"Superman: "The Case of the Crimeless Crimes"": After staging a series of small robberies, a gang led by a man known as the Prankster begins leaving money with bank managers. At first the gang is suspected of crimes and are arrested, but when the managers realize th
Appearing in Superman: "The Case of the Crimeless Crimes"
- The Prankster (First appearance)
Synopsis for Superman: "The Case of the Crimeless Crimes"
After staging a series of small robberies, a gang led by a man known as the Prankster begins leaving money with bank managers. At first the gang is suspected of crimes and are arrested, but when the managers realize they are being given money, they drop the charges.
The Prankster then uses his new-found fame to stage similar operations. When one bank manager allows him into the vault, the crooks begin robbing. Superman, having suspected trouble is on hand to stop the crime, but Lois is taken as a hostage. The Man of Steel replaces one of Prankster’s gang and rescues Lois, but the villain makes good on his escape.
Appearing in Vigilante: "Guns, Gold and Glory"
- King (Single appearance)
- King's Henchmen (Single appearance)
- Baron (Single appearance)
- Duke (Single appearance)
- Goofy (Single appearance)
- Sheriff Barker (Single appearance)
- Hugleg Hutchkiss (Single appearance)
- Tornado Tumpkins (Single appearance)
- Wildcat Willis (Single appearance)
- Vigilante's Lasso
Synopsis for Vigilante: "Guns, Gold and Glory"
Avalanche Junction, the place where Greg Sanders had grown up, has struck it rich with gold. The prairie troubadour's press agent thinks it'd be good publicity if Greg put on a show at his hometown. Having never seen the wild west, Stuff tags along for the trip. His excitement turns to boredom two days later when not a single train robbery or cattle rustle occurs, like it does in the movies. The west wasn't as wild as it used to be, much to Stuff's disappointment.
Meanwhile, at a ranch just outside of town, three travelers of ill-repute sit around discussing the gold found in Avalanche. Their boss, King, walks through the door with a plan. The papers are all talking about the show Greg Sanders was going to put on. With the entire town about to be distracted by the prairie troubadour, hardly anyone will be watching the gold storage, making it ripe for stealing!
The train pulls into Avalanche station, and to an excited mob. After Greg gives his welcoming speech with the mayor, he takes Stuff on a tour of old haunts and old acquaintances. He starts with old Sheriff Barker, the lawman around town. Then Stuff meets a trio of old cowboys whom Greg says were once members of the "Vigilantes", crime-fighters of the old west. Elsewhere, a bearded old medicine man stands on a stage wagon, attempting to peddle his homemade tonic that he claims will let one be "as spry as me when you get to be a hundred". The loud chatter of machine guns suddenly put Greg and Stuff on alert. Greg's press agent comes running through the crowd towards them, shouting that bandits have kidnapped the sheriff! Stuff then notices that Greg has disappeared.
Inside the jailhouse, King and his boys have Sheriff Barker tied up so he'll reveal the location of the gold. They are all surprised, then, when the Vigilante comes crashing into the room! He grabs the crooks guns before they're able to fire, following up with several punches. Two of the crooks try to run, but just then Stuff enters the fray and trips them up. Reuniting with his crime-fighting pal, Stuff can barely believe Vig followed these crooks all the way out to Avalanche. Unfortunately, King soon gets the upper hand. Swiftly, the crook's boss knocks Vigilante and Stuff across their heads with the butt of his pistol, keeping the duo dazed so his gang can get away with the old sheriff still in tow. Stuff notes the direction they take, reporting it to Vigilante as soon as he's clear-headed. Vig finds an old motorcycle in a garage nearby and rides after the gang, leaving Stuff behind. He follows the trail left by King's getaway car, leading him down a forested path. Ahead, the gang set up a trap for him, tying a wire up between two tree trunks. Vig spots the tripwire but isn't able to dodge it in time. He is sent careening over the front of the bike, landing right where the criminals were waiting for him. They tie him up before the shock wears off and stand him up next to Sheriff Barker. King tells Barker that Vigilante will die unless he tells them where he put the gold. the sheriff finally caves, saying that he kept the gold stored in a cell back at the jail.
