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Superman is a hard character to write for even in this day and age. I can’t imagine what it had to have been like in the silver age when he could no longer throw gangsters into space or ask kids to buy war bonds. I assume each new deadline was a mad panic to try and find another story — any story — to fill the time. As a result we got insanity.
This insanity is never more prevalent than on the covers. Comic book covers, especially back then, were meant to rise above all the other comics on the shelf, grab your attention, and force you to buy them by presenting an irresistible mystery that could only be solved within its pages.
Superman, for the reasons mentioned above, are famous for your their insane covers. Since the stories themselves ranged from bonkers to nightmarish, their distilled essence splashed across a cover usually came off as consistently crazy. I’ve surfed the information super-highway for some of the weirdest Superman (and “Superman’s [Insert Relationship Here]”) covers I could find. Here they are:
I really wasn’t ready for something like this right out the gate. I mean, there’s a bunch here, I don’t even know where to start. Jimmy… I guess? So the little box tells me that he’s a giant turtle man. Now I’m no herpetologist, but there’s not really anything turtle about him. LIKE A SHELL, FOR INSTANCE, THE MOST ICONIC PART OF A TURTLE. He has bug eyes and weird, completely uniform alligator-like skin. How– who– what kind of turtles have they been seeing? WHAT KIND OF TURTLES?!
So, I gather from this cover that Jimmy Olsen fooled around with a growth ray and became giant. How that made him into some kind of reptilian hybrid, I don’t know. I don’t even know if the artists on here have learned basic biology. Or have been outside. Maybe “ray” is the only science word they know. Regardless, Superman feels he has no choice but to remove him from the Earth. Whether that’s a literal “take you to a new planet” or just murder, I don’t know.
Which is strange, because we’re told “turtle” Jimmy is gigantic, but Superman is easily the size of his torso. Is he just a bunch closer? Was he hit with the same ray? He looks much bigger than that boat. Are we… are we looking at the beginning of some kind of murder suicide? This is much darker than I originally thought.
I need to point out that Clark isn’t saying anything. He’s just pointing at the ghost agape. “Look there’s the ghost!” *Silent, open-mouth pointing*. That’s not something someone who doesn’t believe in ghosts would do. Just saying. Also, you don’t believe in ghosts? You? Don’t you know a few ghosts? Isn’t the supernatural like a common occurrence to you?
This is clearly London Tower. The little guy back there is a guard. Plus it’s an old stone castle-type building and Clark is using an ancient lantern. Every body knows that’s Britain to a T. It’s like a constant Medieval Times fair over there, except with more sarcasm and rain. So how is this ghost haunting Clark? A cover with a Superman ghost above his bed as Clark is trying to sleep, sure, but not in a tower in another country across an ocean.
O-oh God! Look at Santa’s face! He wasn’t expecting this! This wasn’t apart of the plan! Superman, you’re making a fist, you’re punching him down that chimney. Why are you smiling? What madness is this? He can’t fit! He’ll die! There’ll be kids who’ll find a half disemboweled Santa in their fireplace Christmas morning.
Is this what Superman does? There’s no context for this. All I hear is “you’ll fit down that chimney you fat bastard, hahahaha, you hear me?” Certainly he’s not stuck, because Superman isn’t trying to get him out. So why couldn’t Superman fit down there himself and deliver the presents? This is just a vindictive.
This can’t get any worse!
Sigh. I’m sure this some kind of mind control plot device. I’m just upset that Jimmy doesn’t seem that worried. He’s concerned about where he’s slinging that dirt, but not really about the weird murder threats. Robin looks pissed, I get it, but Jimmy been through this with regular Superman. After all, he once watched Supes piledrive an reluctant Saint Nick all the way through a chimney before he realized the home owners were Jewish.
So my first thought, since I wasn’t born in 1915, was that this was a TV. And boy was I confused. Did Superman not know what a TV was or how it worked? It was then that I realized that this was a radio, the huge kind that went out of style before my dad was born. So no, he’s just impersonating a radio program to, what I assume, are unsuspecting kids.
Which is just chilling. Much like that Santa fiasco there’s no real context to what the scene is. At first glance it appears he’s saying the words “and now the adventures of Superman”, but if you look closely you’ll see that there are action lines coming out of the radio itself. Like it’s a working radio that’s playing a Superman program.
With that in mind, it appears Superman is about to stifle a giggle from his hiding spot as the radio starts playing. What’s more worrisome is that two of the three kids look terrified.
What are they so scared of? The fact that they can clearly see the full grown man quietly giggling behind their radio? The fact that there are no adults close enough to run to? I just assume there’s no mention of this scene in the comic. It’s just an unrelated story. Those three were never seen again.
I’ve got more questions than answers. I think some of these things shouldn’t be answered. Forget Superman’s disproportionate, humongous fist. This is Superman’s Saddest Day? I mean, there might be more in the comic, but the gist of it is a sad movie? Not when Turtle Jimmy murdered hundreds of people on that bridge? When he squished the Spirit of Christmas? When he and Batman went on that three day bender and almost executed their sidekicks mob-style? No, it was when Jimmy laughed at him for crying at Marley and Me.
Yes, the big question is what Jimmy is up to. Obviously. But I can’t even begin to guess. Superman’s tears cure cancer? Jimmy has a weird kind of fetish? I don’t know. Why does Superman allow him to suck tears off his face? Has the movie disarmed him that much? Speaking of, way to go Supes for letting it all hang out. Letting people see you cry at Steel Magnolias? That takes a big man. A big Superman.