Superman #[1]
([Summer 1939])

DC, 1939 Series
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Price
0.10 USD
Pages
68
On-sale Date
1939-05-18
Indicia / Colophon Publisher
Detective Comics, Inc.
Editing
Vin Sullivan (uncredited editor); M. C. Gaines (uncredited editor, see notes)

Issue Notes

According to Superman: The Complete History, M.C. Gaines told Siegel and Shuster what additional content (aside from the Action reprints) to create for this issue in a letter dated 27 March 1939.
The Audit Bureau of Circulation files reveals that there were three printings of this issue in 1939 (500,000 copies, 250,000 copies, and 150,000 copies) (researched by Russ Maheras). The only difference noted is in the house ad for Action Comics #14, which has either an on-sale date of "June 2nd" or just "Now on Sale" (researched by David Bachman).

There is no number on this issue.

On-sale date from the publication date reported to the U.S. Copyright Office found in the Catalog of Copyright Entries; Third Series; Volume 20; Part 1; Number 1: Books and Pamphlets, Including Serials and Contributions Periodicals, January - June 1966, Renewal Registrations. Original copyright registration number AA299871. Renewed 1 July 1966, copyright renewal registration number R388937.
Originally reported to the Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 1; Group 2; Pamphlets, Leaflets, Contributions to Newspapers or Periodicals, Etc., Lectures, Sermons, Addresses for Oral Deliveries, Maps; 1939; New Series; Volume 36; Number 4.

May 18 on-sale date also listed in house ad in Action Comics #13.

The Superman logo for each story was hand-drawn by Joe Shuster so they look different for each story and do not follow the cover official design fully.

[no title indexed] (Table of Contents)

Superman / cover / 1 page (report information)

Pencils
Joe Shuster (see notes); Leo O'Mealia (see notes)
Inks
Joe Shuster (see notes); Leo O'Mealia (see notes)
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company
Letters
Joe Shuster (sourced) (logo design)

Genre
superhero
Characters
Superman [Clark Kent]
Reprints

Indexer Notes

This cover is from the opening Shuster panel in the Superman story in Action Comics (DC, 1938 series) #10 (March 1939).

Per Comic Book Marketplace (Gary Carter, 1990 series) # ?, Leo O'Mealia's son Leo Jr. uncovered evidence of his father's work on this cover from his records.

Per Alter Ego (Twomorrows, 1999 series) #27 (August, 2003), Ken Gale and Rich Morrissey interview Vin Sullivan who remembered O'Mealia. Rich then states that O'Mealia photostatted and cut out the Shuster work from the first panel from Action #10 for the cover and drew the ornate detailing surrounding it. O'Mealia may have retraced the photostat or done some retouching of the figure and building backgrounds. Sullivan did not seem to recall the events of the cover.

We previously credited Shuster alone, then O'Mealia alone.

[no title indexed] (Table of Contents: 1) (Expand) /

Johnson Smith & Co. / advertisement / 1 page (report information)

[Two Page Origin of Superman] (Table of Contents: 2)

Superman / comic story / 2 pages (report information)

Script
Jerry Siegel (credited as Jerome Siegel) (signed as Jerome Siegel)
Pencils
Joe Shuster (credited, signed)
Inks
Joe Shuster (credited, signed)
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company
Letters
Joe Shuster

First Line of Dialogue or Text
Just before the doomed planet, Krypton, exploded to fragments, a scientist placed his infant son within an experimental rocket-ship, launching it toward Earth!
Genre
superhero
Characters
Mary Kent (death) (introduction); Pa Kent (death) (introduction, unnamed); Superman [Clark Kent]
Synopsis
A rocketship, carrying an infant, rockets from the planet Krypton as it blows up, and lands on the Earth where a couple named the Kents find the baby inside the rocket and eventually adopt him. This infant boy grows up to be Superman.
Reprints
Keywords
Krypton; orphanage

Indexer Notes

This is the first version of the Superman origin that mentions Krypton and his foster parents.

