√ 20 Original Months of Superman

1938 – 1939

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for the quick checklist go to Original Months of Superman: 1938 – 1939

I. MAY ’38

act1.coverartACTION COMICS No. 1 (June ’38) on sale May 3rd
cover art: Joe Shuster (red boots coloured in, coloured by Jack Adler)

adventure 1
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: As a distant planet was destroyed by old age

  • A brief one page review of Superman’s origin–everyone on a distant planet died except for the surviving baby who grew up on Earth to become Superman.
  • Superman delivers a murderess to the governor, there’s some horseplay but no one dies by Superman’s hand.
  • Clark Kent and Lois Lane are reporters for the the DAILY STAR newspaper in an unnamed city working for an unnamed editor.
  • Joe Shuster models the skyscrapers of Superman’s city after the skyline of Toronto from his youth and the name of the newspaper is taken from the TORONTO DAILY STAR, for which Shuster used to work as a paper boy.
  • The Man of Steel gets tough with a wife beater, the wife beater faints, no one dies.
  • Lois is abducted, the Action Ace stops the car and shakes out everyone (apparently Superman saves Lois first), they all dash off except for Butch who is hung from a telephone pole, no one dies.
  • Superman investigates political corruption and leaps in the air with the slick lobbyist Alex Greer–no one dies.
  • The bottom panel at story’s end promotes more appearances of Superman in ACTION COMICS.
  • This first adventure illustrates how Siegel often has Superman follow the links from one bad guy to the next–this has the effect of diminishing the importance of any one villain.

r. SUPERMAN [No. 1, 1939] — with ammendments

♦♦♦

II. JUNE ’38

act2.p1ACTION COMICS No. 2 (July ’38) on sale June 2nd

adventure 2
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: As they topple like a plummet to the street below

  • Superman throws a dozen gunmen out a window, but no evidence whether they live or die (probably don’t die).
  • The Champion of the Oppressed directs Emil Norvell to sail on a steamer to San Monte.
  • The Man of Tomorrow beats up Norvell’s double-crossing henchmen (same fellows he threw out the window?).
  • In San Monte both Norvell and Superman become soldiers.
  • Clark sends photos of the war to the EVENING NEWS in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • Lois is arrested in San Monte for holding stolen documents planted by Lola Cortez.
  • act2.endThe Man of Steel rescues Lois from a firing squad, Superman throws a torturer into a grove of trees (no indication whether he survives).
  • A machine gunner airplane is doomed by Superman’s hand–no indication if the pilot survives.
  • The Action Ace captures the commanders of the two armies and the war is ended.
  • This is the one story where a strong case could be made that Superman may have killed people–either in the scenes shown or behind the scenes where he’s a soldier on the battlefield with Norvell. But it’s pure conjecture to say that he kills anyone, since no actual deaths are shown.
  • Attention all American youth!–a promo ad appears at the bottom of the last page of this adventure for Acquiring Super-Strength in the next issue, although this doesn’t actually appear until ACTION COMICS No. 4.

r. SUPERMAN [No. 1, 1939]

♦♦♦

III. JULY ’38

act3.p1ACTION COMICS No. 3 (August ’38) on sale July  5th

adventure 3
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: A creaking of timber–an ominous rumble–and then

  • Superman only appears in costume in one panel. For the bulk of the story Kent is disguised as a miner.
  • Clark saves the lives of many trapped miners. The owner of the mine, Blakely, and his rich friends are trapped in the mine until Kent finally rescues them.
  • This is another story where Superman gives a corrupt person a life lesson to make them change their ways–just as he did with Norvell in the previous issue and as he does in the next issue with Burke.
  • Hey Fellers!–on the bottom of the last page, a teaser (probably created by Vin Sullivan) for the Cartoon Contest on the back inside cover.

act3.heyfellers
r. SUPERMAN [No. 1, 1939]

♦♦♦

IV. AUGUST ’38

act4.p1ACTION COMICS No. 4 (September ’38) on sale August 2nd

adventure 4
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: Exhilarated by the demon speed

