Mild Mannered Reviews - Classic Pre-Crisis Superman ComicsMany thanks to reviewer Wallace Harrington (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Superman #1Cover date: Summer 1939
Story: Jerome Siegel
Art: Joe Shuster
Story 1, Part 1. "Just before the doomed planet, Krypton, exploded into fragments, a scientist placed his infant son within an experimental rocket-ship, launching it toward earth!" Once the ship reached earth, the child was found by an elderly couple named Kent. At first, they placed the child in an orphanage, but returned to adopt the child as their own (much to the pleasure of the orphanage director, since the baby had been destroying everything in sight), naming him Clark. As years pass, the Kents shaped the boy's future, warning him to hide his powers to prevent people from being scared of him. As he grew older, the boy found that he could "hurdle skyscrapers... leap an eighth of a mile... raise tremendous weights... run faster than a streamline train... and nothing less than a bursting shell could penetrate his skin." After the death of his parents, Clark turned his strength to benefit mankind and created Superman, Champion of the oppressed.
Moving to Metropolis, Clark Kent applies for a job as a reporter at the Daily Star. Editor Taylor speaks with the man, but there are no openings (I know I haven't any experience, sir, but still I think I'd make a good reporter. Sorry fella! Can't use you!) Leaving the building Kent turns into Superman and leaps to the ledge outside the editor's office and overhears a telephone call of a mob attacking the county jail.
Seeing this as a way to impress the editor, Superman leaps to the jail. An angry mob was about to lynch a prisoner. After the quieting the mob, the prisoner confides in Superman. "I'm being held for the murder of Jack Kennedy. But I didn't do it... and neither did Evelyn Curry, the girl who's being electrocuted tonight for it!" "Who is the murderer," asks Superman. "Bea Carroll, singer at the Hilow Night Club."
Changing back to his civilian identity, Kent calls the Star, and reports in. The editor is pleased with Kent's good work and hires him on the spot. But Clark pursues the story, going to the Hilow Club to confront the singer. Changing to Superman, he goes to her dressing room tells her to confess. Her reply is to pull a gun, but Superman crushes the weapon then grabs the girl's arm squeezing until she yells in pain. As Bea Carroll admits to the murder, the radio announces that Evelyn Curry will be executed in half an hour.
Grabbing up the singer in his arms, Superman goes to the Governor's mansion, but is turned away. Smashing through the door, he demands to be taken to the governor. When the aid refuses, Superman lifts him above his head and says, "Then I'll take you to him." The governor's bedroom is protected by a steel door. Try and knock this door down, says the aid. Ripping it off the hinges, Superman goes to the governor, handing him Bea Carroll's signed confession and convincing him to pardon Evelyn Curry only minutes before her execution.
On his way to work, Clark sees the headline of the Daily Star, and is pleased that Superman was not mentioned, but when the governor meets with his top aids, all he can say is, "Thank heaven he's apparently on the side of law and order."
At the Star, Editor Taylor assigns Clark to find out about this Superman fellow. "Listen Chief. If I can't find out something about this Superman, no one can."
Leaving the office, Clark is given a tip that a man is beating his wife. Superman appears on the scene, stopping the beating and throwing the husband into the wall. When the man pulls a knife, the blade breaks on Superman's chest. "Now you're going to get a lesson you'll never forget," screams Superman. But the man faints.
Returning to the Star, Clarks asks Lois on a date. "I suppose I'll give you a break - for a change," says Lois. At a nightclub, Clark asks Lois why she always avoids him, but Lois avoids the answer. At another table, several gangsters see Lois, and one tries to cut in on their dance. Kent reluctantly adheres to his role as a weakling, but Lois slaps the gangster and charges out. Upset the gangster heads out after her, forcing Lois' cab into a ditch, and kidnapping her. As their car speeds down the road, the lights come across a man dressed in blue and red. They attempt to run him down, but he leaps over the car, then speeds after it. Superman grabs the car from the rear, lifts it over his head shaking the occupants out, and then smashes the car to bits.
After seeing this spectacle, Lois is petrified with fear. But Superman tells her that she doesn't need to be afraid. Lifting her into his arms, he leaps to the city, then asking her not to print this escapade. But Lois, being Lois, goes to the editor. Instead of believing her, he thinks she has had too much to drink. In the office, Lois treats Clark even more coldly than before.
