The Meekest Man in the World
Superman Daily Newspaper Strip - December 2, 1940 to March 8
Spurred to action by a letter sent to the Planet’s reluctant agony aunt – a temporarily demoted Lois Lane - Clark Kent finds himself drawn to the plight of lovelorn Eustace Watson. More man than mouse, Eustace’s meek personality makes Superman’s faint-hearted alter-ego look like Sir Galahad on a rager; abused in equal measure by his landlady, his bus driver and fellow bus patrons, his local newsagent, his boss, his coworkers and – insult to injury – even the guy who runs the elevators, Eustace seems like a lost cause.
When Superman steps in to take Eustace’s place, it must seem like a vacation for the Clark Kent side of his personality. Decked out in Eustace’s duds and using his every-now-and-again superpower of tensing his facial muscles with such expert skill that he takes on another person’s likeness, Superman puts himself in a brand-new scenario – dressed up like a gutless dandy but behaving like a lion.
In short order, Superman sets Eustace’s many tormentors to rights – he barks the landlady into submission, physically threatens the bullying commuter into terrified submission, stuffs cheap cigars down the newsagent’s throat and bowls over his coworker. The guy who runs the elevators, though? Superman lets that guy get away with it. Maybe Superman has a soft spot for elevator operators, who knows?
This story arc ends up running for more than three months, during which time Superman finds plenty of reasons to put “Eustace” in all sorts of daring and dangerous situations. As an artifact of the character, it’s a window into a world where the line between the Man of Steel and his shrinking violet of an alter-ego is blurred to the point of non-existence, and Clark Kent is as lion-hearted as Superman…