April 18, 2013

Happy 75th anniversary, Superman

Happy 75th anniversary, Superman
Action Comics #1
“Action Comics” #1 (June 1938). Art by Joe Shuster.

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the date “Action Comics” #1 (cover-dated June 1938) went on sale on newsstands. “Action” #1 is, of course, the first appearance of the Man of Steel himself, Superman. As such, there’s been plenty of online buzz about Superman today.

“Action” #1 also marks Lois Lane’s first appearance, and thus she’s also garnering buzz of her own (via a Twitter hashtag campaign, etc.).

I generally consider Superman to be my favorite superhero, even if he’s not “cool” or as “relatable” as, erm, a billionaire who mostly hangs out in a glorified basement of his deceased parents’ house, or, uh, a burly Canadian with Ginsu knives for hands. (I like Batman and Wolverine too, just kidding…) Below are a few reasons why I’ve always liked Superman.

Relatability

Despite suggestions by some fans he isn’t, I do relate to some aspects of his origins. We’re both from small Midwestern towns; we both wear glasses; we both have an interest in media. We even both left said small towns to move to bigger cities for more opportunities. Granted, I never baked a giant-sized cake for my hometown as a going-away gift…

Sense of altruism and optimism

I like Superman’s sense of altruism and optimism, which given recent events as of this writing, are even more important than ever. It seems unfortunate that such is considered as “old-fashioned” or “not realistic enough” as a motivating factor toward becoming a hero. Though if such backstory trauma’s needed, there’s the fact that Superman’s entire home planet blew up. Additionally, in many continuities, his foster parents are deceased.

His powers

I like Superman’s powers. Flight, super-vision, super-speed, etc. I even like the goofier ones, such as “super-ventriloquism.” Superman’s power levels don’t bother me as it does some fans. Then again, some people seem to think Kal-El’s “too powerful” if he displays anything above his 1938-power-levels, as illustrated in this post’s picture. I figure, he’s “Superman,” not “Adequate-man”…

Supporting cast

Superman’s supporting cast is also terrific. Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Ma and Pa Kent (when not deceased)…and yes, Lois Lane, too.

Other DC heroes have also made a mark in the Superman books over the years. Aquaman has made various appearances in Silver Age Superman stories, to the point that they even gave the Sea King the honor of being Earth-1’s longest-serving superhero aside from Superman (by debuting during Superboy’s era as “Aquaboy”).

Of course, the most frequent team-ups of all were with Batman. Superman’s spent decades teaming up with the Masked Manhunter in the pages of “World’s Finest Comics,” as well as its more generically-named modern counterpart “Superman/Batman.”

Villains

I like Superman’s villains as well. Brainiac and Luthor, of course, are great villains; I still think Brainiac would make a good villain for a Superman movie, especially with Hollywood’s love of CGI. I enjoy the less famous villains as well: the Toyman, Mr. Mxyzptlk, Terra-Man, the Parasite. OK, so I could do without Doomsday… never liked the stupid bad-Hulk-knockoff plot device—er, character.

Superboy

Not quite Superman, but I’ve also always liked Superboy, Superman’s adventures as a teenager. As a kid, watching the Filmation cartoons of Superboy was one of my first introductions to superheroes in general, as well as Superman himself. That is, when I wasn’t watching the Man of Steel in “Super Friends” or the Christopher Reeve films. Even as an adult, I still like the Boy of Steel.

Pre-New 52-reboot Kon-El was OK too, but definitely not the same. Though Kon did cross over a few times with Kal (one of “Zero Hour”‘s few redeeming traits, as well as the later use of the short-lived “hypertime”).

Others’ thoughts

Finally, here’s a few other blogs discussing Superman’s 75th:

  • DC Women Kicking Ass discusses Lois Lane’s role in comics over the decades.
  • Ty Templeton discusses his work on the Man of Steel.
  • Written a few years ago, but still worth reading: Comics Everybody’s hilarious summation of the history of Superman, in two parts.

(Updated 1/11/17)

Tags: Action Comicsanniversarycomics triviaDC ComicsLois LaneMediaSuperboySuperman