"The Old Man of Metropolis!" from Action Comics #270
Written by Otto Binder
Art by Curt Swan and John Forte

">Puff!<… It’s no use, Bizarro! In the old days either of us could have smashed the whole jail apart! Now we’re both as weak as kittens!”

I have a pet theory that Clark isn’t nearly as self-assured as he seems when he’s in costume and super-heroing, which is why I find moments like this very intriguing.

In this issue, Clark has a bad dream, imagining himself as an old man, forgotten by everyone as Supergirl, all grown up, replaces him in the spotlight of the world. This moment right here is the most touching of the whole thing to me, as Ultimately, Superman’s only companion ends up being Bizarro, as they both wash up in jail. Even though everyone adores him for all his superdeeds, perhaps Clark is still afraid that really the person he has the most in common with is Bizarro, a malformed outside that no one really loves.

But of course even in dream form, Lois can’t forget that guy and she springs him from jail before he wakes up.

"Superman’s Return to Krypton!" from Superman #141 (1960)
Written by Jerry Siegel
Art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye

"On through space rotates Krypton, toward its inexorable rendezvous with a cruel destiny, but at the sky palace, two pairs of lovers propose a toast, gallantly unafraid…”

"Superman’s Return to Krypton!" (not to be confused with "Superman Returns to Krypton!", the 1949 story wherein Superman traces a Kryptonite back through time and first learns where he came from, which is a nice story itself, albeit definitely no longer canon after the advent of Super-Memory) is a genuinely great, classic Superman story.

The setup is that due to a freak accident, Superman ends up hurled into the past, landing on Krypton some weeks or months before it explodes. Since he doesn’t have superpowers on Krypton, he can do nothing to prevent or escape the coming destruction, and instead takes the time to hang out with his parents, get to know the world where he was born, and to fall in love with a Kryptonian actress named Lyla Lerrol, with whom he shares many makeouts:

It’s all incredibly bittersweet and surprisingly touching, as Superman finds a happy, passionate life with Lyla and his parents, all the while knowing it’s going to end violently and soon.

I’ve excerpted the pivotal moment above, as the four of them celebrate in the face of certain doom.

Of course, just before the explosion, Superman is hurled away from Krypton in another freak accident, but somehow that just makes it all the more sad.

I would highly recommend giving it a look, along with everything else I’ve been reading through lately. There’s great stuff, and the stuff that’s terrible is at least terrible in interesting ways. You can find them for cheap in the Showcase Presents: Superman (as well as Superman Family and Supergirl) volumes, in which this story is collected in Vol. 2.

If everyone goes out and reads those I’ll seem less weird for being fascinated by these things, and that’s really my goal here.

The Son of Bizarro!" from Superman #140 (1960)
Written by Otto Binder
Art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye

"March, Bizarro soldiers! After parade, me will lead you into space! Us will go and DESTROY EARTH for kidnaping my son!”

Superman’s Battle With Hercules!" from Action Comics #268 (1960)
Written by Otto Binder
Art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye

"Wrong, Hercules! This girl was willing to sacrifice herself for Superman’s sake! Her Super-love gives me the magic power to undo the magic sleep! Awaken, Superman!

Sometimes when you don’t know how to end a story, you just need to have Venus pop in and solve everything in four panels.

"Hercules in the 20th Century!" from Action Comics #267 (1960)
Written by Otto Binder
Art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye

"I learned ancient Latin from a prison book and can answer thee! Welcome to Luthor’s cell, Mighty Hercules!"

Lex Luthor is a guy who escapes prison by constructing a “Time-Ray” out of an alarm clock and some string and using it to bring Hercules to the present and convince him to break the walls down.

How can you not love that?

The Mermaid From Atlantis!” from Superman #138 (1960)
Written by Jerry Siegel
Art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye

"She’s beautiful… and so… helpless! Take Lois into your arms, Superman! And kiss her… Kiss her now!

I talked some in a previous post about how Lori Lemaris, Superman’s telepathic mermaid college sweetheart, was a much more romantic love interest than Lois since Superman, you know, actually displays affection for her one in a while.