Back in town, Stuff has been busy trying to rouse the old trio of cowboys. But they complain that he was 30 years too late, their bodies just couldn't move that fast anymore. The medicine seller's spiel about his youth-giving tonic reaches the chinatown kid's ears, giving him an idea. He buys a few bottles and hands one to each of the three old men to gulp down. Suddenly, like a miracle, they stand up and begin yee-hawing and hooting like they were young men again. They "borrow" the medicine seller's wagon and ride it out to chase after the crooks that stole their sheriff! Stuff looks back to see the medicine man's "beard" had fallen off, a fake, revealing he was actually a young man. He figured the tonic was mostly just working due to the three old cowboy's belief that it worked.
Vigilante and Sheriff Barker are hung by their wrists from a overhanging tree branch on a cliff face. The gang is going to use them as target practice! Vig notices an abandoned birds nest on a small ledge below. He starts scraping his metal spurs against the rock to create sparks, until one of them sets the nest alight. With his spurs, Vig picks up the nest and holds it against the rope holding Barker. Luckily, the criminals were lousy shots at long range, since they usually did their robbing in the close quarters of the city. Barker's rope burns away, sending the sheriff and then Vigilante loose! Realizing what's happened, the attempted murderers charge! Vig quickly unties himself, then uses his lasso to rope the men's guns away from them! The gang decides to retreat in their vehicle. But once again an unpleasant surprise awaits them, as Stuff and the three old cowboys suddenly appear on their wagon and cause the car to crash! Vigilante joins Stuff in taking out the still-conscious members of King's crime group.
Later, back at the town, the city gunman are locked up in a cell while Greg Sanders makes his reappearance. The sheriff lets the gang in on the location of the gold. It was hammered into the bars on the jail's windows and painted black to hide them in plain sight.
Appearing in Three Aces: "The Valley of the Vultures"
- Japanese Officers (Only appearance; dies)
- Kidnapped Pilots (Single appearance)
- The Aces Planes
Synopsis for Three Aces: "The Valley of the Vultures"
The commander of the ocean based military base calls Fog Fortune, Whistler Will, and Gunner Bill into his office, for he had a special mission for them Several patrols have been lost while flying over the area known as the valley of vultures. The Aces are tasked with finding out what happened to those patrols.
The three planes eventually reach the valley of vultures, the land of which is so rocky and uneven, the Aces were forced to stay airborne. When they fly open a rounded crater in the earth, their planes start to shudder. The crater was trying to suck them in. It catches Fog's plane and begins pulling it downwards. Fog parachutes out of danger, or so he thinks. But as soon as he hits the ground, it swallows him up! His pals Gunner and Whistler look for a place where they can land, only to suddenly be shot at by anti-aircraft guns that come out of the ground! Gunner's plane is hit and crashes to the ground... or through the ground, as the earth swallows up his plane just as it did Fog! Whistler, thinking his friends are dead, vows to avenge them if it's the last thing he'll do.
What Whistler doesn't see, is when Fog went through the rock, he landed in an underground lair. The boulders up above were fake, made of canvas and painted cardboard. The land up above was mere camouflage, hiding this base below! Momentarily dazed by his discovery, Fog is unprepared for the two Japanese officers who enter the room with guns drawn. He's marched through the artificial chambers into a large hangar. Using suction pumps installed inside the false volcano, the planes are drawn down into the base, landing gently on a cushion of air. Along with the kidnapped pilots, the planes will be used to strike at the western coasts factories!
