Friday, June 12, 2009

Superman's Manager

This story begins with an official overview of Superman's powers at this point. Siegel gets a bit carried away describing Superman's manly, drool-inducing strength and doesn't leave himself enough room to mention the super hearing we've already seen in action. However, this remains an interesting bit of trivia. An eighth of a mile!

Next up we learn that Superman is in the news more and more each day, something those of you who've been reading from the start know he had hoped to avoid, and that "meek ace-reporter" Clark Kent is assigned to track down all Superman related stories. That might have been a conflict of interests in a comic that cared about characterization, but Superman ain't got time for that shit, he's got nutty adventures to have!

Clark's editor introduces him to a man claiming to be Superman's manager, which causes Clark to tense up so much that he reduces an ashtray he happened to be holding to a "shapeless pulp". This is used to reveal to the reader that Clark Kent is, and please don't be angry that I'm spoiling this for you, actually Superman.

Clark knows that this guy isn't really Superman's manager, we know that this guy isn't Superman's manager, but the Daily Star's editor doesn't. Manager dude offers the paper exclusive Superman stories before Superman even does 'em, and to prove that he's on the level he turns on the radio to reveal his newly started Superman radio drama! Following which he invites the two gentlemen to look out the window to see a plane pulling a banner advertising Superman gasoline, along with a billboard advertising The Superman Automobile.

It's pretty amazing that Clark has noticed none of this, considering the flippin' billboard is right outside his office. Also he's a reporter and is paid to notice stuff. Also, he's Superman.

Manager guy tells them that he's also got Superman bathing suits, costumes, exercisers, movie rights, and (haha, oh man!!) comic books! What a hoot!

Now anyone who was stupid enough to watch the tv show Lois & Clark like me knows that episode 5 of season 1 (shoot me...) contained a story very similar to this one. It's interesting that the show actually drew inspiration from classic Superman stories, especially considering the tiny amount of people who would have even noticed. Hell, I'm probably the first person to have noticed period. Well don't worry Lois & Clark writers, after 16 years your obscure reference has finally payed off!

Desperate to prove that he isn't lying the manager arranges an interview between Clark and Superman, an arrangement that is overheard by an "office boy" listening through the closed door. Someone fire that kid! Having overheard this exciting piece of gossip the kid runs straight to Lois, who doesn't intend to let Clark conduct this interview without her.

Well aware of the power she has over Clark, Lois offers to let him take her out on a date that very night. Not wanting to miss this opportunity, and embarrassingly cow-towing to her every whim as usual, Clark agrees to take her out with the caveat that she will have to accompany him on his assignment first.

Lois walks away muttering under her breath about how easily she manipulates Clark, while Clark mutters the same thing to himself. Frankly, I have a problem with that! There's no doubt Clark actually wants to get with Lois, and as we've seen multiple times Lois hates that he's a total pussy and has no respect for him because of it. So why, oh WHY, would Clark be proud of convincing her that he's exactly what she hates?

Did Jerry Siegel even think about what he was writing here, or was he just glad that Superman gets to show how smart he is by pulling the wool over someone's eyes? Like, what's the plan? Superman wants Lois, convinces her he's entirely undesirable, gloats about how he just cock blocked himself? I can't wrap my head around this one.

ANYWAY, Clark arrives to pick Lois up for their date and they head to a trendy nightclub where Clark proceeds to nag Lois about how much he likes her and if only she'd give him a chance (I won't even point out that this date IS his chance and that he's blowing it...oops, just did), before being interrupted by a singer taking the stage. Met by "tumultuous applause" the singer announces that tonight she will perform "You're a Superman". Uh oh!

The strangest part about this is that instead of singing the song, she simply thinks it to herself. Think I'm kidding? Check the picture:

And she performs the whole thing like that! Must have been one awkward performance. Is that really how singing balloons were drawn in the late 30s? Or, worse yet, have I been mistaking songs for thoughts my entire life??

This is a pretty darn good place to leave off, so I'll do just that.

Next time: Clark Kent meets Superman!

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  1. That's a good point about why Clark would be proud of convincing Lois he's a pussy - but the point is even bigger, I think, because Clark's whole "persona" is that of a mild-mannered wuss. He has to maintain that pose to be credible as Clark. But, why oh why, as you say, did he choose it in the first place?
    I can answer a bit of that myself - the writers wanted the contrast between Wimpoman and Superman. But it doesn't always work in the context of the stories.
    However, maybe Superman adopted the Clark Kent persona before he met Lois? And then it was too late to change it? Besides, he doesn't really care because he knows she loves the "real him" - Superman.
    I don't know the history. Maybe you do. So fill me in if you do.

  2. I believe I know about as much as you do on this. I certainly enjoyed reading your insight.

    We are first introduced to Clark as he attempts to get a job at the Daily Star in Action Comics #1/Superman #1, he also meets Lois in this same story. For as long as we've known Clark he's known Lois. It isn't clear how long he's been Supermanning around town, or needed a secret identity before this. The papers certainly hadn't noticed Superman until that point.

    In fact, the super special origin included in Superman #1 (but not in Action Comics #1!) shows him as Clark racing trains, leaping buildings, lifting cars and taunting doctors as they break needles on his skin.

    I guess then that Clark was an all man man's man manly man until deciding to become Superman, which seems to coincide with his decision to be a newspaper reporter. It is then his bad luck that he had to take on the wuss persona the same time he met the woman of his dreams.

    However, as we saw in the recent post about the burst dam, anytime Lois declares her love for Superman he brushes her off. It might be that we're meant to think he wants her to love Clark, and not his other identity. Almost as if they're two different people. Jock vs. Nerd. Nerd wishes that the ladies weren't so hung up on the jock.

    I hope my entirely non-conclusive answer helps!