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Comic Book / Superman (1939)

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Superman (1939) or Superman (Volume 1) was a comic book series published by DC Comics from 1939 to 2011, totaling 714 issues, plus 14 Annuals, four special issues, and one unpublished issue #8.

Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June, 1938). Even though Action Comics was an Anthology Comic, the character became so immensely popular right away that he took over the magazine, leading DC (then National Comics) to give him his own self-named book exactly one year later.

The title's first creative team were the character's own creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who penned and illustrated the book for issues #1-48 (although some issues were made by fill-in writers or artists). Siegel returned several years later to write a second run, which ran from #133 to #182, but Shuster left the book for good with issue #43, published in November, 1946 (he also stopped drawing Action Comics only one year before. Issue #88 (September, 1945) was his last one).

During the next four decades, the title benefited from the talents of iconic Superman's writers as Bill Finger (more known for co-creating Batman), Otto Binder, Edmond Hamilton, Leo Dorfman, Elliot S! Maggin, Cary Bates and Martin Patsko, as well as legendary artists such as Wayne Boring, Curt Swan and José Luis García-López, who birthed many of the most iconic storylines of the Man of Steel.

However, in the 80's, falling sales through the line prompted DC to reboot their universe in general, and Superman in particular. Then-hot artist John Byrne, who had just left Marvel, was put at the helm of a reboot set after Crisis on Infinite Earths, which would wipe out many features which had become classic staples of the Superman mythos: characters like Supergirl and Krypto, Superman's connection with the Legion of Super-Heroes and his own homeworld Krypton itself, classic concepts like the Fortress of Solitude, the Phantom Zone or the Bottle-City of Kandor. In order to better exploit Byrne's star power, DC Comics gave him a new title with a shiny number #1, launching Superman (1987) -or Superman (Volume 2)-, and renaming Clark Kent's original solo series to Adventures of Superman, starting with issue #424 (January, 1987).

In 2006, DC restructured their Superman books once again in the wake of Infinite Crisis. Action Comics chugged along as usual, Superman (1987) was discontinued after two-hundred six issues, and Adventures of Superman got its original name back, continuing the numbering from issue #650.

In 2011, DC's next continuity reboot finally led editorial to kill Superman's original book for good, replacing it with Superman's third volume. The final issue, Superman #714, came out in October, 2011, concluding a seventy-two-year-long run.

Superman (1939) story arcs with their own pages include:

