Action Comics 7

Superwoman Joins the Circus!

Inside the major metropolitan offices of the Daily Star, things were busy as usual. Ace reporters Louis Lane and Clara Kent had just returned after cracking a major political ring while Editor George Taylor stomped about the office, cigar smoke following him like a cloud. Curly Childs, reporter of less than sterling reputation, entertained some coworkers around the office water cooler.

"So there I was, tied to the bed, when this chickee's old man cam bursting in with a heater the size of a cat!"

"Oh, come on Curly, we've heard this story before!" Jimmy Olson sighed as his attention was drawn to the approaching Kent and Lane. "Look, Mr. Lane and Ms. Kent are back!"

At his words, several of Curly's crowd left and flocked towards the two reporters, clamoring for details about their recent articles. Curly fumed over in the corner. "Lousy hacks, think they're better than me!"

With Clara's back to him, Curly was struck by an idea. "Hey Kent, I know you hayseeds may not be up on fashion, let me help you!" He reached out and snagged the back of Clara's blouse, gripping her brassiere. With one smooth jerk he snapped the wire and cotton garment back against Clara.

Clara felt no pain from the act, but she forced herself to act shocked. If she tossed Curly through the drywall, it might raise questions. Louis stepped up on her behalf. "You think you're funny?"

"As a matter of fact, yeah, I do." Curly grinned as Taylor stomped over.

"Alright, break it up and get back to work! This is a newspaper, not a playground!" Lane and Kent followed Taylor into his office, leaving Curly to smirk his way back to his desk.

"So, what's next chief?" Clara asked as she sat down.

"The Jordan Circus is coming to town tomorrow. I want one of you to cover it, a real human interest angle, understand?"

"I'll take it chief!" Clara spoke before Louis could, "I used to go to the circus all the time back in Smalllville."

"Good enough; so Lane, that leaves you." Taylor rifled through the papers on his desk. "We have some reports that the racketeer Derek Niles is attempting to set up shop here in Metropolis. Find out what you can about it and be careful. Niles is a nasty customer."

Louis gave a mock salute. "I'm on it chief."

"Say, Clara, why do you let that jerk Curly push you around?" Louis pushed the elevator button to the lobby as they left.

"I guess I'm just not as forceful as you or Superwoman." Clara meekly shrugged her shoulders. Silently, she considered having Superwoman pay Curly a visit later. "But look, let's not focus on that. We have a job to do. "

"I suppose you're right. Say, would you be free for dinner tonight?"

Clara adjusted her glasses. "Sure, pick me up at seven after I finish with the circus."

Clara walked around the midway towards the ringmaster's trailer. The sights and smells brought her back to childhood days spent watching her father lifting anvils for pocket money, of clowns and wrestlers in dingy tents and animals of all shapes and sizes. As she neared Jordan's trailer, she stepped outside. She heard two voices in a heated argument.

Concentrating, she blocked out all other sounds and listened to the conversation inside. "Alright Jordan, your marks are due in two weeks. Why don't you just stop being a chump and make me your partner?"

"Partner? Forget it Niles, I'd lose everything, including my self-respect!" Jordan raged.

Niles never broke a sweat. "Suit yourself, but in two weeks I'll own everything nice and legal and then you'll be flat busted. If you take me on, at least you can keep a roof over your head."

"Get out!" Jordan threw something heavy and breakable at Niles. The other man ducked and darted outside, running into Clara in the process.

"Watch it you klutzy dame!" Niles swore as he stomped off.

Clara turned her attention back to Mr. Jordan as the ringmaster fell down and sobbed. "He's right!" Jordan rubbed his face. "I'll never be able to pay back the money I borrowed! If only I had something, some act that would fill up the seats just one time!"

Clara slipped her glasses off. "This looks like a job for the Daily Star!"

Clara knocked on the door. When Jordan hesitantly opened the door, she slipped inside. "Hello, my name is Clara Kent, I'm a reporter for the Daily Star. I'm doing an article, and I was wondering if you would be willing to be interviewed."

