etragedy's Superman #1 review

Superman and the Law

A lot of people don't know that early D.C. comics often had prose stories in them as well as comic ones. The two page prose backup story in Superman #1 is a particularly good one.

Let's take a minute and talk about what Superman was like in the 1930s. To begin with, Superman was much less powerful, he couldn't even fly - instead he could leap tall buildings in a single bound. He was also not as goody-two-shoes as the Superman of today. While not as expressly vengeful as The Spectre or Batman, he did operate outside the law and was more than willing to rough up anyone that stood in his way - be they criminal, civilian or cop. He was more a champion of the oppressed, was frequently compared to Robin Hood (as in the untitled story in this issue), and generally fought for the "little guy" - he was the common man's hero.
 
One of the things that makes the prose backup features in these early comics so great is that it allowed the writers to have these characters star in much more complex stories, which is the case here. And, this story demonstrates that Jerry Siegel was a pretty decent writer.
 
The story involves a police Detective Sergeant Blake who vows to take Superman in. When Superman makes a fool of him Clark threatens to write the story for the Daily Star, but Blake promises to do him a favor if Kent will withhold the story. Superman uses this promise to allow a criminal to escape so that he can recapture him as Superman to show the Detective that he's really on the side of the law (a dubious claim by today's standards, but seemed to work for the time). Ultimately Blake has to admit that "Superman isn't such a bad guy, at that. But," he hastily amended, "don't think that doesn't mean I won't arrest him the minute I get my hands on him!"
 
While the cop vs. superhero storyline has been used ad infinitum at this point, one has to remember that it had to have been fresh once - this was the original version, and it must have seemed very original at the time. It still makes a pretty good 2 page Superman story.

3 Comments
Posted by CrazyScarecrow

Nice review! Did you read the rest of the comic or only the back up?

Posted by CrazyScarecrow

Sorry for that last comment! It totally slip my mind, but wasn't this book mainly made of reprints of the Superman stories from Action Comics?

Posted by etragedy

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