"The Orphanage Adventure": While walking to work, Clark spots a small boy passed out on the railroad tracks, and a train was incoming! Quickly changing to his Superman duds, he runs out, speeding past the train, scoops the boy up and leaps them to safety! Before the kid r
Superman #3 is an issue of the series Superman (Volume 1) with a cover date of December, 1939. It was published on November 15, 1939.
Synopsis for "The Orphanage Adventure"
While walking to work, Clark spots a small boy passed out on the railroad tracks, and a train was incoming! Quickly changing to his Superman duds, he runs out, speeding past the train, scoops the boy up and leaps them to safety! Before the kid regains consciousness, Superman returns to his civilian identity of Clark Kent. The boy's name was Frankie Dennis, a ward of the state orphanage until he ran away. He tells Clark it's because superintendent Lyman treats them like slaves, feeding them leftovers and hiring them out to forced labor. Frankie himself has been beaten and forced to scrub the floors several times. Clark wishes to help Frankie make things better for him and the other kids at the orphanage. If Frankie goes back to the orphanage, he can act as Clark's "inside man", letting him know what kind of bad things were happening. After some thought, the boy agrees to return, if it would help the others.
Clark and Frankie stand at the entrance to the state orphanage, as Frankie nervously knocks on the door. Superintendent Lyman opens the door, and once he sees Frankie, he begins yelling at him for running away, grabbing him by the arm. But when he sees Clark, he lets the boy go and immediately switches to a friendly demeanor. Lyman thanks him for finding Frankie, who he was worried sick about. Clark is told he can come back any time for a visit, before retreating with Frankie back inside and closing the door. The man's suspicious behavior puts Clark on high alert, and he certainly does intend on visiting again... very soon.
Later, back at the Daily Star, Clark asks Lois out to lunch, only to be rebuffed just like always. George Taylor calls him into his office to give Kent an assignment to investigate the orphanage. Taylor heard about how Superman saved a runaway's life, and wanted to find out more. Clark accepts, suggesting Lois also comes along to help out.
When Clark and Lois arrive back at the orphanage, they find out they were followed by two reporters from a rival paper, trying to scoop them. Superintendent Lyman answers the door after a few minutes, happily inviting Clark and the others inside to look around. On the surface everything seems normal, the children are happily playing in the yard. But a little girl who seemed to be lying about where she go her bruised arm, and a kid who was too exhausted to get out of bed, pique Clark's suspicions. Frankie tries to tell Clark something, but Lyman's sudden appearance causes him to clam up. Eventually, Clark and Lois have no choice but to leave empty-handed, with nothing but a seemingly ordinary children's orphanage to show for their time. After the reporters leave, Lyman turns on Frankie and punishes him for almost squealing by locking him in the attic! The other children are told to get back to work, or else.
That night, Clark changes to Superman and leaps off to get another look at the orphanage, not believing the superintendent's "good guy" act for a second. In her apartment, Lois gets the same idea, worried for the children's safety after the hints of abuse she thought she saw. Unaware of each others presence, Superman and Lois arrive at the orphanage in the dead of night. Lois stealthily sneaks in through a window, while Superman peers through Lyman's office window to spy on him reading over his secret account book. Upstairs in the attic, Frankie begins making a lot of noise by smashing things until they let him out. Lyman irritably goes up to give the boy a piece of his mind, allowing Superman the chance to go in and look over the accounts. The entries written for the price of food were abnormally high. Superman takes off for the Grocery Company to do some comparing. Just as he suspected, the prices in Lyman's account book were raised to cover his grafting scheme... Lois, meanwhile, creeps down the hallway, following the sound of pained cries coming from the attic. She opens the door to find Lyman whipping young Frankie. She threatens to print Lyman's abuse of the children. In response, the superintendent locks her up in the attic with Frankie and begins packing up all the money he's gathered. To make sure Lois never tells a soul, he pours a trail of gasoline across the hall leading to the attic door, and ignites it with a match.
