Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Many thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (

Superman #13

Cover date: November/December 1941

Writer: Jerry Siegel
Art: Leo Novak
Cover: Joe Shuster and Studio

"The Archer"

As night falls on Metropolis, limousine after limousine enters the driveway of the Gayford Mansion, home of wealthy Thomas Gayford. Later, as the partygoers line around the banquet table, Gayford stands to speak. "You'll never know how glad I am to have you all here," says Gayford. A suprised group of friends look on in amazement as he tells them that the mysterious Archer had sent him an anonymous note threatening to kill him since he had failed to pay the ransom he had demanded. "But the jokes on the Archer," Gayson laughs. "I've posted guard about the place. It will be impossible for him to enter."

But out in the garden, a green arrow finds its target and a guard falls dead. Slipping from a limb onto the balcony, a green clad figure lifts the window and slips unseen into the mansion. Gayson yells a toast, "To the Archer, who missed his mark." But no sooner do the words leave Gayson's lips than a shaft strikes him squarely in the chest, killing him instantly. Amazed onlookers scream in amazement, but the Archer is gone before anyone can move.

Back at the offices of the Daily Planet, Perry White storms out of his office looking for Lois Lane and Clark Kent. "Where in blazes are they?" yells White. "They're not to be found anywhere, Mr. White," answers Jimmy, the office boy. But, "I'll be glad to cover the story for you!" White looks down at the young, red-headed boy. "Hmmm, You'd probably do a better job than Clark, at that. Tell you what I'll do, kid. Come back in five or ten years!" Just then, Clark and Lois appear at the office and White whisks them into his office. He hurriedly tells them that Thomas Gayford was horribly murdered by The Archer, and that they need to get over to the Gayford estate to get the story.

Reaching the mansion, Clark and Lois enter and find their favorite police sergeant, Casey already on the scene. Casey tells them that they are spotting some interesting clues when a green shaft smashes through a window burying itself in the wall. Pulling a note from the arrow, Casey reads, "The Archer says he killed Gayford to show that he means business when he makes his demands."

Lois and Clark rush to their car to search for a telephone and file their story. Driving off, Clark's keen sight catches sight of a n arrow streaking down toward them. Swiftly, he raises his hand so that the arrow bounces off before reaching Lois. But then, as their car races down a steep hill Clark discovers that the brakes no longer work. Using his x-ray vision, he sees that the brakes have been tampered with, and ahead is a truck swinging wide in a curve. Swiftly, Clark focuses his eye hypnotically on Lois so that she falls unconscious. With no time to change into his costume, Clark grabs his car and vaults it over the truck, then landing, he repairs the brakes.

When all is safe, Lois awakens to find that Clark has reached Metropolis, and her apartment. Saying goodnight to Lois, Kent quickly changes to Superman and returns to the Gayson Mansion where he can search for clues with his microscopic vision. Footprints are clear as a bell, and Superman follows them to the road not noticing the shadows behind him. Suddenly, five policemen jump at him from the bushes. But before they can reach him, Superman dives into the ground and burrows out of view, emerging behind the officers and launching himself into the air.

The next morning, Kent arrives at the office to find that he Archer has struck again, this time at the Carnahan residence. Rushing from White's office to cover the story, Kent is intercepted by a young boy. "Can I go with you," asks Jimmy. "Not this time, kid," says Kent rushing off to find that Lois has already beaten him to the story. Suddenly, a green clad figure fills the doorway. "The Archer," yells Casey, and he and Kent leap for the figure, bringing him down, then unmasking him. Unfortunately, the wise-cracking man they have abducted is an imposter who merely rushed to the scene to show his prowess with a bow and arrow. Still, Casey tells Kent to make sure to mention that he captured the criminal.

Back at the Daily Planet offices, a bulletin comes across the wire that Amos Kendrick the jeweler had been threatened by the Archer. Kent changes to Superman and flies to Kendrick's house and waits. Before long, a shaft breaks through a window. As the arrow strikes the glass, Superman reacts instantly crashing through roof and catching the arrow just before it strikes Kendrick. But, Kendrick is just as afraid of Superman's sudden appearance as he is the arrow. Filled with terror, he runs to his desk, grabs a gun and shoots at Superman, but the bullets bounce off like peas. It takes Superman a while to calm the man down and that time has given the Archer time enough to escape.

Back at the office, a strange messenger brings a note to the Daily Planet offices and Jimmy carries the note into the City Desk looking for Clark. Seeing the note, Lois intercepts the boy telling him that she will give Clark the note, but instead reads it herself... "come to Binston and Annex Avenues if you want to know who the Archer is."

Tucking the note into her purse, Lois prepares to leave when Clark enters the City Room door. Realizing that she must distract Kent, Lois tells him that a tip has come in for a big story at 1411 Wingate road and suggests that he take the lead. "I'd cover it myself, but it's too sensational," she says. Clark looks dubious, not believing that Lois would actually give him a good tip, but decides to check it out anyway and as soon as he leaves, Lois heads to her car not noticing that Jimmy has climbed into the trunk.

Arriving at Binston and Annex Avenues, Lois waits, then sees a well dressed man coming toward her. "I had expected a male reporter," he says not sure whether to proceed. Lois tried to convince him that she's a capable substitute. The gentleman tells her that he knows the identity of the Archer, but before he can giver her a name, an arrow zips through the air striking the man dead. Another arrow cuts through the air, but before it can strike Lois, Jimmy knocks her aside, and the two speed through the woods.

