Action Comics #07 (1938) — Superman

Superman (untitled story) by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster

See this cover? This is how the first issue ended. Remember Superman torturing the lobbyist by jumping around while dragging him? That’s the scene. What does this scene has to do with this issue? Nothing. So I’d say we’re off to a good start, huh?

Our story actually begins at the Daily Star, where a guy named Curly is making fun of Clark Kent for being so meek, and jerking Clark’s tie out and all. Lois tells Clark that the boss wants to talk to him and Clark receives an assignment to interview the owner of a circus that’s opening in town that day. When he arrives at the circus, he overhears an argument about a guy who wants to be partner at the circus, but the owner has no interest. Problem is, the owner owes money to the guy, so he threatens the owner to either make him partner or lose everything.

Clark comes in after the other man leaves and asks for a statement for the papers. The owner says they have the greatest circus show on Earth, and that he even hired extra attendants to help handle the huge crowd they’re expecting. Knowing the truth behind that statement and the real situation of the circus, Clark leaves the circus decided to help out. That afternoon, the circus opens to a nearly deserted gallery. But, in the audience is Clark Kent, thinking about how he, or rather Superman, could help. That night, Superman pays a visit to the circus owner.

Seeing as that speech would usually be followed by “now give me all you’ve got”, the owner things Superman is a burglar and points a gun at him. Superman says “If you don’t listen to and believe me, there’s nothing left for me to do execpt…”, clearly threatening the guy he wants to believe his not a burglar. Way to go, Supes. Anyway, Superman grabs the gun from his hand and crushes it, making the man even more scared. Then, Superman asks him for a job as strong-man at the circus, and when the owner says the circus already has one, Superman takes him outside to display his strength, and he does that by… destroying circus property…

Yeah, kick him when he’s down. That great hero stuff, right there. Well, the owner says he can’t pay him because the circus isn’t making any money, and Superman replies “It will be when I start working” which I can only assumes means he actually expects to get paid, he’s just willing to be paid afterwards instead of in advance. He asks the owner if he ever heard of Superman, and he claims he had and at that point, and only at that point, does he realize that the guy wearing a red speedo over blue spandex with a big S on his chest and red cape is Superman. It makes sense that people don’t make the connection between Clark and Superman when they can’t even recognize Superman standing right in front of them in full costume, right?

The next day, full page ads mentioning that Superman will be at the circus start circulating, and despite the fact that just last issue we had a fake Superman doing ads all over the city, people (including Lois Lane, who discovered the fake) believe in this one and rush to the circus. Of course, Derek Niles, the guy who wants to be partner at the circus, also reads the ads and rush to see it. Naturally, the circus opens that day to a full crowd, with clowns, animals and acrobats. But the crowd complains, as they’re really only there to see Superman, and so, the ringmaster finally announces the main attraction. But, when Superman’s announced, the regular strong-man shows up and starts lifting weights. Not pleased, the crowd boos and yells for their money back, when suddenly, up on the trapeze appears the real Superman. He falls, with no net, but lands perfectly on his feet and starts juggling the weight and the strong-man. The crowd goes crazy seeing that this one is the real deal.

Seeing how the circus is sure to make lots of money now, Niles decides to make “accidents” happen around the circus lot, to make people think that the circus is jinxed so the owner can loose money, keep owing him and make him partner. Elsewhere, decided to see Superman but barred at the dressing room door, Lois decides to sneak inside the dressing room at night and hide there to see him when he shows up next morning, but when she shows up, she sees someone there sawing off the beams that support the big tent. Lois confronts the man, but ends up being captured unconscious. The circus watchdog shows up but is also beaten. The thug takes Lois all tied up to Niles’ office and goes back to the circus to see the result of his actions the previous night.

After the lion flees the cage, Superman catches him and puts him back. Then a trapeze bar shatters, leaving an acrobat plunging down to the ground, but she is quickly caught by Superman. Moments later, the huge pole that supports the tent breaks down and Superman rushes to it. While he’s holding the pole in place and attendants are trying to fix it, he notices the circus watchdog barking at a man who’s trying to leave and, suspecting the man has something to do with the “accidents”, he grabs the man and starts asking questions. When he claims to know nothing, Superman tosses him in the air, grabbing him right before he reaches the ground again. Several times. After the quick torture, the man tells Superman about having been hired by Derek Niles and how he’s going to kill a girl reporter in his office, so Superman rushes there. Soon after, Superman reaches Niles’ office and this happens:

See, when you’re as awesome as Superman, you don’t even need to fight the bad guy, he just gets defeated by your sheer awesomeness. Anyway, the scene shifts to the following day at the Daily Star, where Curly is once again making fun of Clark by pulling his tie off. Shortly later, as Curly passes a door, a hand suddenly reaches out, pulling his clothes, tearing them all off and saying “Why, Curly! You’re undressed! Tch, tch!” Now, can no one see this hand? Or guess anything? Maybe recognize the voice? I don’t know… something! Anyway, these concludes another story of Superman, circus freak.

Up next: Bees, snakes, Zulu warriors and Zatara with lasers.