Tropes found in other issues of Superman (1939) include:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: In #172, Superman gets robbed of his powers by an unusual meteor while redirecting it so it wouldn't hit any inhabited planets. He hands over the cape and suit to Ar-Val, a young Kandorian. By the end of the arc, his powers have returned and he's back in the suit again.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: In #172, Superman is stripped of his powers and passes on the title to Ar-Val, a young man from Kandor. Early in Ar-Val's career, Luthor and Brainiac escape. Superman, knowing that they threatened Lois and Lana, goes down on his knees to beg Ar-Val to protect them. Ar-Val, having already heard that Luthor was shot in the escape, chastises him for wasting his time.
  • Already Met Everyone: In #131, one story shows Clark having a boring day as Superboy, being unable to find any tasks that really need superpowers. He still keeps a reporter's briefcase from being lost in the ocean, surreptitiously helps a teenage girl remove a stuck mask, and rescues a small boy from a dry well. It's hinted throughout, and directly revealed at the end, that the trio were a considerably younger Perry, Lois, and Jimmy.
  • And I Must Scream: In #282, Superman tells the tale of a Kryptonian named Nam-Ek (no relation to planet Namek since this story was written ten years before the birth of Dragon Ball) who managed to make himself immortal and indestructible. When Krypton exploded, he survived, and remained floating in lifeless space, alone forever.
    Superman: "Slowly, Nam-Ek realized that since he was immortal... he would remain there, suspended in space — alone — forever! And that's when he began to cry... And they say that somewhere in space... he is crying still..."
  • Art Imitates Art: The cover of #147 pays homage to "The Legion of Super-Heroes!" with the Legion characters replaced by their evil counterparts.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:In #282, Supergirl is considering giving up her heroic identity. To illustrate she might regret that decision, Superman tells her a tale about a Kryptonian who wanted to live forever and managed to make himself immortal, only to find out that he would be alone forever.
    Superman: "So you see, Kara... Sometimes, when we get the things we think we want most... they turn out to be a curse rather than a blessing!"
  • Boxing Lessons for Superman: The first example comes from issue #2 (which was reprinted from an arc in the character's newspaper comic strip), in which Superman meets the former World Champion heavyweight boxer, Larry Trent, who has fallen on hard times and gotten out of shape since his own manager was paid to drug him during his big match, forcing him to lose the fight. Superman agrees to temporarily disguise himself as Trent and fight in his place, while taking time to spar with him to get him back into shape, so he can fight the last match himself and regain his title. Superman learned to box as a result.
  • Blackmail: A double example occurs in #172.
    • Luthor and Brainiac, having captured the powerless former Superman, send a note to Lana and Lois, telling them to come to a specific place, alone, if they want him alive. They comply; fortunately, Jimmy sneaks a peek at the paper with the telescopic function on his camera.
    • When Ar-Val (Superman's successor) holds off on investigating, the young reporter changes his mind by threatening to tell his fellow newsmen that Ar-Val has been intentionally creating emergencies to show off.
  • Brought Down to Normal:
    • In issue 123, a crook steals a magic artifact from Jimmy's apartment and uses it to wish away Superman's powers so he and his partners in crime can kill him. The two spend much of the story collaborating to fake Superman's usual abilities for the criminals' benefit. Once they get the artifact back, Jimmy uses another wish to bring Superman back to normal (for him).
    • In issue 172, Superman gets stripped of his powers by a comet that he diverts to protect other worlds. He had some warning that this might happen and picked a successor - who ends up sacrificing himself to give Superman his powers back at the end of the story.
    • Pre-Crisis Superman also had another superhero life while in the bottled city of Kandor, where he has no powers. In issue #158: "Superman In Kandor" (January, 1963), Superman becomes a Batman Expy with Jimmy Olsen, becoming Nightwing and Flamebird — Dick Grayson uses the former name in honor of his friend.
  • Bruce Wayne Held Hostage: Variation in #127: "The Make-Believe Superman". During an attempted heist at a bank, some goons take a bystander hostage and force Superman to help them. Only the "Superman" they have is a lookalike in a Superman costume on his way to his son's school, and the "hostage" is Clark Kent, who they grabbed before he could change clothes. The real Superman ends up having to use his powers to covertly make his kidnappers believe the fake one is the real deal until he can get him safely away.
  • Brutal Honesty: In issue #176, Superman and Supergirl celebrate a Kryptonian holyday called the Day of Truth in where Kryptonians honor the memory of the hero Val-Lor by speaking nothing but the truth, no matter the cost. The thing is, both cousins are incredibly, astonishingly, rudely blunt. Superman judges a baby contest and a mother asks what he thinks of her little darlings? He tells: "Frankly, this is the worst collection of misbehaved brats I've ever seen! And you tried to flatter me, dressing your babies like me, hoping I'd pick them as winners!" When Lois censures his bluntness he retorts he is not a hypocrite. Supergirl's fan club gives Kara a lunch and the girls ask how she liked the food?
    Girl 1: "Supergirl! How'd you like the food? We cooked it all ourselves!"
