Superman in the Sixties

If it’s classic Silver Age superhero stories you’re looking for, start with Superman in the Sixties. Many elements of the character’s mythology were introduced earlier (see the Superman in the Fifties collection for the first appearances of Krypto and Supergirl, for example), but the 60s was when the Superman Family really came into its own.

Readers learned more about the culture Superman left behind, with stories about life on Krypton and its amazing “scientific” inventions. On the flip side, we also learned more about Smallville and Superboy’s friends and family. There were lots of Superbaby stories, exploring what a super-powered toddler might act like. (I always wondered why a superbrain, even a young one, couldn’t capture pronouns correctly, but me like the stories anyway.)

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Superman
in the Sixties
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Many of the stories here are melodramatic classics. In one, Supergirl decides that she needs to fix up her cousin to avoid him being a unhappy bachelor forever. Her adoptive parents wisely warn her against meddling — Dad advises that “every man prefers to pick out his own wife!” — but Linda still tries to matchmake Superman and Helen of Troy, Saturn Woman, and an alien superheroine. By the end, she’s learned her lesson, but it’s some of the panels in the middle that stick in my mind.

There’s one in particular, where Superman tells Supergirl that if he did marry, he would pick someone like her, but on Krypton, the marriage of cousins was illegal. I’m sure that this was in response to fan letters suggesting the two get together, but nowadays, the idea of a 16-year-old contemplating marriage to her guardian seems pretty creepy. This is just one example of how these stories are still entertaining, even if it’s for reasons they didn’t intend at the time.

Also included in this volume are the book-length “Last Days of Superman”, an imaginary story where Lois marries Clark Kent and they adopt Supergirl, several stories spotlighting the feud with Lex Luthor, and more showing how Superman’s love was always doomed to never be fulfilled, whether it was with Lori Lemaris or Sally Selwyn. Short features showing such items as the flag of Krypton or the contents of the Fortress of Solitude are sprinkled among the stories.

This is a terrific browsing volume, a good choice for pick-up-and-put-down reading. There’s plenty of historical information, with all reprinted stories labeled with the date and location of their first appearance as well as creative credits. The book ends with a selection of goofy favorites, including Jimmy Olsen as Giant Turtle-Man and the Bizarro World, just the right note on which to conclude.

Also available is Superman in the Seventies.

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