Type Comic
Date 1940-01-23
Tags comics go to war

Action Comics #22

Action Comics #22 (1940-03)

Superman

"Europe at War!!" the headline in the third panel proclaims, the most prominent feature of this story's first page. Three months ago, in Detective Comics #34, Slam Bradley contended with Twerpany, and now Clark and Lois are being sent to cover the war between Toran and Galonia. On the ship to Toran, Clark saves a famous foreign actress, Lita Laverne, from an assassination attempt. Clark spots her snooping in the captain's cabin, and when they reach shore she invites him to a party, where she tries to get information from him and other guests. Clark deduces that she must be a spy.

While they are at the party, a plane begins dropping bombs. In the confusion, Clark leaves the party, and then Superman disables the plane. He observes Lita entering the foreign ministry and conferring with an army official. He overhears that the Torans intend to torpedo a neutral ship in order to arouse the sympathy of other nations, so he goes to save it. Afterward, he interrupts a Toranian council of war, forcing a confession regarding the event. The end.

Rather a sudden ending! Perhaps it'll be continued in the next issue?

Supermen of America

Following the Superman comic is a message to the Supermen of America. Usually, these pages are just an enticement to join the club, but this page contains a topical message. In part:

With the spirit of Christmas and New Year still fresh in our minds I believe this is an excellent time to bring to our atention the renewal of the good resolution we made last year when we first started the SUPERMEN OF AMERICA CLUB. The firm, basic principles of this club were and still are the three splendid ideals of STRENGTH, COURAGE, and JUSTICE. Time and again we have seen these ideals pictured as three, unbroken links of steel which form an invulnerable chain capable of withstanding all the vicious and brutal assaults of Crime and the forces of Evil.

Now, more than ever before, should we endeavor to strengthen these ideals in our hearts. For in other less fortunate parts of the world wehave read and seen the horrible results of men forgetting and casting these ideals out of their minds and hearts. War, destruction, famine and untold suffering descend on mankind once the principles of STRENGTH, COURAGE, and JUSTICE disappear.

The pioneers and founders of America fought, bled and died to protect and cherish these principles; and with such a priceless heritage this country of ours grew from infancy into the strong, thriving nation that it is today. Let us, then, carry on these ideals that have been handed down to us and by the constant application of these principles make our daily lives beneficial to our friends, neighbors and to the country we love. Make this a firm resolution not only for this year of 1940 but for all the years of our lives!

Fantastic Facts

These comics often include a few pages dedicated to random trivia. Detective Comics devotes their pages to crime-related trivia, usually, and I think Action Comics usually features sports-related trivia. I often wonder whether the supposed facts in these pages are actually true, but I don't generally bother to verify them. One in this issue really stood out, though:

A tank car loaded with helium gas shipped by the navy weighed 92,000 lbs. less than the empty car did!

Less than the empty car? Surely not. The gas couldn't have weighed less than nothing--helium doesn't make things float because it has negative weight, it makes things float because it's lighter than air. So just how big would the tank car have to be for this statement to be true? We'd usually expect gases to be shipped under pressure, but let's be as generous as possible and assume that the gas is weightless and that the air it replaces is very dense indeed--extremely cold air might weigh a tenth of a pound per cubic foot. So it'd take nearly a million cubic feet of our super-helium to make up that difference. A train car might be about ten feet by ten feet, which would give it a hundred square foot cross-section.

At that size, the tank car would have to be ten thousand feet long to give it enough volume. Two miles of tank car containing a vacuum to make that bit of trivia true! In the real world, of course, helium isn't weightless, and we'd ship it pressurized, so it'd be even further from true. Helium weighs about a seventh as much as air, so it only takes seven atmospheres of pressure before the helium tanks would weigh more full than empty. In other words: that piece of trivia is a dirty lie. Don't trust everything you read in a comic book.

Zatara and the "Mask"

Zatara, dining at "El Storko Club", spots the Tigress (who we haven't seen in a while--since Action Comics #9, I think) and makes himself invisible so as to safely keep an eye on her. He sees her empty some powder into a man's drink, so he stops the man--Ed Burton, a banker--from drinking it. After they go outside, he saves Burton from a falling safe.

The Tigress is working for someone she calls "Mask", who reveals that he has gotten a plastic surgeon to alter him to look just like Burton, who he intends to kill and replace (is this plot not very similar to that in the previous issue?). Zatara quickly deduces that this must be the plan (why else would you kill someone except to replace them with a double, right?) and heads off to seek out the Tigress. He finds her and Mask and changes himself into Burton's form in order to stop their scheme.

But that just gives Mask another idea: he has his plastic surgeon to alter him to look like Zatara, instead, and then cons Burton out of some money. Zatara stumbles upon them while the con is in progress, and is able to stop Mask before he can get away with cashing the check. He returns it to Burton, advises Burton to press charges against Mask, and suggests that he let the Tigress go, so long as she promises to leave the country. She agrees, and the story ends.