In 1939 DC decided to create a 100 page special, bringing together the biggest stars in their line-up, and using the New York World’s Fair as a unifying theme. Almost certainly intended as a one-shot, there was a second edition the following year (as this World’s Fair ran for two years, instead of the usual one).
Superman lead off the issue, by far their biggest star. Although not so big that the colouring department knew his hair colour, as he is shown as a blond on the cover. Siegel and Shuster helm this story that has Clark Kent convince George Taylor to allow Lois Lane to accompany him to the Fair, for the article they are to write for the Daily Star.
The Trylon and Perisphere appear in pretty much every story, they were the symbol of the Fair. But the Maritime Transportation Building runs a close second in this book. While visiting it, Lois and Clark run into a wanted felon. He kidnaps Lois, and Superman goes into action to save her and capture him.
Chuck Warren was created just for this special, and never appears again. He is an athlete, thrilled to be competing in the games at the Fair.
It’s a very straightforward sports story, and only stands out because of the curious decision to create a new hero for the story, rather than using Pep Morgan, the big sports star of this early era. A number of DC humour series also get adventures at the Fair. Hanko the Cowhand, Butch the Pup and Ginger Snap all have World’s Fair based stories that follow the Chuck Warren tale.
Scoop Scanlon gets the best logo of his run on this story. Sent to cover the Fair, he gets warned off by a mysterious message by the “Bat’s Wing.” Clearly Scoop is considered more of a journalistic threat than Lois and Clark are.
Scoop is not scared, and pursues the case, even when it leads to murder. He unmasks the Bat’s Wing as a business rival of the victim, and fakes him out into confessing, using an alarm clock as a bomb.
A Day at the World’s Fair with Jim and Jane is a decent little story that serves as a guide to a number of the Fair’s events.
As well as this story, the comic has tons of details and facts about the World’s Fair, as well as Fairs of the past.
The one down side to the tale is that it makes one realize how few exhibits of the Fair were actually used in the various other stories.
Siegel and Shuster gets a second story in this issue, as Slam Bradley and Shorty head to the Fair. The first few pages see them tour some of the exhibits, but then Shorty finds a note stuffed into his jacket.
This takes them out of the Fair, and into an adventure dealing with thieves and stolen loot. After rounding up the bad guys, Shorty and Slam do make it back to the Fair before the tale ends.
The Sandman makes his debut in this story, by Gardner Fox and Bert Christman. But it was not likely intended to be so. In the story itself, Wesley Dodds refers to becoming the Sandman “again,” and crooks recognize him by sight. But the story did come out before his first appearance in Adventure Comics, even though it was probably written after it.
In this tale, Dodds has invented a ray gun. Probably while working on his sleep gun. He arranges to meet with government agents at the Fair to show them the plans, but those get stolen.
There is a lot of impersonation going on here. Wes is Sandman, of course, but the government agent is a fake, and one of Wes’s friends is not who he seems to be either. The Fair is merely the location for the story, and not really integral to it.
Zatara’s story, by Fox and Guardineer, concludes the issue, and is the most appalling thing in it. Simply for the premise. A man running one of the exhibits enlists Zatara in stealing a gem from a foreign country, simply to display it at the Fair. Zatara agrees, and sails off with Tong.
There is not even the slightest effort made to justify Zatara’s theft. The necklace clearly belongs to those he is taking it from. Zatara does get to show off his extensive powers, battling an entire horde of soldiers to get it out of the country.
Tagged: Bert Christman, Chuck Warren, Clark Kent, Daily Star, DC Comics, Fred Guardineer, Gardner Fox, George Taylor, Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Lois Lane, New York World'sFair, Sandman, Scoop Scanlon, Shorty, Siegel and Shuster, Slam Bradley, Superman, Tong, Wesley Dodds, Zatara