Monday, April 12, 2010

Superman Gets Pushy - 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.

September 1938, The Golden Age of Comic Book Super Heroes is entering it's second quarter. Superman is still not the default cover feature for Action Comics and is not even the lead feature inside, being relegated to pages 49-61.

Messrs Seigel and Shuster, while having produced features-a-plenty for National Comics are still feeling their way in how to make a story work with a character with extra abilities. Superman plays a detective-like role in trying to get to the bottom of a college football fix and goes under cover again.

The world at large (even in the yet unnamed Metropolis) is unaware of this marvel from the planet Krypton, and Superman seems to like it that way. He takes great pleasure in surprising his adversaries with his great strength and...ah well, read on...I'll pop in and commentate when necessary.

We open with Superman keeping the mean streets of Metropolis (or New York...or Cleveland...or Toronto maybe even at the point) free of "hit and run" drivers.

It's always high comedy to have drunks be the only witnesses to unusual activity.

The "hit and run" driver plot point is now not needed, so our erstwhile writer simply kills him off. Oh, if only the hanging threads of my life were so easily tied off. Superman's near the train, which is where he's needed for the story, that's all that matters...but why does he stop to get on board? These are questions for wiser men than me. Why does he automatically hide from the people in the room he's just broken into? I'd say it's just a good thing for story development he did! And is behind an arm chair really that good of a hiding place? Damn skippy it is!!

Hmmph, passed over by a tennis playing dandy! He deserves to be given a hypodermic injection with a strange drug!

You know? Superman's actions just become less palatable as the story goes on. He is just beginning his career after-all, a super hero has got to learn as he goes, just like the rest of us.

In just 2 pages he spoils his own plan. Super-common sense is not one of his powers.

Luckily, Super-Hubris is!!!

Another "unlikely-to-work" hiding place.

Seigel and Shuster are starting to get the idea here. At the apex of the story, seeing Superman emerge ready for action in his fighting togs to cue the reader in.

Burke shakes off the Super-drug just in time!

The drug use in this story can be set aside as part of the era of the 1930's. "Wonder drugs" were popping up every 10 minutes, and the "miracles" of modern medicine were looked on as just that by the general public. Not yet understood, the boys would think sedation by injection was just as harmless as they make it sound.

The fact that Superman is only minimally seen in full red and blue and treated more as a detective with lots of powerful tricks up his sleeve...THAT's the real appeal of this story. 4 months in now, and the Super Hero and it's potential for fantastic and weird adventures is still escaping the creators grasp.

It's the stuff I love about viewing things of the past in retrospect. Seeing the creators of something feeling their way about, learning while they work and knowing how it will all come to fruition.

See y'all tomorrow!

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