Action Comics #12

DC ⋅ 1939

Clicking on the eBay link and making a purchase may result in this site earning a commission from the eBay Partner Network.

Key Facts

Advertisement for Detective Comics #27, Batman's first appearance

1st cover appearance of Zatara

Issue Details




Fred Guardineer


Jerry Siegel


May 1939


SUPERMAN DECLARES WAR ON RECKLESS DRIVERS Clark Kent finds a friend of his, Charlie Martin, has been hit by a reckless driver. As Superman, he busts into the studio of radio station WVUX and issues a warning: Homicidal drivers will have to answer to him!   He starts a many-pronged attack on the causes of bad driving. He destroys all the impounded cars of traffic violators. He destroys unsafe used cars. He scares a drunk driver and a hit-and-run driver into changing their ways. He destroys the equipment of the Bates Motor Company, who made inferior cars that were involved in many accidents. He stops a police officer from taking a bribe. He straightens a road that has dangerous curves. Finally, he catches the mayor speeding and shows the mayor all the deaths he's responsible for by failing to enforce the traffic laws.   The next day, the editor of the Daily Star tells Clark Kent of the new reforms the mayor is introducing. As Kent goes to his car, he is given a ticket for parking in an improper place. While he's outwardly annoyed at the ticket, Kent is happy to see the law get enforced. THE LEFTY LAROWAY GANG PART 4 Scoop has been shot by Mace, the Laroway gang's second-in-command. Mace and the other gangsters escape from the police in their getaway car, but the boss, Lefty, never makes it before the police gun him down. Rusty stays behind with Scoop while the police chase after the car. But the cops are unable to keep up with the gang, and eventually they decide to pull over and phone headquarters to put out an APB. The gang, or what's left of it, speeds on until they reach the home of "Ma" Logan. "Ma" is an old hand at the crime game, often giving shelter to crooks on the run. She doesn't do it for free, however. She and Mace argue, how does he plan on paying for her "good will" now that the gang's car business was shut down? Mace gathered the boys together, as he still had one thing to fall back on. Before Lefty recruited him, he made his living robbing banks, and that's what they were gonna do now. First, they just needed to case a few locations up in Westchester.   Scoop is hurt bad. Rusty rushes him to a hospital where the doctor says his vitals are very low. Since there is nothing he can do for his friend at the moment, Rusty phones their editor to give him an update. He also asks a favor for tomorrow's edition.   The next day, Mace opens the morning paper to find that his face had been plastered on the front page! He won't be able to hide anywhere without someone recognizing him. The only choice he has is changing how he looks, so he and his goon, Stoop, pay a visit to a local plastic surgeon. The doctor there is forced to work on Mace, with Stoop keeping his gun on him the whole time. An hour later, the procedure is complete, but Mace is told he'll have to keep his face bandaged for about a month. Stoop shoots the doctor dead so he can't rat them out later.   A month passes. Scoop is finally let go from the hospital, his wounds all healed up. Simultaneously, Mace and the boys are ready for the unveiling of his new face. The bandages are removed, and all in the room gasp in horrid shock. When he looks in the mirror, Mace sees the hideous face staring back at him. The surgeon double-crossed him! His boys, and even "Ma", try to console him, but Mace is in too much of a fury to listen. None of them notice the two cars outside, parking across the street. A squad of G-men, joined by Scoop and Rusty, step out and get in position. When they have the building surrounded, the signal is given. Inside, "Ma" hears noises on the front porch, but Mace is still ranting about his disfigurements, and ignores her. The G-men burst through the door, and arrest the gang. Scoop faces Mace, telling him he did a bad job of trying to kill him. Mace is escorted out in cuffs, the spirits of all those he's killed will certainly aid the courts in making sure the gangster gets the chair. DEATH TO DON LUIS After his adventure with the gun-smugglers, Pep finds himself stuck in the South American republic of Latara. With no money to get himself home, Pep visits the American Embassy to seek aid. The attaché there lets Pep call his parents to have some funds wired his way for the trip home. In the meantime, he loans Pep a couple of dollars to tide him over. While exploring the city, Pep sees a crowd gather near the street as a car bearing a man cruises by. One of the locals tells Pep it's Latara's great President, Don Luis Ramos. Pep squeezes past the crowd to get a better view. Just then, he notices a man pull a gun out of his jacket and point it at the president! Pep moves fast, tackling the man before the shot can be fired, allowing authorities to take the assassin into custody. President Don Luis beckons Pep over. He thanks him for saving his life, and asks Pep to dine with him at his palace. Elsewhere, within a dingy home, some rotten looking men discuss their comrade's failed assassination attempt. They know it was Pep who foiled them, and to make sure he doesn't interfere again, they'll wait for him outside the presidential palace tonight.   