Type Comic
Date 1939-12-27

Action Comics #21

Action Comics #21 (1940-02)

Superman

On the way to work, Clark spots a building collapsing. He tosses the people on the street away, but is caught in the collapse himself. He's dug out of it, and a doctor offers him first aid treatment. Noting the well-equipped lab, Clark asks whether the doctor had anything to do with the building's collapse. The doctor, named Terry Curtis, admits that it was his fault--though an accident. Curtis explains that he has been attempting to harness atomic energy, and the explosion today indicates that he must be getting close. Clark warns him to be more careful, then heads to the paper to submit this all as a story.

Elsewhere, Ultra reads the story, and is interested in gaining access to this weapon herself (note: Ultra is still occupying the body of the actress, and is referred to as female by the narration). Ultra intends to seduce Curtis, and later she kidnaps him and steals plans for the weapon. Clark, to whom Curtis mentioned that he was meeting a girl who looked like Dolores Winters, later realizes that it "might possibly be Ultra". No, you think? He goes to Curtis's lab to find it ransacked, and Curtis missing. In Ultra's stronghold, she tortures Curtis with a "torture ray" until he agrees to complete the weapon for her.

A week later, Clark sits reading a book and wonders "whatever became of Terry Curtis". Not too bothered by things, is he? Luckily, the answer is forthcoming: Ultra broadcasts a message over the radio, demanding a two million dollar ransom for the safety of the city. She announces that she will demonstrate her power by destroying the Wentworth tower at 2 p.m. that afternoon. At that time, a plane appears, shooting a ray at the building. Superman rushes to the tower, and arrives in time to keep it from collapsing, long enough at least for the pedestrians to vacate the area.

Superman destroys the plane's weapon, then hitches a ride on it, intending to confront Ultra. However, she has some sort of (rather unlikely) video surveillance of the outside of the plane, and prepares a trap for him. Upon arriving at her base (located in a volcano), Superman is beset by robots. They prove no challenge, and he heads for Ultra, but is warned by Curtis that she has rigged up a photo-electric beam between them which, if Superman breaks it, will cause Metropolis to be automatically destroyed. She tells Superman that if he will retrieve for her the crown jewels housed in the Reynolds building, she will release Curtis to him. He leaves to steal the jewels, and Ultra once again makes a radio transmission--warning the officials of Metropolis of Superman's intentions! She thinks it will be amusing to see what happens.

Superman returns to the city and is confronted with a huge crowd of people guarding the jewels. It's no fair contest, though, and he is able to retrieve the jewels. When he returns to Ultra, she traps him and sets diamond drills to work on him, but they are ineffective. After a brief struggle, Superman is able to sever the connections that would allow Ultra to destroy Metropolis. Ultra throws herself out a window, and Superman destroys the machine and then causes the volcano to erupt, ensuring everything is thoroughly destroyed. He returns to Metropolis with Curtis, and the story ends.

I doubt this will be end of Ultra, however final her destruction may seem, this time--and I don't need any knowledge of future comics to predict that!

Zatara and the Deaths on the Moor

Frankly, I haven't the energy to summarize this one. It all ends with a positively Scooby Doo-like revelation that people have been murdered by a man who is the exact double of Zatara's friend, who had trained condors to carry them up into the air and drop them to their deaths. The intention was to kill and replace Zatara's friend, to steal his wealth.

Incidentally, wasn't Zatara supposed to go to the moon, this issue? That's what was promised last time, anyway.

Name Role
Jerry Siegel Author
Joe Shuster Illustrator