Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman Comics

Action Comics #3

Action Comics #3

Cover date: August 1938

Writer: Jerry Siegel
Artist: Joe Shuster

Reviewed by: Micah Nichols

The story starts off with a miner getting trapped within the caves of the coal mines in Blakely Town. Clark Kent gets word of the event and is sent to handle the assignment. At the mine, Police have to keep the other minors back as the Rescue crew works. They haven't heard any word from the crew in 10 minutes.

Disguised as a miner, Clark pretends to slip and tumbles into the lift shaft. When reaching the bottom he detects gas, and comes to the conclusion of gas poisoning being responsible. Searching the bottom of the mine unharmed he finds a dozen unconscious figures who turn out to be the rescue party. Clark takes the workers to a lift and jerks on the signal cord for the elevator to begin upward.

Deeper into the cave Clark comes upon the great wall of coal that separates him from the entrapped miner. Clark breaks the barrier with his bare hands and gets the miner out discovering that his condition is serious. While rushing the miner to the lift to get him to the hospital, Clark discovers that the signal cord isn't working. He lifts the miner over his shoulder and climbs up the cord hand over hand. He reaches the pits edge while other miners assist in complete awe of the situation.

Later Clark phones in to the Daily Planet, "Here's the dope chief! - Kober was rescued by an unidentified miner...but the doctors say he will be crippled for life!" The next day Stanislaw Kober, the maimed miner, received a visitor from Clark who asks him what he believes could have caused the tragedy. Kober tells him that the owner knew the mine was dangerous, but wouldn't do anything about it.

An hour later Clark is admitted into the presence of Thornton Blakely, the owner of the mine. Clark asks if the injured miner will have a pension, but Blakely says the injury was due to Kober's own carelessness, however the company will be generous enough to pay a reasonable portion of his hospital bills and may even consider offering him a $50 retirement bonus. Clark responds with "but surely you're going to repair the bad safety conditions in your mine!" Blakely stands by his statement that there are no safety-hazards in the mine, but continues to say "but if there were,--what of it? I'm a businessman not a humanitarian! And now since this is all none of your business, let's consider the interview closed!"

That night Clark, disguised as a miner, drops out of the skies into the closely guarded confines of the Blakely Estate. He draws near to the sound of laughter, music and revelry and peers through a window and discovers a party in progress. As Clark is spying, two guards grab him. Clark lets the guards take him, but won't talk. The guards take Clark to Blakely and ask permission to rough him up for a confession. Clark pretends to be there only to see the party so Blakely orders the guards to give him a beating, but quickly changes his mind and allows him to stay.

Blakely brings him to the party "Gather 'round, folks! Here's where this party starts to liven up!" "To the right, folks, you see a social-climbing miner who narrowly missed having his block knocked off because he attempted to see how the other half lives!" "On the left, my dull-witted friend, you see a mob of pampered nincompoops whose sole activity in life is searching for new ways to escape boredom!". This statement ticks off some of his guests. Blakely says, "What say, folks: Let's compromise!"

Blakely suggests they continue the party down in the mine, his guests are delighted so he has Clark guide them down the mine. When the people reach the bottom they are disgusted with the filthy mine. Clark sneaks off and attacks the wooden tunnel-supports which collapse moments later. Panic stricken, the entire group races back along the tunnel until it's forced to a sudden stop! The guests begin to panic along with Blakely because they believe they are trapped! Then Blakely remembers the safety devices, but discovers that they don't work! Clark states "like other safety devices in the mine...rusty, no good!" The mob begins to turn on Blakely, but he spots some picks and shovels that have been abandoned and orders Clark to work but he refuses. With dull tools and their feet soaked in stagnant water, the party guests hurry to free themselves. They begin to feel sorry for the miners who are at the other side of the barrier frantically working to free them. Blakely states that he never knew what they had to face as miners. Clark states that that is all he's been waiting to hear.

Extremely tired, the mine's prisoners begin to collapse. While they sleep, Superman moves the barricades allowing the miners to rescue the group. Several days later Kent visit Blakely who says that he can announce that henceforth the mine will be the safest in the country, and that his experience in the mine brought their problems closer to his understanding.

4Story - 4: We see a lot of early Superman stories where the little man doesn't have enough power to voice their opinion, then Superman steps in. Although Superman was crazy enough to endanger a bunch of people that had nothing to do with the cave, he apparently would do anything for the safety of the miners. This is a very unique issue as well (less unique to the golden age) in that Superman is in disguise as a miner to save the other miners, but on the other hand Clark Kent is in disguise as a miner to get the story. Usually he is just in disguise as Superman to get the story and as Clark Kent to get the information. This third disguise really puts a spin on things.

3Art - 3: We don't see much of the Superman suit at all in this issue. Only one frame in fact. In the one frame we see a very crudely drawn picture. The "S" doesn't look like an "S" and he has no boots (blue all the way down to the feet). It's easy to tell that Shuster is just getting started in his career.

Cover Art: Although the cover on this issue is quite dramatic, unfortunately this one was not based on a Superman story.

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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