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Friday, November 25, 2011

Superman Super Post! (Part 2: Appearances and Stuff)

Today we continue our look at all the parts of the Superman franchise that originated outside of comics with a study of appearances and other things:

Lex Luthor's baldness
Left: Luthor's original appearance (from Superman #4 (April 1940))
Middle: Luthor's first appearance in the Superman daily strip ("Pawns of the Master", October 1940), due to an artist error
Right: How Luthor has looked ever since (starting with Superman #10 in May 1941)

Metropolis first appeared in the Superman newspaper strip in May 1939 ("The Most Deadly Weapon").  Before then, Superman just protected a nameless city.  The name transitioned to comics later that year in Action Comics #19 (September 1939).

The Daily Planet
Clark Kent originally worked for the Daily Star, but this was changed to the Daily Planet in the Superman newspaper strip ("Underworld Politics", November 1939); the change was made in the comics is Action Comics #23 (February 1940).  The building design first appeared in the Superman animated short "The Arctic Giant" (February 1942) and first appeared in the comics in Superman #19 (November 1942).  However, at first it was just a simple globe that adorned the building; it wouldn't gain a ring until Superman #25 (November 1943).

Krypton's name
Krypton first appeared as a nameless "distant planet" in Action Comics #1 (1938), but was given a name in the first Superman daily strip, "Superman Comes to Earth" (January 1939). It later appeared in the retelling of Superman's origin in Superman #1 (April 1939).

Jor-El's and Lara's names
 Jor-El was just an unnamed scientist until the Superman comic strip ("Superman Comes to Earth", January 1939), where he was referred to as "Jor-L".  The spelling changed to "Jor-el" in the 1942 George Lowther novel The Adventures of Superman, which was introduced to comics as "Jor-El" in More Fun Comics #101 (November 1944).

Lara first appeared as "Lora" in the Superman comic strip ("Superman Comes to Earth", January 1939). She was first called "Lara" in the Superman radio show ("The Baby from Krypton", February 1940), which was also the name used in Lowther's The Adventures of Superman, and she was brought into comics with that name in More Fun Comics #101 (November 1944).

Kal-El's name
"Kal-L" first appeared as Superman's birth name in the Superman comic strip ("Superman Comes to Earth", January 1939).  The name made its way into comics as "Kal-El" in Superman #113 (May 1957) as the birth name of the Superman of Earth-One.  "Kal-L" would appear as the birthname of the Superman of Earth-Two in Action Comics #484 (June 1978).

George Taylor's name
 Although George Taylor first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June 1938), he did not receive a name until the Superman newspaper strip gave him one ("The Most Deadly Weapon", May 1939).  The name first appeared in comics in Superman #2 (Fall 1939).

The Phantom Zone
 Left: The Phantom Zone in Superman: The Movie (1975)
Right: The effect of the Phantom Zone Arrow in Teen Titans #32 (March 2006).

Fortress of Solitude
Top Left: The Fortress of Solitude's original appearance
Top Right: How it appeared in Superman: The Movie (1978)
Bottom: The Fortress of Solitude in comics, beginning in Superman #653 (August 2006).

Superman's Flight

When Superman first appeared, he was super-strong, bulletproof, had super-hearing, and could jump an eighth of a mile. In the Superman animated shorts by Fleischer studios, he was given the ability to fly because it looked less goofy than having Superman jump everywhere.  Technically, he flew from the very first short ("Superman", September 1941), but in the first couple of shorts (the second one, especially), he travels in arcs that make it look like he's jumping, and you can see just how silly it appears.  Regardless, flight made the jump to comics in Action Comics #65 (September 1943).

"Look, up in the sky!  It's a bird!  It's a plane!  It's Superman!"
This phrase first appeared in the introduction to the Superman radio show (1940).  When it first appeared, however, the word "look" came after "up in the sky" (the order was changed after only two weeks).

"A strange visitor from a distant planet"
This phrase first appeared in the introduction to the first episode of the Superman radio show ("The Baby From Krypton", 1940).

Sidenote: This phrase is popular enough that it got an actual character named after it, "Strange Visitor" (first appearance: October 1999), who wore Superman's electric suit after he got rid of it.

"This looks like a job...for Superman."
This first appeared in the Superman radio show (1940).

"Up, up, and away!"
First appeared in the Superman radio show (1940).

"Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound"
This phrase first appeared in the revised introduction to the Superman radio show (1940).

Superman's changing in a phone booth
The first time Superman used a telephone booth to change into his costume was in the Superman animated shorts, specifically "The Mechanical Monsters" (1941).  This isn't something that was specifically adapted to comics, so much as became a standard part of the Superman mythos, but the earliest I can find its being referenced in comics is Action Comics #345 (January 1967).  More can be read at Superman Homepage.

"A mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper"
This phrase was first used in 1941, though I can't tell if the Superman radio show or animated shorts used it first.

"A never-ending battle for truth and justice" 

 This phrase was first used in 1941, though I can't tell if the Superman radio show or animated shorts used it first.

"Truth, Justice, and the American Way"
This phrase was first used in Autumn 1942 on the Superman radio show, although it wouldn't be codified as such until the Adventures of Superman tv show in the 50s.

Superman's costume reveal
 Superman first ripped open his shirt to reveal the 'S' on his chest in the Superman short "Electric Earthquake" in 1942.  The act first appeared on a comics cover in Action Comics #171 (August 1952).


Kryptonite first appeared in the The Adventures of Superman radio show ("The Meteor from Krypton", June 1943) as a way to give Superman actor Bud Collyer some time off.  Although a similar substance first appeared in the unpublished 1940 story "The K-Metal From Krypton" by Jerry Siegel, Kryptonite proper was introduced in Superman #61 (December 1949).

Smallville's location
In Superman: The Movie (1978), Smallville was said to be located in Kansas.  In the comics at the time, Smallville's location was as variable as any other DC Comics city, but it was generally located on the eastern seaboard near Metropolis.  For instance, in New Adventures of Superboy #22 (October 1981), Smallville was said to be located in Maryland, and in Legion of Super-Heroes #313 (July 1984), it was thought to be located in either Pennsylvania or New Jersey.  It wasn't until Superman #82 (October 1993) that it was first placed in Kansas in the comics.

The Superman Shield as El Family Crest
For the longest time, the "S" simply stood for "Superman" and was created by the Kents (usually designed by Jonathan and/or Clark (see Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #9 (September 1997), among others)).  But in Superman: The Movie (1978), the shield was worn by Jor-El as well, and assumed to be the El family crest.  This made the transition to comics in Superman: Birthright (2004), where it was not only the El family crest, but a Krypton-wide symbol of hope.  Although Birthright has been replaced by Superman: Secret Origin (2008), the family crest aspect has remained.

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