"Cadet Training" Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - March 28, 1943 to August 8, 1943
The Sunday strips are about to make a change from multi-episode, months-spanning stories to episodic adventures which wrap up in a week or two, with Cadet Training - where Superman must protect the Daily Planet’s “Model Air Cadet” from the schemes of Nazi agents seeking to break American morale - being the last lengthy arc for a while.
Why begin abbreviating the Sunday adventures? Well, beyond any editorial edict, America (and, in general, the world) is beginning to suffer a paper shortage, what with most vital materials earmarked for military needs or shipping off to the overseas Allies.
This paper shortage - and the subsequent paper drives which followed - contributes to the topography of comics history by seeing many comics of the Golden Age shipped off to the recyclers. The rarity of so many older comics - some of which sold literally millions of copies a month - can be attributed to the numbers of which were patriotically pulped for the war effort. 
Likewise, the newspapers become more of a rarity, and many regular readers may have considered the Sunday paper a luxury in wartime, indulged in so infrequently that an ongoing story becomes a burden.

"Cadet Training" Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - March 28, 1943 to August 8, 1943

The Sunday strips are about to make a change from multi-episode, months-spanning stories to episodic adventures which wrap up in a week or two, with Cadet Training - where Superman must protect the Daily Planet’s “Model Air Cadet” from the schemes of Nazi agents seeking to break American morale - being the last lengthy arc for a while.

Why begin abbreviating the Sunday adventures? Well, beyond any editorial edict, America (and, in general, the world) is beginning to suffer a paper shortage, what with most vital materials earmarked for military needs or shipping off to the overseas Allies.

This paper shortage - and the subsequent paper drives which followed - contributes to the topography of comics history by seeing many comics of the Golden Age shipped off to the recyclers. The rarity of so many older comics - some of which sold literally millions of copies a month - can be attributed to the numbers of which were patriotically pulped for the war effort. 

Likewise, the newspapers become more of a rarity, and many regular readers may have considered the Sunday paper a luxury in wartime, indulged in so infrequently that an ongoing story becomes a burden.

26 notes

"The Blaze" Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - September 27, 1942 to December 6, 1942
The super-villainous Class of 1942 has been a little slim on super-powered Nazi agents, so The Blaze will perform an admirable double-duty; he’s not just a Nazi saboteur who has taken the place of a missing American for whom he’s a dead-ringer, but is also the inventor of a protective suit in which he can control deadly, intense flame at command. Wreathed in fire, he commits acts of murder and sabotage until confronted by Superman, whose invulnerability is tested by The Blaze’s fire. A tear in the suit’s protective lining means that The Blaze is quickly consumed by his own inhuman flame, so that puts an end to another villain packing an impressive visual…

"The Blaze" Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - September 27, 1942 to December 6, 1942

The super-villainous Class of 1942 has been a little slim on super-powered Nazi agents, so The Blaze will perform an admirable double-duty; he’s not just a Nazi saboteur who has taken the place of a missing American for whom he’s a dead-ringer, but is also the inventor of a protective suit in which he can control deadly, intense flame at command. Wreathed in fire, he commits acts of murder and sabotage until confronted by Superman, whose invulnerability is tested by The Blaze’s fire. A tear in the suit’s protective lining means that The Blaze is quickly consumed by his own inhuman flame, so that puts an end to another villain packing an impressive visual…

106 notes

"The Superman Truck"Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - June 14, 1942 to September 20, 1942
Superman enters the lexicon of his fictional world much in the same way he entered the lexicon of the real world – as advertising. A “Superman Truck” is unveiled, a tremendous transport vehicle which, five years prior, might’ve been called merely Colossal or Titanic. It’s tough to decide if Jerry Siegel is presaging the preponderance of  “Super-“ this and “Super-“ that’s which would be marketed in the wake of his enormously popular co-creation, sneering at the common acquisition of the term which propagated in his own day, or is merely building his hero’s in-canon reputation. 

