
- Reginald Creed (Single appearance)
- Windham St. John (Single appearance)
- Oliver Jasper (Single appearance)
- Mr. Creed (Single appearance)
- Greg Sanders' grandfather (Dies in flashback)
- Greg Sanders father (Dies in flashback)
- Cactus Joe (Flashback only)
- Vigilante's Lasso
Synopsis for Three Aces: "The Battle of a Thousand Years"
The Aces fly over an uncharted valley covered with mist. After a minute, their engines start sputtering, forcing the trio to make an emergency landing. An odd sight greets them below the mist: two armies, one Japanese, the other Chinese, engaged in battle. What is strange is that both were using weapons of ancient make, spears, arrows, and swords. When the Aces land, they are immediately beset by the Japanese shooting their arrows! They abandon their planes and retreat with the Chinese back to their base camp, which is nothing more than a log fort. An Englishman approaches the trio, explaining that this is a war that has raged for a thousand years, ever since the ancestors of these soldiers had been trapped in the valley with their enemies, due to a landslide. He himself crashed here ten years ago. The high amount of radium deposits in the area messed with planes' equipment, making it impossible to leave. The tides of the war would soon turn, the Englishman feared, now that the Japanese had access to the machine guns the Aces left behind in their planes. So the next move is clear: they need to get those guns back before the enemy finds them.
Day and night, the companions work with whatever improvised materials they can find. Soon their project is complete: a glider. Primitive but effective, it should carry them to the enemy base. That night, the maiden flight begins with a push down a steep hill for momentum. And it works! The trio pilot the makeshift plane under the cover of darkness until they see the Japanese camp just ahead. The glider lands not-so-smoothly inside, making a loud noise. The Japanese don their armor, made of lead pads, and rush to the attack. Pandemonium brings panic throughout the camp as the Three Aces fight through the masses.
Beneath a canopy, the Aces' planes are under guard. Fog and Whistler hijack one of the catapults nearby and fire its payload right at the guards. With the path clear, Gunner Bill excuses himself from the battle for a time to take care of something. After a few moments, Gunner waves his comrades over to the planes. The guns are still tucked safely inside. Amazingly, the engines start, despite the radium effects. Gunner had simply wrapped the engine compartment with the lead provided by the Japanese armor. Circling the enemies' camp, the Aces drop bombs in a deadly rain of destruction. Promising to send transports back to pick up the Chinese, the Aces head eastward, back to their own war.
Appearing in Three Aces: "The Battle of a Thousand Years"
- The Aces' Planes
Synopsis for Mr. America: "The Case of the Stolen Spectacles"
A member of the Fifth Columnists escapes from prison and makes his way to New York.
Soon, Tex Thompson enjoys the view from the Empire State Building's observation deck. He watches through the lens as a man enters a nearby park. The man accidentally drops his glasses for a second, revealing his face... It's the wanted fugitive! Tex hurries down to the park, stopping only to don the costume of Mr. America! In the park, the fugitive is met by a stranger, an older gentleman wearing a cautious look. They greet each other with the Nazi salute. Tex reaches them just in time to witness the fugitive being shot by the other man. He struggles with the killer, but only manages to rip open the Nazi's coat pocket before a bullet grazes his skull. By the time he recovers, the old man is gone. When Tex inspects the body, he discovers the pair of glasses are missing. Why would the killer take them? On the ground, nearby, is a piece of paper that had fallen from the killer's pocket. It is a laundry ticket.
Some time later, Neat Laundry Co. receives a visit from Mr. America, asking them for the address of one of their customers. A big brute of a man comes out of the back room and delivers a hard blow that knocks the hero out. Mr. America wakes up, his hands bound, inside the laundry room. The owner is, in reality, Baron Wilhelm von Goeber, another member of the Nazi Party. The Baron is using the laundry business as a front, to help with the delivery of secret communiques, hidden on the fabric of clothing. He demonstrates to Tex, letting his brutish partner Carl pass a hot iron over one of the shirts. The heat brings out a previously invisible message:
- All ready!
- Send shirts
- with new
The Baron and Carl forget about Mr. America for the moment and head into the delivery room. Tex tips over the ironing table with his foot, then uses the hot iron to burn away the bindings around his wrists. The Baron returns, and is immediately struck by his former captive! Mr. America grabs the Baron's tie and starts to crank it through the laundry wringer. Tex demands that the Baron reveal where the laundry was delivered, or else he'll put the squeeze on him.
Later, Tex arrives at an old aircraft plant. In the fuselage section, a package is opened. The recipient is a Nazi agent named Muller, who is also the same man who killed the escaped fugitive. Muller removes the buttons on the shirt. He begins to toss them, when Mr. America engages him with a tackle, followed by a hard left! Muller falls, dropping the buttons out of his hand. Tex catches the falling buttons before they can hit the ground. Once the authorities show up, Mr. America explains what is happening. The buttons were made from thermite, an explosive material. If Muller had been allowed to plant them on the planes, there would have been a catastrophe in the air. Tex grabs the glasses off Muller's face. He shows the police a thin, transparent slip of paper hidden over the lens that contains diagrams that Muller smuggled for the Axis. The officers thank him for his work, but Mr. America replies that he is just doing his share, like every American.
