R.I.P. Al Plastino
Action Comics no. 579. Obviously this is a tribute to the famous French cartoon “Asterix.” In this bizarre little story by R. J. M. Lofficier, with art by Keith Giffen and Bob Oksner, Superman and Jimmy Olsen are magically whisked back in time to a Gaulish village which is defying time itself. The tributes to the cartoon are obvious with so many characters’ names ending in “ix;” and just look at the clothes they put Jimmy in. All he needs is the winged helmet! This issue is pure fun and reads fittingly like a cartoon book, rather than a superhero comic.
Action Comics vol.1 #35 - Cover date April 1941
Could Superman fly?
The common wisdom surrounding the original Superman is that he could not, but rather had to – as they say – “leap tall buildings in a single bound” (a quarter-mile was the typical estimation of the vertical distance the Man of Steel could cover with a determined stride). His earliest appearances certainly tied Superman to the harsh dictates of gravity – he could fall, and fall hard. If Metropolis had a pothole problem, a heavily-plummeting Superman may have been the culprit.
The transition to full flight was gradual, yet at this midway point between leaps and levitation Superman is already pulling off some questionable mid-air maneuvers. Although he still relies on pure horsepower to launch himself into temporary arcs above the earth, at this point he’s able to change direction, apparently alter his speed and effortlessly land even on the wing of a moving plane.
The real answer to the question is that while Superman may not have been able to officially fly until 1943, he was flying in all but name well before that. Why the change occurred is a trickier question – it probably had much to do with the “whooshing” sound effect which heralded the start of every episode of the Superman radio show, and the very flight-like arcs Superman managed to affect in the Fleischer cartoons.
There may have also been a bit of peer pressure coming into play. By 1940, the comicsphere was bulging with super-powered mystery-men aplenty, many of them capable of slipping the surly bonds, etc. While these include Timely’s Sub-Mariner and Human Torch, the deciding factor may have been Fawcett’s Captain Marvel, who took to the air years before Superman. Given that National was keenly aware of the Big Red Cheese being Superman’s biggest competitor – as the long-running lawsuit may attest – it’s not unlikely that the edict was handed down “Our guy can do anything their guy can do, too!”
Top: N.C. Wyeth - from the Last of the Mohicans (Climactic battle at the end of the book.)
Bottom: Fred Quardineer - the Cover of Action Comics # 8 (Early issues didn’t always feature Superman!)
OK, there’s paying homage to an artist that you admire… And then there’s just flat-out ripping that artist off. There’s a good reason nobody remembers Fred Quardineer.
Copy Of Action Comics #1, Found In The Wall Of An Old Home Being Used For Insulation, Sells For $175,000
“…You all remember this one from a few weeks back —a copy of Action Comics #1 had been found in the wall of an old house —where it had apparently been since shortly after Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster introduced Superman to the world in 1938.
Graded CGC 1.5 by the Certified Guaranty Company, the comic has just sold at Comic Connect auction for $175,000…”
Via Bleeding Cool