92 – She’s Got Gerard Shugel Eyes

In Action Comics #20 (November 1939), Superman discovers that Hollywood actress Dolores Winters is acting rather strangely the day after acting so nicely to Clark Kent. After Dolores gives him the stink eye, Superman makes the intuitive leap that the Ultra-Humanite has placed his brain inside Dolores’ body. But it’s comforting to know that Superman […]

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87 – The First Gorilla City

In Action Comics #19 (October 1939), Zatara visits a city full of gorillas with human slaves, a full generation before Planet of the Apes. Crazily enough, this is not the fabled African Gorilla City that bothers the Flash decades later but a different city of gorillas in Mexico (?!?) made by a mad scientist who […]

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85 – X-Ray Vision

In Action Comics #18 (September 1939), Superman used his x-ray vision for the first time (his super-hearing had been hinted at in a previous story). I picture what is happening with Superman’s powers here as a sort of “arms race”, since I’m sure Jerry Siegel had constant pressure to make Superman more exciting than other […]

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80 – Fireproof

Superman‘s powers continue to expand, as indicated in this panel from Action Comics #17 (August 1939). Thanks to his invulnerability to fire, he nearly single-handedly foils an arson attempt on a steamliner ship, arranged by the Ultra-Humanite.

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66 – The Ultra-Humanite!

In Action Comics #13 (May 1939), Jerry Siegel introduced the first super-villain to the Superman mythos with the Ultra-Humanite. A “paralysed cripple” who was also a genius bent on world domination. He is revealed to be the mastermind behind the “cab protective league”, a corrupt cab company that shakes down smaller cab companies for protection […]

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60 – Loathsome Wretch!

In early Superman stories like Action Comics #10 (February 1939), Jerry Siegel made sure that Clark Kent was the mask, cooking up situations where Clark had to appear cowardly or have less integrity. In this story, Clark gives up his source, an escaped convict from a brutal prison where the superintendent tortured the inmates. In […]

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59 – Hiding In Plain Sight

The idea that Superman may be hiding in plain sight as a regular guy is voiced for the first time in Action Comics #9, January 1939. I like how Jerry Siegel seems to be building this world that Superman inhabits month-by-month, even if the story ideas themselves are sometimes a bit ludicrous. I also love […]

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57 – Super Hearing

In December 1938, Action Comics #8 featured the first time Superman used his super hearing power, setting the stage for what was to be a gradual widening of Superman’s powers to god-like abilities. Action Comics #8 also featured Superman deciding that the right way to set a bunch of wayward kids straight was to demolish […]

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48 – Zatara

Zatara was the second major DC character introduced in Action Comics #1 (May 1938).  Unlike Superman, Zatara is more of a copy of an existing character: Mandrake the Magician.  He even gains a similar mustache in the next issue. He had the ability to cast spells by saying words backwards, though sometimes he is able […]

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47 – When Lois Met Clark

The Golden Age of Comic Books begins in May 1938 with the single most important comic book ever published:  Action Comics #1 and the debut of the first full-fledged superhero:  Superman.  Crime fighter for justice.  Crazy costume.  Super powers.  Secret identity.  A supporting cast of two Daily Star employees: his un-named editor and his romantic […]

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