Superman has already visited Wingate Road and finding it to be an empty lot realizes that this Lois had sent him on a wild goose chase. Returning to the Daily Planet, he finds the note originally meant for him and speeds toward Binston and Annex Avenues to find arrows flying and Lois and Jimmy dodging them. Huddled in silence, they are unaware that The Archer has stolen up behind them and is taking careful aim. As the arrow is launched toward Lois' Back, Superman spots the danger and flies to over take the arrow, reaching it just before it strikes.

Finding that Superman has arrived, The Archer runs to his car to escape. Superman picks up a boulder, smashing the criminal's auto to bits. Ripping the roof off of the car, Superman pulls the Archer from the car and unmasks him as Quigley, the famous big-game hunter. "I thought hunting humans could be more profitable," grumbles Quigley. Back at the Daily Planet offices, Lois is holding the front page of the final edition and Jimmy is bursting with pride. "Tell me, Jimmy, how does it feel to get your first byline," asks Kent. "Swell, and I owe it all to you," beams Jimmy. "Let some of the credit go to Superman, Jimmy," smiles Lois.

4Story - 4: Superman is known for fighting super-villains, but in the early episodes of Superman he usually battled more common adversaries like evil slum lords, demonic orphanage directors and scheming military industrialists. His first serious nemesis was the Ultra-Humanite, a brilliant scientist that first appeared in Action Comics #13. Another early villain was Lex Luthor. Luthor began as a red-headed scientist (was Siegel implying that science was evil?) who had an assistant that was bald and looks more like the Luthor we all knew. With Superman #13, Luthor appeared for the first time with a shaved head, in the story "Earthquake Ray of the Cavern People", a characteristic that has maintained ever since. Superman #13 also had two other "firsts". The Archer has the dubious distinction of being the very first costumed villain to ever combat Superman, and he wasn't really much of a villain as demonstrated by this story. In addition, this issue of Superman was the first time that Jimmy Olsen appeared in Superman comics following his very first appearance in Action #6 where he was only referred to only as the "office boy". Here, Jimmy talks the editor into giving him a job as a pre-teen cub reporter and remained there throughout the war years not aging a day. In the 1950's and presumably after receiving some form of education, he was added to the regular reporting staff of the Daily Planet as a photographer. The other story in this issue was "The Light". All of the stories were written by Jerry Siegel.

3Art - 3: As early as 1940, Joe Shuster knew that he could not draw the multitude of stories required by the hige demand for Superman. Already, Superman appeared in Action comics, Superman comics and had his own newspaper strip basically requiring 4-5 stories and 30 strips a month. To insure that the work was completed on time, Shuster hired a number of artists (among them Wayne Boring, John Sikela and Leo Novak, among others) to work in his Cleveland, Ohio studio. Shuster worked primarily on the newspaper strip, but tried to maintain a consistency by inking all of the faces in the books, although by 1943 this practice fell by the wayside. While DC often lists Joe Shuster as the artist for many stories that appeared in Superman during the early 1940's (perhaps out of courtesy), that was not always the case, and every story in this issue was drawn by Leo Novak. Novaks work can be called primative by todays standards but was quite good compared to other artists from the 1940s.

4Cover Art - 4: During the early episodes of Superman, the covers did not refer at all to any of the stories inside but was intended, instead, to be colorful and gain attention. The cover to Superman #13, like many of the other comic book covers from the early 1940's had a World War II theme. This one illustrated Superman about to smash a German destroyer which was attacking innocent survivors of a sinking luxury liner (sinking in the background) in a lifeboat. The image was very strong, and captured the anti-German sentiment of 1940's America depicting Nazis to be ruthless, sadistic murderers of innocent people. The cover was drawn by the Shuster studio.

Pre-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews



  • Superman #76 (May/June 1952) - “The Mightiest Team in the World”
  • Superman #80 (January/February 1953) - “Superman's Lost Brother”
  • Superman 3D (1953) - “The Man Who Stole the Sun”, “Origin of Superman” and “The Man Who Bossed Superman”
  • Superman #87 (February 1954) - “The Prankster's Greatest Role”
  • Superman #88 (March 1954) - “The Terrible Trio”
  • Superman #89 (May 1954) - “Captain Kent the Terrible”, “Superman of Skid Row”, and “One Hour to Doom!”
  • Superman #91 (August 1954) - “The Superman Stamp” and “Great Caesar's Ghost”
  • World's Finest #88 (May/June 1957) - “Superman and Batman's Greatest Foes”
  • Superman #115 (August 1957) - “The Midget Superman!”
  • Superboy #65 (May/June 1958) - “The Amazing Adventures of Krypto Mouse”
  • Action Comics #242 (July 1958) - “The Super-Duel in Space”
  • Superman #123 (August 1958) - “The Girl of Steel”
  • Superman #127 (February 1959) - “Titano the Super Ape”
  • Action Comics #252 (May 1959) - “The Menace of Metallo” and “The Supergirl From Krypton”
  • Superman #129 (May 1959) - “The Girl in Superman's Past”
  • Superman #130 (July 1959) - “The Curse of Kryptonite!”, “The Super-Servant of Crime!”, and “The Town that Hated Superman!”
  • Jimmy Olsen #40 (October 1959) - “Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl's Pal”




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