Wednesday, May 18, 2011
1939 Addendum: Superman Comic Strip, January 16-28
Today I'm reviewing the first twelve-chapter storyline from the Superman daily strips, 'Superman Comes to Earth'. This story ran during January 1939, at about the same time as Action Comics #9, in which Superman was busy tearing down slums and being chased by detectives
The strip is by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and goes into great detail regarding Superman's origin. This had already been covered in Action Comics #1, but only in the most cursory fashion; we learned that he was rocketed to Earth from a dying planet, and that was that. But here we get the story of Superman's parents, their discovery of their planet's impending doom, and the fateful decision to send their baby to another planet.
There are so many firsts in this story. The planet Krypton is named for the first time. Superman's parents, Jor-L and Lora, make their first appearance. We learn that Superman's birth name is Kal-L. It's quite incredible to see all of this backstory unfolding for the first time.
And not only that, but the story is great. It's certainly not as fun or action-packed as other stuff that Siegel and Shuster have done, but it feels like the most emotionally mature story that I have read since I started this project. It's tragic, but hopeful at the same time, and so much better than I thought it would be.
The final strip appears to be taken from panels used in Action Comics #1, and it glosses over Superman's childhood and growth into a man. He's not discovered by Ma and Pa Kent, but instead by a random passing motorist, who hands him off to an orphanage. Ma and Pa Kent don't even rate a mention, and now that I think of it they haven't been shown in any version of the character's origin so far.
It's almost a shame that I enjoyed this as much as I did, because I'm not sure if I'll be able to find the other strips. The site I linked to yesterday only has a limited number of strips available, so I'll have to look elsewhere.