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Superman: The History of the Man of Steel Sixty six years ago in Cleveland, Ohio two teenagers named Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster came up with this idea of a hero. This hero is now world renowned as a staple in the world of comic books. He was the first of his kind and has a long list of followers. This hero was Superman. Ever since that summer night in 1934 when Superman crept into the mind of Jerry Siegel, he has been changing ever so slightly into the masterpiece of a hero he is today. The history of Superman as he appears in comic books tends to prove one thing, that each decade has one substantially different version of the Man of Steel.
Superman was the creation of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Siegel, a writer, and Shuster, an artist, were both very big science fiction fans. Siegel would invest much of the money he earned buying comic books such as The Adventures of Tarzan, Buck Rogers, and Flash Gordon. Siegel and Shuster were both classic nerds: unathletic and shy around girls, that led Siegel to invision a man of unlimited might and power. This is where he first got the idea for Superman. One of Jerry Siegel's hobbies was writing short science-fiction stories.
One of these stories was, The Reign of the Superman. Which features The Superman in an evil scientist role, who receives super powers from a red headed scientist similar to the character of Lex Luthor. Then in 1933, after Siegel saw the comic Detective Dan, he decided to make the Superman a hero. He and Shuster wrote and illustrated a comic book entitled The Superman.
The comic though was turned down by Detective Dan's publisher. Determined to write a successful comic, one summer night in 1934, Siegel came up with the Superman as we recognize him today. By morning he had written weeks worth of comic strips, and had them drawn by Shuster the following day. The characters Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and the classic blue, red, and yellow costume of today were all created that night.
The comic strip was hard to sell. United Feature called it, "A rather immature piece of work. "Crude and hurried, " is what Esquire Features thought of it. Even DC Comics, who would later put the comic into print, put it down calling it, "Ridiculous!" Then after three years of being turned down, Siegel and Shuster finally caught a break when Sheldon Mayer, the editor at the McClure Syndicate, loved the comic. Mayer's boss, M.
C. Gaines, however, would not publish the comic. But when DC Comics publisher Harry Donefeld contacted Gaines looking for a comic for his new title Action Comics, Gaines sent him Superman. The first issue of Superman was made by cutting, pasting, and redrawing, the original daily strips into thirteen comic book pages. By 1939, Superman became a comic book success.
McClure Syndicate finally brought it to newspapers, and Siegel and Shuster's first edition of Superman finally made print. The Superman comic strip featured in newspapers by the McClure Syndicate had an estimated 20 million readers. Superman has gone through many changes since 1939. A major factor in these changes is the Earth- 1 /Earth- 2 theory. This theory states that there are actually two Superman's each living on a world parallel to the other. With the Earth- 2 Superman being the Superman from the era around the 1940 's, and the Earth- 1 Superman being the one from 1985 to the present.
With the Superman of the Golden Age (1938 - 1948) many inconsistencies exist. He is supposed to be known as the Superman of the Earth- 2 theory, but many differences exist. Such as Perry White appearing as Clark Kent's boss in Superman # 7, even though the Earth- 2 Superman never met Perry White until Clark Kent became the editor of the Daily Star in the 1950 's. As an adult Clark Kent moved to Metropolis and worked as a reporter for the Daily Star, under editor George Taylor. But the some inconsistency happens in Action Comics # 2 when Clark is portrayed working for the Cleveland Evening News.
Other differences include the Earth- 2 Lex Luthor, who is supposed to be a red head, being portrayed as a bald Luthor in Superman # 10. Yet another inconsistency is the use of Superman's "super muscular control" to change his facial figures into any disguise he wishes, used in Superman # 18 and on through the end of 1947, but this is a power that the Earth- 2 Superman lacks. The 1940 's Superman spent most of his time saving people from natural disasters and corrupt businessmen. He would level slums to force the city to build decent housing, and he would use his powers to terrorize munitions makers. All while his powers grew rapidly to give readers bigger thrills.
The Earth- 2 Superman first appeared in Justice League of America # 73 and was introduced carrying on the adventures of the Golden Age Superman into what was then the present. The Earth- 2 Superman's powers and costume were based on those of the early 1940 's. His career as Clark Kent and Superman were taken from what they were in 1939. Clark Kent worked for the Daily Star rather than the Daily Planet, and he and his father had the original forms of their names: Kal-L and Jor-L instead of the later versions Kal-El and Jor-El.
Also his adoptive mother was known as Mary Kent rather than Martha Kent, and like the Golden Age Superman, he had a secret mountain citadel. Since the Earth- 2 Superman was supposed to be the "original" Superman as first seen in 1938, by 1966 he was in his late 50 's, thus there are accompanying career and life changes that come with the maturity. Foremost among theses changes are was his marriage to Lois Lane, which happens in the 1950 's after he reveals his secret identity to her. There were many Mr. and Mrs. Superman stories told, but the wedding did not occur until September of 1978.
Overtime, the Earth- 2 Superman begins to feel lonely being the only remaining survivor of a dead world. In 1970 a spaceship arrived from the planet Krypton sent by his uncle Jor-L. It contained his cousin Kara. She had taken a longer route to Earth, but had matured much slower being only 20 years old. Superman trained Kara in the use of her powers and she eventually took on the role of Power Girl, becoming the Earth- 2 equivalent to Supergirl of Earth- 1. Superman went into a bit of a semi-retirement after Power Girl's arrival, but continued to be active when he was needed by the Justice Society.
Then in 1981, he returned to full time activity with the Justice League of America, when it presented a major epic involving the Ultra-Humanity, the Justice League of America, and the Justice Society which resulted in the formation of a new super team of heroes. This team was composed of the younger generation of heroes many related to the original Justice Society members. During the Earth- 2 era, there was a decade known as The Flux Years of Superman. This decade was most noted for the introduction of Superboy, a new explanation of Superman's powers, and a new preoccupation with Krypton and its people. Critics referred to this period as one where silly stories turned Superman into a laughing stock rather than a hero. But, basically this period was known as the science fictionalization of Superman.
For example, the writers began to frequently use aliens, including surviving Kryptonians, in their comics. The main reason for the changes to the comic over this period was the departure of Siegel and Shuster from the Superman crew. They began to concern themselves with litigation's concerning the ownership of the character. The main force behind Superman became editor Mort Weisinger. In Febuary of 1945, Superboy made his first appearance. In this the idea that Kryptonians do not have super powers on Krypton was first expressed.
Superboy is said to receive his powers from Earth's lesser gravity. The notion that Superman grew up in a small town is also mentioned in this story. In Superman # 53 the full origin of Superman was printed for the first time in a comic book, but there was no mention of Superboy even though that feature had been running for about three years. Kryptonians are once again mentioned as being super powerful with no mention of Earth's gravity. In Superman # 61, Superman encounters Kryptonite for the first time. It first appears as a red glowing substance, which Superman uses his powers on to trace its origin.
Superman then pays for his discovery of Kryptonite when Luthor learns to synthesize it, causing it to remain green forever on. In 1951, the legend of Superman's origins are retold. This time the legend contains Superboy, Jonathan and Martha Kent, and the fact that Kryptonians's powers are attributed to Earth's gravity. But once again in a later issue of the comic Krypton is described as a planet of super-powered beings. In Action Comics # 182 Superman is said to receive his X-ray vision due to Krypton's vastly greater atmospheric density, and on throughout the 1950 's Superman continues to learn more about his powers and Krypton.
Beginning in the late 1950 's today's version of Superman began to take form. This Superman...
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