Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the seven hundred and forty-third installment where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.
As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends.
The United States War Department censored a Superman story involving an atomic bomb for almost a year!
Years ago, my first book came out, called Was Superman A Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed.
If you'd like to order it, you can use this code if you'd like to send me a bit of a referral fee.
The title of the book was a reference to one of my favorite old Comic Book Legends Revealed columns about how the U.S. War Department took issue with the Superman comic strip having a storyline involving atomic energy, specifically the use of a cyclotron in a series of strips by writer Alvin Schwartz and artist Wayne Boring.
However, what's interesting is that that storyline actually WASN'T the first time that the War Department had gotten involved in Superman comics! In fact, the other time, the War Department actually succeeded in getting to a Superman story BEFORE it came out.
There was a story called "Battle of the Atoms" that was set to be released in an early 1945 issue of Superman (#34, to be precise)...
The War Department asked them to hold off on the story and so it did not see print until eight months later, well after the United States had used an ACTUAL atomic bomb on Japan (TWICE).
The problem that the War Department had at the time was that they would periodically check in on what the big comic book companies were up to, but they really didn't think it was worth their effort, so they were continually trying to push for the companies to just self-report sketchy stuff like any discussion about atomic energy.
What's hilarious, of course, is that the actual story (by Don Cameron, Pete Riss and George Roussos), was not even really remotely connected to actual atomic energy.
The splash page references the conflict...
But the story is really just about Luthor doing some experiments and deciding to attack the Daily Planet when Lois Lane and Clark Kent come across his lab...
Later, Luthor battles Superman...
Luthor then throws an "atomic bomb" at Superman to no avail...
The War Department's concern back in those days was more that they didn't want people to think atomic bombs or atomic energy were silly, comic book-esque topics. Once the actual bombs were dropped, there was no fear of that anymore, so the restrictions were lifted.
Check out some other legends from Legends Revealed:
Check back soon for part 2 of this installment's legends!
And remember, if you have a legend that you're curious about, drop me a line at either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org!