Wednesday, February 23, 2011

And Sometimes Superman Went Crazy and Became King of the World: Action Comics 311

Oh, comics.

I first saw this cover years ago, and only recently obtained a copy of Action Comics #311, the one where Superman becomes a despotic tyrant over all the Earth.  Only, you know, in the kind of goofy way Superman would have become a despotic tyrant during the Silver Age in comics aimed at kids.

I like that he added the fleecing to his cape.  You got to class it up as king.
Key to making sure you're king?  Demanding trays full of jewels.  I will need to remember that.

Superman does nothing by half-measures, so you should expect none of that here.  The story in brief: Superman gets exposed to Red Kryptonite, which splits him into two sides, one bad and one good.  The bad side remains Superman, but the other becomes human-strength Clark Kent. Bad Superman decides there's no good reason to help people, and so he decides to just lord it over them.

No, no it doesn't make any sense.  But where have we seen this good/ bad split before?  Well, not exactly before...  you saw it in the Star Trek episode The Enemy Within. Also, we see good/ bad Superman as Superman/ Clark in...  SUPERMAN 3 where Red-K was also to blame!

So, yeah.  Red K.  Its a real problem. Avoid it.

I'm going to editorialize like crazy here, but there's also an ad run in the front cover of the comic, featuring Bob Hope teaching kids about loving their neighbor, religious tolerance, wrestling with singular world viewpoints, etc... all in 5 panels!  And it is seemingly sponsored by the US Govt.

clearly, Bob Hope was a sleeper agent for Al Qaeda
Quite a few of these pop up in these Kennedy-era comics.  It's oddly kind of stunning.  These days, this sort of hopeful, "it's a small world" talk would get you a 24 hour news cycle on Fox accusing you of hating the troops.

Also:  apparently kids were still into Bob Hope in the mid-60's.

But it's not that, nor the suggestion the comic makes that China built an entire replica of New York City (to scale, btw) just to blow it up for atomic bomb tests that I want to point to.  No, its exactly the manner in which Superman demands the nations of the world crown him Head Cheese.

He heads to the United Nations general assembly, takes the podium, and...

I invite you to click for full-sized madness
 Right on.

For those of you who didn't look...

We will SUPER bury you!
Pretty good stuff.

Of course, the actual pounding of shoe to podium associated with Krushchev may be Cold War myth, but it was taught to me as fact. I am betting that was one of the more fun panels these guys put together.  No idea what readers, their parents, or the CCA said about this one.

And I particularly love that Superman is still going to town, menacing the General Assembly with a bright, red boot as the cameras roll.

at this point, I imagine Superman has broken out into song

This, by the way, is a two-parter!

And if you missed it:

You can drop the "tator" part, Olsen

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