Elsewhere, Gunner's plane tears through the flimsy camouflage of painted rocks, landing on a smooth strip beneath. Despite a bullet-riddled controls, Gunner is able to guide his plane to a stop. A pair of Japanese officers rush forward towards him. He knocks them to the ground with a few jabs. Leaping upon his plane once more, Gunner begins tearing at the false roof, creating a large hole. If only he could get Whistler to notice him... He sees his friend's plane fly by up above and tries to signal him, not noticing the team of officers approaching from behind until they grab him. Fortunately, Whistler did see Gunner and he circles his plane around for an emergency landing. He crashes through a cardboard boulder and into the secret hangar. The Japanese are taken by surprise, some are even knocked over by the plane's coasting. The captured pilots take advantage of this sudden confusion by forming together and beating up their captors.
Meanwhile, after Whistler guides his plane to a stop, he inspects the machinery used to operate the suction trap. A Japanese officer appears standing over the rim of the "volcano" opening, holding a hand grenade. He shouts that the earth below them has been mined, one small explosion will blow the entire base to pieces! Whistler flips a switch that reverses the suction, blowing a large gust out of the opening. The officer and his grenade are blown into the sky! He warns the other pilots to hurry into their planes as he sets the switch to the neutral position. The Aces, and their fellow sky fighters fly out of the base and away from the valley. Abruptly, the phony volcano dissolves in an unscheduled eruption. The Japanese officer and the grenade came back down hard, destroying everything inside.
With the base destroyed, the Aces lead the rest of the patrols back to headquarters, completing yet another mission.
Appearing in Mr. America: "The Framer"
- The Framer (Single appearance)
- Jake (Single appearance)
- Lil (Single appearance)
- Chuck (Single appearance)
- John Gelt (Only appearance; dies)
- Chief Long (Single appearance)
- Mayor Gordon (Single appearance)
- Dr. Rossen (Single appearance)
- Mr. America's Bullwhip
Synopsis for Mr. America: "The Framer"
Some of the city's most high profile citizens are victims of a set-up. A villain calling himself the Framer has faked several photographs of the Mayor, a bank owner, a top surgeon, and the chief of police indulging in illegal activities. Even though they were innocent, if the public saw the photos, their careers would be over regardless. The Framer wanted to build a criminal empire, and they had resources he could use. John Gelt, the banker, would fund him, chief Long would let the guys he wanted out of jail, and Dr. Rossen would alter their faces so they couldn't be identified. To refuse would mean the end of their careers.
Some time later, Tex Thompson and his friend Bob Daley drive past the bridge, where they see a car deliberately crash through the railing! Tex dives into the lake to try and save the driver. After dragging the man back to the surface, Tex and Bob recognize him as John Gelt, the bank owner. But they got to him too late. As he lay dying, Gelt manages to sputter out a few words about the other blackmail victims and the address of the Framer's building. He would rather die than let his reputation be forever ruined, and so, John Gelt passes away right there on the shore. Tex's sense of justice wants to put a stop to this blackmailing ring. They needed to pay a visit to the address Gelt had mentioned. Soon, the Framer's headquarters gets two visitors; Mr. America and Fatman! Tex and Bob fight off the thugs and cronies, but the scuffle takes too long, and the Framer's able to get away with the doctored photos.
The next day, all the papers are reading that Mr. America and Fatman are being hunted by the police for murder! It was the Framer's doing! A jewelrey store owner had been strangled by a whip similar to the one Tex uses, while a thug dressed like Fatman sprayed acid at a security guard with a squirt gun. Tex and Bob donned their outfits, they had to clear their names! Tex read that a killer, Bugs Bean, was prematurely released from prison today. Bugs next stop would logically be Dr. Rossen, the plastic surgeon. The Framer would be there too, overseeing the procedure. Mr. America and Fatman reach the hospital, but fate, and the police, intervene. Though reluctant to fight the law, they were in a hurry, so Tex and Bob incapacitate the officers. Meanwhile, inside the hospital's large operating room, Bugs Bean is prepared to go under the knife, while the Framer stands by to make sure Dr. Rossen doesn't try anything. The doors swing open at that moment, and two more patients are rolled in for emergency surgery! The Framer is suspicious, questioning the doctors. The doctors remove their scrubs, revealing Mr. America and Fatman! The Framer shouts that they can do nothing to him. He reminds them how he framed them for murder, and they're in his pocket, just like the other saps! Mr. America thanks him for the confession as he removes the blankets from the two "patients". It was the police officers! Tex knocks out the enraged Framer, while the police call their backup. The photos are removed from the Framer's pocket and given to Chief Long. Released from the criminal's influence, the chief and his men arrest the Framer and Bugs Bean. Mr. America and Fatman are cleared of the murder charges, and even thanked, by Chief Long.
