Action Comics #1
I was never a huge fan of Superman. I did own a Superman doll as a child that I lost in the waters at the beach (my mom told me he went to Superland). Reading Action Comics now feels less like escaping into fantasy and more like I'm gleaning some sort of sociological understanding of one of the most enduring icons of American popular culture.
I read this issue trying to understand both what made initially Superman popular and why his popularity has endured. I understand the appeal to kids in 1938, of the nerd who is actually a hero, although no one else knows it. The plotting, though, is preposterous, as it reads like it was written by one of the kids who would have read it. It has the intelligence of a colouring book where all the pages have already been coloured by some other kid.
Superman has always been a Christ-like figure, sent by this father from the heavens to save humankind. He's the original superhero (well, I guess if you don't count Jesus, and I don't since we all know superheros wear their underwear on the outside of their pants, and I don't think Jesus did that), so reason for Superman's mass appeal in America is obvious. Why Superman has endured is less obvious, as there are other, more interesting characters in comics, and other media, these days. I'll be interested in finding an answer to this question as I read through the history of Superman.