    Supergirl: "Er... You meant well, kids! But frankly, the salad tasted like moldy hay, and the chicken wasn't fried... It was burned!"
    Girl 2: [sobbing] "How could you say such cruel things, Supergirl? We've never been so humiliated!"
    Girl 1: "And we called her our heroine!"
    Supergirl: "But, girls... You asked for the truth... and you got it!"
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: In Adventures of Superman Annual # 1 (1987), Superman fights an alien who has removed the brains of everyone in a small American town (while keeping the brains alive). Superman defeats the alien (who escapes) but is unable to return the brains to their bodies. The still sentient brains all commit mass suicide in horror of what's happened to them. A year later, during Superman's self-imposed exile in space, Superman has another run-in with that alien, who doesn't even remember Superman at first... because what that alien did to that one small American town is something he's regularly done to whole populations of entire planets, both before his first encounter with Superman and since then.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: In #414, Superman wraps his just-deceased cousin in her cape to transport her body to Rokyn, where her biological parents are living.
  • Chandler's Law: Half the time it seemed a kryptonite meteor or something similar would literally drop in out of nowhere simply to make things more difficult for Supes (if the creators felt the plot was slowing down).
  • Chekhov's Gun: In #172, Brainiac uses a Kryptonian healing device to return Luthor to full health after he takes a bullet while escaping from prison. Near the end of the story, Ar-Val uses the same device to save the currently-powerless Superman from a lethal spear injury.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Issue #355 (Jan. 1981) presented Dr. Asa Ezaak, a dead ringer for Isaac Asimov, sideburns and all, as an insane moon-powered evil writer.
  • Comic-Book Time: In the earliest stories, Superman is a thirty-something man striving during the Great Depresion and the onset of WWII, with the result that Superboy's first stories were necessarily set in the early 30's. As the decades rolled by, this became unfeasible, so a sliding timeline was adopted. This resulted in such things as issue #170 "Superman's Mission For President Kennedy" (July, 1964) being retold in Superboy 1980 #27 (March, 1982) as "Superboy's Mission For President Kennedy".
  • Contrived Coincidence: In issue #76, Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne happen to take a cruise at the same time and are coincidentally assigned to be roommates. They are both in the cabin at the same time, changing into costume, when a bright ray of light beams through a port hole, lighting up the room and revealing the two superheroes' identities to each other. Lois Lane wound up on the same cruise, because a female passenger chickened out at the beginning. Apparently only one person disappeared from the cruise, so Clark couldn't be given his own room.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: In issue #76, wherein Superman and Batman learned each other's secret identities, Batman concludes that someone was lying about being an electrical engineer because he wasn't wearing rubber-soled shoes. On a holiday cruise. While a) Superman had X-ray-spotted a gun in the suspect's pocket and b) the guy did claim to have a job to do in a few minutes on the ship's generators, it's still rather jarring that Batman apparently concluded that no-one can own more than one set of shoes.
  • Conviction by Counterfactual Clue: In #76, Batman concludes that someone was lying about being an electrical engineer because he wasn't wearing rubber-soled shoes (an electrician is someone who works hands-on in electrical systems installation, maintenance, troubleshooting, and repair, while an electrical engineer is usually someone who designs such systems but does not physically work on them).
  • Costume Copycat:
    • Issue #169 featured a story in which a criminal (who, thanks to Magic Plastic Surgery, actually has Superman's face as well) dressing as Superman to gain access to a top-secret prototype.
    • In issue #172, Superman initially keeps wearing a non-invulnerable version of his regular costume after passing the indestructible original and the title on to his replacement. Then the new Superman gets a law passed making it illegal for anyone else to wear the costume, and he has to find another.
  • Covers Always Lie: Issue #379 proudly proclaims that its cover, showing Superman punching Bizarro in front of the entire Bizarro Justice League, does not occur in the story itself, saying "what do you expect from a Bizarro story?"
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: In #172, Superman loses his powers to a bizarre comet. Jor-El had some idea what the comet would do to a solar-powered Kryptonian and had also figured out a way the power-loss could be reversed but declared it too terrible to use. At the end of the issue, Ar-Val pries the secret out of one of Jor-El's colleagues from Kandor and uses it to restore Kal-El's powers, at the cost of his own life.
  • Digging to China: In issue #205 "The Man Who Destroyed Krypton", Black Zero intend to annihilate Earth using an anti-matter missile. Superman cannot risk to manipulate it, so he digs a wide tunnel through Earth so that the missile goes through the planet without touching it.
  • Due to the Dead: Issue #414 shows Supergirl's -who had just been killed in action in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7- actual final rites being conducted by her cousin Superman alone and in private outside his Fortress of Solitude, where he wraps her in her cape and flies her off into space, heading towards New Krypton/Rokyn to leave her body with her natural parents, Zor-El and Alura.