  • Superman saves the life of a speeding motorist, but the driver dies of a heart attack nevertheless.
  • Clark disguises himself to look like Tommy Burke, college football player. Most of the story Superman does not appear in costume.
  • As Burke, the Action Ace shows the real Tommy how to be a hero.
  • Acquiring Super-Strength–a feature on how to build up your super-powers appears at the bottom of the last page for this adventure.

r. SUPERMAN [No. 1, 1939]

♦♦♦

V. SEPTEMBER ’38

ACTION COMICS No. 5 (October ’38) on sale September 6th

act5.contentadventure 5
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: Another Astounding Adventure of the Strongest Man on Earth

  • Lois and Clark compete to get the scoop on a dam collapse that threatens towns in its wake.
  • First red boots on inside pages.
  • This the first real classic Superman story as it uses many of the conventional features: teaming Lois and Clark on a newspaper story, but showing their rivalry; requiring the Champion of the Oppressed to battle a disaster that threatens a mass of people; forcing the Man of Steel to rescue Lois which inspires her love for the Man of Tomorrow.
  • Extra–teaser for the prize contest on the back inside cover.

act5.extra
r. SUPERMAN No. 3 (Winter ’40)

♦♦♦

VI. OCTOBER ’38

act7.p1ACTION COMICS No. 6 (November ’38) on sale October 4th

adventure 6
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster (assisted by Paul Lauretta)
famous first words: The Amazing Adventures of the Strongest Man on Earth

  • A grifter uses a fake Superman to corner the market on exploiting the Superman brand.
  • First appearance of a bow-tie wearing office boy who could be Jimmy Olsen–this unnamed office boy shows up in subsequent stories.
  • The song You’re a Superman is featured.
  • The adventure is an early self parody from Siegel and Shuster that predicts Superman’s merchandising which will soon become a deluge, to the benefit of many who had no part in the Man of Steel’s success.
  • Acquiring Super-Strength–a feature on how to build up your strength appears at the bottom of the last page for this adventure (this one is for super-vision).

r. SUPERMAN No. 3 (Winter ’40)

♦♦♦

VII. NOVEMBER ’38

act7.supescoverACTION COMICS No. 7 (December ’38) on sale November 3rd
cover art: Joe Shuster (2nd Superman cover)

adventure 7
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster (assisted by Paul Lauretta)
famous first words: Friend of the helpless and oppressed

  • Clark is teased by his co-worker Curly. This may have inspired the character of Steve Lombard, who did the same thing in the ‘70s, ‘80s and a few adventures later.
  • Superman helps a circus improve its box office by putting on a one-man show of amazing feats.
  • The story gives Siegel and Shuster a chance to show off what their Man of Steel can do. The circus is a frequent theme through Superman’s history and is a metaphor for Superman’s popularity as entertainment.
  • Acquiring Super-Strength–a feature on how to build up your strength appears at the bottom of the last page for this adventure.

♦♦♦

VIII. DECEMBER ’38

act8.p1ACTION COMICS No. 8 (January ’39) on sale December 6th

adventure 8
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster (assisted by Paul Lauretta)
famous first words: Leaping over towering buildings

  • Superman threatens Gimpy the Fence.
  • The Action Ace tries out his high-wire act on three juveniles, but they like it. This shows that Superman’s threats to human life should not be taken too seriously.
  • The Champion of the Oppressed lays waste to the tenements in the slums so the city will be forced to build new housing for the poor.
  • The first in a number of adventures where Superman attempts urban reform through destructive action.

♦♦♦

IX. JANUARY ’39

act9.p1ACTION COMICS No. 9 (February ’39) on sale January 3rd

adventure 9
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster (assisted by Paul Lauretta)
famous first words: Lifting tremendous weights

  • This story picks up from events in adventure 8: the police put out a warrant for Superman’s arrest after he has destroyed the slums.
  • Detective Captain “100%” Reilly intends to catch the Man of Steel.
  • Lois detests Clark for being a coward but confesses to loving Superman.
  • The Man of Tomorrow saves a suicidal lunatic.

