The Superman (lost early comic from superhero series; 1933)

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The surviving front cover.

Status: Lost

Superman is an American fictional superhero character often thought to be one of the first of his kind. He remains one of the most recognizable pop culture icons and established many of the tropes that have become standard within the superhero genre.

It is often thought that the character's debut was in 1938 with Action Comics No. 1. However, Superman had two other known (or, in this case, planned) appearances before this issue. The first was a depiction of the character as a villain in a short story called The Reign of the Superman dated for June 1933.[1] This short story, though extremely rare in physical form, is readily available online.

After Reign, Superman's creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster started playing with the idea of making the character a hero instead of a villain. They got in contact with a publishing company, Consolidated Book Publishing. The duo worked enthusiastically and hard, even receiving a promising letter for publication.[2] Eventually, though, Consolidated pulled out, leaving Siegel stressed. After trying again with a few other publishing companies that denied them, Siegel threw the entire issue into a fire out of rage and frustration.[1][2] It wouldn't be for another 5 years that the hero would finally see his first publication.

All that survives of this comic is the cover, where Superman is seen in an entirely different design (notably bare-chested). Little is known about its plot, or what other character designs may have looked like. Siegel and Shuster later described - of what little they remembered - that this early Superman was a non-alien crime fighter, crouching on rooftops and wearing a bat-like cape, ironically making him more like Batman, years before the actual Batman would be created.

Superman Collectors and historians have contacted multiple sources of whom may hold a copy. It is more than likely, however, that this work is forever lost due to its creators' shame and rage.


See Also