[Clark Kent Gets a Job] (Table of Contents: 3)

Superman / comic story / 4 pages (report information)

Script
Jerry Siegel
Pencils
Joe Shuster
Inks
Joe Shuster
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company
Letters
Joe Shuster

First Line of Dialogue or Text
Outer waiting-room of the Daily Star... You may see the editor now.
Genre
superhero
Characters
Bea Carroll (villain); Evelyn Curry; Superman [Clark Kent]; George Taylor (introduction, unnamed); Sims
Synopsis
Clark Kent applies for a job at the Daily Star, but is turned down until Superman stops a lynching and Clark phones in the story. Then Superman gets singer Bea Carroll to confess to the murder of Jack Kennedy.
Reprints
Keywords
Daily Star; Hilow Night Club

Indexer Notes

New material, newly drawn for this issue. Superman wears red boots. The story has no masthead or by-line. The story continues in the next sequence.

[The Coming of Superman] (Table of Contents: 4)

Superman / comic story / 11.67 pages (report information)

Script
Jerry Siegel
Pencils
Joe Shuster
Inks
Joe Shuster
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company
Letters
Joe Shuster

First Line of Dialogue or Text
A tireless figure races thru the night.
Genre
superhero
Characters
Bea Carroll (villain); Evelyn Curry; Alex Greer (villain); Lois Lane (introduction); Butch Matson (villain); Senator Barrows (villain); Superman [Clark Kent]; George Taylor; unnamed Governor; Governor's unnamed servant
Synopsis
Superman breaks into the Governor's mansion to stop the execution of Evelyn Curry, and Lois is kidnapped by gangsters, no thanks to that spineless milksop, Clark Kent, but is rescued by Superman! In his next assignment, Superman tackles a corrupt Senator in Washington.
Reprints
Keywords
Daily Star

Indexer Notes

Continued in next story.

Clark Kent is hired as a reporter for the Daily Star newspaper in this sequence. Superman wears blue boots in this reprinted story. A scene from the cover of Action (DC, 1938 series) #1 (June 1938) appears in panel 67.

[no title indexed] (Table of Contents: 5) (Expand) /

Superman / promo (ad from the publisher) / 0.33 page (report information)

[Revolution in San Monte] (Table of Contents: 6)

Superman / comic story / 12.67 pages (report information)

Script
Jerry Siegel (credited as Jerome Siegel) (signed as Jerome Siegel)
Pencils
Joe Shuster (credited, signed)
Inks
Joe Shuster (credited, signed)
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company
Letters
Joe Shuster

First Line of Dialogue or Text
As they topple like a plummet to the street below, eighty stories distant, Greer shrieks insanely the entire length of the building!
Genre
superhero
Characters
Alex Greer (villain); Lois Lane; Superman [Clark Kent]; George Taylor (cameo); Lola Cortez; Emil Norvell (villain)
Synopsis
Clark Kent and Lois Lane board the steamship Baronta, bound for San Monte in South America to cover the war brewing. He and Norvell join the San Monte Army so that the Man of Tomorrow can prove the war is being fomented by munitions manufacturers.
Reprints
Keywords
Baronta (steamship); Evening News

Indexer Notes

Clark apparently works for the (Cleveland, Ohio) Evening News, as he sends pictures there, although panel 15 of the story has Lois stating "our editor decided to have me accompany you to the warzone..." and Lois works for the Daily Star. Since Siegel and Shuster both came from Cleveland, it's possible Siegel put this in as a plug for their hometown newspaper! Superman wears blue boots.

[no title indexed] (Table of Contents: 7) (Expand) /

Superman / promo (ad from the publisher) / 0.33 page (report information)

Superman & Action Comics Invite You to Become a Charter Member of the Supermen of America (Table of Contents: 8) (Expand) /

promo (ad from the publisher) / 2 pages (report information)

Scientific Explanation of Superman's Amazing Strength--! (Table of Contents: 9)

Superman / comic story / 1 page (report information)

Script
Jerry Siegel
Pencils
Joe Shuster
Inks
Joe Shuster
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company
Letters
Joe Shuster ?