That night, after a hearty dinner and conversation with President Ramos, Pep says his goodbyes and leaves the palace. A car trails behind him until he is out of sight of the palace guards, then three goons emerge and ambush him, easily overpowering and dragging him back into their car. Back at their hideout, the men bind Pep in rope as they discuss their new plan to kill Don Luis. While his car is en route to a dedication ceremony, they'll have one of their boys ram it, as it passes through the town square, then their other car will drive past, peppering the president with bullets. After the president is dead, they'll return to the hideout and finish off Pep. Once the assassins are all gone, Pep struggles until he is able to break some of his bindings. He then hops over to the window and, lying down on his back, kicks at the glass with his feet, breaking it. The broken shards help him cut through the remaining rope. Now that he's free, he had to warn the president! He leaps from the window and rushes to the palace. After some convincing, the guard lets him go inside where he relays the assassins plans to Don Luis. The president notifies his soldiers at once. Tomorrow will not go quite as the assassins think it will.   The next day, the president's car travels through the square right on schedule. Another car rolls up and rams the vehicle, but instead of Don Luis, a soldier steps out of the president's vehicle and arrests the other driver. When the assassins' limo, carrying the shooter, appears, a detachment of soldiers move in, surrounding the vehicle as the men inside try to shoot their way out of the trap. One of the soldiers' bullets hits the driver, sending the car careening out of control until it smashes into a wall! The car catches fire, trapping the occupants inside. The remaining assassins try running away, but are shot down by the soldiers. Pep and President Don Luis watch as the last man goes down. Don Luis assures Pep that they would have been executed if caught, anyway. At least this way, they'd have no time to think about it. He turns to Pep, the young man who saved his life twice, and offers him a position as his personal bodyguard. Pep thanks him, but politely declines, saying he'd much rather head back to the good old U.S.A., where things like this only happen in movies! THE ADVENTURES OF MARO POLO PART XII The Polo family lead their caravan through the hot desert, with only limited food and water left. Marco cares for the cheetah cub he found during their breaks. Their bad luck continues as a sand storm engulfs them, carrying away half of their supplies. After the storm subsides, the Porter checks over what remains. Two of the camels are hurt and can't walk, meaning they'll have to be put down. Marco tries to gather some milk for the cheetah cub from some of the healthy camels, but since they haven't had much water for a couple of weeks, the camels can't give much. Marco gets angry when the Porter suggests he kill the cub, which has only deprived them of food. Instead, Marco decides to try feeding the cub blood from the injured camels. As they are killed, he catches their blood in a bowl, and then offers it to the cub. It works! The cub drinks the blood until it is full, at which point the caravan continues onward. Hours pass, the desert heat bearing down on the group, and their canteens nearly empty. The cheetah cub whimpers, so Marco gives it the last drops of water he had to quench its thirst.   Eventually, they come across the welcome sight of an oasis. From the oasis, a band of white-robed riders file out towards them. They surround the caravan, brandishing their weapons as Marco watches nervously. Exhausted from the journey, Nicolo knows that they stand little chance of fighting off a troop of bandits, so he submits, offering them gold or jewels in return for safe passage. The riders reply that they'll be taking everything, as well as everyone, for they are slavers, planning to sell the Polos to the highest bidder. Marco attacks the leader and knocks him to the ground. In response, he orders his men to grab Marco. Sensing his master is in danger, the cheetah cub leaps, tearing into the gang with claws swiping. QUEEN OF THE MALAYS PART 3 Tex has passed all three trials, making him eligible to marry the princess of the island, though this is not what he wants. The high priest retreats to his chambers to ponder the events. He can not allow the fair skinned stranger to marry the princess, for in truth, he is in love with her, himself. Tex has to die! The high priest opens a hidden trapdoor and descends the steps. Down below, a man who looks exactly like him awaits. The priest calls him Kiratt, his twin brother, and explains that if he doesn't make contact again within an hour, Kiratt is to assume he's dead, and must take his place. The high priest gives him one more piece of instruction: once he assumes his role, Kiratt will find a list on the desk, of those he must kill.   