Jordan puffed up his chest at her words. "Why, I'd be delighted to miss! The Jordan Circus is pleased to be playing in Metropolis, and we'll be showcasing the talent that has become synonymous with our name! We'll have acts of all shapes and sizes, so please, come as often as you can! We'll be playing at the fairgrounds for the next two weeks, so be sure to mention that." She tried to ignore the faint hint of desperation in his voice.

"I'm sure our readers will be very interested." Clara nodded and smiled. As Jordan talked, Clara took notes for the write up later. As she came up with the copy, she couldn't but think about the man who left. "Could that be Derek Niles? This would fit with his M.O. I think the Jordan Circus is going to need more than a nice article to trump that heel."

Later that night, Clara returned. The fairgrounds were dark, the workers away or asleep. Moving back towards Jordan's trailer, Clara eavesdropped as Jordan fitfully talked in his sleep. "No hope, need a star, Niles will ruin me!"

"That poor man!" Clara slipped around the corner. Blocked off from the midway, she slipped her outer garments off, standing proudly in her red and blue costume. Bundling them neatly, she went back to Jordan's office. She knocked on the door. When Jordan didn't answer, she easily forced the lock and entered the trailer.

Jordan sprang to his feet, a pistol in his hand. "A burglar, eh? Well, forget it, you won't find enough for a drink in this place!"

"Calm down, I want to help."

"The only help you'll be offering is to the police!" Jordan waved the gun at her. "Now don't move!"

"What do I have to do to convince you?" Superwoman moved forward. Jordan fired once. The bullet flattened against her chest and fell uselessly to the floor.

"What are you?" Jordan gasped.

"Someone who is looking for a job. Do you have a strongwoman?"

"We have a strongman, Hercules the Mighty."

"Can he do this?" With one blinding fast hand she snatched the gun from Jordan and crunched it into pulp. "Step outside and I'll do more."

"What do you mean?" Jordan gasped, but followed her outside all the same. Once he was outside, he stood dumbfounded as Superwoman slid under his trailer. Before he could ask, he stepped back as the whole structure shook.

"Do you think people would pay to see this?" Superwoman asked as she lifted the trailer over her head.

After nearly a minute of full silence, Jordan forced himself to nod. "You're hired!"

So it was that in the next addition of the Daily Star, readers were greeted to a full page ad for the Jordan Circus. "See, for the first time, SUPERWOMAN!" was posted across four columns. A blurred shot of Superwoman racing a train was presented neatly under the headline, with various shots of the circus under that.

Derek Niles crumbled the paper up and tossed it away. "It has to be a trick!"

Trigger, Niles's general assistant and lackey, nodded. "Yeah, remember that fake Supergal who was shilling that cereal? I bet it's the same racket."

"Racket or no, this could ruin everything. Jordan might be able to pay off his marker, and we can't allow that to happen." He raised his eyebrow. "Understand?"

Trigger smiled and patted a bulge under his arm. "Perfectly boss!"

Clara and Louis settled in the backseat of the cab as it wove through the streets. "So, you really think Superwoman is going to show?" Louis tapped on the window.

"A little birdie told me. Why, jealous?"

Louis laughed. "Hardly, but wait until I get the scoop on tomorrow's edition."

"We'll see Mister Kent." Clara glanced ahead and spotted the traffic well before the driver. "You can let me out here cabbie. My friend will cover my share of the fare." Before Louis could protest Clara had slipped out of the cab.

Dashing away from people, she darted behind a dumpster. One quick change later, Superwoman stood proudly. "Now to help out the circus." With a single leap, she cleared the apartments around her and bounded towards the fairgrounds.

The circus was sold out. The ringmaster had barely taken off his hat when the crowd went wild, clamoring for Superwoman. Jordan was in the back, sweating bullets. "Where is she?" He sent the clowns and the strongman out to warm up the crowd.