♦♦♦

Dailies: 1 – 12; January 16th – January 28th

continuity 1
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: Krypton, a distant planet so far advanced in evolution that it bears a civilization of super men

  • The first full telling of Superman’s origins on Krypton–the events in this continuity will provide material for other Superman origin stories to follow.
  • Clark’s birth name is given as Kal-L; his parents are Jor-L and Lora.
  • Superman only appears in costume in the last panel of the last daily in this first continuity.

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♦♦♦

X. FEBRUARY ’39

act10.coverACTION COMICS No. 10 (March ’39) on sale February 7th
cover art: Joe Shuster (3rd Superman cover)

adventure 10
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster (assisted by Paul Lauretta)
famous first words: Leaping over skyscrapers

  • Clark betrays a source and has to put up with harsh judgement from his peers.
  • Kent poses as Tom Daly and gets himself sent to prison so he can expose a corrupt penal system.
  • This adventure highlights the paradoxical nature of the Clark Kent persona: he is both a heroic journalist and a cowardly reporter.

♦♦♦

Dailies: 13 – 30; January 30th – February 18th

continuity 2
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: Ten Men Trapped In Steel Vault!

  • The first comic strip continuity that shows Superman in action
  • The Man of Steel goes after the big boss behind graft in the city
  • In events similar to adventure 1 (ACTION COMICS No. 1), Lois Lane is abducted.
  • The Man of Tomorrow saves Lois.
  • Clark Kent gets a job at the DAILY STAR on the strength of his interview with Superman.

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♦♦♦

Dailies: 31 – 54; February 20th – March 18th

continuity 3
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (art: Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy)
famous first words: One evening, while out searching for someone in need of assistance

  • Superman prevents the suicide of ex-heavy-weight champion Larry Trent and then assumes Larry’s identity.
  • Another story where the Champion of the Oppressed makes it his responsibilty to teach a life lesson to an individual.
  • Clark does not appear in costume for the bulk of the continuity.

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r.  SUPERMAN No. 2 (Fall’39)

♦♦♦

XI. MARCH ’39

act11.p1ACTION COMICS No. 11 (April ’39) on sale March 7th

adventure 11
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster (pencils: Paul Cassidy; inks: Shuster)
famous first words: Racing faster than a bullet

  • Superman poses as Homer Ramsey and sets up a scheme to bankrupt two shysters who are running an oil well scam.
  • The million dollars that Clark amasses in this story will be put to good use in adventure 17 (ACTION COMICS No. 15).
  • An oil worker places a call to the con men, Meek and Bronson, in Cleveland, which suggests that Superman’s city is supposed to be Cleveland.

♦♦♦

Dailies: 55 – 66; March 20th – April 1st

continuity 4
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (art: Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy)
famous first words: The editor’s waiting to see you in his office, Kent

  • A short sequence that embellishes on elements from adventure 1 (ACTION COMICS No. 1) and 1A (SUPERMAN No. 1).
  • Lois is sent back to working on the lovelorn desk, after Clark scores his exclusive on the comeback of Larry Trent, which fuels Lane’s anger with Kent; her efforts to get off the lovelorn column and back to the front page is a running theme in the continuities.

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r. SUPERMAN No. 3 (Winter ’40)

♦♦♦

XII. APRIL ’39

act12.endbatsact12.coverACTION COMICS No. 12 (May ’39) on sale April 4th
cover art: Fred Guardineer (Zatara; Superman inset)

adventure 12
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (pencils: Joe Shuster & Paul Cassidy; inks: Shuster)
famous first words: Leaping over towering buildings

  • Superman really goes wild in this one as he goes after speeding, reckless, hit-and-skip and drunk drivers–as well as auto dealers, auto factories, the police and the city.
  • The Man of Steel destroys many motor vehicles and harasses citizens, to impose his will and force his ethic on all.
  • But no one dies.
  • The last panel at the end of this adventure promotes the first appearance of the Bat-Man in DETECTIVE COMICS No. 27.

♦♦♦

smc.ashcanSUPERMAN COMICS [1939]* available circa April 1st
cover art: Joe Shuster–taken from cover for ACTION COMICS No. 7 (December ’38)
*Note: This was an ashcan comic produced to secure the trademark; interior contents unknown at this time.

