In this feature I spotlight responses that amuse me for whatever reason by Mort Weisinger to letters fans wrote in to the Superman family of titles back in the 1950s and 1960s. Here is an archive of past installments.
Today we take a look at a debate that continued from the Silver Age all the way to one of the very first episodes of The Big Bang Theory, "Why doesn't Superman crush people when he catches them falling at high speeds?"
In the second episode of The Big Bang Theory ever, Penny walks in while Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Raj are about to watch a marathon of Superman films. She was surprised to learn that there were more than one (which is actually an odd position to take - as you don't have to be particularly knowledgeable about superhero films to know that they made more than one Superman movie). She is surprised by their shocked reaction, and the following dialogue took place:
Penny: Yeah, I do like the one where Lois Lane falls from the helicopter and Superman swooshes down and catches her, which one was that?
Leonard,Sheldon and Howard together: One. (Raj raises one finger).
Sheldon: You realise that scene was rife with scientific inaccuracy.
Penny: Yes, I know, men can’t fly.
Sheldon: Oh no, let’s assume that they can. Lois Lane is falling, accelerating at an initial rate of 32 feet per second per second. Superman swoops down to save her by reaching out two arms of steel. Miss Lane, who is now travelling at approximately 120 miles per hour, hits them, and is immediately sliced into three equal pieces.
Here's the moment from the film...
Leonard argues that it works because Superman matches her speed and decelerates. That went off on an unrelated tangent.
Anyhow, I bring this up because it came up in Superman #166 (from roughly November 1963), where a fan poses the same question about similar catches...
I love Mort's absurd (but concise) explanation...
So there you have it, folks!
If you have a suggestion for a good Mort Weisinger reply to an old school fan letter, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org