Action Comics vol.1 #78 - Cover date November 1944
In this very unusual story - scripted by Alvin Schwartz, a writer of whom it might also fairly be said was an unusual man - Superman befriends the owner of a diner in the bohemian part of Metropolis, a colorful Russian character named Sergei who trades sandwiches and soup for artwork from his eccentric clientele, charges on a sliding scale, and deliberately keeps customers out so he never has to rush his cooking. We have similar places here in Seattle. 
Alvin Schwartz was an important figure in Superman’s history - a prolific contributor, he wrote Superman and Batman’s first teamup in World’s Finest and the first adult Bizarro story (Bizarro had debuted in an Otto Binder story for Superboy) complete with now-trademark speech patterns. Conflicts with editor Mort Weisinger drove Schwartz away from comics.
A deeply intelligent man, Schwartz had a temperament which made him an excellent fit for superhero comics - he was profoundly interested in Jungian psychoanalysis, Eastern mysticism, Wilhelm Reich’s theories of Orgone Energy, to name only a few of his many sidelines.
Following his departure from the comics, Schwartz claimed to have “met” Superman - or the tulpa of Superman, the idea of the character given physical form - in the very quotidian environment of a New York taxi cab.

Action Comics vol.1 #78 - Cover date November 1944

In this very unusual story - scripted by Alvin Schwartz, a writer of whom it might also fairly be said was an unusual man - Superman befriends the owner of a diner in the bohemian part of Metropolis, a colorful Russian character named Sergei who trades sandwiches and soup for artwork from his eccentric clientele, charges on a sliding scale, and deliberately keeps customers out so he never has to rush his cooking. We have similar places here in Seattle. 

Alvin Schwartz was an important figure in Superman’s history - a prolific contributor, he wrote Superman and Batman’s first teamup in World’s Finest and the first adult Bizarro story (Bizarro had debuted in an Otto Binder story for Superboy) complete with now-trademark speech patterns. Conflicts with editor Mort Weisinger drove Schwartz away from comics.

A deeply intelligent man, Schwartz had a temperament which made him an excellent fit for superhero comics - he was profoundly interested in Jungian psychoanalysis, Eastern mysticism, Wilhelm Reich’s theories of Orgone Energy, to name only a few of his many sidelines.

Following his departure from the comics, Schwartz claimed to have “met” Superman - or the tulpa of Superman, the idea of the character given physical form - in the very quotidian environment of a New York taxi cab.

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Action Comics vol.1 #77 - Cover date October 1944
The Prankster returns once again with an inspired scheme to use faked newspaper headlines to manipulate the buying and selling of entire empires. It’s the second time the Prankster’s plan has involved the Daily Planet in some capacity, which of course quickly brings him to the attention of Superman.
The cover to this issue famously declares “Another Superman versus Prankster adventure” in a banner below the title, as a nod to the popularity of the funny little villain and his repeated schemes to baffle, insult and embarrass the Man of Tomorrow.

Action Comics vol.1 #77 - Cover date October 1944

The Prankster returns once again with an inspired scheme to use faked newspaper headlines to manipulate the buying and selling of entire empires. It’s the second time the Prankster’s plan has involved the Daily Planet in some capacity, which of course quickly brings him to the attention of Superman.

The cover to this issue famously declares “Another Superman versus Prankster adventure” in a banner below the title, as a nod to the popularity of the funny little villain and his repeated schemes to baffle, insult and embarrass the Man of Tomorrow.

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Action Comics vol.1 #76 - Cover date September 1944
Superman is a supporting character in his own comic, taking a backseat to a determined young heir who must follow his adventurous father’s footsteps around the globe in order to earn a hefty inheritance. Superman provides the handy last minute salvation at the usual crossroads between conflict and capture, but for the most part this story plays out in the model of the popular adventure strips which were found in America’s newspapers, with young Roger Carson accomplishing much by himself.
Unusually for a Superman story, it’s published in 1944 but set in 1939 - the better to catch up with Roger as the hard-battling captain of a navy vessel in the Pacific Theater.

Action Comics vol.1 #76 - Cover date September 1944

Superman is a supporting character in his own comic, taking a backseat to a determined young heir who must follow his adventurous father’s footsteps around the globe in order to earn a hefty inheritance. Superman provides the handy last minute salvation at the usual crossroads between conflict and capture, but for the most part this story plays out in the model of the popular adventure strips which were found in America’s newspapers, with young Roger Carson accomplishing much by himself.

Unusually for a Superman story, it’s published in 1944 but set in 1939 - the better to catch up with Roger as the hard-battling captain of a navy vessel in the Pacific Theater.

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Action Comics vol.1 #75 - Cover date August 1944
The Man of Steel matches wits with a wily crook named Johnny Aesop, who finds inspiration for his clever crimes in the Fables of his namesake and taunts Superman with a series of clue-besotted notes. Although the story is credited to Jerry Siegel, it’s a formula that bears the fingerprints of perenially undercredited authorial juggernaut Bill Finger, for whom hero-baiting gimmick criminals were a frequent staple.