After attending a congressional session, Clark stumbles upon a new story. Senator Barrows is accepting bribes from Alex Greer, a slick lobbyist, to push a bill through. Superman confronts Greer to find out who is behind the plan. But when Greer refuses to answer, Superman grabs Greer by the foot and starts leaping across the city. Greer is petrified with fear, but refuses to answer.
Story 1, Part 2. As they topple to the street, eighty stories down, Greer relents. Emil Norvell, the munition magnate is funding the lobbyist. While Superman flies to the top of the Washington Monument to locate Norvell's estate, Greer calls to warn Norvell. But regardless of what he anticipated, Norvell is not ready for Superman. Coming through the window, Norvell orders his men to shoot with a machine-gun barrage. Superman only smiles and the security men flee out the window. Superman grabs up Norvell. Bending an iron bar in his bare hands, Superman tells Norvell that if he is not on the steamship Baronto, leaving the country by tomorrow, "I swear I will follow you into whatever hole you hide in and tear out your cruel heart with my bare hands." "I'll be on it," whimpers Norvell.
However, when the ship sails, both Clark and Lois are passengers. The first night at sea, Superman visits Norvell, telling him that he made a good choice following his orders. But after Superman leaves, Norvell offers a reward to the first man to kill Superman. The thugs throw Superman overboard, but when the henchmen ask for their reward, Norvell refuses. The Henchmen double-cross Norvell. This time, it is Superman that save Norvell. As payment for saving his life, Superman tells Norvell that he must enlist in the San Monte army. Norvell figures that he can join, then escape at the first opportunity, but when he enlists, he finds Superman has enlisted as well. In the middle of battle, Norvell fears for his life. "When it's your own life at stake, your viewpoint changes!" says Superman.
Flying to the enemy camp, Superman takes pictures of the generals, and sends them to the Evening News, Cleveland Ohio.
Lois meets Lola Cortez, a wealthy Traveler, who is also a spy, who plants a stolen document in Lois' room. Security officers find the document, and arrest Lois. She is tried for espionage, and sentenced to die before a firing squad. On the day of the execution, Superman shields her from the bullets and flies her to safety. First man to battle a plane in the sky single-handed.
Grabs the two opposing generals. Tells them to settle the war by fighting between themselves. When they say that they are not angry with each other, they realize that they cannot remember why the war is going on. Shake hands, end the war. When Kent returns to the paper, the editor says that since Kent has been gone, there have been no Superman sightings. I have a hunch he'll make his appearance again... soon.
Story 2. Stanislaw Kober trapped in a mine cave-in. Superman streaks to Blakelytown to help. Disguising himself as a miner, so he won't be detected, Clark drops into the mine. Fighting poisonous gas, he rescues all of the miner and the rescuers, but Kober is paralyzed for life. He knew that the mine was unsafe, but when he told the owner he did nothing.
Kent goes to Thornton Blakely. Asks if he is going to assist the miner, Kent is told that Kober was careless, that this is business, he is not a humanitarian. Superman again dresses as a miner and goes to the Blakely estate, but is captured. Blakeley is having a party and challenges the partygoers to risk death in his mine. Lead by Superman, they descend into the mineshaft. Moving quickly, Superman produces a small cave-in, which panics the entire group. Fearful for their lives, the crowd turns rabid. And when they try to use some of the mine's safety devices, devices that have been broken for a long time, the crowd turns on Blakely. The pleasure-seekers dig with picks, are knee-deep in water and eventually pass out from exhaustion. Superman clears a path allowing miners to rescue the group. Several days later, Blakely tells Kent that he is going to make his mines safer, and take care of the injured miner. Congratulations on your new policy. May it be a permanent one. (If it isn't, you can expect another visit from Superman.)
Story 3. Careening down the streets of Metropolis, a drunken driver strikes a pedestrian and speeds off. Clark changes to Superman, and heads off after the man. When he finds him, he has stopped on the tracks. Superman races past the train, amazing a startled engineer, and in the nick of time, Superman grabs the man just as the locomotive strikes the car. Ironically, the man dies of a heart attack.
Quickly entering the train, Superman over-hears the football coach of Dale University hire two thugs to play on his team, and kidnap Cordell University's star player. "If I don't win this game... it means I lose my position as coach," he tells the thugs.
Going over the roster, Superman finds a player that he resembles. He goes to Cordell University, and disguises himself as Tommy Burke, a player that has only been a substitute. Even his girl friend has lost patience with him.
Superman drugs Burke and disguised as Burke, Superman attends the next football practice, and shows the coach what he can do. And to think that I let this guy sit on the bench for six seasons!