♦♦♦

Dailies: 67 – 90; April 3rd – April 29th

continuity 5
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (art: Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy)
famous first words: Worker Dies in Death Drop

  • A watchman shoots at Superman but loses his balance and falls from the construction site–the Man of Steel catches the falling man, but his heart gives out from the stress of the fall.
  • The Action Ace hurls a henchman up in the air.
  • Paul Cassidy adds the S shield to the back of the cape (daily 68 and others).

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r.  SUPERMAN No. 2 (Fall’39)

♦♦♦

NEW YORK WORLD’S FAIR COMICS [No. 1, 1939]* on sale April 30th at the New York World’s Fair (opening day and thereafter).
cover art: Vin Sullivan with Fred Guardineer–Superman has blond hair
*This issue was not numbered nor cover-dated and likely intended as a one-shot.

adventure 13
Superman at the World’s Fair by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: Friend of the helpless and oppressed

  • Lois and Clark take several hours by train to travel to New York for the opening of the World’s Fair.
  • Lois loves it when Superman tumbles with her around in the air.
  • This comic was available at the New York World’s Fair in 1939 and its popularity inspired a second issue for 1940. Superman Day was held at the fair on July 3rd, 1940, with a public appearance by Superman (an unknown actor in costume).

nywfc.1939

♦♦♦

XIII. MAY ’39

ACTION COMICS No. 13 (June ’39) on sale May 2nd
cover art: Joe Shuster

adventure 14
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (pencils: Joe Shuster & Paul Cassidy; inks: Shuster)
famous first words: Friend of the helpless and oppressed

  • The Champion of the Oppressed loses his grip on the racketeer in mid-leap when the racketeer attacks him with a knife, the racketeer falls to his death but Superman manages to save himself.
  • Superman damages many cabs when he busts up a protection racket.
  • The first appearance of the Ultra-Humanite–later simply styled as Ultra–apparently unable to walk, he’s alway in a chair. He is balding but has some hair at the back.
  • A flunky dies when his throat is pierced by a piece of a sawblade that broke on the Man of Steel’s head.
  • The Action Ace crashes into the propeller of the plane carrying Ultra and two of his flunkies, sending the plane crashing to Earth.
  • This is the clearest case of Superman committing murder–however, as Ultra survives (see adventure 16 in ACTION COMICS No. 14), it can’t really be murder. Don’t know about the other flunkies as their fate is never made clear–so it’s possible that the Champion of the Oppressed didn’t really kill anyone in this adventure.
  • With the emergence of Ultra, Siegel establishes one main villain as the architect of all the evils in an adventure. This gets away from Siegel’s tendency to line up several bad guys like dominoes in a story, with no central intelligence behind all of the wrong-doing.

act13.contents

♦♦♦

sm1.coverSUPERMAN [No. 1, 1939]* on sale May 18th
cover art: Joe Shuster, with additional design work from Lee O’Meallia–adapted from the splash panel for ACTION COMICS No. 10 (adventure 10)
*This issue was not numbered nor cover-dated and may have been intended as a one-shot. There were two other print runs which came out in ’39 after the original May 18th release–the only difference being in the house ad at the back of the book. While Vin Sullivan was credited as editor, M. C. Gaines also worked as an editor on this book asking Siegel and Shuster for additional new material.

adventure 1A (adventure 1 reprint with additional panels and pages)
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: Just before the doomed planet, Krypton, exploded

  • The bulk of this adventure is the same as that in ACTION COMICS No. 1, which itself had been cut down from the original comic strip that Shuster had illustrated.
  • Additional panels: the elderly Kents find the rocket, adopt the baby, raise Clark–Mrs. Kent’s first name is given as Mary.
  • Additional panels: young Clark leaps over skyscrapers in an unidentified city.
  • Additional panels: the grown Clark, now with his full powers, at the Kents’grave–missing is the original sequence that gives an explanation for his powers (an expanded explanation appears elsewhere in the issue).
  • Additional panels: Clark tries to get a job at the DAILY STAR, but is turned down by Editor
  • Additional pages: Superman prevents a lynching, Clark gets the job.
  • Additional pages: Superman finds Bea Carroll (the murderess).
  • Superman has red boots in the added panels.

sm1.carroll
adventure 2 (reprint): when reprinted, an ad for the newspaper strip appears at the bottom of the last page for this adventure, taking the place of the promo for Acquiring Super-Strength.

