You are on page 1of 15

JERRY SIEGEL AND JOE SHUSTER

SUPERMAN CREATED BY

IDW PUBLISHING

San Diego

SUPERMAN: THE GOLDEN AGE SUNDAYS 19431946


By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

SCRIPTS BY JERRY SIEGEL AND ARTWORK BY

DC COMICS

WAYNE BORING AND JACK BURNLEY LETTERING BY IRA SCHNAPP

[Although no records have been uncovered that specify which stories were written by Siegel, a reading of the text reveal hallmarks of his style in all stories except the Supermans Service to Servicemen sequence, which corresponds to his induction into the army on July 4, 1943.]

THE LIBRARY OF AMERICAN COMICS


EDITED AND DESIGNED BY ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Dean Mullaney ART DIRECTOR Lorraine Turner

Bruce Canwell INTRODUCTION Mark Waid COVERS Pete Poplaski MARKETING DIRECTOR Beau Smith
STRIP RESTORATION BY

Lorraine Turner and Dean Mullaney

IDW Publishing, a Division of Idea and Design Works, LLC 5080 Santa Fe Street, San Diego, CA 92109 www.idwpublishing.com LibraryofAmericanComics.com
Ted Adams, Chief Executive Officer/Publisher Greg Goldstein, Chief Operating Officer/President Robbie Robbins, EVP/Sr. Graphic Artist Chris Ryall, Chief Creative Officer/Editor-in-Chief Matthew Ruzicka, CPA, Chief Financial Officer Alan Payne, VP of Sales Dirk Wood, VP of Marketing Lorelei Bunjes, VP of Digital Services

ISBN: 978-1-61377-797-8 First Printing, December 2013

Distributed by Diamond Book Distributors 1-410-560-7100


Special thanks to Mark Waid, Joe Linder, Joe Desris, Sid Friedfertig, John Wells, Mike Tiefenbacher, Greg Goldstein, Jared Bond, Scott Dunbier, Justin Eisinger, and Alonzo Simon. Artwork on page one by Jack Burnley from the cover to Superman #24, September-October 1943.

LibraryofAmericanComics.com
Superman and 2013 DC Comics. All rights reserved. The Library of American Comics is a trademark of The Library of American Comics LLC. All rights reserved. With the exception of artwork used for review purposes, none of the comic strips in this publication may be reprinted without the permission of DC Comics. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information and retrieval system, without permission in writing from DC Comics. Printed in Korea.
The strips reprinted in this volume were produced in a time when racial and social caricatures played a larger role in society and popular culture. They are reprinted without alteration for historical reference.

An Introduction

by MARK WAID

By 1938, Superman was dead.


Dead, that is, by the standards of the various syndicates that supplied comics strips to the hundreds of newspapers across the U.S.A. These syndicates functioned as intermediaries (and, thus, gatekeepers) between funny pages editors hungry for content and up-and-coming cartoonists ravenous for the fame and fortune a successful newspaper strip could bring them. Harold Grays Little Orphan Annie, Chester Goulds Dick Tracy, Milton Caniff s Terry and the Pirates, and Al Capps Lil Abner were just some of the daily features that were turning their creators into men of wealth and celebrity. Naturally, the competition among would-be syndicated cartoonists was fierce, but that hadnt deterred two Cleveland teenagers from pitching samples of their creation to every syndicate in the game. Time and again, however, they were rejected. No syndicate was willing to take a chance on Jerry Siegel and Joe Shusters Superman. It was, to the gatekeepers eyes, too wild, too crude, too implausible. A costumed, caped crimefighter from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond ours? Outrageous. Who would buy that? Eventually, of course, Siegel and Shusters Superman samples did see print, albeit in an altered and more obscure form than originally envisioned. Pulp magazine publishers were, at the time, experimenting by reprinting licensed collections of newspaper strips into 64-page comic books for newsstand sale, often peppering these collections with new material as licenses became scarce. Vin Sullivan, an enterprising editor for the company known today as DC Comics, talked Siegel and Shuster into selling the rights to this moribund property, and the boys happily took the offer. Its likely no one was more surprised than them when their Superman samples, reformatted to become the first few pages of 1938s Action Comics #1, sparked a pop-culture revolution practically overnight. Within a few short months, Superman proved to be a publishing bonanza. The gatekeepers re-evaluated. The McClure Syndicate, which had turned Superman down more than once, quickly offered DC a contract for a Superman daily strip and had it in newspapers by January of 1939. Impressed by its surging popularity, McClure added a color Sunday page on November 5, which was so heavily anticipated that The Washington Post announced its imminent

debut on the front page of their Saturday edition. By the time America entered the Second World War, Superman was featured in nearly two hundred fifty papers nationwide, with a combined circulation of twenty-five million readers. Along the way, his powersand the evils he faced had continued to evolve as Siegel, Shuster, and their assistants churned out as many adventures as they humanly could to feed the readerships voracious demand for more. Initially, Superman could run faster than an express train, leap a twenty-story building, and lift automobiles. By the war years, he was flying across continents in less time than it takes to tell, shrugging off grenade blasts and artillery fire, and in general doing anything his creators could imagine except enter the European Theater. Once you link the ideas Superman and World War Two, you quickly see the problem. If the mightiest hero in comics applies his vast super-powers to ending all hostilities, which he could do in a day, the world of his fantastic exploits ceases to resemble the real world of his readers. But if he sits the war out, what kind of manwhat kind of Superman, what kind of Americanis he? His editors and writers approached this in the obvious manner: they had it both ways. Superman would do anything for the armed servicesshort of joining up. And he always stayed out of the actual fightingexcept when he didnt. In the stories, the Man of Steels failure to enlist was explained away by a comical mishap involving x-ray vision (shown in strips 259 and 260 herein). But an earlier strip (212) put into Supermans dialog a more authentic, more genuinely moving explanation than has been proffered anywhere else: How can you beat soldiers with that sort of spiritthe spirit that makes Americans fight against any sort of odds! For me to interfere would bewell, presumptuous! Underscoring this touching sense of a hero apart, Superman comic books rarely addressed the war directly. Instead they supplied steady escapist entertainment to servicemen and women overseas, to whom copies were bulk-shipped. The covers