Even though the thugs have gotten rid of Cordell's best players, Superman plays for Tommy Burke and they quickly score three touchdowns. Tommy regains consciousness and returns to the stadium. He thinks about calling the police, but when he hears the cheering and sees his girl yelling for Burke, he lets it go. At halftime, the Dale coach sends his resignation to the president of the school and Superman exchanges clothes with Burke. On the first play of the second half, Burke tries to catch a kick-off and is smothered by the opposing team. After the game, his girl asks Burke to give up football. For you, I'll do it, he says.
All in color for a dime! 64 pages of art. Yet, Superman #1 is the first of many DC reprint books, actually reprinting the first four episodes from Action #1-4. The only new material was a 2-page origin story and 4 pages omitted from the first Action story.
Story - 1: All of the stories in this first issue were more ponderous, disjointed "snippets" than a continuous, flowing story. There were no transitions between one episode and another, rather they all ran together.
Art - 2: Even for 1939, the drawing in these panels was simple and crude. There are particular panels that are very well composed, but of course, Joe Shuster was only in his mid-twenties when he drew these stories.
Cover Art - 5: The strongest point of this whole issue was this cover. This particular cover has been emulated, but never equaled. The energy that went into this cover has never been reproduced and may be the reason the Superman became the character that it was. However, there is evidence that the cover of Superman #1 was actually adapted from the splash page of Action #10. While it seems that one of the background buildings was slightly redrawn to fit within the oval frame of the Superman image on the cover, the rest of the image is an obvious reproduction of that panel, right down to the speed lines of the Superman figure. In fact, the image is so close that some wonder if it was even redrawn. That poses the possibility that the central image of the cover to Superman #1 was a actually a photostat (a photographic reproduction), or a slightly modified adaptation of the panel from Action #10 within the new oval frame.
Pre-Crisis Superman Comic Book Reviews
- Action Comics #1 (June 1938)
- Action Comics #2 (July 1938)
- Action Comics #3 (August 1938)
- Action Comics #4 (September 1938)
- Action Comics #5 (October 1938)
- Action Comics #6 (November 1938)
- Action Comics #7 (December 1938)
- Superman Archives: Volume 1 (1939)
- Superman #1 (Summer 1939)
- Action Comics #8 (January 1939)
- Action Comics #9 (February 1939)
- Action Comics #10 (March 1939)
- Superman #13 (November/December 1941) - The Archer
- Superman #19 (November/December 1942) - Case of the Funny Paper Crimes
- Action Comics #60 (May 1943) - Lois Lane - Superwoman
- Superman #30 (September/October 1944) - The Mysterious Mr. Mxyztplk
- Action Comics #80 (January 1945) - Mr. Mxyztplk Returns
- Superman #38 (January/February 1946) - The Battle of the Atoms
- Superman #42 (September/October 1946) - The Death of Clark Kent
- Superman #45 (March/April 1947) - Lois Lane, Superwoman
- Superman #53 (July 1948) - The Origin of Superman
- Action Comics #124 (September 1948) - A Superman of Doom
- Superman #60 (December 1949/January 1950) - The Two Identities of Superman & Superman Fights the Super-Brain
- Superman #76 (May/June 1952) - The Mightiest Team in the World
- Superman #80 (January/February 1953) - Superman's Lost Brother
- Superman 3D (1953) - The Man Who Stole the Sun, Origin of Superman and The Man Who Bossed Superman
- Superman #87 (February 1954) - The Prankster's Greatest Role
- Superman #88 (March 1954) - The Terrible Trio
- Superman #89 (May 1954) - Captain Kent the Terrible, Superman of Skid Row, and One Hour to Doom!
- Superman #91 (August 1954) - The Superman Stamp and Great Caesar's Ghost
- World's Finest #88 (May/June 1957) - Superman and Batman's Greatest Foes
- Superman #115 (August 1957) - The Midget Superman!
- Superboy #65 (May/June 1958) - The Amazing Adventures of Krypto Mouse
- Action Comics #242 (July 1958) - The Super-Duel in Space
- Superman #123 (August 1958) - The Girl of Steel
- Superman #127 (February 1959) - Titano the Super Ape
- Action Comics #252 (May 1959) - The Menace of Metallo and The Supergirl From Krypton
- Superman #129 (May 1959) - The Girl in Superman's Past
- Superman #130 (July 1959) - The Curse of Kryptonite!, The Super-Servant of Crime!, and The Town that Hated Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #40 (October 1959) - Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl's Pal
- Superman #134 (January 1960) - The Super-Menace of Metropolis
- Jimmy Olsen #42 (January 1960) - The Big Superman Movie!, Perry White, Cub Reporter!, and Jimmy the Genie!