The audience was chilly to the idea. Cheers turned to boos. A 'we want Superwoman' chant broke out and spread across the stands. Unseen by Jordan, Trigger leaned back in his too small seat and grinned. He happily munched popcorn as people began to leave en mass.

Everyone froze when the tent was enveloped in darkness. A lone spotlight shined on a brightly garbed figure appearing on the high wire. "I apologize for my lateness ladies and gentlemen, but I felt you deserved a grand entrance!" The audience grew quiet as Superwoman leapt from the platform and snagged the trapeze bar.

Sailing through the air, she suddenly let go. Spinning gracefully, she ignored the panicked screams as she dropped towards the ground. She hit the ground in seconds, sending up a large cloud of sawdust. Using her breath, she drew the sawdust away from the crowd and forced it back to the ground again.

She took a bow. The audience, Trigger included, stared dumbfounded at her. Not wasting a beat, Superwoman walked over to the strongman. "Mind if I borrow some weight?"

The strongman nodded mutely and hefted the largest dumbbell he could lift. She took it with one hand and tied it into a knot. For good measure she tossed it high above to bounce off the canvas roof of the tent. The crowd exploded into cheers when they realized she was the real Superwoman.

"And now for my next trick," her voice boomed across the tent, "I'll need a volunteer!" Ignoring the hundreds of hands that shot up, she gestured to a group of clowns who just entered the main ring. Behind them was a large elephant. Superwoman took the reins and stepped under the massive animal. The crowd grew silent as she kneeled under the animal's stomach.

With little effort on her part, she lifted the elephant up with one hand. With the other she kept the animal calm while she walked it around the ring. Trigger stood up and dashed outside.

Fumbling in his pockets for change, he barreled past various attendees. Ignoring the crying children he knocked over, he found a payphone. Dialing, he tapped his foot impatiently. "Boss?"

"Trigger? I thought I made it clear you were to never call me at this number."

"Boss, it's the circus!"

"What about it?"

"I think we may have a problem. Superwoman is knocking them out of their socks!"

Niles sighed heavily. "Meet me at the club in an hour. I expect a complete explanation, however, or you can start looking for another job."

Niles sat at his table in the back. The club was empty, Niles having sent the staff home early. He gingerly sipped coffee as Trigger stammered what he had seen. "Boss, it was the most amazing thing I ever saw!"

"So you keep saying, but what exactly are you talking about?"

"Superwoman! Boss, this circus has Superwoman on the payroll, I swear!"

Niles raised his eyebrows. At length, he spoke. "This might change things. Trigger, I need you to go back to the circus, do it this very night, and do your work. Jordan may have a sold out show tonight, but I don't want a repeat performance."

Trigger nodded in agreement. "Ok boss, but what about Superwoman?"

Niles sighed in annoyance. "Just deal with her. She can't be as tough as the papers say. Now do your job!"

Superwoman's trailer was blocked off by hordes of people. Jordan's security was pressed to the limit as they tried to keep the people back. Superwoman sat in the small trailer. Narrowing her eyes, she saw past the people and peered into Jordan's office. She smiled as she saw the man's happiness. "One more show I think and Jordan should be set for life."

She turned her head slightly and spied Louis trying to force his way through the crowd. "Poor old Louis, he never learns."

Standing up, she looked down at the floor. Concentrating, she stood perfectly still as twin red beams blazed from her eyes and cut a neat circle in the trailer's floor. Quickly lifting the circular piece of metal and cooling it with her breath, she slipped under the trailer and moved faster than the human eye could follow.

Darting past the crowds, she slipped her regular clothes back on, appearing once again as Clara Kent. She waved to Louis. "Louis, any luck with the interview?"

Louis kicked a paper cup. "Nope, those gorillas over there don't seem to believe in the freedom of the press. I'll try again tomorrow."

"Well, I'm sure Superwoman would be happy to grant you an interview after the show, if you treat a certain gal reporter to dinner?"

Louis laughed. "Alright, I get the point, but I expect an interview Ms. Kent."

