Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Superman's Actions are Frankly Unforgivable: A Football Story

Here we are at last at the final story of Superman #1, and boy is it...

Let's just get into it.

A pedestrian is struck! The car flees the scene! We learn that in 1938 this was known as a "hit-skip"! As a crowd gathers 'round to call for help, Superman begins his pursuit!! The hit-skip car is stalled on some train tracks!!! Superman pulls himself and the driver from the car at the last second!!!!

And the driver dies of a heart attack. Damn, that's heavy.

Thus ends the case of the drunk drivin-wait, there's more?

Leaving the dead body on the side of the road, Superman for no reason at all (really.) leaps onto the side of a train car and slips in the window. Hearing people entering the very same car, he quickly ducks behind a chair. Why? You're Superman, show a little guts!

However his cowardice pays off, as he once again listens in on someone else's conversation and learns the plot of today's story. I wonder how many conversations he secretly listens to in a day before finally getting to the juicy one? In this case he overhears the local university's football coach hiring some toughs (always with the toughs!) to play on his team, and ensure his opponents lose in the most violent way possible.

Obviously Superman won't allow this to occur, so he leaps from behind the chair and with but a fraction of his titanic strength knocks the coach and two thugs cold!

Nah, I'm just kidding. He actually reports the underhanded deed to the university, preventing the cheating from taking place at all.

HA! No, I'm pulling your leg. That's way too outlandish. What he actually does is learn the non-cheating football team's roster, disguise himself as one of the players using greasepaint, track the boy down and drug him with a hypodermic needle so that he can take his place on the team.


It seems Tommy Burke is a substitute football player who is down on his luck, his shrew of a girlfriend has just left him for the star tennis player because Tommy simply isn't athletic enough for her. Vowing to become the greatest football player alive, and to never talk to his ex again, Tommy is suddenly accosted by his doppelganger and before he can properly react is knocked unconscious by the contents of a needle.

At this mention of Tommy's girlfriend I'd like to take a brief break from the story in order to point something out: Joe Shuster can only draw one woman. Below is a hastily edited together picture of (left to right) Lois Lane, the lascivious Lola Cortez, a party woman who gets trapped in a mine, and Tommy Burke's girlfriend. Or was it the other way around?

Lois, Lois, Lois and Lois

Back to the story: Superman shows up at the football team's locker room and is immediately razzed by his fellow players, as it seems Tommy don't get no respect. Not knowing which locker belongs to Tommy, and thus contains his uniform, Superman decides to pick one at random. Seeing Tommy attempt to steal his uniform one of the players becomes understandably upset and takes a swing at him.

Superman grins and takes the hits, before casually tossing the boy across the locker room with a flick of his wrist. This is the Superman I respect, not the one who saves the Earth from otherworldly threats, but the one who needlessly injures those both younger and weaker than him.

Amazingly, writer Jerry Siegel shows some actual consequences here and has Superman ejected from the locker room and barred from sitting on the bench. Realizing he's an impulsive jackass, Superman vows to make things right again by impulsively rushing out onto the field and playing the game anyway. His coach orders him removed from the field, causing Superman to suddenly face the wrath of the entire football team. He smashes through the same player he had previously knocked unconscious, citing "revenge" for the boy having hit him earlier. Grow up Superman, you're invulnerable!

The entire team hanging off his back, Superman reaches the goalpost and makes a touchdown. I don't have to tell you that he is immediately made the star player.

Due to Superman's skillful playing in his stead an article is written about Tommy Burke in the paper, causing the evil coach to send his evil thugs out to prevent him from participating in the big game. The thugs arrive at Burke's house and find him still drugged (honestly, Superman?) but tie him up anyway and drive off with him in their car. Of course, Superman gives chase! I for one am glad that we have heroes like Superman who would never allow someone to get away with kidnapping, why I-

Holy shit!

Very well...leaving Tommy to his kidnappers, Superman arrives at the stadium disguised as Burke once more. He confronts the evil coach, telling him if he doesn't resign and kick the thugs off his team he will expose him after the game. Thinking Tommy has escaped, evil coach orders his thugs to knife him during play.

Meanwhile, the real Tommy Burke has escaped and arrives at the stadium to witness his ex-girlfriend giving her tennis champion boyfriend the cold shoulder. It seems she is taken with SuperTommy's skillful playing. What a bitch.

The thugs stab Superman, snapping their knife on his unpierceable skin, before being carried away on stretchers after facing the man of steel's wrath. Don't feel left out because I'm not posting the panels to this, you don't see the knife or the fight. Seeing this, the evil coach resigns.

Superman somehow finds Tommy in the stands at halftime, and they switch places. Tommy plays like a bungling idiot for a few seconds before being buried beneath the entirety of the opposing team, and being knocked unconscious.

When he awakens he is embraced by his girlfriend who makes him promise to never play football again as it's too darn dangerous, a promise he is all too ready to make.

The end! And the moral of the story

Well, see you next time when we begin Superman #2!

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  1. When did you first get into Superman?

  2. Well, I've loved the character my entire life but never really had the chance to read the comics on anything resembling a consistent basis. My main exposure to Superman was television and movies.

    Always been curious about the comics, and hopefully other people feel the same so I'm not just wasting my time here.

    Anyway, how about you?

  3. Same as you - liked him since I was a kid. I wonder if it's true that he was invented by a Canadian?