Superman debuted 75 years ago today in ACTION COMICS. The very popular DC Comics character made his first appearance back on April 18, 1938. The #1 issue of the brand new comic book was given a June pull date. The new comic slowly became a hit and new issues of the comics have followed since this debut issue where the comics were eventually renamed as SUPERMAN. In an effort to refresh the series, the comics were somewhat rebooted in July 1986 with a big “S” logo and THE MAN OF STEEL was blazed on the cover as the title. Several TV series based off of the popular character have existed since the 1950’s and several movies have been made as well. In June, a rebooted SUPERMAN movie is set to debut as well. Superman is still featured in three DC comics, entitled SUPERMAN, ACTION COMICS and JUSTICE LEAGUE, although DC Comics has lost a lot of strength to rival brands like Marvel with Spiderman and other characters.
Part of Superman’s appeal was his wholesomeness and goodness as a character. But, the original Superman character of the early comics was a rougher and more aggressive character who would get tough with wife beaters and other hoodlum types. By the 1950’s, the TV Superman was a kind and wholesome and patriotic character. Strangely, Superman almost has a sort of religious appeal as well, as almost like a Jesus-type savior for mankind who possesses far better than human abilities. Because Superman never seemed subversive in some way, most parents never objected to their children’s interest in the character or the comics. Superman always seemed Boy Scout good and as a lover of God and country to most people. He was as American as apple pie.
But, the Superman actors appeared to be far more mortal than Superman the character. A few years after leaving his Superman role, actor George Reeves appeared to kill himself with a gunshot to the head in 1959. One headline boasted, “SUPERMAN Not So Super”. And actor Christopher Reeve(no relation to George Reeve) died of complications after being left a quadriplegic due to a horse riding accident. Sadly his wife, Dana Reeve, died two years later of lung cancer.
In 2013, the Superman character returns to the big screen with the much anticipated MAN OF STEEL movie. Russell Crowe, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams star in this series reboot.
Happy birthday Superman. America has had a 75 year long love affair with you!