Religion: manifestly non-religious
Name: Barney Calhoun
First Appearance: Superman (vol. 1) #4 (Spring 1940): "The Economic Enemy"
Number of appearances: 1
Foe of: Superman
Worked for: J. E. Curtis
Note: led his own gang
Superman first encountered a member of the Barney Calhoun gang while investigating the murder of eminent sociologist Paul Dorgan. Somebody murdered Dorgan before could publish a book that would reveal a conspiracy to derail America's economic system. Dorgan's killer was probably a member of Calhoun's gang who acted on Calhoun's instructions. Superman later captured a member of Calhoun's gang (named Louie) in the act of searching Dorgan's home. Before Superman could learn much from Louie, two fellow gang members murdered him. Superman captured the gang members and interrogated them. In panel 2 of page 5 of the story retroactively titled "The Economic Enemy" in Superman #4 (Spring 1940), the gang members name Calhoun for the first time.
"We're members of the Barney Calhoun gang!" one says in response to Superman's interrogation. The other adds, "We were only following orders!"
Superman responds, "Barney Calhoun, eh? Here's where the racketeer chief has an unexpected guest!"
Superman leaves the gang members in a precarious location and leaps away to find Calhoun. One of the gang members falls off a cliff to his death. The surviving gang member thug hurries to a nearby telephone to warn Calhoun.
Superman goes to Calhoun's hangout, speaks briefly to Calhoun over the phone, and then survives an explosion that Calhoun detonates remotely.
Superman prevents saboteurs from blowing up all of the city's auto plants on Calhoun's orders, and then he prevents the derailing of a passenger train - another intended tragedy Calhoun had engineered. Superman also prevents the murder of steelworkers at Langley Steel Mills, which had also been organized by Calhoun.
Finally Superman finds Calhoun in his current hideaway. Calhoun tries to get out of his predicament by offering to tell Superman everything if he'll have a drink with him. Superman drinks what Calhoun offers him, but Calhoun's plan to poison Superman is unsuccessful because the poison has no effect on Superman's physical structure.
Superman threatens to force Calhoun to drink the same poisoned drink if he doesn't talk. A frightened Calhoun tells Superman what he knows.
Barney Calhoun tells the Man of Steel, "Don't force that drink on me! The man responsible is J. E. Curtis -- a foreign nation has promised him important concessions if he'll wreck America's economic structure! I just work for him! This very night Curtis is going to launch a financial upheaval that will panic the stock-exchange and plunge the country into its worst depression!"
Superman brought Calhoun to the home of the man he answered to, J. E. Curtis. Curtis offered to make Superman "incredibly wealthy" if he would join forces with him. Superman told the villain, "I'm not interested in your tainted money."
Curtis responded to Superman by murdering Barney Calhoun with an electrocuting device. Curtis incorrectly thought this demonstration of a deadly weapon would prompt Superman to back down. Instead, Superman just told Curtis to "try it." Curtis tried to murder Superman with the weapon, but the Man of Steel was unharmed. Superman then touched Curtis and the electricity flowing from Curtis's own weapon passed through Superman and killed Curtis.
Barney Calhoun was a particularly loathsome villain. He was willing to kill countless people and topple entire American industries all because J. E. Curtis hired him to do so. He was fully aware that Curtis desired the ruin of the entire American economic system and he even knew that Curtis asking for at the behest of foreign enemies of the United States. So not only was Calhoun a criminal on a mass scale, he wasn't even patriotic. He was quick to order murders or commit murder personally. Calhoun did exhibit prodigious organizational skill. But Barney Calhoun exhibited no apparent moral or ethical values. His only motivation seems to have been money.
This character is in the following story which has been indexed by this website:
Superman (vol. 1) #4 (Spring 1940): "The Economic Enemy"