-The next day

Trigger slipped into the main tent. A few twenties and a sob story about needing a story for his paper earned him access to the main tent. While everyone was busy preparing for the evening sow, Trigger slipped a small knife from his overalls. A few slashes at the coiled rope later, he slipped back outside and headed towards the animal cages.

Once again distracting the guard, he pulled out a vial of acid and poured a choice amount on the bars of various cages. As the animals slept, Trigger checked his weapons in the relative quiet of the tent. He had a small pellet gun. "When those babies get dragged into the main tent," he mimicked shooting a sleeping lion, "the whole place is going to go nuts!" He silently laughed as he cleaned up after himself and went back outside to wait.

-Later that night

If anything, the second night was even larger. Radio stations had sent mobile units. Hundreds of people packed the streets for miles in every direction. Superwoman peeked at them from her dressing room. "I still can't believe all these people showed up!"

Jordan knocked on her door. She didn't need her x-ray vision or heightened senses to know it was him. The man's manic energy was infectious. "This is the biggest show ever! Are you ready?"

She nodded. "I hope so." She had talked to Jordan before about allowing the other performers to be worked into her act, so that they wouldn't think she was stealing the spotlight. "Is Mary ready?"

"Kid, she was born on the high rise. I think she can handle this."

Trigger watched from the stands. He was sitting in the last row; pellet gun nestled in his lap and covered by a jacket. He had been waiting, along with the rest of the crowd, albeit for different reasons. When they finally announced Superwoman the cheering was deafening.

Superwoman appeared on the crow's nest. At the opposite one was the circus's resident trapeze artist Mary. Trigger smiled as she swung out on the trapeze bar. Superwoman, forgoing the wire, simply leapt. She spun through the air, seemingly suspended in midair.

As Mary arched past her, the rope suddenly snapped. The crowd, unsure of the act, grew deathly silent. Superwoman, noticing Mary's panicked grasping, suddenly dropped. She flew like a rocket, outpacing Mary and snagging her easily.

Slowing down, she crashed into the sawdust. Standing up, she and a visibly shaky Mary took a bow. He audience ate it up. Trigger scowled. "Well, there's always the animals!" he readied the pullet gun, just in case.

As the rest of the acts moved into the ring, Superwoman, Mary, and Jordan talked in the back office. "What the blue blazes was that?" Jordan was pale despite his sweat.

"Someone cut that rope!" Mary had regained her composure.

"It's true, there is no way that rope broke on its own." Superwoman held up the piece of rope in question.

"It must be Niles!" Jordan swore. "That bum swore he'd get my circus, and this proves it!"

"I'm afraid not." Superwoman shook her head sadly. "We have no proof that he did it, and he's not even in the area. We'll have to catch the saboteur red handed if we want to stop Niles."

"Ok, I see your point. I'll have everyone here search." Jordan fumed.

While the ringmaster was announcing the lion tamer, Superwoman scanned the audience. As the bare chested man cracked a whip and ordered the lions to balance on hoops, she spied a small glint of metal. Before she could act, the lion nearest to the cage jumped off its perch and roared. It hit the cage with a crash, tearing the metal bars down.

The audience began to panic as the lion, blinded by pain and anger, let out a roar and charged towards the crowd. Superwoman leapt into action, covering the distance in one jump. Gripping the animal's front paws in both hands, she ignored the beast's jaws as it clamped down on her shoulder.

Whereas a normal person would be going into shock due to the pain and blood loss, Superwoman simply dragged the animal back to the cage. Tossing it as gently as she could, she lifted the cage bars up and pressed them into place. Concentrating, she fused the metal bars back. "There, that should hold until you can get a replacement."

The lion tamer wiped his brow. "Thanks! But why did Leo react like that?"

Superwoman narrowed her eyes. A dark figure was racing away. "Give me a minute and I think I can get an answer for you."

