(Seriously! I think the Prankster was on every fifth Action Comics cover in the 40s. I had no idea he was such a hugely popular villain. By contrast, Luthor doesn't make a cover appearance til well after issue 100! No wonder the Superman rogues gallery sucks!)
Anyway. Since I was digging, I thought I might as well post up some of my favorite Action Comics covers while I was at it. They lack the style of the Batman covers, I think. There's no early Superman cover even half as cool as that one with Batman and Robin jumping through a flaming hoop on a motorcycle, for instance. Superman was far more whitebread, even from the beginning, when he was tossing corrupt landlords out of windows in the name of liberty. But there's still some fun stuff in the mix. Again, there's no particular order here, except whatever I thought was funniest. Or, in the case of this first one, the most offensive...
1. No matter how much degrading crap Superman went through, he earned every bit of it with this cover right here:
Sure, we were at war. But DAMMIT, Superman! Makes me feel a lot better about crap like this...
2. Epic fail... old man!
3. Superman's beard!
Unlike Batman, Supes didn't need a figurative beard. He had all the wimmenfolk he could handle. But I'll never understand why he spent so much time stringing along his childhood sweetheart, his adult love interest, AND his mermaid girlfriend from college (hey, everybody experiments a little at that age!). Make up your mind, Supa-Playa!
4. Oh! Too late!
(Note that Superman is dying of super-leprosy on this cover. Also note that this was a three-part story!)
5. The Playa Gets Played!
(An aside: I love how they've put Hercules and Samson together as figures from myth. You'd think that might have raised a stink back then. And they were constantly doing this in the 50s. Hercules, Samson, and Atlas are all over these Action covers! I had no idea!)
6. The basis of every strong marriage is blackmail!
8. Ooo, Lois! You're so butch!
(Lotsa big-head covers from this era. Seems to have happened to every DC hero except Batman. Hmm...)
11. I... I want an execution buzzard...
12. Lousy lying uniforms...
13. Pope Hat!
14. And as long as we're discussing tonsorial disasters... This cover's really only okay, but I wanted to point out that, for what looks like a decade or so, Luthor ran around mostly just wearing his prison greys. Which makes him the boringest-looking super villain of all time. What, you couldn't take time to at least put on a decent suit and a lab coat?! What kind of mad scientist ARE you, man?!
15. Somebody needs to tell Superman that rasslin is fake...
16. Oh, boo-hoo! Good riddance, ya joik ya!