But her willingness to use telepathy to induce makeouts with Lois in this story makes me suspicious about Superman’s previous uncharacteristic affection with Lori.

Are there any telepaths who aren’t creepy and invasive?

"The Mermaid From Atlantis!" from Superman #138 (1960)
Written by Jerry Siegel
Art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye

"A whale… with the f-face of Lois Lane! >Gulp!< Am I suffering hallucinations… or is it that I can’t control my love for Lois?”
"No, Superman hasn’t lost his mind! I’m responsible! I’m pulling every trick I can to get him to propose to Lois!”

A very common story in this era is a particularly dysfunctional form of the marriage plot, wherein one character attempts to trick two other characters into getting married.
The methods involved are pretty diverse, but often involve making the target think they are hallucinating the face of the intended spouse, because that’s how love works I guess.

In the space of a year or so,

  • Lori Lemaris (Superman’s Mermaid Ex-Girlfriend) tries to get Superman to marry Lois.
  • Supergirl tries to get Superman to marry Lois.
  • Krypto the Superdog tries to get Superman to marry Lois.
  • Superman tries to get Lois to marry some rich guy named Brett Rand
  • Superman successfully gets Chester “Hyper-Man” King (The Superman from the planet where everything is exactly like Earth except people wear pointy shoes) to marry Lydia Long (to give them a year of happiness before he dies from “zoronite” poisoning).

And I’m sure there’s plenty more. The main take-away I’m getting is that Superman is really, really stubborn when it comes to not marrying Lois.

"First Supergirl tried to get Superman married off to Lois! Now Lori pulled the same stunt! Who will try it next… KRYPTO??!!
[hint: yup]

Whereas when Superman goes through an elaborate ruse to try to get Lois to give in and marry someone else, she’s too in love with him to be at all interested.

"The New Life of Super-Merman!" from Superman #139 (1960)
Written by Jerry Siegel
Art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye

"If I can’t have Superman, Brett, I don’t want any man!”

The picture I’m getting is that despite the superpowers, Clark’s insecure enough that he’s really internalized that whole “I can’t love because there’d be danger for you and I need to focus on crimefighting” narrative to an excessive degree, to the point where everyone around him (including him) thinks he’s being dumb and he’d be way happier if he just married her. But he overcompensates and ends up being a cold, possessive jerk a lot of the time.

Whereas Lois is honest and sees that whole excuse for the pile of crap that it is. And she manages to be respectful enough not to constantly manipulate anyone into weird coerced marriages (at least not lately).

That’s a charitable read. The alternative is that Superman is a manipulative psychopath getting off on stringing along the tragically blindly loving Lois.

Either way, I can’t imagine any of it is healthy.

"Superman’s Black Magic!" from Superman #138 (1960)
Written by Jerry Siegel
Art by Al Plastino

"They say the devil can accomplish anything he wants, with his powers of black magic! You bet I’m interested!"

So this one time Superman dressed up as the devil to mess with a couple of criminals for fun (“Duke” Haskell and “Lefty” Montez to be specific, if you’re as eternally fascinated by Silver Age crook naming schemes as I am).

The best part about this is how the Comics Code clearly wouldn’t let them say “Hell” so even hardened criminals just say “The Other Place!

The second best thing is that, judging by how quick these guys are to believe the ruse, I can only assume the Devil actually does pop up on a fairly regular basis handing out favors to criminals in Metropolis. Really, it’s probably the least ludicrous thing to happen to these guys on any given day.

"The ‘Superman’ From Outer Space!" from Action Comics #265 (1960)
Written by Otto Binder
Art by Curt Swan and John Forte

"That activates my ‘Clark Kent’ robot and will keep the lunch date with Lois for me! Lois will be fooled!"

Just a reminder that Clark’s disguise isn’t so much “just a pair of glasses” as it is “a pair of glasses and an army of highly sophisticated, demonstrably sentient robot doubles, super hypnosis, super ventriloquism, and also Batman helping out sometimes.”

"Mighty Maid!"  from Action Comics #260 (1960)
Written by Otto Binder
Art by Al Plastino

"She’s… crying! Women! Sentimental scenes move them easily to tears!"