The Opportunity of a Life Time!–two page promotional ad with application coupon for readers to become charter members of the Supermen of America.

Scientific Explanation of Superman’s Amazing Strength; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Joe Shuster–a full page explanation for Superman’s powers.

adventure 3 (reprint): Hey Fellers!–the teaser (probably created by Vin Sullivan) at the bottom of the last page for this adventure teases the Supermen of America instead of the original Cartoon Contest.

sm1.backadventure 4 (reprint)

Boys and Girls: Meet the creators of the one and only Superman – America’s Greatest Adventure Strip–text with photos providing background on Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

adventure 15
Superman by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster (text story with spot illustrations)
famous first words: Smashed desks, overturned filing cabinets, strewn plaster, gaping holes

  • Sergeant Blake with the riot squad waits outside the elevator, on the bottom floor of an office building, for Superman to emerge; but the sergeant is made a fool when Clark Kent steps out of the elevator instead.
  • Superman uses telescopic vision.

house ad for ACTION COMICS No. 14–first printing reads: On sale June 2nd; second and third printing reads: Now on sale.

back cover art: Joe Shuster

♦♦♦

sd0093ambroseDailies: 91 – 126; May 1st – June 10th

continuity 6
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (art: Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy)
famous first words: I’ve got a great assigment for you, Clark

  • Superman destroys a dirigilble but we don’t see anyone die.
  • Lubane dies from his own poisonous gas but the Man of Steel does not.
  • Clark sends a telegrarm to George Taylor in Metropolis–this is the first mention of either.

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r. SUPERMAN No. 2 (Fall’39)

♦♦♦

XIV. JUNE ’39

act14.coverACTION COMICS No. 14 (July ’39) on sale June 2nd
cover art: Fred Guardineer (Zatara; Superman inset)

adventure 16
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (art: Paul Cassidy)
famous first words: Racing faster than a bullet

  • The Ultra-Humanite has no hair, completely bald in this adventure.
  • Ultra can make things invisible.
  • The Ultra-Humanite appears to have been killed though Superman’s efforts; however, adventure 20 (ACTION COMICS No. 20) shows that he survived by using a parachute (no word about his flunkies).

act14.endultra

♦♦♦

Dailies: 127 – 162; June 12th- July 22nd

continuity 7
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (layouts: Shuster; finished art: Dennis Neville)
famous first words: Daybreak–a small figure stealthily slips from the state orphanage’s dormitory.

  • A tear jerker. One of the greatest stories from the early days of the Action Ace.
  • This is the first yarn that illustrates how well Lane and Kent work together as an investigative team.
  • Dennis Neville does a good job of creating typical Shuster-style children.
  • Siegel’s script is genuinely emotional given the abuse suffered by the children, which we unfortunately know to be all too common in real life.

sd0133x34
r. SUPERMAN No. 3 (Winter ’40)

♦♦♦

ACTION COMICS No. 15 (August ’39) on sale June 29thact15.originalcover
cover art: Fred Guardineer (Superman cover)

adventure 17
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (art: Paul Cassidy)
famous first words: Leaping over skyscrapers

  • Superman raises two million dollars to save Kidstown–he has one million from ACTIONS COMICS NO. 11 (adventure 11), so he only needs another mill, which eventually leads Clark Kent on a high seas adventure.
  • Clark uses his powers in the open, yet worries about using them to save a man in distress.

♦♦♦

XV. JULY ’39

Dailies: 163 -258; July 24th – November 11th
sd0163
sd0230acontinuity 8
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: I feel in a conciliatory mood, Clark.