Appearing in Congo Bill: "Congo Bill Joins the Flying Tigers"
- "Tex Lee" (Real name unrevealed) (Only appearance; dies)
- Japanese Pilots (Only appearance; dies)
- The Flying Tigers (Single appearance)
- Dave Bennett (Squadron leader) (Single appearance)
- Spud Williams (Single appearance)
- Slim Kennedy (Single appearance)
- "Shorty" Smith (Single appearance)
- P-40 Warhawks
- Japanese Bombers (Destroyed)
Synopsis for Congo Bill: "Congo Bill Joins the Flying Tigers"
Congo Bill had an opportunity to fly with the famous "Flying Tigers" squadron. They were all excited to have him. But only squad leader Dave Bennett and Bill himself knew the real reason he was there. Recently, the Japanese seemed to know every move the squadron would make. There's also been a series of equipment malfunctions around camp. All this indicated that there was a spy among them, it was possibly even one of the Flying Tigers. Bill was there to help identify the foreign agent. The Tigers take off on their patrol with Bill alongside them. One of the planes, belonging to Tex Lee, from Houston, Texas, had a symbol on it's tail. Bennett tells Bill over the radio that it was Lee's good luck charm, he never went up without it. It wasn't long before the Japanese bombers appeared and started shooting. Slim Kennedy's plane gets shot apart, but the young pilot from Kansas ejects in time. The plane that fired on him began to make another pass to take him out for good, but Bill intercepts and takes it out! He wings his plane down in an open field, meeting Slim on the ground. The rest of the Tigers successfully repel the remaining enemy squadron. Tex Lee's plane, however, was badly damaged. They watched helplessly as it crashed far off into the jungle brush with a fiery explosion. Heavy-hearted, the team returns to basecamp, one man less.
That night, Bill does a bit of sleuthing, patrolling the camp while everyone slept. By one of the planes, a shadowy figure was messing with the landing gear. Bill pulled his gun and called out, causing the figure to turn and fire! The nights silence was broken by the cracking of blazing pistols. Bennett rushes out to find Bill standing alone. He was unhurt, but the saboteur got away, he had only winged him. The next morning, as the squad preps for another ride up, Bill notices that young Shorty was nursing an injured hand. When asked about it, Shorty said he ran a screwdriver into it accidentally. Bill isn't sure about that... That evening, Bennett calls the boys out to see something amazing. Limping into camp was Tex Lee, uniform ripped and on the verge of passing out. His teammates help him into the tent, while Bill notices something had fallen out of his pocket. It was an article about Tex Lee, a star pitcher for his University team. The Southpaw champ.
The next day, Bill chats with Tex about his college days. He notices something interesting when Tex reaches for his matchbook. It all suddenly clicks into place! Bill calls a meeting with all the Tigers. He reveals the existence of a spy in their midst, and he knew who it was. Pointing a finger at Tex Lee, Bill says the real Tex was a Southpaw, or a left-handed person. But this man carried his gun on his right hip. And he used his "lucky charm" to help his comrades identify him in the air so they'll avoid hitting him! The fake Tex stands up and pulls his pistol on the group. But Bill emptied his gun last night while Tex was "recovering" from his expedition behind enemy lines. He knocks Tex to the ground, and lets the other Tigers deal with him. Another enemy squadron soon meets up with the Flying Tigers, but without their agents information, they don't know what to do, and the Tigers shoot down each and every plane.