"The Superman Truck"
Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - June 14, 1942 to September 20, 1942

Superman enters the lexicon of his fictional world much in the same way he entered the lexicon of the real world – as advertising. A “Superman Truck” is unveiled, a tremendous transport vehicle which, five years prior, might’ve been called merely Colossal or Titanic. It’s tough to decide if Jerry Siegel is presaging the preponderance of  “Super-“ this and “Super-“ that’s which would be marketed in the wake of his enormously popular co-creation, sneering at the common acquisition of the term which propagated in his own day, or is merely building his hero’s in-canon reputation. 

109 notes

"The Champion of Democracy" Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - May 31, 1942 to June 7, 1942
With the popularity of the Superman strip growing (at its peak, the Sunday strip would appear in 90 papers), the McClure Syndicate (which owned the distribution rights to the strips) had the creators reintroduce the public to Superman with a bookended pair of “origin pages”. Given Superman’s media immersion at the time, it may not have been actually necessary – at the very least, the average man on the street probably recognized the blue tights, red cape and bold pseudonym from advertisements and movie posters.
An interesting note worth revisiting in regards to McClure: The syndicate neglected to add appropriate copyright notices to many of the strips, rendering some of them as public domain – some of the only Superman material which is public domain, alongside the Fleischer cartoons. 

"The Champion of Democracy"
Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - May 31, 1942 to June 7, 1942

With the popularity of the Superman strip growing (at its peak, the Sunday strip would appear in 90 papers), the McClure Syndicate (which owned the distribution rights to the strips) had the creators reintroduce the public to Superman with a bookended pair of “origin pages”. Given Superman’s media immersion at the time, it may not have been actually necessary – at the very least, the average man on the street probably recognized the blue tights, red cape and bold pseudonym from advertisements and movie posters.

An interesting note worth revisiting in regards to McClure: The syndicate neglected to add appropriate copyright notices to many of the strips, rendering some of them as public domain – some of the only Superman material which is public domain, alongside the Fleischer cartoons. 

115 notes

Arson EvidenceSuperman Sunday Newspaper Strip - March 22, 1942 to May 24, 1942
Part of the appeal and efficacy of Superman’s adventures is his moral certitude – surely his unerring ethical code is as intriguing a component of the escapist fantasy as his leaping over tall buildings or racing locomotives. It’s an enchanting idea to imagine one’s self imbued with the power of flight, but probably no moreso than having absolute and incorruptible moral authority.
That’s why this arc of the newspaper strip is such a distinctive entry in the early catalog of the character; Clark Kent investigates a series of arsons, and the evidence he turns up condemns a man to death – but was Clark wrong? Superman’s career as a journalist puts at his command a power almost as potentially deadly as his unearthly abilities, and must be wielded even more carefully. Doubting his own investigation, Clark calls on his alter ego to verify with certainty whether Clark has exposed a murderer or falsely accused an innocent man …

Arson Evidence
Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - March 22, 1942 to May 24, 1942

Part of the appeal and efficacy of Superman’s adventures is his moral certitude – surely his unerring ethical code is as intriguing a component of the escapist fantasy as his leaping over tall buildings or racing locomotives. It’s an enchanting idea to imagine one’s self imbued with the power of flight, but probably no moreso than having absolute and incorruptible moral authority.

That’s why this arc of the newspaper strip is such a distinctive entry in the early catalog of the character; Clark Kent investigates a series of arsons, and the evidence he turns up condemns a man to death – but was Clark wrong? Superman’s career as a journalist puts at his command a power almost as potentially deadly as his unearthly abilities, and must be wielded even more carefully. Doubting his own investigation, Clark calls on his alter ego to verify with certainty whether Clark has exposed a murderer or falsely accused an innocent man …

