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spoilers for The Night of March 31st, SUPERMAN No. 145 (May ’61)

The Great Superman Boo-Boo Contest

from SUPERMAN No. 145 (May ’61) & SUPERMAN No. 149 (November ’61):

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The Big Secret, re: The Night of March 31st

The big secret for Night of March 31st is that the next day–what takes up the bulk of the story–is April 1st. April Fool’s Day. The whole story is one long April Fool’s prank. In that sense, this is really a boo-boo free tale as every wrong thing is entirely intentional and not a mistake. The whole crew–from editor to colourist, and everyone in between–takes part in messing up the story on purpose.

The Editor is right when he states, at the end of this issue’s Metropolis Mailbag, that the story

contains not one single mistake in plot, coloring, illustrating or spelling our staff doesn’t know about.

We follow Clark/Superman from the moment he wakes up on the morning of April 1st as he encounters one bizarre situation after another. At times, the Man of Tomorrow seems to recognize that there is something going wrong in his life and at other times he seems as oblivious as all the other characters.

Of course, for the reader who wasn’t paying attention, the conceit of the story might not have registered. In that case, the sense of irony is shifted. The reader is lost in a world of absurdities, trying to figure out the deeper meaning–red K? a trick by Mxyzptlk? a dream?

You might think that the April Fool’s joke is totally obvious. But readers don’t always pay attention and can skip through stories rather quickly.  The story demands more attention than the average comic book story. And yet it never explains itself. It’s left for the text at the end to give a reason for why all this ridiculousness is happening.

For the characters no such resolution ever comes. They are left in an a posteriori state that is entirely unfathomable.

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