PAGE 5

were another matter. They became reliable monthly propaganda posters in which Superman rode missiles to their targets, punched German tanks, physically dominated Hitler and Tojo, and waved the American flag. The newspaper strips spoke more directly to the home frontto friends and loved ones who worried and prayed but were powerless to protect the young soldiers plucked from their lives. Perhaps sensing an appetite for wish fulfillment, the creators of this eras Sunday strips (believed written by Siegel and DC editor Whitney Ellsworth, drawn by former Shuster apprentice Wayne Boring) began in the summer of 1943 a series called Supermans Service for Servicemen. Ostensibly inspired by a real-life sergeant who wished Superman could whisk him to his distant home and back on his meager one-day leave, the strips editors staked out a simple format. Real servicemen would send their real wishes to the real newspaper, and the Man of Steel would use his powers to grant them on the page. Breaking the fourth wall, Superman himself invited soldiers, sailors and marinesand that includes you women in service, too to submit any particularly tough problems youd like me to help you solve. For the next two years of Sundays, the Man of Steel delivered mail (by air), did soldiers chores (at super-speed), and interfered in romantic problems (with a grudging reluctance). He delivered a fresh cake to a lucky birthday boy, flew a busload of showgirls to a military base dance party, tamed a horse, and whisked an expectant father home just ahead of the stork. He undertook most of these feats at the urging of Lois Lane, who read all the incoming requests with a special eye toward uniting sweethearts. Superman also seemed to be dramatizing pleas from the War Department, as when he influenced one town to write letters to its lonely soldiers and another to evict a gang of gremlins whispering temptations that would weaken wartime morale. This Man of Steel anticipates later interpretations. He is welcomed everywhere by law-abiding people, like the Christopher Reeve Superman who delivers a sputtering Gene Hackman to appreciative prison guards, due process be damned. He rubs elbows with the highest rungs of authority, like the Silver Age Superman who arranges for President John F. Kennedy to preserve his secret identity by impersonating Clark Kent. Even the wartime enemy looks up to him...and thats

where things get ugly, and not at all like the latter-day Metropolis Marvel. In a storyline beginning April 23, 1944, a Japanese army commander invites Superman to a Pacific island to provide entertainment for his weary troops. Pretending to honor the request, the Man of Steel cheerfully sets them up for a lethal ambush by allied forces. But thats not the ugly part; this is war, after all. This is where we should warn readers of Asian descent and/or nervous dispositions and/or a speck of human decency that these were different times, a period of American history where patriotism and outright racism were too often, too easily conflated in popular culture. Most entertainment of the day trafficked heavily in mocking Americas enemiesparticularly the Japaneseand the funny pages was no exception. That such treatment makes an enemy seem less human and therefore easier to kill is an unsettling idea all these decades later, and it makes you wonder how we apply it in our wars today. But the really upsetting thing is seeing Supermanthe friendly cop, the gentle older brother, the very symbol of power merged with kindnessbuy into this trope as the war wears on, culminating in a scene where he pulls off a gleefully nasty impersonation (strip 307). We can say in the Man of Steels defense only that he and his writers and artists knew theyd gone too far; after the war and to this day, Superman has appeared in dozens of public service announcements preaching brotherhood and tolerance for all races, and today the character is practically synonymous with fairness and equality. World War Two ends before this volume does, and we get to cleanse our palates with a retelling of the origin. This is a compact version that faithfully merges all of the agreed-upon elements up to this point, even revisiting the Jack Kennedy (that name again!) murder case from Jerry Siegel and Joe Shusters very first Superman story. From there the mood lightens considerably. Superman watches over Lois Lane as she embarks in an experimental rocket on a space exploration that ends up on an advanced planet ruled by a tyrannical queen. After that, its off to the circus, where a sad clown risks his life for the love of a glamorous acrobat. With the wars lasting consequences yet to be felt, we gaze at the Man of Steels feats under the big top with amazement and relief.

PAGE 6

The Superman Sunday page began on November 5, 1939 and the first 183 Sundays were reprinted in a handsome horizontal edition by DC Comics and Kitchen Sink Press. Our series begins with Strip #184 from May 1943 and will continue until the series ended in May 1966. At that time, we will return to the first 183 Sundays and present them in a vertical format that matches the rest of the series. We invite you to enjoy these marvelous Sunday pages that have never been previously reprinted. Dean Mullaney, Editor

STRIP 184 MAY 9, 1943

PAGE 9

PAGE 10

STRIP 185 MAY 16, 1943

STRIP 186 MAY 23, 1943

PAGE 11

PAGE 12

STRIP 187 MAY 30, 1943

STRIP 188 JUNE 6, 1943

PAGE 13

PAGE 14

STRIP 189 JUNE 13, 1943

STRIP 190 JUNE 20, 1943

PAGE 15