116 notes

The ImageSuperman Sunday Newspaper Strip - February 8, 1942 to March 15, 1942
In this brief arc, Superman is pitted against a daring jewel thief who calls himself The Image, and has perfected a device which allows him to create dozens of illusory duplicates of himself in order to confuse pursuers. As the adventure progresses, so do The Image’s abilities, and soon he’s creating false doors, duplicate victims, and an army of rigid illusions masking his escapes.
The strength of this adventure lies largely in the visuals; dozens of duplicate Loises in singular peril, falling down a stark crevice, a half-dozen guns looming large in duplicate hands to threaten to terrify a potential squealer, Superman barreling past a barricade of frozen illusions…

The Image
Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - February 8, 1942 to March 15, 1942

In this brief arc, Superman is pitted against a daring jewel thief who calls himself The Image, and has perfected a device which allows him to create dozens of illusory duplicates of himself in order to confuse pursuers. As the adventure progresses, so do The Image’s abilities, and soon he’s creating false doors, duplicate victims, and an army of rigid illusions masking his escapes.

The strength of this adventure lies largely in the visuals; dozens of duplicate Loises in singular peril, falling down a stark crevice, a half-dozen guns looming large in duplicate hands to threaten to terrify a potential squealer, Superman barreling past a barricade of frozen illusions…

The Bandit Robots of MetropolisSuperman Sunday Newspaper Strip - October 27, 1940 to December 15, 1940
As far as “Iconic Superman Stories” go, you can’t get much better than “The first time Superman fought an army of robots”.
Titanic mechanical men perform destructive raids upon Metropolis and only Superman stands in their way. When Lois is inevitably abducted by the masterless robot menaces, the Man of Steel follows them to their lair to destroy them once and for all.
It’s worth mentioning that the inspiration for this story is usually credited to Norvell W.Page, the author of the lion’s share of pulp hero The Spider’s adventures. In this case, the shadowy hero met robotic giants in a tale with the typically understated title of “Satan’s Murder Machines” (Reprinted in more mellow times as as “Robot Titans of Gotham” and “The Iron Man War”).

The Bandit Robots of Metropolis
Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - October 27, 1940 to December 15, 1940

As far as “Iconic Superman Stories” go, you can’t get much better than “The first time Superman fought an army of robots”.

Titanic mechanical men perform destructive raids upon Metropolis and only Superman stands in their way. When Lois is inevitably abducted by the masterless robot menaces, the Man of Steel follows them to their lair to destroy them once and for all.

It’s worth mentioning that the inspiration for this story is usually credited to Norvell W.Page, the author of the lion’s share of pulp hero The Spider’s adventures. In this case, the shadowy hero met robotic giants in a tale with the typically understated title of “Satan’s Murder Machines” (Reprinted in more mellow times as as “Robot Titans of Gotham” and “The Iron Man War”).

133 notes

The Dangerous InheritanceSuperman Sunday Newspaper Strip - July 28, 1940 to October 20, 1940
 
Lois Lane’s extended family continues to be a source of adventure for Superman. This time around, an uncle has left Lois an enormous tract of untamed wildnerness – land which certain shady types are willing to kill to get their hands on.
It will be several years before Superman’s family – his relatives from Krypton, primarily, but also the extended Kent clan of Earth – begins to make its presence known in the comics. For this to happen, before his cousin can pop out of a spaceship or evil uncle can step out of the Phantom Zone, Superman’s actual history needs to be laid down.
At present, Superman is a living being who only exists in the moment – his world of birth only exists to explain his powers, his adoptive parents only exist to give him his mission against crime. Before his own history can begin to influence the character, he has to gain a history…

The Dangerous Inheritance
Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - July 28, 1940 to October 20, 1940

 

Lois Lane’s extended family continues to be a source of adventure for Superman. This time around, an uncle has left Lois an enormous tract of untamed wildnerness – land which certain shady types are willing to kill to get their hands on.

It will be several years before Superman’s family – his relatives from Krypton, primarily, but also the extended Kent clan of Earth – begins to make its presence known in the comics. For this to happen, before his cousin can pop out of a spaceship or evil uncle can step out of the Phantom Zone, Superman’s actual history needs to be laid down.

