The Religious Affiliation of
Laura Vogel

Religion: religious/ethical CBR Scale: S

Name: Laura Vogel

Classification: supporting character supporting character  

Publisher(s): DC

First Appearance: Action Comics (vol. 1) #30 (Nov. 1940): "A Midsummer Snowtorm"

Creators: Jerry Siegel, Jack Burnley

Number of Appearances: 1

Enemy of: Zolar

Ally: Superman

Gender: female

Note: sister of archaeologist Carlton Vogel

Laura Vogel was the sister of archaeologist Carlton Vogel. Her brother discovered a plot by the sinister villain Zolar and his evil Arab underlings to steal the vast supplies of radium found in the lost city of Ulonda. Zolar learned of Carlton Vogel's letter to his sister. He sent his evil Arab henchmen to warn Laura to silence.

Laura Vogel tried to contact Superman to enlist his help. Unfortunately for her, before Superman arrived at the designated meeting place, Laura Vogel was murdered by the evil Arabs. A female agent of Zolar then impersonated her. When Superman thought he was rescuing Laura Vogel, he was actually dealing with Zolar's agent.

As the imposter claiming to be Laura describes events, on page 8 of the Superman story in Action Comics #30 (Nov. 1940), "Zolar learned of the letter sent to me. His emissaries came to warn me to silence. They gave me until the first snowfall to make my decision. Thinking that would be a long time off, I accepted. They tricked me by artificially causing a snowstorm. Then I broadcast my appeal to you!"

Although it was an imposter providing this account of events, everything said here is accurate. Only later does Superman learn that the woman recounting this events from Laura Vogel's recent past is not, in fact, the real Laura Vogel.

The "broadcast" the Laura imposter refers to here, in her recap of events, is the radio broadcast the real Laura Vogel made, as shown on the first page of this story. Clark Kent was consulting with a weather man, trying to figure out why there was a bitter snowstorm in Metropolis in the middle of Summer, when they heard Laura Vogel's broadcast over the radio. She said in her broadcast: "Calling Superman! Laura Vogel speaking! I need your help! Be in Park Ferry in an hour! I can explain this ice storm! Don't fail to come. Death threatens many!"

So Laura was trying to get Superman to help her to save the people of Ulonda (a place she had never even been to) from Zolar's intended raid of their city. Laura was also planning to provide information to Superman about the Arabs who were causing a snowstorm in Metropolis. This would have helped Superman stop the snowstorm, but this was not Laura's primary motivation in asking for the hero's help.

Superman finally found "Laura," but it was actually the imposter. The real Laura Vogel was already dead. When Superman tried to help Laura, the Arabs were able to render him unconscious with the powerful radium-powered weapons Zolar provided them. Superman ended up chained up alongside the woman who claimed to be Laura.

By the end of the story, Superman learns that the "Laura Vogel" he has been with throughout the story is actually a fake, an agent of Zolar merely posing as Laura. This woman explains that the real Laura was slain when she emerged from her car, which was a few minutes before Superman arrived at Laura's proposed meeting place of Park Ferry.

The imposter "Laura" doesn't really look like the real Laura Vogel. The real Laura had black hair. The imposter is blonde. But Superman never knew what the real Laura Vogel looked like. He had only heard her voice over the radio. So the imposter, who, like the evil Arabs, was working for Zolar, pretended that she was being kidnapped by the Arabs when Superman finally arrived at the scene.

The imposter ends up getting killed by Zolar's weapon on the last page of the story.

The real Laura Vogel is the woman seen on pages 2 and 3 of this story. She is a pretty woman with black hair, wearing a green overcoat over a yellow dress. She is not actually named or explicitly identified as "Laura Vogel." But she does tell her driving companion, "We can't risk missing Superman! I'll continue on foot!"

The woman in the green overcoat (Laura Vogel) never makes it through the snow all the way to Park Ferry. The narrative caption in panel 5 on page 2 describes, "As the girl trudges toward the nearby ferry building, a sleek foreign auto approaches!" Inside the foreign car, three swarthy Arabs put on strange helmets. "Next instant -- a globe, from which dazzling rays of light emerge, is launched towards the girl!"

Laura Vogel stands stunned and frightened as she sees a glowing globe, about one foot in diameter, approaching her. "No! No!" she screams. Superman arrives on the scene too late. He sees the woman in the green overcoat disintegrate before his eyes in the presence of the glowing, floating globe. "As Superman nears the ferry building, he comes upon a horrible sight -- the young woman disintegrating before the globe's fierce brilliance."

In one panel we see the globe next to the distressed Laura Vogel. In the next panel, Laura Vogel is gone. Only a black shadow on the snow is left. "An amazing phenomenon! Tho' the girl vanishes, her shadow remains fixed in the snow!"

Moments later, Lois Lane is attacked by the Arabs. Superman saves her. He now knows what their glowing globe does. He doesn't have time to acknowledge Lois Lane's thanks, however, because he sees the Arabs pulling a blonde woman from "her" auto. From here until the last page, Superman assumes this blonde woman is Laura Vogel.

In all, the real Laura Vogel was actually only seen in 4 panels on 2 pages (5 panels if you count one showing her residual shadow on the snow).

Taken in context, after Laura Vogel's radio address on the previous page, readers might be expected to realize that this woman is Laura Vogel. But when I read the story for the first time, I didn't realize who the woman was. I thought she was simply a motorist, perhaps somebody who heard the radio address and wanted to meet Superman. She was killed by the evil Arabs on page 3. Then, on page 4, we see the blonde woman pretending to be Laura Vogel. A few pages later, when Superman and the blonde are both held captive by the Arabs, the blonde identifies herself as "Laura Vogel." It was easy to forget all about the woman in the green overcoat until the "reveal" on the last page, when the imposter tells Superman, "I'm not Laura Vogel! Laura was slain when she emerged from the car! I'm one of Zolar's agents! And this is your finish, Superman!"

Superman's failure to save the real Laura Vogel, a nobel women who courageously gave her life for others, stands in contrast to all other Superman stories published to this point. Innocent characters had died or been murdered in Superman stories before. But this is probably the first time that an innocent character died after asking for Superman's help. If Superman had arrived a few moments earlier, he might have been able to save Laura Vogel.

If one looks carefully, the woman who impersonated Laura Vogel is the woman who was with the real Laura in the car that got stuck in the snow. The blonde woman can be seen, wearing the same green and white striped blouse she wears throughout the story, inside the car in panel 4 of page 2. This is the woman Laura was speaking to when she said she had to get out and walk to meet Superman. Apparently the imposter had been assigned by Zolar to get close to Laura Vogel well before Laura thought of asking Superman for help. This female agent of Zolar was thus in the right place at the right time to trick Superman into believing she was the woman he was supposed to meet. Superman also failed to prevent Zolar from killing untold residents of Ulanda. Probably hundreds of Ulondians, and possibly thousands, were killed by the glowing orbs Zolar sent into the city while Superman was on the scene.

On the last panel of the last page of this story, Lois Lane tells Clark Kent, "It's obvious Superman fumbled his attempt to save Laura Vogel -- but at least the weather is back to normal!"

Clark responds, "So your idol has fumbled, eh? Pardon me while I laugh!"

This is an unusually bittersweet ending for a Superman story from this era.

This character is in the following story which has been indexed by this website:
Action Comics (vol. 1) #30 (Nov. 1940): "A Midsummer Snowtorm" (4-panel cameo)

Suggested links for further research about this character and the character's religious affiliation: