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The Oddly Slow and Steady Evolution of Superman's Robots

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

I wrote about Superman's robots recently, specifically the oddity of how Superman apparently built his robots to be able to stand in for him SO well that one of his robots even decided to independently play a trick on Lois Lane to teach her a lesson that the robot felt that she needed to learn. Yes, the robot was making VALUE JUDGMENTS on Lois Lane's behavior and decided to play a trick on her! That is how much detail went into the design of these robots!

I sort of assumed that the whole "stand in for Superman" idea came up right away, but I was shocked to see that it was actually much more of a piecemeal approach in reality, based on lots of writers clearly not paying attention to what the guy before him had established.

Everything began in Action Comics #70 (by Don Cameron, Pete Riss and George Roussos), where Superman tricks a criminal by pretending to take a vacation, but in reality, using an elaborate dummy that is essentially a robot to take his place (while defeating the villain as Clark Kent)....

In World's Finest Comics #42 (by Al Plastino and an unknown writer), Superman tricks some aliens into thinking that he is a robot, but in reality, it is once again an elaborate dummy...

In Action Comics #165 (by Bill Finger, Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye), a new alien being arrives on Earth called Krag who is just as powerful as Superman!

You have to admire how quickly Lois Lane makes a move on the new kid in town...

Anyhow, Krag then approaches the villainous Crime Czar and suggests a team-up. First, he has to prove that he is more powerful than Superman. So they have a mighty battle and in the end, Krag comes out victorious, thus proving himself to the Crime Czar...

I have no idea how the mighty battle was done without the robot breaking, but still a cool plan!

In Superman #75 (by Al Plastino and perhaps Dorothy Woolfolk), Lois Lane is afraid that Superman might fall for the new girl in town, so she tries to set her up with Clark, instead, but Lois insists that they go on a double date, so Superman introduces a Clark Kent robot, but it is definitely an early effort, as it does not do well...

As you can see, we're definitely getting closer to the classic version of the Superman robot, but we're obviously not quite there yet (note that Superman still has to use super-ventriloquism to make the Clark Kent robot have a voice. That's a fairly important issue to deal with if he ever wanted to use the robot to fill in for him while he was, say, in outer space).

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