Superman vol.1 #19 - Cover date November-December 1942
Lois and Clark end up on the wrong side of racketeers – again – and foil the villainous “Mister Z” (no relation to the earlier Doctor Z, one assumes) from the only dognapping plot to date in the series.
Bookmarking this issue, though, is a pair of stories which probably count among the most reprinted tales in Superman’s long publishing history. Starting off, Superman encounters another new inductee into the super-villainous Class of 1942, the crooked cartoonist Funny Face who uses a ray of his own devising to bring comic strip villains to life! Even the Man of Steel’s otherworldly might is apparently no match for the likes of the Black Raider, Torgo, Machine Gun Mike and The Viper, all of them terrible baddies ripped from the funny papers. It takes a coterie of comic page protagonists fighting alongside Superman to even the odds, all brought into being by appropriating Funny Face’s own amazing ray device.
The final story in this issue is one of the most playful Superman stories – Lois’ resistance wilts sufficiently that Clark convinces her to go to the movies with him, but Clark’s in trouble when it turns out that the evening begins with an identity-revealing Fleischer Studios Superman short! It’s an episode that would straight up make a continuity-obsessive have kittens, seeing Clark distract Lois from the film during the scenes when an on-screen Clark is shown changing to Superman. It’s a delightfully self-aware story with a light comedic touch, for which Siegel never really gets sufficient credit, despite having books like Funnyman and the wise-cracking Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy under his belt.