Action Comics vol.1 #75 - Cover date August 1944

The Man of Steel matches wits with a wily crook named Johnny Aesop, who finds inspiration for his clever crimes in the Fables of his namesake and taunts Superman with a series of clue-besotted notes. Although the story is credited to Jerry Siegel, it’s a formula that bears the fingerprints of perenially undercredited authorial juggernaut Bill Finger, for whom hero-baiting gimmick criminals were a frequent staple.

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Action Comics vol.1 #74 - Cover date July 1944
As this blog takes pains to emphasize, there are trends and motifs which repeat themselves throughout the early years of Superman’s debut; frequently, Superman has had the opportunity to play Guardian Angel to some lovelorn and lackluster poor soul who has, for whatever reason, lost his confidence. It’s not unusual in these circumstances for Superman to adopt the likeness and identity of the underdog in question, performing super-feats disguised as exceptional competence.
However, lovelorn inventor and cool customer Adelbert Dribble turns the tables on the Man of Steel and takes his lovelorn situation into his own hands by not only capturing Superman but taking his place!
Helium-filled muscles and an under-the-cape propeller fill out Adelbert’s ersatz Superman uniform, and honey-trap worthy of Luthor or Ultra - impact-absorbing rubber walls suspended by shock-resistant springs - keep Superman out of sight while Adelbert woos his once dismissive lady love. 
In upcoming years, stories where Superman’s recurring themes are reversed become more common - he’ll lose his powers while someone else will gain them, one of his supporting cast might undertake a secret identity which Clark Kent will pursue to uncover, and so on. Adelbert Dribble reverses Superman’s own do-goodery, however, which is a notable oddity in the overall scheme.

Action Comics vol.1 #74 - Cover date July 1944

As this blog takes pains to emphasize, there are trends and motifs which repeat themselves throughout the early years of Superman’s debut; frequently, Superman has had the opportunity to play Guardian Angel to some lovelorn and lackluster poor soul who has, for whatever reason, lost his confidence. It’s not unusual in these circumstances for Superman to adopt the likeness and identity of the underdog in question, performing super-feats disguised as exceptional competence.

However, lovelorn inventor and cool customer Adelbert Dribble turns the tables on the Man of Steel and takes his lovelorn situation into his own hands by not only capturing Superman but taking his place!

Helium-filled muscles and an under-the-cape propeller fill out Adelbert’s ersatz Superman uniform, and honey-trap worthy of Luthor or Ultra - impact-absorbing rubber walls suspended by shock-resistant springs - keep Superman out of sight while Adelbert woos his once dismissive lady love. 

In upcoming years, stories where Superman’s recurring themes are reversed become more common - he’ll lose his powers while someone else will gain them, one of his supporting cast might undertake a secret identity which Clark Kent will pursue to uncover, and so on. Adelbert Dribble reverses Superman’s own do-goodery, however, which is a notable oddity in the overall scheme.

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Action Comics vol.1 #73 - Cover date June 1944
What do we know of Clark Kent’s private life? Not much - as a matter of fact, we know very little about his off-camera roles in either identity. We have seen Superman blow off a little steam at his mountain retreat, and more than a few adventures begin with a wandering Clark stumbling across a crime, accident or suicide, so we know he enjoys long strolls. Other than that?
Well, in this issue, a hobby thief engages on a crime wave throughout Metropolis, stealing large and unusual collections and ransoming the back to their owners. Clark sets himself up as bait by planting the information that he collects clocks - and oddly enough, he does. The collection turns out to be a genuine one, so what we now know of Clark (Superman) Kent is that, in his everyday civilian life, he collects clocks...

Action Comics vol.1 #73 - Cover date June 1944

What do we know of Clark Kent’s private life? Not much - as a matter of fact, we know very little about his off-camera roles in either identity. We have seen Superman blow off a little steam at his mountain retreat, and more than a few adventures begin with a wandering Clark stumbling across a crime, accident or suicide, so we know he enjoys long strolls. Other than that?

Well, in this issue, a hobby thief engages on a crime wave throughout Metropolis, stealing large and unusual collections and ransoming the back to their owners. Clark sets himself up as bait by planting the information that he collects clocks - and oddly enough, he does. The collection turns out to be a genuine one, so what we now know of Clark (Superman) Kent is that, in his everyday civilian life, he collects clocks...