Appearing in Mr. America: "The Case of the Stolen Spectacles"
- Mr. America (Changes name to Americommando)
- Fifth Columnists
- Muller (Single appearance)
- Baron Wilhelm von Goeber (Single appearance)
- Strasser (Only appearance; dies)
- Carl (Single appearance)
- Mr. America's bullwhip
Synopsis for Congo Bill: "The One-Man Army"
In a Japanese-occupied small town in China, Congo Bill is assaulted on the street by a Japanese officer. Bill knocks this man out, which is seen by a Chinese beggar. The beggar beckons for Bill to follow, speaking in perfect English. He is a Chinese-born American, and Harvard graduate, who has returned to fight with the Chinese resistance. He's got some info that's vital to that cause, and he needs a courier, to get it to his commander, at an outpost several miles north. Bill volunteers, and is handed a simple looking box of cigarettes, which contains important information.
While trying to slip through the gate, Bill is spotted by the same guard who he had knocked out hours before. Bill uppercuts him, and then his companion, but a jeep full of reinforcements shows up, and one of them shoots Bill a glancing headwound, "creasing" his skull and knocking him unconscious. And so, minutes later, Bill wakes up sitting between two Japanese officers, riding in a jeep to their headquarters. The jeep passes under a tree branch, and Bill leaps. When the driver throws it into reverse, Bill swings over and down, kicking the vehicle's occupants out with his feet! Driving his the newly acquired jeep, and using a makeshift compass composed of a helmet half full of water, and components of his disassembled wristwatch, Bill finds his way to the Chinese army outpost. Once the cigarette pack is cut open, the message is that a nearby village is soon to be bombed. The commander quickly organizes a counterattack, and Congo Bill joins it.
Hours later, on the outskirts of the formerly unfortified Chinese village, dozens of camouflaged anti-aircraft guns have been set up, waiting. The Japanese bombers appear in the sky. The commander gives the word, and then Bill and the Chinese Army open fire! The planes go down, one by one, in a fiery wreck!
The village is saved, Congo Bill's name is afterward remembered fondly in this village.
Appearing in Congo Bill: "The One-Man Army"
- Ting Ho (Single appearance)
- Chinese Commander (Single appearance)
Synopsis for Zatara: "Crime on Ice"
Skating star Sasha Henry is visited one day by notorious gangster "Bad" Butch. He wants her to pay protection money, but she won't do it. That evening, master magician Zatara sits with the audience to enjoy the ice show at the Sports Garden. Sasha is performing her new skating dance, when a pair of well-dressed goons slide onto the ice with machine guns. However, the thugs have a hard time standing upright on the ice, causing them to flail and fall multiple times, leading the audience to think it was just comic relief. Zatara has doubts. His magic makes the skates on the thugs speak, and they reveal that their wearers were supposed to distract everyone while their boss robs the ticket office. Their skates are then transformed into balloon that lift the crooks upside down. Zatara leaves them and heads for the lobby. There, a crook holding a gun suddenly feels sharp pain in his hand as his weapon grows teeth and bites him! Butch watches his man squeal in pain, and quickly figures that Zatara is around. He sneaks out the back way while his men are being rounded up by the magician, and along the way he kidnaps Sasha for a hostage. Butch carries the lass outside and into his car. They speed off before anyone spots them.
Inside, one gunsel admits that it was Bad Butch who planned the whole thing, and that he currently had all the money in their getaway car. Zatara utters "Yenom nruter!", sending gusts of wind to hunt the money down. A few miles out, Butch drives faster, with Sasha sitting scared next to him. The wind catches up to them, slipping into the car and sucking out the stolen bills. Butch can hardly believe it, but he can't stop it and watch the road at the same time! So the cash is returned to the cash registers. Zatara goes looking for Sasha in her dressing room and finds her missing. While he searches the backstage, an employee tells Zatara that he had a phone call. It's Bad Butch, and he wants the money back, or else. In response, Zatara brings Butch's telephone to life, and it beats him up. Zatara then becomes one with the phone wire and follows the line to Butch's hideout. After saving Sasha, he shrinks Butch down to a height of 5 inches. Back at the skating rink, Sasha thanks Zatara for rescuing her.
Appearing in Zatara: "Crime on Ice"
- Bad Butch (Single appearance)
- his gang
- Sasha Henry (Single appearance)
- Congo Bill gets knocked unconscious by a glancing bulletwound to the head. The same thing happens to Mr. America.
- Tex Thompson:
- Bob Daley does not appear, this issue.
- Mr. America gets head-knocked unconscious twice, getting "creased" with a bullet across his skull, then later getting bludgeoned.
- Tex changes his name from Mr. America to the Americommando in this issue.
- Vigilante: Greg Sanders reveals to Stuff that he is the Vigilante.
- Americommando, Vigilante, Superman, Congo Bill, and Zatara appear together on this issue's cover. In the Golden Age of comics, this was almost never done.