While his brother waits in his chambers, the High Priest enters the room where Deborah is staying, and attempts to kidnap her. Tex and Bob follow the screams to find Deborah in the priest's arms. They demand he let her go. In a rage, the priest drops the girl and pulls out a knife, stalking towards Tex. Luckily, the chief of the Malay warriors has also heard the commotion, and he appears just in time to draw his sword and order the High Priest to cease! The chief brings the High Priest before the princess, and tells her what he has seen. As punishment for his ultimate betrayal of trying to kill her betrothed, the princess orders the high priest executed by boiling alive in the acid pit.   As he stands on the edge of the wall overlooking the acid pool, the high priest vows that he will return to claim the lives of all that betrayed him this day! Then, without a second thought, he jumps into the boiling pit, and the last thing Tex and the others see is his melting corpse as the acid eats it away.   That night, Tex asks Chester Reynolds his opinion on the high priest's final words. Reynolds believes it to be a mere final attempt of a dying man to scare his killers. There was no way anyone could survive a bath like that. Back in the High Priest's chambers, Kiratt receives no further word from his brother, and once the hour is up, follows his instructions. Looking over the list of names his brother left him, Kiratt grabs a knife from the high priest's desk. His first victim appears, the chief of warriors, roaming the halls. Knife in hand, Kiratt springs out and attacks, the chief too frightened by the "return" of the high priest to fight back. From their room, Tex and Bob hear the cry for help echo down the hall. They run to the source, but by the time they reach the chief, he is already dead, a look of fear plastered on his face. On his body is a note, written in Malay. Tex can't read it, so he and Bob take it to Reynolds, who translates it as a warning that death is coming to them all. The note is signed by the high priest. None of them believe that the priest could still be alive, of course. But the three of them are taken by absolute surprise when Kiratt appears from behind a curtain with a gun drawn. From her room next door, Deborah watches as the high priest seems to return and attack her uncle Chester and her friends. Quietly, she sneaks out of the palace and runs towards the ship that is still docked at the beach. In the meantime, Kiratt sends Tex, Bob, and Chester Reynolds down a trapdoor. He then locks the door and begins to flood the chamber below, intending them to die by drowning.   Back on board the ship, Deborah tells Captain Devoe all that has happened. He rallies the crew together for a rescue mission, and allows Deborah to lead them back to the palace. There they find the trapdoor that Tex and the others are trapped beneath, rescuing the trio from a watery grave. Tex borrows the captain's gun and rushes for the throne room, a feeling inside him telling him the princess was in danger. He bursts through the door to find the high priest in the process of choking her highness to death. A bullet halts the priest's doppelganger for good.   Later, the group searches the high priest's chamber, where Reynolds finds papers that prove the high priest had a brother, secretly. Since identical twins are considered a sign of evil on the island, the twin is usually disposed of. The high priest's mother must have separated and kept them hidden. In thanks for saving her life, the princess annuls Tex's engagement to her and allows him and his friends to leave. As the ship sails away, Reynolds has secured enough evidence of the fair-skinned princess' rule over the island, while Tex confides in Bob that he does sort of wonder what kind of king he would have made. THE 4-G GANG PART 12 Chuck sits on a ledge, tying his lasso to a rock and waiting for the unsuspecting bandit below to step out so he can get the drop on him. His foot accidentally kicks a small rock off the edge, putting Wolf, the bandit, on alert. Both men stay silent for a time, waiting for the other to make a move. After a few moments without any sign of movement, Wolf is convinced it was just a loose stone and gets back on his horse. Chuck mounts Blacky and follows his quarry, crossing a log over a raging river as he remains out of sight. As he passes through a rocky trail, Chuck notices some wisps of smoke off in the distance. He takes a quick shortcut over a ridge, getting ahead of Wolf to create a decent ambush. When Wolf rounds the bend, Chuck tackles him from above! Wolf falls off his horse and drops his gun, Chuck picks it up again and holds it on the bandit, ordering him to keep his hands raised. He ties Wolf's hands and feet together, then moves ahead to the cave entrance where he saw the smoke come from. Another man guards the entrance. Chuck ties a black mask across his face and approaches. By pretending to be Wolf, Chuck is allowed to enter to check on the girl. Once he is well inside, Chuck searches the caverns. In a