Appearing in Zatara: "The Case of the Coconut Crimes"
- "Stogie" Hank (Single appearance)
- Peter Porl (Single appearance)
- Joe (Single appearance)
- Mr. Goslin (Single appearance)
- Major Hasdough (Single appearance)
- Jeemes (Single appearance)
Synopsis for Zatara: "The Case of the Coconut Crimes"
Peter Porl was a meek little man who constantly got berated by his boss. He thought, with his intelligence, he could be on of those super-villains he read about. In fact, Peter decided to go ahead and plan a robbery! Late that night, Peter lies in wait near some bushes by a dirt road. His target soon comes into view, a shiny grey limousine owned by the millionaire, Major Hasdough. The limo's tires drive over the sharp tacks Peter planted, causing a blowout. When the driver steps out to inspect, Peter throws a coconut at his head, knocking him out. Major Hasdough exits the vehicle to check on his driver, only to receive the same treatment. As he takes the Major's wallet, Peter is pleased that his first robbery went so well. Nobody got hurt, he got the money, and all was well with the world!
Some time later at the Hasdough residence, Zatara waits with Mrs. Hasdough when her husband finally comes though the door. He tells them he had been robbed! The crook knocked him out, and when he woke up, his wallet was missing and there weren't any footprints found. All the Major found were two coconuts lying on the ground. While back in the city, at a tavern, Peter was retelling his robbery to some interested goons. He even decides to cut them in if they'll help him with a bank robbery he had planned. All he'll need is more coconuts. Meanwhile, Zatara investigates the scene where Hasdough was mugged. Using his magic, he questions the dirt, the trees, even the clouds to the thief's whereabouts. He is led to the small tavern, where Peter and his new "friends" are just leaving. Zatara follows them, invisibly, opting to stay on Porl's tail once he splits up from the thugs. What neither of them knew, was that the thugs headed to their boss, the gangster Stogie Hank, to tell him what Porl was up to. The guys plan was so ridiculous, Hank thought it could actually work. In fact, Hank thinks they should just cut out the amateur and rob the bank themselves.
That night, a truck that's been laden with coconuts pulls up to the city bank. A confused security guard looks them up, pretty positive the bank didn't order any coconuts. The truck unloads it's cargo at once, pelting the guard and rolling across the ground. When the other guards show up they trip, and keep tripping, on the coconuts strewn about. The thugs exit the truck and point their guns at the fallen guards, keeping them in check while the safe gets cracked. To their surprise, the coconuts start rolling together and form into the shape of a person! The coconut man heads right up to the thugs and begins beating them. Zatara appears then, demanding to know why they started the nob ahead of Porl's arrival. Who were they working for? At first refusing to give a straight answer, the magician turns their fingers and toes into firecrackers, causing them pain every time they "pop". The thugs submit, naming Stogie Hank as their boss. They say that he was on his way now, in fact.
"Stogie" Hank and Peter Porl arrive outside the bank at the same time. Zatara steps out of the bank with his coconu- man creation holding Hank's thugs under each "arm". Porl and Hank try to blame each other, then make a run for it... But Zatara just casts a spell so that long arms come up out of the ground and grab them. The police are summoned, and "Stogie" and his lackeys are arrested. Peter Porl remarks that they had nothing on him. He hadn't been part of this night's caper. A voice rang out from his back pocket. Major Hasdough's wallet came flying out with tiny wings and blabbed to the cops that Peter stole him from the Major! Zatara then sends the wallet back to it's rightful owner, while Peter Porl is taken in with the others. His coconut crime wave has ended.
- The Case of the Crimeless Crimes is reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archives Vol. 3 and Superman Chronicles Vol. 9.
- In this story, Lois Lane is kidnapped for the 21st time.
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Links and References
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