First Line of Dialogue or Text
Superman came to Earth from the planet Krypton, whose inhabitants had evolved, after millions of years, to physical perfection!
Genre
science fiction; superhero
Synopsis
Superman's strength is attributed to the lighter gravity found on Earth, and is compared to the ant and the grasshopper, both insects whose strength and jumping ability, by comparsion, would be considered super strength.
Reprints

Indexer Notes

Adapted (not reprinted) from page 1 in Action Comics (DC, 1938 series) #1 (June 1938). According to Superman: The Complete History, the idea, and title for this sequence came from M. C. Gaines in a letter to Siegel and Shuster dated March 27, 1939.

[The Blakely Mine Disaster] (Table of Contents: 10)

Superman / comic story / 12.67 pages (report information)

Script
Jerry Siegel (credited as Jerome Siegel) (signed as Jerome Siegel)
Pencils
Joe Shuster (credited, signed)
Inks
Joe Shuster (credited, signed)
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company
Letters
Joe Shuster

First Line of Dialogue or Text
A creaking of timber - an ominous rumble - and then, with a terrific crash, the Blakely coal mine caves in, entrapping a lone miner within its terrible confines!
Genre
superhero
Characters
Superman [Clark Kent]; George Taylor; Elsa Maxwell; George; Stanislaw Kober; Thornton Blakely (villain)
Synopsis
Clark asks editor Taylor for the assignment at a cave-in the Blakely Mine, a mine notorious for its unsafe working conditions. However, when he disguises himself as a miner, he is caught and taken to Blakely, who is entertaining guests at a party. Blakely decides to move the party into the mine, showing to all present that conditions and fail safe measures are more than adequate for the worker's safety.
Reprints
Keywords
Blakelytown

Indexer Notes

Superman appears in only one panel in this story. Wears blue boots.

[no title indexed] (Table of Contents: 11) (Expand) /

promo (ad from the publisher) / 0.33 page (report information)

[Superman Plays Football] (Table of Contents: 12)

Superman / comic story / 12.75 pages (report information)

Script
Jerry Siegel ? (credited as Jerome Siegel) (signed as Jerome Siegel)
Pencils
Joe Shuster (credited, signed)
Inks
Joe Shuster (credited, signed)
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company
Letters
Joe Shuster

First Line of Dialogue or Text
Exhilarated by the demon speed, a drunken, irresponsible driver races faster -- faster still!
Genre
superhero
Characters
Superman [Clark Kent]; Tommy Burke; Mary; Wallace Dodd (cameo); Coach Randall (villain); Oliver Stanley; Ray Martin; Mike
Synopsis
Learning that the football coach of Dale University, who is desperately trying to save his job, has hired professional thugs to play against Cordell University, Superman kidnaps Cordell's bench warmer-player, Tommy Burke, and takes his place in the big game, foiling the plot and allowing Cordell to win the game.
Reprints
Keywords
Evening News; football

Indexer Notes

Clark works for the Evening News in this story. Superman wears blue boots.

Acquiring Super-Strength (Table of Contents: 13)

Acquiring Super-Strength / activity / 0.25 page (report information)

Script
?
Pencils
?
Inks
?
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company
Letters
?

First Line of Dialogue or Text
Warning: when exercising it is always well to remember that overstrain is dangerous
Feature Logo
Acquiring Super-Strength
Genre
non-fiction
Synopsis
This sequence provides advice on how to improve your strength.
Reprints

[no title indexed] (Table of Contents: 14)

text article / 1 page (report information)

Script
?
Pencils
Joe Shuster; ? (photographs)
Inks
Joe Shuster; ? (photographs)
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company; ? (photographs)
Letters
typeset

First Line of Dialogue or Text
Boys and Girls: Meet the creators of the one and only Superman - America's Greatest Adventure Strip!
Genre
non-fiction; biography
Characters
Superman [Clark Kent]; Jerry Siegel (photograph of); Joe Shuster (photograph of)
Synopsis
Features photos and biographies of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of Superman.
Reprints

[Biff Dugan] (Table of Contents: 15)

Superman / text story / 2 pages (report information)