  • Jerry Siegel is in top form with yet another memorable classic from the early days. This continuity provides many wonderful scenes.
  • At the start of this epic yarn, Lois Lane makes an effort with Clark Kent, inviting him to her place, but he steps out on her–later when he returns, she kicks him out!
  • The Man of Steel tosses two subariners in the sea, but their possible death is made irrelevant when the captain blows up the whole sub and everyone on it, including our hero.
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  • Superman survives the explosion, but just barely.
  • The Man of Tomorrow uses super-hearing and x-ray eyesight.
  • The Action Ace is hypnotized, but manages to fight off  the effect.
  • The villainous Kober is electrocuted by misadventure.
  • Princess Tania falls in love with Superman and attempts to seduce him, but he rejects her for the sake of his mission.
  • Princess Tania also feels a vague attraction to Clark Kent.

♦♦♦

XVI. AUGUST ’39

act16.p1ACTION COMICS No. 16 (September ’39) on sale August 1st
cover art: Fred Guardineer (Superman inset only)

adventure 18
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (art: Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy)
famous first words: Friend of the helpless

  • Superman saves a man who tries to hang himself, having amassed gambling debts.
  • The Champion of the Oppressed destroys gambling dens, throws people around.
  • The first use of Metropolis for Superman’s city in the comic book–previously used in the daily strip.

♦♦♦

SUPERMAN No. 2 (Fall ’39) on sale August 22nd
cover art: Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy
sm2.mot
Superman the Man of Tomorrow (pin-up page); art: Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy

continuity 3 (reprint)

continuity 6 (reprint): Superman Champions Universal Peace (new title)

continuity 5 (reprint): Superman and the Skyscrapers (new title)

adventure 19
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (text story with spot illustrations)
famous first words: Down the steps of Police Headquarters hurried “Big Mike” Caputo

  • Superman uses telescopic, X-ray eyesight.
  • Clark gets the better of “Big Mike,” then “Big Mike” gets tossed around by the Action Ace.
  • Metropolis is used again as a name for the city.

♦♦♦

act17.coverACTION COMICS No. 17 (October ’39) on sale August 31st
cover art: Joe Shuster

adventure 20
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (art: Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy)
famous first words: Leaping over skyscrapers

  • The Man of Steel fights a fire on board a steamship and pushes the ship to the rocky shores.
  • The Ultra-Humanite is called “Ultra” throughout this story and this is the name used in all following adventures.
  • Ultra uses an acid gun, has an invisible barrier and projects a 3-D image of himself.

act17.2pages

♦♦♦

XVII. SEPTEMBER ’39

act18.p1ACTION COMICS No. 18 (November ’39) on sale September 28th
cover art: Fred Guardineer (Superman inset only)

adventure 21
Superman the Man of Tomorrow by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (art: Paul Cassidy)
famous first words: Leaping over skyscrapers

  • The MORNING HERALD sets up Senator Hastings in a honeypot, for the purposes of blackmail.
  • Clark uses his x-ray eyes and super-sensitive ears to spy on reporter Gene Powers and Senator Hastings.
  • The Action Ace completely destroys the HERALD’s presses.

♦♦♦

XVIII. OCTOBER ’39

ACTION COMICS No. 19 (December ’39) on sale October 31st
cover art: Joe Shuster
act19.coversplash
adventure 22
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: Leaping over skyscrapers

  • Ultra sometimes has a balding hairline and sometimes is completely bald.
  • The Man of Tomorrow sends an air-ship plunging to Earth–presumably with the pilot still on board (although he could have parachuted to safety).
  • Ultra threatens to kill Superman with a giant gun but it explodes in Ultra’s face, presumably killing him.

♦♦♦

XIX. NOVEMBER ’39

Sundays 1A, 1 – 8; November 5th – December 24th

series 1
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: Far distant from our Galaxy rotated the ancient world: Krypton

  • 1A is a special intro Sunday that appeared in different papers as they picked up the feature–famous first words: Far from Earth rotated the planet Krypton.
  • The DAILY PLANET name is used in the Sunday for December 3rd–it was already in use in the dailies as of November 13th.
  • Superman threatens to destroy a bank if they don’t grant a loan.
  • The Man of Steel blows out a forest fire with “hurricane ferocity.”

