In “When We First Met”, we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like the first time someone said, “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.
Reader Bruce P. wrote in to ask about Superman’s birthday, which occurs on February 29th, Leap Day, which comes around every four years (the most recent one was in in 2016).
The most famous example is Time Magazine releasing its Superman 50th Anniversary edition on February 29th, 1988 (cover-dated March 14th)…
It was also listed in the 1976 calendar that Bruce referenced…
Oddly enough, as you can see, Captain Marvel’s birthday is somehow also on Leap Day. I think that this is some wink wink nudge nudge “explanation” for why Superman does not age the same way that other people do, because his birthday only occurs every four years! At least that’s why I’ve always assumed that his birthday was held on that day. I don’t believe it was ever expressed WHY that day was chosen. After all, many other dates have been used over the years (Geoff Johns used a different one in Superman: Secret Origin, Max Landis used another one in American Alien and I believe back in the 1950s another date was used).
One of the other most famous examples of this date being Superman’s birthday was the classic Superman Annual #11 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in 1985 where Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin visit Superman for his birthday.
However, when did that date FIRST show up? That would be, of all places, in a letter column! Towards the end of Mort Weisinger’s run as tenure of the Supemran titles, someone asked a question about Supermnan’s birthday and Weisinger’s main assistant was E. Nelson Bridwell, so in the pages of 1966’s World’s Finest Comics #164, Bridwell gave the answer out…
I actually believe that the famous Moore/Gibbons Annual story was the first time the birthday was named in a comic book. I could be wrong there.
So there ya go, Bruce! Thanks for the suggestion!
If anyone else has a comic book first that they were wondering about, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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