At present, Superman is a living being who only exists in the moment – his world of birth only exists to explain his powers, his adoptive parents only exist to give him his mission against crime. Before his own history can begin to influence the character, he has to gain a history…

9 notes

Episode 5: The ChosenStrips 31-38 (June 2, 1940 to July 21, 1940)
Prominent Metropolitan business leaders have turned ruthless in their feverish quest to acquire greater wealth - and Superman discovers that a shadowy secret society is behind it all. Held in the thrall of the mysterious figure known only as “The Lamite”, the great men of industry find themselves all but enslaved to the wishes of their mysterious master. It falls on the Man of Steel to uncover The Lamite’s lair and release his terrible grip upon his subordinates.
Ultimately, The Lamite’s lair is uncovered and the mastermind of the conspiracy is revealed to be yet another cunning mad scientist. Moreover, it turns out that The Lamite controls an army of mutant animals (of which Superman still handily disposes), and subsequently dies in a collapsing castle.
Oddly, the revelation of The Lamite’s identity, his monster pets and his prompt dispatch from the mortal realms all happen in a single episode, after a fairly long-winding and not-at-all-mad-sciencey series of Sunday episodes. More than likely it was an editorial decision to cut the storyline short - the daily newspaper strips were running a similar storyline, and regular readers might’ve had trouble distinguishing between the plot point. 
It’s also likely that, citing the cost and high visibility of the Sunday strips, the powers-that-be demnaded more science fiction spectacle for the color funnies, thus The Lamite turning out to be another member of the Mad Science fraternity…

Episode 5: The Chosen
Strips 31-38 (June 2, 1940 to July 21, 1940)

Prominent Metropolitan business leaders have turned ruthless in their feverish quest to acquire greater wealth - and Superman discovers that a shadowy secret society is behind it all. Held in the thrall of the mysterious figure known only as “The Lamite”, the great men of industry find themselves all but enslaved to the wishes of their mysterious master. It falls on the Man of Steel to uncover The Lamite’s lair and release his terrible grip upon his subordinates.

Ultimately, The Lamite’s lair is uncovered and the mastermind of the conspiracy is revealed to be yet another cunning mad scientist. Moreover, it turns out that The Lamite controls an army of mutant animals (of which Superman still handily disposes), and subsequently dies in a collapsing castle.

Oddly, the revelation of The Lamite’s identity, his monster pets and his prompt dispatch from the mortal realms all happen in a single episode, after a fairly long-winding and not-at-all-mad-sciencey series of Sunday episodes. More than likely it was an editorial decision to cut the storyline short - the daily newspaper strips were running a similar storyline, and regular readers might’ve had trouble distinguishing between the plot point. 

It’s also likely that, citing the cost and high visibility of the Sunday strips, the powers-that-be demnaded more science fiction spectacle for the color funnies, thus The Lamite turning out to be another member of the Mad Science fraternity…

19 notes

Giants of Doom ValleySuperman Sunday Newspaper Strip - February 11, 1940 to March 3, 1940
It’s 1940 and Superman has gone full-fledged science-fiction. Ultra had his death rays and Dr.Grout his hypnosis, but the Giants of Doom Valley includes hemophiliac titans and bullet-shaped driving vessels. This short adventure sets the tone for the color Sunday strips, competing as they are with the fantastic adventures of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Moving forward, Superman increasingly meets space-fiends and science-monsters in his adventures…

Giants of Doom Valley
Superman Sunday Newspaper Strip - February 11, 1940 to March 3, 1940

It’s 1940 and Superman has gone full-fledged science-fiction. Ultra had his death rays and Dr.Grout his hypnosis, but the Giants of Doom Valley includes hemophiliac titans and bullet-shaped driving vessels. This short adventure sets the tone for the color Sunday strips, competing as they are with the fantastic adventures of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Moving forward, Superman increasingly meets space-fiends and science-monsters in his adventures…

15 notes