Script
Jerry Siegel (credited, signed)
Pencils
Joe Shuster (credited, signed) (two spot illustrations)
Inks
Joe Shuster (credited, signed) (two spot illustrations)
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company
Letters
typeset

First Line of Dialogue or Text
Smashed desks, overturned filing cabinets, strewn plaster, gaping holes in the walls, shining steel fixtures drooping in sad caricature of their former modernistic splendor, greeted the startled Detective Sergeant's eyes...
Feature Logo
Superman [angled bottom of U, fat S]
Genre
superhero
Characters
Superman [Clark Kent]; Sergeant Blake; Harvey Brown; Biff Dugan (villain, introduction); Mooney
Synopsis
After Superman eludes Sergeant Blake by changing to Clark Kent, Clark blackmails the detective into allowing him a jailhouse interview with Biff Dugan. When Dugan escapes, Clark switches to Superman and returns Dugan to his cell.
Reprints

Indexer Notes

In this story, Clark works for the Daily Star.

[no title indexed] (Table of Contents: 16) (Expand) /

Superman; Zatara / promo (ad from the publisher) / 1 page (report information)

[no title indexed] (Table of Contents: 17) (Expand) /

Johnson Smith & Co. / advertisement / 1 page (report information)

[no title indexed] (Table of Contents: 18)

Superman / illustration / 1 page (report information)

Pencils
Joe Shuster
Inks
Joe Shuster
Colors
Strauss Engraving Company

Genre
superhero
Characters
Superman [Clark Kent]
Synopsis
Superman is breaking out of chains across his chest.
Reprints

Indexer Notes

Back cover.

This illustration was originally used for The Supermen of America club. This original back cover appearance has a dashed line to the right where this pinup could be cut out. The dashed line does not appear on any of the comics this back cover was reprinted.

This image also appears on Action Comics (DC, 1938 series) covers as a masthead image from issues 16 (September 1939) to 127 (December 1948).

This image was trademarked and has been redrawn and homaged numerous times as both a call-back to the original image but to help maintain the trademark. Trademark application from Detective Comics, Inc., New York, N.Y. Application on June 3, 1941. Trademark Serial No. 444,138.

The statement to the U.S. Patent Office by treasurer Jacob S. Liebowitz stated that the trademark had been in use since September 3, 1937. As to what this date might be referring to is unknown.

Editing
Related Scans
Series Information
Table of Contents
  1. 0. [no title indexed]
    Superman
  2. 1. [no title indexed]
    Johnson Smith & Co.
  3. 2. [Two Page Origin of Superman]
    Superman
  4. 3. [Clark Kent Gets a Job]
    Superman
  5. 4. [The Coming of Superman]
    Superman
  6. 5. ["And so begins the startling adventures..."]
    Superman
  7. 6. [Revolution in San Monte]
    Superman
  8. 7. ["Attention all American youth!"]
    Superman
  9. 8. Superman & Action Comics Invite You to Become a Charter Member of the Supermen of America
  10. 9. Scientific Explanation of Superman's Amazing Strength--!
    Superman
  11. 10. [The Blakely Mine Disaster]
    Superman
  12. 11. ["Hey fellers!"]
  13. 12. [Superman Plays Football]
    Superman
  14. 13. Acquiring Super-Strength
    Acquiring Super-Strength
  15. 14. ["Boys and Girls: Meet the creators of the one and only Superman - America's Greatest Adventure Strip!"]
  16. 15. [Biff Dugan]
    Superman
  17. 16. ["Follow the adventures of the one and only Superman..."]
    Superman; Zatara
  18. 17. [no title indexed]
    Johnson Smith & Co.
  19. 18. [no title indexed]
    Superman
This issue was most recently modified by:
  • Bob Hughes
  • Katie
  • Lee Lines
  • Mike Nielsen
  • Del Gruber
  • Merlin Haas
  • John Censullo
  • Ray Bottorff Jr
  • Jim Van Dore
  • Craig Delich
  • Allen Ross
  • Gary Dunaier
  • R. S. Martin
  • Matthew Head
  • Jochen G.
  • Steve Dasinger