Wow. 75 years for big blue. I remember when he turned 50 like it was just a few months ago. Wonder if I can dig up a clip on youtube. . .
apparently not. hurm. anyways, I thought I would take this moment to share a few of my favorite tales of the Man of Steel. Going all the way back to my much dog eared copy of Superman from the 30’s to the 70’s, I dug out a few memorable treasures. Obviously, you can’t celebrate the origins without the very first story. Siegel & Shuster’s “Superman” sets the tone right out of the gate, providing all the basic info you need about the character and a whirlwind of action. While the story and art are crude by today’s standards, everyone has to start somewhere.
Up next is the “Case of the Funny Paper Crimes” an interesting story about a villain named Funnyface, who uses a scifi ray to bring comic strip characters to life and uses them to commit crimes. I’ve always liked this one for some reason. Years, later I find out the unnamed crook under Funnyface’s mask is drawn to look like Jerry Siegel and that Siegel had created an unsuccessful hero called Funnyman. Interesting. This story is copyrighted 1942.
Also from that time period is “Superman, Matinee Idol” in which Clark and Lois go to a movie and end up watching a Fleischer Bros. Superman cartoon. Interestingly, the “credits” on the cartoon have a large blank spot where Siegel & Shuster were credited on the real cartoons. Fun story, though.
“Black Magic on Mars” from a few years later, involves Orson Welles (really) who is kidnapped off the set of his latest movie “Black Magic” and taken by rocket to Mars. Welles radios Earth for help and everyone thinks it’s another hoax. Everyone but Superman.
“Mightiest Team in the World” from 1952 reveals how Superman and Batman met and became partners for the first time. except that they’d already met several times as members of the JSA. . .
The next real impact I remember Superman having is actually the two Richard Donner films. These films took all aspects of the character and mythos, including the sillier parts and faithfully translated them to the big screen. A huge part of their success came from the earnest portrayal of the character by the late Christopher Reeve. A portrayal unmatched before or since. I have fond memories of watching these movies with my dad.
Rounding out this first part of my memories is the classic “For the Man Who Has Everything” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (wonder what happened to them?) Originally presented in Annual format, this story has been reprinted many times over as well as adapted to cartoon form as an episode of Justice League Unlimited. Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman arrive at Superman’s Fortress to celebrate his birthday, only to find Superman in the thrall of the Black Mercy, an alien parasite that provides it’s host with their fondest desires. Oh, and Mongul’s waiting in the wings. . .
To be continued. . .