This is the forty-ninth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous forty-eight. Only the THIRD Theme Week! This week’s Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed is “Golden Age Week!”
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: In the comic books, Superman was declared 4-F because he accidentally read the eye chart in another room with his X-Ray vision.
Awhile back, reader TV’s Grady asked,
I once read a piece in one edition of Irving Wallace’s “Book of Lists” that addressed the lingering issue of whythe Golden Age Superman didn’t just singlehandedly end WWII. According to Wallace and his collaborators, there was a comic story in which Clark Kent was called up by the draft board, but during the eye exam portion of his physical he “accidentally” (huh?) used his X-ray vision to read a different eye chart in the next room over, and was declared 4-F as a consequence. I have my doubts about that, too, considering that the Books of Lists have been known to slip up and present urban legend-y stuff as facts before.
The reference for this occurance has always been Superman #25, from late 1943.
Here’s the interesting thing, though.
The scene NEVER APPEARED in the comic books!
Instead, all #25 gives us is a citation referencing that it happened in the PAST.
I checked with Barry Freiman, from the great resource, The Superman Homepage (check it out here), as if anyone will know it, he will, and he replied,
According to my research, that happened in the February 15-19, 1942 installments of the “Superman” newspaper strip. Clark decides to enlist. The guy in front of him is turned down and Clark pities the guy. The doctor then turns Clark down because he erroneously reads the eye chart in the next room — he is engrossed in thought and not focused on what he’s doing which is how he pulls that boner.
Isn’t that amazing? The comic books were working on the same continuity plane as the comic strips!
However, the X-Ray scene NEVER appeared in the comics themselves, even though it occasionally gets referenced as occuring in Superman #25.
Luckily, for us, the nifty website Barnacle Press recently posted the comic strips in question!
Here, courtesy of scans by Thrillmer, are the three strips from February 16-18, 1942 (SO close, Barry!), showing how Clark Kent was declared 4-F!
Here’s a close-up look at the x-ray vision problem…
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: The Spectre had a comic relief sidekick.
Spectre was introduced in More Fun Comics #52, written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Bernard Bailey.
The Spectre was about Jim Corrigan, a murdered cop who was sent back to Earth to gain vengeance upon criminals as the Spectre.
After a few years of wreaking vengeance, the strip was losing a bit of steam. By issue #68, fellow supernatural hero, Dr. Fate, had taken over the cover spot on More Fun, leaving Siegel to figure out a new angle for the title. In More Fun #74, the comic relief character Percival Popp was introduced. Popp was a dorky wannabe cop who kept trying to get involved in Corrigan’s cases.
However, it was not until More Fun #90 that the WEIRDEST stage in the Spectre’s career occured (yes, weirder even than having a goatee). It was in the midst of World War II, and while Corrigan had been turned down for war duty, he finally was able to go due to some mystic finagling.
While Corrigan was at war, though, he was actually withOUT the Spectre!!!!!
Yes, as strange as it may sound, while Corrigan was at war, the Spectre him/itself stayed behind, and eventually became a sort of ghostly bodyguard for Percival, who continue to have misadventures.
This was how the series continued until More Fun #101, where the Spectre series ended, and the Spectre was not seen again for over TWO decades!!
Ostrander even managed to bring Popp back for a bit in his Spectre run.
Thanks to Bob Hughes’ amazing “Who’s whose in the DC Universe” site for the page from More Fun #78.
Thanks to the awesome Annotated Justice Society of America (whose website appears to be down at the moment) for the other pics of Popp and Spectre together.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Wildcat was inspired to become a superhero by the comic book character Green Lantern.
We are all familiar with how Barry Allen named himself the Flash based upon the Flash comics he read as a kid, starring Jay Garrick. But did you know that Barry was not the first hero to be inspired by the comic book exploits of a fellow DC hero?
In Sensation Comics #1, in 1942, a certain wonderful woman got her own series. However, in the same issue, ANOTHER long-running superhero also made his FIRST appearance – Ted Grant, the Wildcat!
What’s interesting, though, is exactly HOW Ted got his start!
Created by writer Bill Finger and artist Irwin Hasen, Ted was a prizefighter framed for the murder of another fighter.
Looking for a way to clear his name, Grant was inspired by a local child, who was a fan of the comic book hero, Green Lantern. Grant figured that, just like how Green Lantern wore a disguise to fight crime, so would Ted! And so Wildcat was born!
Just to make things things even FREAKIER, later in the SAME issue, Little Boy Blue is inspired to become a hero by reading the comic adventures of….WILDCAT (Finger wrote both Wildcat, Little Boy Blue AND Green Lantern at the time)!!!
Thanks to Bob Hughes’ amazing “Who’s whose in the DC Universe” site for the page from Sensation #1.
Well, that’s it for this week, thanks for stopping by!
Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!!