Thursday, September 19, 2013

Humanite no more?

Three things I noticed in Action Comics #17 (by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster):

1. Superman's leadership

While rescuing a passenger ship that caught fire, Superman doesn't just put out the fire himself, but organizes the crew and passengers so that they can save themselves. This is about the same time that Lois gave Superman her "inspire ordinary mortals" speech in the daily newspaper strips and this an early example of Superman's putting that idea into practice. I like to think that's not a coincidence.

2. Your secret identity is slipping.

Clark's investigation of the fire leads him to the company that owns the ship. When the manager's assistant tells Clark that the manager is out, Clark not only doesn't believe him, he forces his way into the office with what appears to be a feat of superhuman strength. This also lines up with events in the newspaper strip from around that same time where the line between Superman and Clark became a lot more relaxed.

3. Humanite no more

Fortunately for me, the Ultra-Humanite is behind the ship line's woes. Curiously, Siegel tries a new nickname on the villain, dropping the "Humanite" from not only in dialogue, but in narrative captions as well. The change wouldn't stick.

By the way, not only does Superman not catch "Ultra" at the end of this issue, he never even encounters the villain. The best he can do is shut down the mad scientist's current operation.

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