Nov 11, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 625: Millennium Editions: Superman #76, July 1952 / April 2000

This comic, or its original anyway, is where it all started, where the tale that, of late, has culminated in the reviled Dawn of Justice film began.

And it's a pretty bad story, really. Set up like the beginning of some strange buddy-cop movie, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne are unexpectedly made to share a cabin on a cruise they've both booked. Trouble on the dock before setting sail requires a costume change from the two, so they turn off the lights, only to have their identities revealed as the light of a fire shines through their cabin window. Of course, Lois finds her way on board, and for the most part Superman worries that she's fallen for Batman more than he worries about capturing the jewel thief who is aboard.

But wait. It gets so much worse.

The second story (which is actually a pretty good one), follows Superman as he tries to make the dreams of a young man who wants to be an FBI agent come true. The man is paralyzed by fears, and kept from becoming what he wants to by some physical problems, so Superman secretly uses his powers to help the young man succeed in his various jobs. But the man, Joe Harris, is too honest to take credit for what he sees as coincidences, and quits each job, rather than continue under false pretenses. It's actually an interesting articulation of Superman realizing that he can't simply use his powers to make everyone's lives better; rather, he needs to help people embrace what is special about themselves in order to make a difference. Eventually realizing that Joe has remarkable knowledge of detection and criminality, he gets him a job as an instructor for the FBI.

And here's where it gets worse:

The final story in the issue is basically Lois Lane trying to play pimp for her roommate and Clark Kent, so that she'll have Superman all to herself. It's awful. Lois is awful. Superman is awful. Even Lorraine, Lois' roommate, is a simpering fool who agrees to Lois' plan to marry her off to Clark. Thank goodness she has a change of heart, and ends up with someone she loves, and who loves her. But this last piece is definitely a great example of how horrendously bad the superhero tales of the 50s could get.


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