Type Comic
Date 1940-03-21

Action Comics #24

Action Comics #24 (1940-05)

Superman

Rufus Carnahan, a retired industrialist, places an ad in every Metropolis newspaper: "Superman! I urgently need your assistance! Address: Box Y-84". Clark is sent to Carnahan's home to try to dig up a story for the afternoon edition. The butler unceremoniously throws him out--no reporters wanted. So, Clark tries his luck as Superman. The butler tries to refuse him, again, but Superman forces his way in to see Carnahan, who reveals the reason for the advertisement: his son, Peter, is "a weak-kneed sop and spendthrift" who "suffers huge gambling losses", and he wants Superman to "straighten out [his] son's character so that he will be a man".

When he returns to the offices of the Daily Planet, he learns that Rufus Carnahan has died. He goes back to Carnahan's where he observes Peter having a heated discussion with Jake Brent, to whom he owes a gambling debt. The butler distracts Superman from his eavesdropping, and while he's looking away, a shot goes off, and Brent is dead. Peter leaves in a rush, and intends to drive his car over a cliff, killing himself, but Superman stops the car and convinces Peter to turn himself in. At the trial, Peter explains that while he did point his gun at Brent, he never intended to fire, and the gun went off by mistake. The jury doesn't buy it, though, and he's sentenced to electrocution.

Superman, investigating, learns that Peter's accidental shot missed Brent, and that the real killer was Benny Farrel, a rival gambler. There's no time to get Farrel to the governor to stop the execution, so superman destroys the dynamo at the Metropolis power house, preventing the electrocution from going on. Later, he takes Farrel to the governor, where he confesses, and the governor pardons Peter. Peter uses his father's money to open a home for wayward underprivileged youths, so that he can keep others from turning out like he did.

Zatara and the "Magician Murder"

A woman, Etta Nolan, seeks Zatara's assistance. She has been targeted by Chalo, the gypsy magician, who fears that she will reveal that he killed his brother to learn some dark magic. Zatara assures her that she will be safe with him, and takes her out to see tonight's magic show. The opening act is Lotus Blossom, the Chinese girl magician. She performs several sleight-of-hand tricks, then faints at the sight of a giant floating toad. Zatara attempts to make it disappear, but is unable, so he determines that the toad, realistic though it seems, must not be living. He makes the other people unable to see the toad, and as he leaves he is approached by a man who commends him for his actions.

The man introduces himself as John Dokar, a magician. He invites Zatara to a seance at his home. Zatara accepts his offer, but tell Dokar that he doesn't believe in seances. At Dokar's home, Etta spots Chalo, and Zatara casts a spell so that Chalo will not know her.

Zatara challenges Chalo to a magic duel, to prove that no such thing as black magic exists, and wins handily. As a last effort, Chalo commands an illusion to kill Dokar, while secretly pressing a lever which stabs a poison needle into Dokar's leg. Dokar dies, and Zatara quickly discovers the mechanism. He hides himself while he searches for a way to make Chalo confess. As he watches, secretly, he learns that Chalo and the other men at the seance intended to steal some jewels from Dokar's safe. Zatara spirits away the jewels before they can be stolen, sends Etta home in a conjured car, then coerces Chalo and his fellow conspirators to confess.

Throughout this story, the murdered magician is called both "Dokar" and "Dakor"--hard to be consistent when you make up a name for a character you're planning to kill off anyway, I suppose.