Action Comics vol.1 #59 - Cover date April 1943
With his war against crime and tyranny being largely well-trod ground, Superman finds himself at play in the realms of the imagination once more - this time, Clark dozes off while reading fairy tales to Lois’ troublesome niece Susie, and vividly dreams that his costumed alter-ego is providing enchanted godmother services to beleaguered Cinderella.
These occasional flights of fancy not only allow Superman the occasional breather from grim, quotidian menaces, they also stretch the ultimate boundaries of the Man of Tomorrow’s reality, regardless of their “imaginary” statuses. 

Action Comics vol.1 #59 - Cover date April 1943

With his war against crime and tyranny being largely well-trod ground, Superman finds himself at play in the realms of the imagination once more - this time, Clark dozes off while reading fairy tales to Lois’ troublesome niece Susie, and vividly dreams that his costumed alter-ego is providing enchanted godmother services to beleaguered Cinderella.

These occasional flights of fancy not only allow Superman the occasional breather from grim, quotidian menaces, they also stretch the ultimate boundaries of the Man of Tomorrow’s reality, regardless of their “imaginary” statuses. 

52 notes

"Cadet Training" Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - March 28, 1943 to August 8, 1943
The Sunday strips are about to make a change from multi-episode, months-spanning stories to episodic adventures which wrap up in a week or two, with Cadet Training - where Superman must protect the Daily Planet’s “Model Air Cadet” from the schemes of Nazi agents seeking to break American morale - being the last lengthy arc for a while.
Why begin abbreviating the Sunday adventures? Well, beyond any editorial edict, America (and, in general, the world) is beginning to suffer a paper shortage, what with most vital materials earmarked for military needs or shipping off to the overseas Allies.
This paper shortage - and the subsequent paper drives which followed - contributes to the topography of comics history by seeing many comics of the Golden Age shipped off to the recyclers. The rarity of so many older comics - some of which sold literally millions of copies a month - can be attributed to the numbers of which were patriotically pulped for the war effort. 
Likewise, the newspapers become more of a rarity, and many regular readers may have considered the Sunday paper a luxury in wartime, indulged in so infrequently that an ongoing story becomes a burden.

"Cadet Training" Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - March 28, 1943 to August 8, 1943

The Sunday strips are about to make a change from multi-episode, months-spanning stories to episodic adventures which wrap up in a week or two, with Cadet Training - where Superman must protect the Daily Planet’s “Model Air Cadet” from the schemes of Nazi agents seeking to break American morale - being the last lengthy arc for a while.

Why begin abbreviating the Sunday adventures? Well, beyond any editorial edict, America (and, in general, the world) is beginning to suffer a paper shortage, what with most vital materials earmarked for military needs or shipping off to the overseas Allies.

This paper shortage - and the subsequent paper drives which followed - contributes to the topography of comics history by seeing many comics of the Golden Age shipped off to the recyclers. The rarity of so many older comics - some of which sold literally millions of copies a month - can be attributed to the numbers of which were patriotically pulped for the war effort. 

Likewise, the newspapers become more of a rarity, and many regular readers may have considered the Sunday paper a luxury in wartime, indulged in so infrequently that an ongoing story becomes a burden.

26 notes

Jungle Drums “Superman” Theatrical Cartoons - March 26, 1943

The opening to the post-Fleischer Superman cartoons replace Superman’s speeding bullet, locomotive and tall buildings with a more nature-specific set of superlatives

"Faster than a streak of lightning - more powerful than the pounding surf - mightier than a roaring hurricane!"

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Superman vol.1 #21 - Cover date March-April 1943
Some old-fashioned, straightforward saboteur-smashing opens this issue as Superman routs fifth columnist attempts to steal or sabotage America’s secret Alloy X formula. Then it’s up to Superman to rout a would-be crime empire from forming in Metropolis, upending the plans of four gangleaders descending on the city. 
Following that is an interesting story of a meek, put-upon department store employee who becomes a dashing robin-hood type, decked out in knight’s armor and burgling his employers blind. 
The final story in this volume returns Superman to something of his mysterious roots - a lucky lightning bolt strike seems to have killed the Man of Steel, and “Blinky” Moxby (described as a “shifty-eyed little sneak thief”) is dubbing himself The Man Who Killed Superman. While the city mourns and the crooks boast, the only-shaken Superman appears only in shadows, briefly-seen glimpses and a bit of phosphorescent trickery determined to unsettle the underworld before his big return. While capitalizing on a shadowy type of Superman we haven’t seen since his first year of publication, this story also marks the first time this particular gimmick was used in the mythos …

Superman vol.1 #21 - Cover date March-April 1943

Some old-fashioned, straightforward saboteur-smashing opens this issue as Superman routs fifth columnist attempts to steal or sabotage America’s secret Alloy X formula. Then it’s up to Superman to rout a would-be crime empire from forming in Metropolis, upending the plans of four gangleaders descending on the city. 

