The beginning of a universe builder
November 24, 2015
By Avi Green
The Superman Chronicles, Volume 1
Writers and artist: Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster
I’ve gotten the chance to read all about how the Man of Steel first
began in the Golden Age, along with such notable cast members as
Lois Lane. And while not perfect in every way, it’s pretty good.
This collects some of the first stories from Action Comics,
and at least one from New York World's Fair, and the
sans-adjective Superman that began soon after.
In the first story from Action Comics #1, we’re introduced
to how Superman’s origin told of his being rocketed to earth from a
“planet dying of old age”, and from there, he grew up to become
Clark Kent, shy newspaper reporter who worked for the Daily Star.
(By the Silver Age, it was changed to the Daily Planet, which became
the mainstay onwards.) The story itself tells about how Superman
first helps Lois out of a situation where she’s abducted by a nasty
mobster, and then, it turns to a story about a warmongering
munitions builder who provides guns to warring guerrilla factions in
Latin America, but doesn’t have the courage to fight in wars
himself. Superman figures out how to get him to cut out his
warmongering ways in the second issue.
Indeed, some of the first stories were about social issues, as one
could call them, though by the following year, Siegel and Shuster
were making efforts to add more sci-fi elements as well, like the
introduction of what would become the first recurring villain in the
DCU, the Ultra-Humanite. Some of these are pretty good, although one
I’m of mixed minds about is where Superman was shown tearing down an
old neighborhood to get the government to rebuild it as a cleaner
street. It’s a rather absurd way to make a statement about how to
get better housing conditions built.
There’s also interesting tales involving organized crime, and how
Superman combats them, alluding to the problems of the 1930s and 40s
when mafia was reigning. We also see how Clark and Lois’ love-hate
relationship began at the time, as she thought Clark in his civilian
guise was just a wimp, while his superhero guise impressed her
better. And for the most part, it’s pretty well done.
I recommend this collection if anything, for how it introduced to
the world what would become a famous superhero creation, and how he,
along with his co-stars, would become very notable in pop culture as
time went by. It’s also certainly better done than a lot of the
modern tales since the New 52 came into being, that’s for sure.
Copyright 2015 Avi Green. All rights reserved.
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