Why Is Superman Smashing a Car on the Cover of Action Comics #1?

Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to they're e-mail questions to me at brianc@cbr.com).

Reader Chris G. wrote in to ask:

I have a question. I'm not sure if youve covered it in the past or not, but what is Superman doing on the front cover of Action Comics #1? (1938).

In that classic cover, he's clearly lifting a car but what is doing with it? Smashing it at a rock? Saving someone stuck under it? Always been curious to know...

Sure thing, Chris. Now, as you may or may not know, the story in Action Comics #1 was basically pasted together comic strip style stories, so the story is a bit disjointed, with new stories started mid-way through pages, since they were when new stores in the strip were intended to begin. In any event, after taking care of an abusive husband, Superman turned back into Clark Kent. He then asked Lois Lane out for a date and she surprisingly said yes! That's when things took a turn for the worse.

So yes, the reason behind Superman's first comic book cover was an instance of him saving Lois Lane. That certainly seems appropriate enough, doesn't it? Of course, as commenter RexDart1 pointed out on Twitter, Lois was already out of danger. So Superman really just crushed the car because he was angry. Which, of course, was very much in keeping with how Superman was depicted in that first issue. He just tormented the bad guys in that issue (and most early Superman stories).

Thanks for the question, Chris! If anyone else has a question about comic books that they'd like to know the answer to, feel free to drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

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