Following that is an interesting story of a meek, put-upon department store employee who becomes a dashing robin-hood type, decked out in knight’s armor and burgling his employers blind. 

The final story in this volume returns Superman to something of his mysterious roots - a lucky lightning bolt strike seems to have killed the Man of Steel, and “Blinky” Moxby (described as a “shifty-eyed little sneak thief”) is dubbing himself The Man Who Killed Superman. While the city mourns and the crooks boast, the only-shaken Superman appears only in shadows, briefly-seen glimpses and a bit of phosphorescent trickery determined to unsettle the underworld before his big return. While capitalizing on a shadowy type of Superman we haven’t seen since his first year of publication, this story also marks the first time this particular gimmick was used in the mythos …

45 notes

World’s Finest Comics vol.1 #9 - Cover date Spring 1943
Superman’s powers routinely test incredulity, and in later years he’ll be pushing planets around with little effort or tripping carelessly through time. In these early stories, however, no exertion has yet compared to a super-speed jaunt around the world to find evidence to save a convicted man on his way to the electric chair – who has one second left to live! The Man of Steel not only manages to dig up the evidence before the fatal switch is thrown – although he could have just knocked out the power at the penitentiary, one assumes - but, in that vital second, he also manages to save an icebound ship, rout a Japanese platoon, ford a river of lava, upend a pyramid and carefully comb a monastery’s business receipts, so really he had time to spare… 

World’s Finest Comics vol.1 #9 - Cover date Spring 1943

Superman’s powers routinely test incredulity, and in later years he’ll be pushing planets around with little effort or tripping carelessly through time. In these early stories, however, no exertion has yet compared to a super-speed jaunt around the world to find evidence to save a convicted man on his way to the electric chair – who has one second left to live! The Man of Steel not only manages to dig up the evidence before the fatal switch is thrown – although he could have just knocked out the power at the penitentiary, one assumes - but, in that vital second, he also manages to save an icebound ship, rout a Japanese platoon, ford a river of lava, upend a pyramid and carefully comb a monastery’s business receipts, so really he had time to spare… 

23 notes

Action Comics vol.1 #58 - Cover date March 1943
A badly aging movie star puts his fate in the hands of the ominously named plastic surgeon Dr.Menace, gaining a terrible new face in the bargain. Hiding the fading celebrity’s surgically altered features under a handsome, lifelike rubber mask, Menace blackmails his victim into committing high society crimes on his behalf in return for a second, restorative go under the knife.
The fakeout ending of this story - the reader never actually gets to see Adonis’ gruesome features - is unusual for the traditional Superman “beat”. Typically, we see the villain die or defeated, followed by a summary wrap up from Lois and Superman or Lois and Clark. 

Action Comics vol.1 #58 - Cover date March 1943

A badly aging movie star puts his fate in the hands of the ominously named plastic surgeon Dr.Menace, gaining a terrible new face in the bargain. Hiding the fading celebrity’s surgically altered features under a handsome, lifelike rubber mask, Menace blackmails his victim into committing high society crimes on his behalf in return for a second, restorative go under the knife.

The fakeout ending of this story - the reader never actually gets to see Adonis’ gruesome features - is unusual for the traditional Superman “beat”. Typically, we see the villain die or defeated, followed by a summary wrap up from Lois and Superman or Lois and Clark. 

29 notes

The Mummy Strikes
“Superman” Theatrical Cartoons - February 19, 1943

While the first half of the animated Superman catalog is heavy on the action, The Mummy Strikes is almost pure exposition - much hay is made of a murder accusation and an Egyptian prince’s seemingly-supernatural giant guards before Superman gets to show up and throw a punch. The change in tone from the earlier episodes may signal the touch of the post-Fleischer influence on the films, as the brothers no longer have a direct hand in the operation of the studio they co-founded.

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19 Plays

"The Model Plane Mystery" / "Dr. Cameron’s Helicopter" / "The Vulture and the Thunderbolt Express" / "The Bainbridge Disaster" 
The Adventures of Superman Radio Serial - March - April 1943

The few remaining intact recordings of this series alert the listeners to the fact that Dr.Leander Cameron’s ingenious inventions continue to be the target of The Vulture’s thefts - first the “Tin Man” robots created by the eccentric inventor to aid the war effort, and now a fully-functioning helicopter which can be folded into a suitcase-sized carrying case. The titles also imply that The Vulture continues his mad parade of perniciousness in regards to a Thunderbolt Express, evading the law and the Man of Steel for months on end.

