Superman Chronicles Vol. 1 & “Masked Heroes”

Hey guys! Here is my first blog entry for English 495, Superheroes at Cal State Northridge! For today’s post we read Superman Chronicles Vol. 1 and the essay titled “Masked Heroes” in the book The Superhero Reader to respond to. I read the Superman comic first, up through page 110/issue 8. I really enjoyed reading the comic! I had never actually read a superhero comic before, and so it was interesting to read it first hand. I know about Superman from my experience with the movies and from friends who watched Smallville. After reading the first issue of the comic, it is interesting to see how simple his back-story was originally written as, with the distant planet he came from being unnamed, and his being placed in an orphanage when he was found. These elements of the Superman comic contrast the story that I have known, being that Clark Kent was raised in Smallville and came from the planet Krypton. The Clark Kent as I have seen him is definitely very different from the 1938 original.

I was shocked, but not exactly surprised by just how sexist and violent these Issues are. Superman is constantly severely hurting people. The instance that stood out to me is in Issue No. 2. Superman is at Norvell’s residence, and Norvell pushes a button for men to come out and protect him from Superman. These men come in shooting Superman, but his skin is impenetrable. One of the men says, “Good heavens! He won’t die!”, followed by Superman saying “Glad I can’t say the same for you!”. The next panel describes the men flying “headlong out the window into the night, the machine guns wrapped firmly about their necks!”. I never imagined Superman to be so violent! The visual of him throwing guys with guns wrapped around their necks is way more gruesome than I would have imagined. As for the sexism, there are so many comments made to Lois Lane that today would definitely not fly. For example, in Issue No. 5, Lois wants an assignment from her editor at the newspaper and his response is, “Can’t! It’s too important! –This is no job for a girl!”. In the following panels she attempts to undermine the editor and get the story she wants, but ultimately is trumped by Clark Kent.

After finishing the comics, I moved on to reading The Superhero Reader. This section titled “Masked Heroes” gave a lot of background as to the start of the superhero genre, as well as the conventions of the superhero genre as determined by the original Superman comic, as well as Batman and other original superheroes. It talks about the cultural implications of the genre, as it stands as both a child and adulthood readership, how comics had both a Golden Age and a Silver Age, and a little bit about the censorship that occurred based on the violent nature of the various comics. I enjoyed reading this, because I love knowing the history behind things, and the history of comics is very interesting and original.

That’s all for now! Thank you for reading! Feel free to post questions or comments!

Superman Chronicles Vol. 1 & “Masked Heroes”

One thought on “Superman Chronicles Vol. 1 & “Masked Heroes”

  1. charleshatfield says:

    Madeleine, good example of the violence of the stories, and of Superman’s evident pleasure in dishing out a world of hurt. He can be almost vicious in these early stories, yes? At any rate, he exults in his power.

    Q: Do you think the stories refute sexism by showing Lois’s bravery and cleverness? Or do they ultimately reinforce sexism by showing Lois as a thorn in Superman’s side and someone who often needs to be rescued?


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