Now I have read a lot of Superman over the decades.
And a lot of that Superman is from all sorts of different decades.
Which brings me to Superman In The Forties.
This DC Comics collection starts with the first couple of stories of Kal-El, created of course by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, from just before the 1940’s. These are a gimme and always fun to read and enjoy.
What they also include are multiple milestones in the history of Superman. From an early appearance of the Ultra-Humanite, an early and later slightly confusing super villain who is very Luther like, to the first time Superman meets his real arch nemesis Lex Luther.
And seeing Lex with red hair and using a green ray to hurt Kal is always interesting.
Some choices strike me as odd. Instead of the first Mr. Mxyztplk story, we get a later one where he kinda teams up with Lois Lane‘s little bratty liar niece, a character who vanished a reboot or two or three ago. Superman helping with World War Two training maneuvers, and tricking J. Wilbur Wolfington (a comic relief con artist whom I could never stand) while delivering a moral message, strike me as very much of the time period. To the point where more notes explaining what the relevance of these choices would be welcome.
Some of the very cool and essential stories in Superman In The Forties include telling the readers the full tale of what happened to Krypton, which previously only received one panel. And this was published a decade after Superman premiered. Now Clark finding out his origin, that is a different story later on with also brings us the first published use of Kryptonite. With the funny reaction of Superman who seems very unconcerned of finally finding out he is from another planet.
DC does the cool thing and gives us obscure additions. Answering the question of why Clark Kent was not in the military, which was a small bit in the newspaper strip, and a gag strip starring Superman that Siegel and Shuster did while in the army for the Fort Meade Post paper.
The creative teams for this collection starts with Siegel and Shuster, and goes on to include probably everyone who worked in their studio and for DC at the time. From Wayne Boring, who became a prominent Superman artist for years, and Bill Finger, who co-created Batman. Most of the other names are ones even I have trouble knowing, but they mostly have extensive backgrounds in art before and after the Man Of Steel. Unfortunately, DC admits records of who did what from this time period are very spotty.
My only real major complaint is that DC Comics did not put these stories in chronological order. They are mumble jumbled up in some kind of crazy way that makes absolutely no sense. I did the sensible thing any self respecting anal-retentive Geek would do and read them in the release order of course. Seriously, who wouldn’t?
If you want a fascinating glimpse into the early stories of Superman, waaaay back when Lois Lane never suspected that meek mild Clark Kent was actually heroic hunky Superman, or that originally Kal leaped tall building in a single bound.
Yes, ancient different, and a must for Superman fans and historically interested Geeks.
…is currently reading Harry Potter And The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling!