This Luthor is Going to be a Problem
The first earthquake in the history of Metropolis leaves devastation in its wake.
Superman discovers that it was caused by the Army testing an experimental weapon. But he's not the only one, the evil genius Luthor also learns of the device and sets about to steal it. After two attempts, both foiled by the Man of Steel, Luthor challenges Superman to a contest pitting his scientific genius against Superman's super-human abilities.
The earliest adventures of Superman were very two dimensional in many different ways:
First, there's the art, which lacks the depth of shading today's artists employ. While this can occasionally lead to a panel that is confusing to the eye, or may look amateurish by modern standards, more often it just looks like a quaint style with an elegance all it's own in its simplicity.
Secondis the storylines which were as simple and black-and-white as the art. Luthor who wants to steal the earthquake machine and use it to dominate the planet is bad and must be stopped.
But there is also a moral two dimensionality to Golden Age comics like this, too. Superman never seeks out anyone who initially ordered the test, or asks what safety precautions the Army did or did not take before unleashing untold damages upon Metropolis. It was a much more quaint time. All that mattered was that it not fall into the wrong hands (no one asked, 'who was the right hands?').
It was a simpler time, and one must take that into account before diving into these back issues. For, to read a 1940s issue of Superman is not just to read about an early adventure of the Man of Tomorrow, it's to be transported to that Golden Age when superheroes first flourished everywere, from comic books to radio, film to newspapers, and everyone was trying to escape the Great Depression in their black-and-white adventures, even when they were printed in glorious four colors.
So, judged in terms of its time, this issue is actually a pretty good one. The art is among the best of the non-Shuster pre-war issues, and the story shows us a very rough idea of what might have (at the time) represented the limits of Superman's powers. Although, new powers were to appear almost every issue - even in this one we learn that Superman
'posses the ability to temporarily halt the beating of his heart'
Most importantly, Luthor becomes Superman's second recurring nemesis (after the Ultra-Humanite), and by issue's end we already know we haven't seen the last of him!
(by E.Tragedy - Comicvine's original back issue reviewer)