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♦♦♦

Dailies: 259 – 288; November 13th – December 16th

sd0259planetcontinuity 9
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: Editorial office of the Daily Planet

  • First use of DAILY PLANET, replacing DAILY STAR, on November 13th.
  • This continuity uses the same initial set up as in the text story for SUPERMAN No. 2 (adventure 19).
  • Lois tells Superman not to kill the gangsters because it would be murder.
  • The Man of Steel states that he doesn’t know where he comes from when questioned by Lois Lane–or is he just being coy with Lois?
  • Lois is stil trying to get off the lovelorn column and back on the front page–yet her exposé is pushed off the front page by War in Europe.
  • Some art on this continuity (and the next) looks distinctly different from work that’s been identified as Paul Cassidy or Dennis Neville embellsihing Joe Shuster. I am guessing it’s Wayne Boring assisting Joe Shuster.

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♦♦♦

SUPERMAN No. 3 (Winter ’40) on sale November 15th
cover art: Joe Shuster
Whitney Ellsworth is editor of record for this issue, taking over from Vincent Sullivan on this title; however, all the stories are reprints so Ellsworth’s influence is in little evidence here.
sm3.greatest
sm3.a5endSuperman America’s Greatest Adventure Strip Character (pin-up page); art: Joe Shuster

continuity 7 (reprint): Superman the Man of Tomorrow (new title)

The Greatest Contest in Comic Magazine History!–two page Superman contest promotion

adventure 5 (reprint): Extra–the teaser at the end of this adventure has been altered to promote membership in and prizes from the Supermen of America.

adventure 6 (reprint)

continuity 4 (reprint)

♦♦♦

XX. DECEMBER ’39

act20.p1ACTION COMICS No. 20 (January ’40) on sale December 1st
cover art: Joe Shuster

adventure 23
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (art: Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy)
famous first words: With an ominous creaking and snapping

  • Delores Winters, screen star, abducts many of the rich and powerful on board her ship.
  • Ultra is stunningly revealed to be Delores.
  • The penultimate Ultra yarn, this is by far the best. With most of the Ultra stories, Jerry Siegel delays the revelation of the mastermind, but readers could not possibly have been prepared for this turn events, which is still shocking.
  • This is the last issue of ACTION COMICS under editor Vincent Sullivan who goes on to new horizons.

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Dailies: 289 – 306; December 18th – January 6th

continuity 10
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
famous first words: The decalaration of war in Europe has thrown the Daily Planet in turmoil

  • Superman diverts a flood after the dam has been destroyed.
  • This is a short continuity that sets up events for the next continuity which falls outside the mandate of this checklist.

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act21.coverACTION COMICS No. 21 (February ’40) on sale December 27th
cover art: Joe Shuster and Paul Cassidy

adventure 24
Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (art:Joe Shuster and Dennis Neville)
famous first words: As he walks toward the Daily Star

  • Whitney Ellsworth takes over as editor from Vincent Sullivan; however as this story builds on events from the previous issue, it’s likely the adventure was already in the pipeline before Ellsworth came on board as editor.
  • Delores Winters (Ultra) begins an affiair with Terry Curtis to discover his atomic formula.
  • Ultra abducts the scientist and holds him captive in her volcano lair, attended by her robot servants.
  • Delores/Ultra seems to be caught in the volcano when it erupts, but we never see a body.
  • It’s a pity that Ultra was retired after this appearance (although an Ultra-Luthor mash-up subsequently appears in the newspaper strip); the villain was becoming quite the singular nemesis for the Man of Steel. It may be that new editor Ellsworth didn’t like the rogue and her peculiar gender issues, as Siegel introduces a similar mastermind in the following issues of ACTION–namely Luthor, who becomes even more like Ultra once he loses his hair, but without the gender confusion.

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See also issue No. 25: THE FIRST DAYS OF THE ACTION ACE

Researched using information provided on Mike’s Amazing World of Comics, the Grand Comics Database and Who’s Whose in the DC Universe, as well as other resources.

All characters, logos, and images are owned and © 2015 by current copyright holders. They are used here for educational and review purposes.