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The Superman Story So Odd They Invented Imaginary Stories to Retcon It

by  in CBR Exclusives, Comics, Comic News Comment
The Superman Story So Odd They Invented Imaginary Stories to Retcon It

In Abandoned an’ Forsaked, we examine comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent).

Today; we look at a unique case of retconning a comic book, where DC simply later on said, “Oh yeah, that? That was imaginary.”

When Superman #137 came out in early 1960, DC had not yet done “imaginary stories,” so this Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and John FOrte story was just an “untold story.”

It opened with the revelation that an unknown alien craft had accidentally made a replica of Kal-El and his spacecraft headed to Earth…

Only the duplicate was found by some bad guys…

They raised the baby to become a Super-Brat, which the book contrasted against Super-Baby (Super-Baby…comics are awesome)…

As Superbaby became Superboy, so, too, did Super-Brat become Super-Bully, but his parents wanted him to continue to operate in secret for reasons I can’t quite explain/understand. However, Super-Bully did decide to mess with Superboy a bit by impersonating him as Clark Kent and as Superboy (Super-Bully discovers that he is immune to the effects of Kryptonite). I love how Super-Bully gets to say what Superboy probably SHOULD say to Lana Lang…

Okay, so now he’s grown up as Super-Menace and his parents decide to get themselves installed as the head of the criminal underworld by having their son kill Superman. However, like morons, they talk crap about him while he’s nearby and he has the whole, you know, SUPER-HEARING, so he’s reeling from learning that his parents think that he is a freak that they’re just using for their own gain. This makes him hate Superman MORE, though, because Superman had the benefit of awesome foster parents.

However, after bringing down some kryptonite to kill him (and learning that he isn’t even an actual PERSON, just a force manifestation created by the aliens all those years ago), he decides not to kill Superman, as he realizes he was poisoned against him by his parents…

And then, in one of the most hardcore endings you’ll ever see in a DC Comic in the early 1960s, he kills himself and his parents…

Now, obviously, DC had done a number of stories that turned out to be dreams by this point, but they had not yet done “imaginary stories” proper, as a specific designation. That started about a year after this comic and might even have been inspired by it.

So then DC did a Superman 80-Page Giant, where they collected a few older dream stories (plus some examples of Jimmy Olsen writing a fictional story about Superman) and collected them as “Imaginary Stories,” but this one was now included, denoting that DC now considered it out of continuity, one of the subtler examples of retconning a story out of existence.

If anyone else has a suggestion for a notable comic book retcon that they’d like to see featured, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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