John Smithers was the owner of the Star Newspaper of the town of Midvale. Unknown to all, he was also the leader of the local rackets, using his position of power as a cover for his criminal activities. When he hired a man named Brown to be the editor of his paper, Brown began to write a number of anti-racket articles for the paper. Unable to fire Brown due to his clean work ethic, Smithers sent some of his men to eliminate him. This attack was stopped by the Eternal Makkari who was then posing as a normal human named Harry Cane and moonlighting as costumed hero Hurricane. Impressed by Harry's fighting ability, Brown hired him as a reporter for his paper.
Hurricane then used the press to make himself a target of the racket men, easily defeating them with his powers and learning that their leader was really John Smithers. Confronting Smithers, the two fought over the printing press. No match for Hurricane, Smithers was easily disarmed and attempted to rush at the hero. Moving out of the way, Hurricane left Smithers to trip over the railings into the printing press below and a painful death.
Smithers was armed with a pistol.