flash, he finds himself held at gunpoint by Virginia, who doesn't recognize him behind the mask. THE LAND OF THE FOURTH DIMENSION Zatara is spending the day relaxing at San Francisco's Explorer's Club, when he is approached by an older gentleman asking for him by name. Zatara recognizes the man as Professor Susswill, an old friend of his. Glad to see him well, Zatara listens as the professor tells him about an experiment of his, that he believes the magician would be interested in. His curiosity piqued, Zatara follows Professor Susswill back to his personal lab, the professor all the while explaining his theory on different dimensions in space. When they reach his apartment, Susswill exclaims that he invented a machine that can create a gateway into the fourth dimension. Being too nervous and afraid to enter, himself, Susswill wished for Zatara to explore it in his stead. Besides, someone needed to stay behind to work the device, after all. The great magician is always up for a new thrill, so once the machine is activated and the gateway opens up, Zatara leaps through to a brand new land!   The Fourth Dimension is a world unlike any Zatara has yet seen. A garden surrounds him with large blooming flowers and other plant life that hadn't been seen on our world for millions of years. As he wanders, Zatara hears a rustle from the bushes, and when he turns, he is face to face with a creature that looks like a saber-toothed tiger. It snarls at him, but is suddenly held back by a green-skinned young woman who notices right away that Zatara is not from around here. She calls the land they are on "Thrule", and asks Zatara if he might be from "Arren", a rival country. He replies that he's from another world entirely, a place that she's never heard of, yet that exists all around them.   Introducing herself as Duoro, she takes him to see their leader, Xataral. The place they were in now, she explains as they walk, is a large biochemistry laboratory, where they create life as it existed billions of years ago. It was her pet saber tooth tiger that startled him earlier. She invites him into an odd looking vehicle on rails that takes them directly to the palace. Two vicious dogs leap at Zatara on sight. A quickly uttered spell, and the pooches remain suspended in mid-air. Xataral, the ruler of Thrule, steps out and demands that his hounds be released! Zatara notes that he'd rather not, since they'd bite him once free. The mighty Xataral looks over the master magician, deciding that he may be of some use to his country. Thrule and Arren have been in a continuous war, that Thrule is losing. But if Zatara would use his great powers to steal the Necklace of Baya, an important symbol to Arren's rulers, Xataral believes the country of Arren would finally be his! Zatara refuses to use his magic to help them win a war. Angered by his decision, Xataral attacks him with throwing knives! With a wave of his hand and a few magic words, Zatara turns the knives back on their owner, pinning Xataral to the wall! He is left there to calm down, while Zatara allows Duoro to show him to the viewer to see what the war has cost them. Images appear on the screen, horrible images of men being vaporized by the high-tech weapons of Arren. Zatara has seen enough. He will help, if only to stop the senseless carnage.   A winged horse flies over the land of Arren, carrying Zatara on its back. Once the watchtowers are in view, Zatara transforms himself and his mount into a vulture and swoops down to the ground. He turns invisible and heads for the castle of Queen Mulano. Within the throne room, Zatara watches as the young queen dismisses her guards' claims, of a flying horse in the sky, sending them to the dungeon for their foolishness. Queen Mulano then retires to the sacred room where the Necklace of Baya is kept. Zatara follows, when he sees the necklace lying on its pedestal, an idea strikes him. When she prays to the necklace, asking for its guidance, Zatara goes into his act. Through ventriloquism, he speaks through the necklace, telling the queen to end the war, or else the necklace will depart this land forever! Though shocked at its response, Mulano is stubborn. She insists that the war must continue until Thrule is under her rule. Zatara will have to change tactics. He reveals himself to Her Majesty, and curses her so that she turns into a hideous old hag. She finally relents, promising to cease the war and destroy all of Arren's weapons of war, if only Zatara would give her back her youth!   A treaty is signed back on the grounds of Thrule. Xataral was killed during an attack, leaving Duoro in charge of things, with Mulano now ruling at her side. The kingdoms unite under a new name thought up by Zatara: Duomal! And now the time has come for him to return to his own dimension. He bids the two rulers farewell as he steps through the gateway back to his home.   Professor Susswill awaits Zatara on the other side, eager to hear all about the adventure that was had! Zatara remarks that someday he would like to return, and find out how the new kingdom is making out.

Owned Issues

You don't own any copies of this issue.