Trigger raced through the crowd. He rounded a corner and ducked behind a dumpster. "Blast, got to think of something!" He spied Superwoman's trailer. With her inside, people had ignored it. Trigger broke into a sprint. He didn't notice that the door wasn't locked.

He did notice, upon turning on a lamp, Louis Lane sitting down. "Who the devil are you?" Both men shouted.

"Beat it buddy, Superdoll don't like pests!" Trigger reached inside his coat.

"And she likes to be called Superwoman, not doll, and I doubt you work here!" Louis drove his heel into the man's instep. Trigger howled with pain and drew his gun. Backing away, he aimed his gun directly at Louis's heart.

"Try anything and you're dead. Now, we're going to take a nice walk, just the two of us."

Superwoman slipped into an empty room. "As Clara, I can move faster through the crowd." She slipped her regular clothes over her costume and exited the tent. Narrowing her eyes, she scanned the crowd. She wasn't sure of the man's face, but when she saw Louis being shoved into the back of a car, she knew she had her man.

She walked briskly until the car drove off. Slipping her shoes off, she broke into a sprint, unbuttoning her dress as she ran. To a casual observer, it was as if she vanished. A red and blue blur followed the car.

"Trigger, you fool, how could you fail?" Niles swore as he downed another tumbler of whiskey.

"Boss, that Super chick, she isn't human!" Trigger protested.

"Bah, she's just another one of these mystery nuts running around, all smoke and mirrors!" Niles slammed his glass down hard enough to crack it. He snatched the gun from Trigger's waistband. "If she shows up, I'll show you how to deal with her!"

Louis, who had been bound and gagged this whole time, rolled his eyes. His expression changed when he saw the familiar red cape dart by the window. Niles and Trigger continued to argue.

The argument stopped when Superwoman crashed through the glass. Niles turned on her, gun cocked. "Alright, I've had enough of this!"

"And I've had enough of you!" Superwoman marched towards him. Niles pulled the trigger. The first shot struck her dead center of the chest. The slug flattened against the stylized s and fell to the floor. Four more shots followed, each one hitting a vital area and doing no damage. After taking a bullet to the eye, Superwoman reached out, tore the gun from his grasp and crumbled it into a small metal ball.

Niles promptly fainted. Trigger looked at his employer and shrugged. "I told him."

The next day, the Daily Star ran with the headline, 'Superwoman saves Circus!' with a byline from Louis featuring an exclusive interview with Superwoman. Clara neatly tucked the morning edition under her arm as she prepared to get into the elevator.

She stopped when she noticed Curly leering at her. "Hey, we can squeeze one more in, come on!"

"I'll walk thanks." Clara waited until Curly turned around. While he was making sure everyone's attention was on him, she lowered her glasses. With a few gentle and quick application of her heat vision, she neatly severed several key stiches in Curly's suit. "You have a loose thread; let me help you with that!" She reached into the elevator before the doors closed. With one smooth motion, she yanked the thread out, unraveling the whole thing.

Curly sputtered and cried as he tried to cover up. Clara smirked as she watched him slowly rise up towards the top floor. Louis entered the lobby. "What are you grinning about?"

"Oh, I just feel like today's going to be a good day, that' all."

The end

Based on the story appearing first in Action Comics I#7 (December 1938), with credits to Jerry Seigel (script), Joe Shuster (pencils and inks), and Paul Lauretta (inks and letters).

Reader mail

They call me Bruce

I love this fanfic, you do good work

From Wolvmbm

Great idea making a unique of the original Action Comics#6. I must say Louis is a sneaky one and sooner or later his tricks will come back and bite him in the butt, if he's not too careful and honest. Please do keep up the good work upon such a great series like this one.

And a hundred thanks to Darci for her comments.

And that's all we can print at the moment, but be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the next issue. Be here when Superwoman ventures "Into the Slums!"

And also be sure to check out the upcoming issues as well

Sensation Comics#8-Wonder Woman Under the Big Top!

Detective Comics#7-Dirigibles of Doom!