- Jimmy Olsen #44 (April 1960) - The Wolf-Man of Metropolis
- Adventure Comics #271 (April 1960) - How Luthor Met Superboy
- Jimmy Olsen #46 (July 1960) - Jimmy Olsen, Orphan
- Superman #141 (November 1960) - Superman's Return To Krypton
- Superboy #85 (December 1960) - The Impossible Mission
- Jimmy Olsen #51 (March 1961) - The Girl with Green Hair
- Jimmy Olsen #52 (April 1961) - Jimmy Olsen, Wolf-Man
- Superboy #89 (June 1961) - Superboy's Big Brother!
- Action Comics #279 (August 1961) - The Super-Rivals
- Superman #147 (August 1961) - The Legion of Super Villains
- Superman #149 (November 1961) - The Death of Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #57 (December 1961) - Jimmy Olsen Marries Supergirl
- Superman #155 (August 1962) - Superman Under the Green Sun and The Downfall of Superman
- Justice League of America #13 (August 1962) - Riddle of the Robot Justice League
- World's Finest #129 (November 1962) - Joker-Luthor, Incorporated
- Superman #158 (January 1963) - Superman in Kandor
- Superman #160 (April 1963) - The Mortal Superman
- Superman #161 (May 1963) - The Last Days of Ma and Pa Kent
- Superman #162 (July 1963) - The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue
- Superman #163 (August 1963) - Wonder-Man, the New Hero of Metropolis and The Goofy Superman
- Justice League of America #21 & #22 (August/September 1963) - Crisis on Earth-One! and Crisis on Earth-Two!
- Superman #164 (October 1963) - The Showdown Between Luthor and Superman
- Superman #165 (November 1963) - The Sweetheart Superman Forgot
- Superman #166 (January 1964) - The Fantastic Story of Superman's Sons
- Superman #167 (February 1964) - The Team of Luthor and Brainiac
- Superman #168 (April 1964) - Luthor - Super Hero and Lex Luthor, Daily Planet Editor
- Superman #169 (May 1964) - The Man Who Stole Superman's Secret Life
- Action Comics #314 (July 1964) - The Day Superman Became The Flash
- Justice League of America #29 & #30 (August/September 1964) - Crisis on Earth-Three! and The Most Dangerous Earth of All!
- Superman #173 (November 1964) - The Triumph of Luthor and Brainiac
- Action Comics #318 (November 1964) - The Death of Luthor
- Action Comics #319 (December 1964) - The Condemned Superman
- Superman #175 (February 1965) - Clark Kent's Brother
- Superman #181 (November 1965) - The Superman of 2965
- The Legion of Super-Heroes - Archives Volume 4 (1965)
- Superman #184 (February 1966) - The Demon Under the Red Sun
- Action Comics #338 (June 1966) - Muto - Monarch of Menace
- Action Comics #339 (July 1966) - Muto versus The Man of Tomorrow
- Superman #189 (August 1966) - Krypton Lives Again
- Action Comics #346 (February 1967) - The Man Who Sold Insurance to Superman and The Case of the Superman Imposter
- Superman #194 (February 1967) - The Death of Lois Lane
- Superman #196 (May 1967) - The Star of Steel
- Superman #199 (January 1967) - Superman's Race With The Flash
- Superman #200 (October 1967) - Super-Brother Against Super-Brother
- The Flash #175 (December 1967) - Race to the End of the Universe
- Justice League of America #63 (June 1968) - Time Signs a Death Warrant for the Justice League
- Superman #211 (November 1968) - The Name of the Game is Superman!
- Superman #215 (April 1969) - Lois LaneŠ DeadŠ Yet Alive
- Superman #224 (February 1970) - Beware the Super-Genius Baby
- Action Comics #393 (October 1970) - Superman Meets Super-Houdini! and The Day Superboy Became Superman!
- Jimmy Olsen #133 (October 1970) - The Newsboy Legion
- Action Comics #394 (November 1970) - Midas of Metropolis and Requiem for a Hot Rod!
- World's Finest #198 (November 1970) - Race to Save the Universe!
