Welcome to the fourth episode of the Superman & Captain Marvel Power Hour Podcast, the podcast devoted to exploring the publishing history & adventures of both the Last Son of Krypton and the World’s Mightiest Mortal. I am your host Kyle Benning, and thank you for joining me on this journey to explore the evolution of my 2 favorite DC Characters, Superman & Captain Marvel.
This time out, I take a brief break from my coverage from the Superman From the 30's to the 70's and SHAZAM! From the 40's to the 70's hardcovers, and instead talk about the short team-up story between Superman & Captain Marvel from The Amazing Adventures of Superman: Magic Monsters and then rant on about my thoughts on DC: REBIRTH and what it means, or what I want it to mean, with regards to Superman & Captain Marvel.
Thank you very much for listening. Be sure to check out the show headquarters & blog at www.SupermanCaptainMarvel.blogspot.com. There you’ll find extra content such as the show notes, extra posts spotlighting Superman & Captain Marvel art, the characters’ publishing history, and collected editions. You can leave feedback for the podcast there at the blog, as well as by emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, by leaving an iTunes review, or by visiting the facebook page at facebook.com/SupermanCaptainMarvel. You can also follow the show on twitter under the Twitter Handle @KryptonsWizard.
As mentioned in the third episode of the Superman & Captain Marvel Power Hour Podcast, for ease of aligning Superman's Golden Age publishing history with the 1953 halt of Captain Marvel's publication from Fawcett, I'm just going to settle on covering Superman's publishing history up through books cover dated 1953. Oh course a case could be for Superman's Golden Age era ending at a number of other ear marks, such as 1947's World’s
Finest #32, which marks the final story written by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel before
he would return to DC and the Last Son of Krypton over 10 years later. One could also make the argument the end of Superman’s Golden Age with books cover dated January 1945, with
the introduction of Superboy, a dramatic and significant change to Superman’s
origin? After all, the Superman with a past of being Superboy is an
Earth-One take on the character, and NOT part of the Earth-2 character’s
So with that in mind, let’s jump into Superman’s
comic publishing history starting with Action Comics #1, that went on sale the
first week of May 1938 up through the character's final 1953 cover date appearance in Action Comics #187. Action Comics debuted as a 64 page anthology book that also
containedthe adventures of 6 other
characters, including the magician Zatara. Superman grabbed the cover spot in
Action Comics’ debut, something that wouldn’t happen again until Action Comics
#7. He also had the cover spot on issues #10, #13, #15, and #17, before finally
taking over as the sole control of the Cover with Action Comics #19, which went
on sale the last week of October 1939. Superman was in every issue of Action
Comics, and since I’m covering his exploits in the Golden Age up through 1953,
the final issue cover dated 1953, would have been Action Comics #187, that went
on sale October 30th 1953, which featured the Superman story
“Superman’s New Super Powers”
When 1939 rolled around, Superman’s
popularity had already risen quite a bit, in addition to his monthly adventures
in the pages of Action Comics, you could also follow his adventures daily in
select Newspaper comic strips across the country. The Superman Daily Newspaper
strip began on Monday January 16th 1939. After the success of Action
Comics #1 in June of 1938, and the skyrocketing in popularity of the character
Superman, just 7 months later Siegel & Shuster were finally able to take
their creation Superman into the publishing market they had hoped for all
along, the syndicated Newspaper Comics arena!
It's crazy to think about nowadays, but in 1938,
when Superman first debuted, comic books were still in their infancy, and
considered second tier to the syndicated comic strips in newspapers. The
newspaper comic strips had much higher circulation, and in turn shelled out a
lot more money. Those comics that weren't deemed popular or good enough for
Newspaper syndication, such as Siegel and Shuster's first Superman story, had
to settle for repurposing their stories for comic books. Once Superman caught
fire in the pages of Action Comics, Siegel and Shuster's dream of a syndicated
Superman comic strip became a reality. The daily strip ran continuously from
its January 1939 debut all the way until 1966, and it was joined by a full
color Sunday strip that began on Sunday November 5th 1939.
That wasn’t the only new publishing avenue for the
Last Son of Krypton, in May 1939, just a year after his debut in Action Comics
#1, Superman top an unprecedented milestone, his own comic magazine devoted
solely to his adventures. Superman #1 went on Sale May 18th 1939, and
started as a quarterly book. Starting with the book cover dated 1941, the book
moved to bi-monthly,a publishing
schedule it was still on in 1953, meaning the final issue of Superman with a
1953 cover date was Superman #85, which contained 3 different Superman stories.
But it wasn’t just Action Comics, the Newspaper
Comic Strip, and Superman that chronicled Superman’s comic adventures. He would
soon be added as an ongoing feature in World’s Best Comics in February 1941,
that series was renamed World’s Finest Comics with the 2nd issue of
this quarterly series. In 1946 World’s Finest Comics switched to a bi-monthly
schedule that it still had in 1953. The last issue of World’s Finest with a
1953 cover date was issue #67, that went on sale in late September. Now World’s
Finest is best known as a Superman & Batman team-up book, but even though
the Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader appeared together on every comic, they
didn’t actually appear together in the same story until 1952’s Superman #76,
and they wouldn’t actually team-up together in the World’s Finest title, until 1954’s
World’s Finest Comics #71.
And of course, like Captain Marvel, Superman, being
the very popular character that he was, starred in a number of other comic
specials, including both the 1939 and 1940 New York World’s Fair Comics. On the
cover of the 1939 World’s Fair issue Superman is miscolored, and the cover of
the 1940 World’s Fair issue marks the first time that Superman & Batman
ever appeared on a cover together. If you’d like to hear about the content of
these comics, I recommend you go check out the podcast Comics in the Golden Age
from Michael Lane and his cousin Chris, they covered those issues in Episode 16
& 17 of that fantastic podcast.
In addition to the 2 issues of New York World’s Fair
Comics, Superman also starred in the DC Promo comics Superman’s Christmas
Adventure #1, which was a promo comic given out at department stores like
Macy’s or Baileys in December 1940, and was then reprinted and re-issued with a
touched up cover in 1944. I actually covered that story just a couple months
ago in Episode 4 of my Tales from the Golden Age podcast. There was also a 2ndSuperman Christmas Adventure, containing a new story, comic published in 1944.
But those weren’t the only 2 special promo Superman comics, there was also the
1942 miniature Superman Py-Co-Py Toothpaste comic and the 1948 four page Superman and the Great Cleveland Fire comic.