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Action Comics - The First 100 Covers - - - Discuss

MoonKnight1
Monday, March 30, 2020 2:23:02 PM
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Depending on who you ask and what your criteria is it is generally accepted that Superman (Kal-El) is the first Super Powered Being to appear in printed material. Some may argue that Mandrake the Magician, the Shadow or the Phantom among others that have abilities beyond those of mortal men came first. But when we're talking strictly comics, Supes is at the top of the heap.

Since I have so much time on my hands I decided to look at the first 100 covers of Action Comics, Here is what I found!

Not surprisingly, DC didn't know exactly what they had at first so Superman only appeared on 3 of the first 10 covers and 8 of the first 20. He didn't become a front cover fixture until issue #19. Action Comics was an anthology at the time so the other covers generally spotlighted one of the other features such as Zatara or Scoop Scanlon. Starting in issue #9 they did run a cover blurb saying that Superman did appear inside.

Here are the Superman covers through issue #20:

Well, duh.


Here are the non-Superman covers:


Not sure who this is but he appears to have just shot down a biplane using a handgun while parachuting with a woman clinging to him. Oh man, and now there's another plane coming right for them! Anxious


Once again, not sure who this is. Looks like a naval officer who's ship has been sunk and he is now trying to fend off Polynesians with his sabre.


OK. A Canadian Mountie and a Wolf-Man? Time Out


Whoever this dude is, don't look good for him. Out in the desert surrounded by Bedouins I guess and apparently out of ammo.


Ouch! Looks like bro-ham over here is about to get spanked by a very large gorilla.


I'm guessing this is an early version of the WWE.


Soap Box Derby! Dancing


I'm guessing this is a USN Destroyer smashing a German U-Boat but this was two years before we had entered WW2 so...


Zatara's first cover appearance...


...and second. That's a big asp! Ooh


This could be the guy from #5 because he also has appeared to have run out of ammo.


Last cover without Superman on it. Nationalities of planes unclear.

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Thundercron
Tuesday, March 31, 2020 12:16:47 PM
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I like the Leo Omealia covers, especially #2 & 4. They just seem really detailed, like the old King Arthur or Terry and the Pirates strips. Although the superhero genre ushered in more dynamic and action-oriented art, the artwork itself always seemed simpler to me, less detailed.
MoonKnight1
Friday, April 03, 2020 2:16:55 PM
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I noticed a number of trends whilst perusing these covers.

Superman...

...fighting Germans/Japanese - 19 times

...lifting something heavy - 18 times

...getting shot at - 15 times

...punching something - 14 times

...getting hit in the head - 7 times

...rescuing someone - 7 times

...carrying bad guys - 6 times

...crashing through something - 3 times

...trains - 3 times

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MoonKnight1
Friday, April 03, 2020 3:00:34 PM
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Fighting Germans/Japanese

It was World War II after all. Even though Action started in 1939, 2 years before the US entered the conflict, Superman was battling the Axis on the covers. The early issues were vague as to who the enemy was, no swastikas or rising suns, but it was clear who they were meant to be. From 1942 onward it was quite obvious.

Not clear if this is an Axis plane so I am calling it questionable.

Generic looking troops again.


Another ambiguous enemy.


This could go either way. Either it's a Nazi U-Boat and he is about to drop the torpedo on it or it is an American sub and he is delivering munitions.


Judging by the helmet almost certainly Wehrmacht.


Again, not clear who the enemy is but has the trappings of Nazi saboteurs.


Again, the helmets.


Obviously a German Panzer.


First swastika.


And another...


Most certainly Japanese. Notice the egregious buck teeth.


Germans.


Nazi U-Boat.


Hypnotized Ooh


Nother Panzer.


Saving a wounded Marine from getting strafed by a Zero.


Why did they think that all Japanese people had buck teeth?


Let's not forget that Japanese also wear thick, round glasses.


Oy.