Superman returns to the orphanage in time to see it in flames, and Lyman fleeing the scene. Superman grabs the car and pulls Lyman out, applying a light tap to the back of his head to knock him out. While most of the kids have escaped the fire, a cry for help from inside the building brings Superman to the attic window where he sees Frankie and an unconscious Lois Lane. He carries them both to safety just as the police start to show up. Leaving the area to change, Superman returns as Clark Kent, telling the police that it was Lyman who set the fire. The screaming superintendent is arrested for attempted murder and grafting.
Days later, Clark revisits the orphanage to find conditions have dramatically improved. Frankie reports that everybody is happier now with the new superintendent.
Appearing in "The Orphanage Adventure"
- Lyman (Single appearance)
- Frankie Dennis (Single appearance)
Synopsis for "Superman and the Dam"
Story originally featured in Action Comics #5.
Appearing in "Superman and the Dam"
Synopsis for "Superman's Phony Manager"
Story originally featured in Action Comics #6.
Appearing in "Superman's Phony Manager"
- Nick Williams (Single appearance)
Synopsis for "Superman and the Smugglers"
Daily Star reporter Clark Kent, who is secretly Superman, gets called into the editor's office for a promotion, just as Lois Lane comes storming out. She had been relegated to the lovelorn column, simply because George Taylor felt the world of serious reporting was too dangerous for her. Clark tries offering to take her out tonight to cheer her up, but Lois coldly refuses. Later, a woman comes in looking to talk with the lovelorn editor. After being directed to Lois, she sits across from her desk and begins pouring her heart out over how worried she was for her husband, Lew Frawley. She tells Lois that his behavior has changed since he began hanging out with the wrong crowd over at Joe's Joint, a place famous for it's roughnecks and ne'er-do-wells. Worse of all, she has heard rumors that Lew had fallen in with a gang of smugglers. Lois consoles the woman, promising to look into her husband's activities and maybe bring him back to her.
Under the pretense of a "date", Lois tricks Clark into being the male-half of her undercover gig at Joe's Joint. Clark thinks it's reckless of her to take them to such a dangerous place, but Lois tells him not to be such a chicken. She spots Lew Frawley among a table of tough-looking characters. Intent on getting his attention, Lois offers Clark a dance, while tossing flirtatious winks in Frawley's direction. He soon comes over, shoving Clark out of the way as he cuts-in with Lois. Lois keeps massaging Lew's ego talking about his stature and muscles, secretly dipping a hand into his jacket pocket and pulling out a paper with the target of the smugglers theft written on it. Once the dance ends and Lew returns to his table, Lois calls Clark out for being a weakling and a coward, letting that man steal her away from him like that. She walks out, with a confused Clark following behind. Outside, Lew and his pals were waiting for them. They noticed Lois taking the paper and figured her for a detective, forcing her and Clark at gunpoint to join them as they take a boat across the bay. Clark tries to defend Lois when they start to get rough, and gets knocked overboard for his troubles. After the boat heads off into the distance, Clark uses his super strength to propel him under the water towards the opposite wharf, beating the boat there by a few seconds. He changes into his Superman outfit while the thugs drag Lois into a shack.
Lew and the smugglers begin pressing Lois for answers. She tells them she's just a reporter looking for a story. In that case, Lew obliges her curiosity by showing her the jewels they smuggled in from Europe. It was just too bad she wouldn't live long enough to print anything about it. Just as Lew fires the shot, Superman smashes through the wall, racing the bullet with super-speed, and shielding Lois with his own body, allowing the bullet to bounce harmlessly off his skin. The smugglers are dealt with quickly, Superman delivering them to the police station with Lois to press charges.
After her harrowing adventure, Lois rushes back into George Taylor's office with her story. But she was too late! The story had already been printed by Clark Kent, who phoned it in after he managed to reach shore...
Appearing in "Superman and the Smugglers"
- Lew Frawley (Single appearance)
- Mrs. Frawley (Single appearance)
- This issue is reprinted in The Superman Archives Vol. 2 and Superman Chronicles Vol. 2.
- "The Orphanage Adventure" was assembled and reprinted from Superman daily newspaper strips.
- "Superman and the Dam" was reprinted from Action Comics #5.
- "Superman's Phony Manager" aka "The Man Who Sold Superman" was reprinted from Action Comics #6.
- "Superman and the Smugglers" was assembled and reprinted from Superman daily newspaper strips.