.001 The Night of March 31st

splash, SUPERMAN 145, The Night of March 31stminim logo violetThe Night of March 31st, SUPERMAN No. 145 (May ’61); story: Jerry Siegel; art: Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff; 8 pages; on sale March 16th ’61.

If they wish to avoid spoilers, before going forward Superman fans are advised to read this story in the original comic or as reprinted in these titles:

SUPERMAN 145 cover

  • ADVENTURE COMICS No. 339 (December ’65)
  • THE GREATEST SUPERMAN STORIES EVER TOLD (1988)
  • SHOWCASE PRESENTS SUPERMAN Vol. 2 (2006)

SUPERMAN No. 145 (May 61); cover by Curt Swan & Stan Kaye ⇒

also in this issue:
The Secret Identity of Superman; story: Jerry Siegel; art: Curt Swan & Sheldon Moldoff; 9 pages.
The Interplanetary Circus; story: Robert Bernstein; art: Al Plastino; 8 pages.
Metropolis Mailbag–letters from readers; 2 pages.

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The Secret Identity of Superman

sm145idsplashWhile it’s true that, during Mort Weisinger’s editorial reign over the Superman titles, the Man of Steel is apt to manipulate his friends, presumably to teach them moral lessons, this behaviour is not exclusive to Superman alone, but rather applies to all thinking beings in the Weisinger universe.

In this story, it’s Jimmy Olsen who is experimenting on Lois Lane, creating a circumstance to test her impulses and monitoring the results.

Jimmy offers up science fiction writer Rock Stirling (whose name sounds a lot like Rod Serling) as Superman’s alter ego.
Jimmy Olsen & Lois Lane

How Lois handles this secret serves as an object lesson for what she might do if Superman ever really did reveal his true identity to her. The yarn also indirectly answers the readers as to why such a revelation would not be such a good idea.

Rod Serling, by the way, was one of the young writers that Mort encouraged in earlier days–so the story was probably tipping the hat to him and all the success he was enjoying at the time this story came out.

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The Interplanetary Circus

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A truly out-of-this-world circus comes to Metropolis and sets up in a meadow just on the outskirts of the city.

What is fascinating about this tale is how the Metropolitans–represented by Lois Lane–rationalize everything they see of this circus as some trick of mundane technology, never recognizing that it is in fact an Interplanetary Circus.

Again, if we can extrapolate from this story to the greater reality of Superman, the psychology of the characters often prevents them from seeing the truth.

sm145circus2

The reader occupies an ironic position, along with Superman, knowing what the other characters don’t know. Given the target reader is a child, this irony allows a young person a feeling of superiority–which gives one a sense of validation in the real world where children’s thoughts and feelings are so often undervalued.

Fittingly, there is also an ad in this issue for the circus . . .
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Metropolis Mailbag

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The two page letter column led off with a comment concerning Bizarros and an announcement that the Bizarro World was getting its own series . . .

mailbag bizarros

. . . and the Mailbag finished up with some comments on boo-boos, which gives the Editor the perfect set-up to promote this issue’s final story and the Great Superman Boo-Boo Contest . . .mailbag boo-boo contest

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The Night of March 31st

The Night of March 31st may also be known as the Great Superman Boo-Boo Contest, as explained at the end of the story in the following inverted text.

The Night of March 31st text

To see this text right side up, go to the spoiler page.

The contest winners were announced in SUPERMAN No. 149 (November ’61), on the following page. I’ve inverted the page to avoid spoilers–if you want to see it right side up go to the spoiler page.

inverted--great boo boo contest winners

Curt Swan Stan KayeLinda Strickland must have put in a lot of hours studying the story to pick out so many boo-boos.

Jerry Siegel was tapped to write this boo-boo yarn. Adventures of the absurd were one of his strong suits. Jerry would soon handle Tales of the Bizarro World in ADVENTURE COMICS–that feature being announced in the Metropolis Mailbag for this issue (see above).

The Bizarro stories would be like one continuous run of boo-boo gags. The thrill for the reader is again in the ironic attitude. The reader knows more than the characters and feels self-satisfied in spotting all the boo-boos.

Virtually every panel of the story is a surprise. Curt Swan even put himself into one panel. Curt is the guy with the brush-cut–Clark’s other stalker, the bald fellow next to Curt, has been identified as Stan Kaye–although the GCD says it’s Harry Donenfeld.

Curt Swan & Stan Kaye, b&w

Go to the spoiler page for more on this story’s big secret.

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