Thursday, May 7, 2009

In which the Kents find a fantastic baby, and give it away

Superman #1 is mainly a reprint Action Comics #1, but with an exciting new title! What's different? Beats me, apart from the ads I'd assume the only other difference is the cover. And what a cover! By God, if I didn't know he was jumping I'd say that man could fly. And 64 pages of action is a hell of a lot, this book is simply packed with Superman stories, including a 2 page short story. Comics just don't come this packed with action anymore, and that's a shame.
Opening the book we find that Superman #1 begins with a short recap of just where this guy came from, and that's what this post will concern itself with. Everyone knows this origin story, at this point most of us were born with the knowledge ingrained, but there are some details I found rather surprising. To start us off the book shows a rocket speeding away from a planet, mid destruction. Modern readers all know what this is but the people of 1938 sure didn't. That fact doesn't seem to matter to Siegel and Shuster who waste no time elaborating on the concept, confining it to a single panel. In fact, Superman's entire origin is covered (for the very first time!) in two short pages. His past was important only as an explanation for why he can beat up crooks better than you or I.
Anyhow, following the initial panel we have these:

The Kents find Superbaby, and immediately turn it over to the vaguely sinister sounding "orphan asylum", where he proceeds to lift a desk. What appears to be five minutes later Pa Kent and some hired goon (no way is that guy Martha. Grundy, maybe?)return to adopt Superbaby once again. It's apparent at this point that they only gave him up in the first place because they needed to fill two extra panels. Of course, as we all know the Kents then instill Superbaby with a strong sense of truth and justice.

Looking at this a little more deeply brings up a rather troubling thought: everyone who works in that orphanage knows who Superman is. They know they had a baby who lifted a desk, they know who adopted it, they know 15-20 years later an adult Superman arrived on the scene! These people are either the biggest plothole in Superman (and introduced on the first page, no less!) or in some future issue they will become his greatest foes. I honestly hope Superman vs. Guy Who Runs an Orphanage comes sooner rather than later.

Okay now what the hell is this!? This idiot kid just goes into the middle of a city and starts jumping around in broad daylight? We're all used to seeing young Clark leaping around the wheatfields of Kansas, but that's not what's happening here at all. Is there anyone who doesn't know his identity by the second page of this comic? No.

Of course he doesn't get any more subtle as an adult, showing off his glistening naked torso while lifting a car (gaggle of swooning ladies assumed to be just off-panel), running alongside a train, and smugly making a doctor break needle after needle on his impenetrable skin. Trivia!: It turns out a "bursting shell" can penetrate Superman's skin! I look forward to that coming into play never.

The next page contains perhaps the biggest twist in the entire issue (or the next 80 issues to come)

Yeah, two pages in and the Kents are dead.

And there's Superman's glorious origin! Next update will cover Clark attempting to become a reporter, and meeting someone with the initials L.L.
See you then.


  1. I read through all of your articles so far, and I have to say very good stuff! Well written and somewhat witty so it does not become tedious! However, I will look forward to the day that you write a review on the one story where Superman confronts Lois and Lana about how he cannot marry either of them, due to the fact that they did not realize that he (Clark) was Superman all along and the glasses were a stupid disguise. I personally think that is one of the largest plotholes ever to be pointed out. If they never addressed the issue, it'd be like how no one guesses a man in a batsuit is Bruce. Keep updating!

  2. Actually, I feel dumber for having typed this but it seems that Superman uses his innate power of Super Hypnosis to keep people from knowing his identity.