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padreglcc
Friday, April 03, 2020 3:25:16 PM
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I think it's pretty interesting that Superman (and many other golden age superheroes) started off fighting regular bad guys - mobsters, nazis, etc., and not supervillains.
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MoonKnight1
Friday, April 03, 2020 5:12:16 PM
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Yeah, it makes me wonder when the first actual "Super Villain" with powers appeared in comics. Think

Even when Superman started fighting "Supervillains" it was the likes of the Prankster and Toyman. Not exactly Doomsday or Brainiac. Shame on You Laughing

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lcfrick
Friday, April 03, 2020 11:43:19 PM
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MoonKnight1 wrote:
Yeah, it makes me wonder when the first actual "Super Villain" with powers appeared in comics. Think

Even when Superman started fighting "Supervillains" it was the likes of the Prankster and Toyman. Not exactly Doomsday or Brainiac. Shame on You Laughing


Interestingly enough there's a wiki page dedicated to the order that villains debuted in comics!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_comic_book_supervillain_debuts

Technically the Monk was a vampire, but that doesn't strike me as being true to the spirit of the question, since that was just a monster that existed in prior literature.

The Claw, an original Daredevil villain (the other Daredevil), had the power to grow to gigantic size, which I think is more in the spirit of the question.

After that is Captain Nazi as a Captain Marvel villain. I think this is the true first super villain as we think of them today, with super-human strength and stamina (and apparently a gas which allowed him to fly).

I'd say the first true DC super villain was Brainwave with his psionic powers.
padreglcc
Saturday, April 04, 2020 8:48:00 AM
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lcfrick wrote:
Interestingly enough there's a wiki page dedicated to the order that villains debuted in comics!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_comic_book_supervillain_debuts

Thanks for sharing. That's a fun reference to have around.
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MoonKnight1
Saturday, April 04, 2020 10:28:52 AM
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padreglcc wrote:
lcfrick wrote:
Interestingly enough there's a wiki page dedicated to the order that villains debuted in comics!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_comic_book_supervillain_debuts

Thanks for sharing. That's a fun reference to have around.

Absolutely! Applause

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MoonKnight1
Saturday, April 11, 2020 11:27:45 AM
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Punching Something!!

Take that, Red Plane!


Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots!


Punching Panzers! (Sounds like a good name for a band.)


Smashing Luthor Through a Wall! (Good thing Supes wasn't actually trying...)


Zero Uppercut!


Protecting Egypt from Random Rockets!


Technically hasn't punched the Japanese pilot yet. But you know it's coming.


Should have brought exact change you criminal!


Kawasaki Punch!


Punching a Big Bird! Who's next, Oscar the Grouch? Snuffleupagus?


Punching a Howitzer backwards! Hypnotized


I'm a Lumberjack and I'm OK! I know, I know, he's not punching the tree he is karate chopping it. But still...


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padreglcc
Sunday, April 12, 2020 8:28:25 AM
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MoonKnight1 wrote:
I'm a Lumberjack and I'm OK! I know, I know, he's not punching the tree he is karate chopping it. But still...


Hahaha. Totally started singing the Monty Python song. Laughing Applause
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MoonKnight1
Sunday, May 10, 2020 2:01:04 PM
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Superman Crashing Through Something.

Not as often as you might think, guess that comes later.

Great cover blurb, "World's Largest Selling Comic Magazine!"


First recorded incident of Superman crashing through a brick wall. Certainly not the last...


Brick Wall #2! Meet your mason!


Or maybe Supes just has something against brick walls because here he is smashing who I assume to be Lex Luthor through one. Good thing he wasn't trying. Whew!

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MoonKnight1
Sunday, May 10, 2020 2:18:19 PM
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Superman and a Locomotive! That's what they used to call Trains for you youngsters out there.

Once again, thought there would be more of these because of the "Stronger than..." stuff we're used to hearing.

This is quite obviously where the phrase originates.


This is a pretty cool cover, I would like to have a poster of it.


This one is a little confusing. Confused The crooks (I can tell they're crooks because they are wearing domino masks, duh) were robbing the railroad workers and I'm guessing that Superman opened the coal chute? but what is the purpose of the light shining from the front of the train? Could Superman not see the coal chute lever and needed it to be spot lit? Maybe the train was actually a supervillain's death machine and it was a ray gun shooting yellow Kryptonite and........oh wait, it isn't the Silly Age yet. Superman probably just wanted to bury the robbers under several tons of coal. Raised Eyebrow

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padreglcc
Monday, May 11, 2020 7:53:05 AM
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MoonKnight1 wrote:
Or maybe Supes just has something against brick walls because here he is smashing who I assume to be Lex Luthor through one. Good thing he wasn't trying. Whew!

I love the idea of someone being smashed through a brick wall and being impressed enough to comment on it as it's happening.
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