Friday, May 03, 2019

Blame Everything Bad on Superman

Although Mort Weissinger did a terrific job of editing the Superman titles during the late 1950s-1971 or so (while simultaneously being a notorious jerk to his underlings), he had one enormous blind spot that became more apparent as he approached the end of his tenure.  He was always willing to put up with awful characterization for Superman if it was in service to an entertaining plot.

Consider this story, which ran in Action #368-369:

Superman returns from paying his respects to his parents on a faux-Krypton world he created complete with Jor-El and Lara (in reality androids), to discover the situation shown on the cover. Yep, Earth has become a paradise, with no war, no crime, no disasters.  People don't even get sick anymore.  You might think that Supes would be happy, but instead he focuses on the fact that he will no longer be a subject of adulation:

Yep, no more giant gold cups.  Even his job as a reporter offers no excitement, as Perry assigns him to cover a chess tournament. Eventually he goes to his fortress and commands his robots to attack him but:

 Initially he resists exile, but the Sentinel talks him into leaving. Of course, he carefully scouts out worlds with red suns to find one where he will fit in.  Or not:

And later, he makes a social blunder:

You can probably guess what the king's decision is.  Fortunately for Supes,  he happened to pick a world where the sun was only half-red and half-yellow. When the yellow half returns, he flies rapidly away and back to Earth.

Now the predictable story here would have Superman discovering something about the Sentinels which makes him realize that they are too controlling, or that they have nefarious plans for Earth now that they have gotten rid of its greatest defender, Superman destroys the Sentinels, preventing their evil plot.

This story isn't predictable.  Oh, yes, Superman goes back to Earth and destroys the Sentinels, but they really were just trying to make Earth a paradise:

On his way back to Metropolis he spots a plane crashing, but is too late to save it. Everybody on board dies and Superman realizes that he's to blame, and in fact he will be to blame for everything bad that happens.

And that is the way the story ends. So the next time you feel a cold coming on, or some jerk breaks into your car, or war breaks out somewhere, you know where to point the finger.