- Action Comics #395 (December 1970) - The Secrets of Superman's Fortress and The Credit Card of Catastrophe
- Jimmy Olsen #134 (December 1970) - The Mountain of Judgement!
- World's Finest #199 (December 1970) - A Race to Save Time!
- Superman #233 (January 1971) - Superman Breaks Loose!
- Jimmy Olsen #135 (January 1971) - The Evil Factory!
- Superman #234 (February 1971) - How to Tame a Wild Volcano
- Jimmy Olsen #136 (February 1971) - The Saga of the D.N.Aliens
- Superman #235 (March 1971) - The Sinister Scream of the Devil's Harp
- Superman #236 (April 1971) - Planet of the Angels and The Doomsayer
- Jimmy Olsen #137 (April 1971) - The Four-Armed Terror!
- Superman #237 (May 1971) - The Enemy of Earth
- Superman #238 (June 1971) - Menace at 1000 Degrees
- Jimmy Olsen #138 (June 1971) - The Big Boom!!
- Superman #240 (July 1971) - To Save a Superman
- Jimmy Olsen #139 (July 1971) - The Guardian Fights Again!!!
- Superman #241 (August 1971) - The Shape of Fear
- Superman #242 (September 1971) - The Ultimate Battle
- Jimmy Olsen #141 (September 1971) - Will the Real Don Rickles Panic?!?
- Jimmy Olsen #142 (October 1971) - The Man from Transilvane!
- Jimmy Olsen #143 (November 1971) - Genocide Spray
- Jimmy Olsen #144 (December 1971) - A Big Thing in a Deep Scottish Lake!
- Superman #247 (January 1972) - Must There Be A Superman
- Jimmy Olsen #145 (January 1972) - Brigadoom!
- Jimmy Olsen #146 (February 1972) - Homo-Disastrous!
- Jimmy Olsen #147 (March 1972) - A Superman in Super-Town!
- Jimmy Olsen #148 (April 1972) - Monarch of All He Subdues!
- Superman #292 (October 1975) - The Luthor Nobody Knows!
- Action Comics #458 (April 1976) - Make Me a Super-Hero! and Masquerade of the Nutty Kid!
- Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (Spring 1978)
- Action Comics #484 (June 1978) - Superman Takes a Wife!
- Superman #328 (October 1978) - Attack of the Kryptonoid
- Action Comics #489 (November 1978) - Krypton Dies Again and Where There's a Will... There's a Fray
- Superman #329 (November 1978) - I Have Met The Enemy... And He Is Me! and The Secret of the Talking Car
- Superman #330 (December 1978) - The Master Mesmerizer of Metropolis!
- Action Comics #490 (December 1978) - No Tomorrow For Superman
- Action Comics #491 (January 1979) - A Matter of Light and Death
- Superman #331 (January 1979) - Lockup at 20,000 Feet
- Action Comics #492 (February 1979) - Superman's Secret Afterlife
- Superman #332 (February 1979) - The Eternity Cage
- Action Comics #493 (March 1979) - The Metropolis UFO Connection
- Action Comics #494 (April 1979) - The Secret of the Super S
- Action Comics #495 (May 1979) - Attack of the Ultimate Warrior
- DC Comics Presents #14 (October 1979) - Judge, Jury... and No Justice!
- The Superman Story (1979) - The Life Story of Superman
- DC Comics Presents #57 (May 1983) - Days of Future Past
- DC Comics Presents #67 (March 1984) - 'Twas the Fright Before Christmas
- DC Comics Presents Annual #3 (1984) - With One Magic Word
- Superman: The Secret Years #1 (February 1985) - Dreams and Schemes and Feeling Proud!
- Superman: The Secret Years #2 (March 1985) - Reach Out and Touch
- Superman: The Secret Years #3 (April 1985) - Terminus
- DC Comics Presents #80 (April 1985) - A World Full of Supermen!
- Superman: The Secret Years #4 (May 1985) - Beyond Terminus
- DC Comics Presents #85 (September 1985) - The Jungle Line
- Superman Annual #11 (1985) - For The Man Who Has Everything
- World's Finest #323 (January 1986) - Afraid of the Dark
- DC Comics Presents #97 (September 1986) - Phantom Zone: The Final Chapter
- Superman #423 & Action Comics #583 (September 1986) - Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?
- Showcase Presents: Superman Family - Volume 1 (October 2005)
- Superman/Batman: Saga of the Super Sons (December 2007)
- Not Brand ECHH #7 (April 1967) - The Origin of Stuporman
Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.