28 notes

Action Comics vol.1 #57 - Cover date February 1943
The Prankster returns with possibly his greatest scheme in tow - and he outdoes Luthor, the Ultra-Humanite, Metalo, The Lightning Master, The Ghost and any dozen more of Superman’s swelling ranks of super-foes; he leaves Superman knocked unconscious on the carpet.
Prankster’s plot bears some resemblance to his earlier scheme - some seed cash from local crooks, what appears to be reverse robberies - but it’s spiced up with a celebrity glad-handing scam, the avenging ladies of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Ostriches and, best of all, Prankster tricking Superman into knocking himself out under his own misdirected superpower. 

Action Comics vol.1 #57 - Cover date February 1943

The Prankster returns with possibly his greatest scheme in tow - and he outdoes Luthor, the Ultra-Humanite, Metalo, The Lightning Master, The Ghost and any dozen more of Superman’s swelling ranks of super-foes; he leaves Superman knocked unconscious on the carpet.

Prankster’s plot bears some resemblance to his earlier scheme - some seed cash from local crooks, what appears to be reverse robberies - but it’s spiced up with a celebrity glad-handing scam, the avenging ladies of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Ostriches and, best of all, Prankster tricking Superman into knocking himself out under his own misdirected superpower. 

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Superman vol.1 #20 - Cover date January-February 1943
If 1942 was the year when Superman was introduced to the idea of the supervillain in bulk, then 1943 is the year when he starts to meet allies - or, at least, potential allies - in his war against crime and injustice. 
Decked out in a color reversed costume - blue cape and red tights, a bold “H” in a chest insignia - Herman the Heroic shows up in Metropolis as an up-and-coming, but bumbling, would-be second Superman. He actually ends up acquitting himself fairly well against a cat-cowled menace called The Leopard, although he disappears promptly thereafter. Much as with the modern day, and excepting a lengthy partnership with Batman, Superman rarely keeps close allies unless they all happen to go to the same tailor.
It’s intriguing to imagine what Siegel might have been trying to say with this story, if anything; at a time when National was suing the short red pants off of any other company’s Superman imitator, was Siegel giving tacit approval - possibly even to Superman’s red-suited competitor over at Fawcett comics? Was he acknowledging that even his and Shuster’s great invention wouldn’t have been possible without having been liberally inspired by the heroes who preceded their own?
The lead story for this issue is a shocking affair where a prank ends up revealing Superman’s secret identity - luckily Clark’s terrified antics while “disguised” as his super alter ego put suspicions to rest - and is followed by a befanged Nazi scientist conveniently known as Dr.Fange unleashing sea serpents on America’s maritime might.
Lastly, the Puzzler returns, in the story which famously sees him murder a professional poker player with a fireplace poker, cementing forever his reputation as the super-villain whose gimmick is poor sportsmanship and puns. 

Superman vol.1 #20 - Cover date January-February 1943

If 1942 was the year when Superman was introduced to the idea of the supervillain in bulk, then 1943 is the year when he starts to meet allies - or, at least, potential allies - in his war against crime and injustice. 

Decked out in a color reversed costume - blue cape and red tights, a bold “H” in a chest insignia - Herman the Heroic shows up in Metropolis as an up-and-coming, but bumbling, would-be second Superman. He actually ends up acquitting himself fairly well against a cat-cowled menace called The Leopard, although he disappears promptly thereafter. Much as with the modern day, and excepting a lengthy partnership with Batman, Superman rarely keeps close allies unless they all happen to go to the same tailor.

It’s intriguing to imagine what Siegel might have been trying to say with this story, if anything; at a time when National was suing the short red pants off of any other company’s Superman imitator, was Siegel giving tacit approval - possibly even to Superman’s red-suited competitor over at Fawcett comics? Was he acknowledging that even his and Shuster’s great invention wouldn’t have been possible without having been liberally inspired by the heroes who preceded their own?

The lead story for this issue is a shocking affair where a prank ends up revealing Superman’s secret identity - luckily Clark’s terrified antics while “disguised” as his super alter ego put suspicions to rest - and is followed by a befanged Nazi scientist conveniently known as Dr.Fange unleashing sea serpents on America’s maritime might.

Lastly, the Puzzler returns, in the story which famously sees him murder a professional poker player with a fireplace poker, cementing forever his reputation as the super-villain whose gimmick is poor sportsmanship and puns. 

41 notes