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Action Comics vol.1 #72 - Cover date May 1944
Superman unearths a typical Nazi sabotage plot only to discover that homegrown saboteurs - and corrupt, corporate ones at that - beat the Axis to the punch. The crooked businessman-as-villain is a rare sight these days, with enemy agents occupying most of Superman’s attention…

Action Comics vol.1 #72 - Cover date May 1944

Superman unearths a typical Nazi sabotage plot only to discover that homegrown saboteurs - and corrupt, corporate ones at that - beat the Axis to the punch. The crooked businessman-as-villain is a rare sight these days, with enemy agents occupying most of Superman’s attention…

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Action Comics vol.1 #71 - Cover date April 1944
It’s an all-romance issue and Jimmy Olsen plays a larger role here than he has anywhere else excepting the radio show. A passel of mixed-up packages confuses affairs between Jimmy, his rival and the object of their mutual affection, while a similar mishap befalls Clark, Lois and Superman. 
Most notably, Clark tries to gain the upper hand in the triangle by gag-gifting Lois with a sarcastic valentine purportedly (and realistically, of course) sent by the Man of Steel, but the package mix-up ends with Lois blaming the bitter Valentine on Clark and becoming even surer of Superman’s affections. Clark doesn’t often end up the sucker in his attempts to knock an arrogant or presumptive peer down a peg or two, but Lois seems immune to his attempts to whittle her down to size.

Action Comics vol.1 #71 - Cover date April 1944

It’s an all-romance issue and Jimmy Olsen plays a larger role here than he has anywhere else excepting the radio show. A passel of mixed-up packages confuses affairs between Jimmy, his rival and the object of their mutual affection, while a similar mishap befalls Clark, Lois and Superman. 

Most notably, Clark tries to gain the upper hand in the triangle by gag-gifting Lois with a sarcastic valentine purportedly (and realistically, of course) sent by the Man of Steel, but the package mix-up ends with Lois blaming the bitter Valentine on Clark and becoming even surer of Superman’s affections. Clark doesn’t often end up the sucker in his attempts to knock an arrogant or presumptive peer down a peg or two, but Lois seems immune to his attempts to whittle her down to size.

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Action Comics vol.1 #70 - Cover date March 1944
Superman is baffled by an insidious new villain, “The Thinker”, and finding himself out-strategized in the field of battle he resorts to the only possible remaining tactic - he goes on holiday.
Leaving Clark Kent to fight crime in his stead gives the unlikely premise some interesting moments, and Superman’s timid alter-ego receives an opportunity to flex a little muscle and show more-than-usual amounts of spine.
When the Thinker has the troublesome Kent kidnapped and brought to his secret hideout, the intent of the scheme becomes clear, although some of Kent’s internal dialogue suggests that surprising and impressing Lois with his acts of bravery while winding up her frustration with an idle Man of Steel may have been at least a little on his mind.

Action Comics vol.1 #70 - Cover date March 1944

Superman is baffled by an insidious new villain, “The Thinker”, and finding himself out-strategized in the field of battle he resorts to the only possible remaining tactic - he goes on holiday.

Leaving Clark Kent to fight crime in his stead gives the unlikely premise some interesting moments, and Superman’s timid alter-ego receives an opportunity to flex a little muscle and show more-than-usual amounts of spine.

When the Thinker has the troublesome Kent kidnapped and brought to his secret hideout, the intent of the scheme becomes clear, although some of Kent’s internal dialogue suggests that surprising and impressing Lois with his acts of bravery while winding up her frustration with an idle Man of Steel may have been at least a little on his mind.

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Action Comics vol.1 #69 - Cover date February 1944
The Prankster’s third incursion into Superman’s otherwise predictable world of tyrants and gangsters involves another convoluted plan making victims of Metropolis’ wealthiest citizens. In this case, it’s a triple-dip blackmail plot that involves the Daily Planet at both ends of the scheme, much to the consternation of Lois Lane and Clark Kent.
Appropriately,the Prankster receives a triple-punishment; besides ending up back in jail, he also receives a super-spanking and a paddywagon beating by his associates. 
It speaks volumes of the Prankster as a forceful - possibly even semi-protagonistic - character in the Superman mythos that, even after such a significant reversal in fortunes, he’s portrayed laughing indulgently at the scope of the “prank” which, ultimately, ended up being played on him, as though he’d won the day.

Action Comics vol.1 #69 - Cover date February 1944

The Prankster’s third incursion into Superman’s otherwise predictable world of tyrants and gangsters involves another convoluted plan making victims of Metropolis’ wealthiest citizens. In this case, it’s a triple-dip blackmail plot that involves the Daily Planet at both ends of the scheme, much to the consternation of Lois Lane and Clark Kent.

Appropriately,the Prankster receives a triple-punishment; besides ending up back in jail, he also receives a super-spanking and a paddywagon beating by his associates. 

It speaks volumes of the Prankster as a forceful - possibly even semi-protagonistic - character in the Superman mythos that, even after such a significant reversal in fortunes, he’s portrayed laughing indulgently at the scope of the “prank” which, ultimately, ended up being played on him, as though he’d won the day.

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