Sunday, March 28, 2010

Under Cover Super Hero - A'S'HGACB:SH*

*This is part of a semi-regular series in this blog "A 'Slight' History of Golden Age Comic Books: Super Heroes". To catch up on the other posts, click the label in the right hand column or at the bottom of this post, abbreviated to A'S'HGACB:SH.

OK, OK, I promise to all the lawyers at Time-Warner that I won't really be posting every Superman appearance as my "Slight" History continues. These first few are sooooooooo intriguing to me though, that I think they deserve a good look and a share with all of you. In deference to the powers that be, if you'd like to read every golden age Superman story, please check out the Superman Archive series published by the big boys.

It's now August of 1938 in our timeline and Superman and Zatara make their 3rd appearance in Action Comics #3. There's a couple of interesting things to note here as the novelty of the character of Superman (super powered being, dressed in tights, being from another planet, etc.) is still a gamble on the part of the publisher. They know NOT what they hath wrought!

It's evidenced in a couple of things here. For one, production was far ahead of what the businessmen could keep up with methinks. The Superman character was ALREADY after 2 months proved such a popular character, that they added an offer to join the "Supermen of America" club (at the bottom of page 13...wish I had that center spread). But the logistics of production still had them forging ahead with a cover that did not feature their newly popular character.

Another sign that the powers that be were still hedging their bets is in the execution of the story itself. The first 2 issues had been culled from the story that Siegel and Shuster had been working on for the character for 3 or 4 or 5 years and was an extended pure form of the stories they wanted to tell of this fantastic super being in the blue tights. THIS story has every one's favorite Kryptonian going undercover. 13 pages of, yes good deeds and bursts of amazing abilities, but without the flash of the union suit. This smacks of the editors not being sure that the readers wanted something quite so spangly and outrageous.

I have no evidence of this, it's just my theory, but think about it. If the suits had been having good success for years producing stories of good guys fighting for the right, they may have seen making it all TOO out of the ordinary as being a distraction and a detraction. They hadn't yet realized that after all those forays into the super hero (see earlier posts in this series on "Prototypes of the Comic Book Super Hero"), that this new medium of story and art all in the long form of 10-13 page stories was finally the place to sink their teeth into this new breed of hero. For all the flash of what comic books would become, this "under cover" story seems a little pedestrian, but I think only because the suits were afraid to make the plunge.

But they very soon would.

I'd like to hear from any of you who know more about this period to see if my theory is correct or if I'm just talking out of my butt. In either on!

If I had that center spread, I'd fill it out and send it in.

A true sign that the Golden Age of the Comic Book Super Hero had begun. Fan appreciation!

This brings us to the end of the first summer of the Golden Age of Comic Book Super Heroes. I don't have a copy of the Zatara story from this issue but here's some more miscellaneous stories of "The Clock" to bring us all up to speed on more of what was hinted at with this character.

These little two page detective stories were the extent of the flushing out while being published by "Comics Magazine Publishers" (later "Centaur"), the true evolution for him would be coming in a few months when he was sold to "Quality". These little two pagers that were continued from month to month are another sign to me that publishers were still unaware of the impact that the masked crime-fighters would have. Still warily dipping their toes in unsure waters.

I'm heading up to Hollywood in a couple of hours to visit family. I will do my best to do a post tomorrow, goodness knows there will be plenty happening "Inside My Head" whenever a family visit happens.

Worst case is, I'll see y'all the next day!

Take care!!!

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