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 case....read on!