Friday, September 20, 2013

Does Lois suspect?

Superman let his secret identity slip in Action Comics #17, but he's more careful about it in Action #18 (also by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster). When he's attacked by a crooked journalist named Gene Powers, Clark pretends to cower and stumble and then "accidentally" knock the guy out. I'm not sure that Lois is convinced by the act though. Could this be the beginning of her suspicion about him?

Incidentally, the social injustice Superman fights this issue is yellow journalism, something that as a reporter, Superman is extraordinarily qualified to combat and comment on. In this story, it takes the form of a tabloid paper that's not only scandal-mongering, but also blackmailing a local politician with faked photos that the tabloid cooked up itself.

Superman uncovers the plot and prevents the distribution of the false story, while destroying the tabloid's business in the process. That's the kind of thing we look for in a series called Action Comics, but I was pleased to see that Superman's campaign for the truth didn't end there. He did some strong work as Clark, too.

One final thought: it's interesting to me that there always has to be a bona fide crook behind all of these social injustices. It can't just be a sensationalist newspaper; there also has to be deception and blackmail. It can't just be the rich getting richer off the poor; there has to be an actual swindle taking place. It can't just be a gambling problem; the gambling has to be crooked and there has to be government corruption supporting it. The unsubtlety is probably to eliminate confusion for Action's young readers, but I'd love to read stories where the injustice itself is the villain and not some mastermind behind it.

Unless that mastermind is the Ultra-Humanite, of course.

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