  • Engineered Heroics: In #172, Superman retires, and his successor, Ar-Val, wows the reporters covering the story with a variety of heroic feats such as catching the Daily Planet globe when it falls down. The only exception is Jimmy, who sees evidence that Ar-Val set things up so he could show off.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In issue #416 "The Einstein Connection", we learn that one of the few people the brilliant Luthor unabashedly considers a personal hero is Albert Einstein. While fleeing Superman at one point, he passes a body of water and sees somebody drowning. Though grumbling about it, he dives in and rescues the person, even though it costs him his escape, because he just can't bring himself to act like an asshole on Einstein's birthday.
  • The Fat Episode: In #221, Superman ingests an alien nectar which has an adverse reaction to his Kryptonian physiology and makes him morbidly obese. He spends the rest of the story performing all sorts of incredible feats to burn off the extra weight within a day.
  • Fell Asleep Crying: In #131 "The Unknown Super Deeds", Superboy surmises as he picks up a boy who fell into a well that he cried himself to sleep while Superboy was getting there.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: In issue # 131, Clark Kent and Lois Lane meet as young teens, but Lois completely forgot she already knew Clark by the time he arrived in Metropolis.
  • Foot Bath Treatment: Issue #123 used this in the splash panel. The plot of the story is that a crook wished away Superman's powers, leaving him mortal and vulnerable. The opening panel shows him sneezing while Jimmy Olsen pours hot water into the bucket at his feet.
  • Free Prize at the Bottom: Issue #226 had Superman exposed to red Kryptonite found as the prize in Jimmy Olsen's cereal box, which turned him into King Kong.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: In issue #416 "The Einstein Connection", Superman has Lex Luthor always escaping on a certain date each year; eventually Superman figures out he's trying to celebrate the birthday of Albert Einstein, one of his heroes. Superman arranges for himself and Luthor to have a private tour of the Einstein section of the Smithsonian. Luthor actually tears up as he sees the statue. As Luthor is taken back to jail he tells Superman, "Thanks for everything!"
  • Have a Gay Old Time:
    • In issue #3, Lois has been moved to the gossip column, and she is obviously not happy about it, so Clark asks her "Let [him] take [her] to some gay place tonight..."
    • In issue #7 (December 1940), Superman visits Gay City.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • In #123, Super-Girl grabs and flies away with a piece of Kryptonite that's incapacitating Superman, claiming that she isn't affected because she isn't a Kryptonian. However, she actually is, thanks to the wish making her like Superman in every way. She can feel the radiation killing her but insists on getting it away from Superman.
    • A double version happens in #172:
      • Seeing Brainiac about to throw a Kryptonite spear at his successor, Ar-Val, the former Superman throws himself in the way, causing Brainiac to waste his shot but allowing himself to take a fatal stab wound.
      • At the end of the story, Ar-Val gives Superman back his powers by transferring them from his own body in an attempt to atone for his earlier behavior. The process turns him to stone.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal:In issue #282, Kara admits she is contemplating giving up her Supergirl identity because she wants a normal life:
    Superman: Still thinking about giving up your Supergirl identity, Kara?
    Supergirl: I don't know, cousin Kal-El — Maybe! This life of a super-heroine takes up too much of my time... sets me apart from everybody else! I want an ordinary life — with a husband and children some day — free to do what I choose!
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: Issue #114 "Superman's Billion-Dollar Debt" (1957) has the IRS notice that Superman hasn't paid taxes ever, so, long story short, the Man of Steel has to raise a billion dollars fast, or else he will be arrested. Or something (it's hard to tell, he is Superman, for crying out loud). Before you ask, Superman's income comes from the rewards on the criminals he catches and the diamonds he makes when he crushes coal in his hands. He donates everything to charity, though. The story ends with the taxman's superior saying that because Superman has dedicated his life to helping the population of Earth, he can literally claim billions of dependents and thus any tax obligations are effectively canceled. Presumably he only claims the ones who don't pay US taxes (as otherwise no-one could claim the standard deduction that requires one not be someone's dependent). In addition, his dependents deduction would be limited on a billion-dollar adjusted gross income. This plotline was recycled in issue #148 "Superman Owes a Billion Dollars!" (1961).
  • Jerkass Realization: In #172, Superman is forced to choose a successor to the title when a meteor strips him of his powers, and he selects a young Kandorian, Ar-Val. The fame quickly goes to Ar-Val's head, to the point where he secretly uses his superpowers to create crises so he can show off. When the former Superman throws himself in front of a Kryptonite spear for him, Ar-Val nearly kills the villains responsible in rage. After settling the matter, he steps outside to think about how horrible he's been.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: In issue #123, a crook gets ahold of a wishing artifact and takes away Superman's powers. To make the culprits show themselves, Superman sets up a variety of demonstrations of his missing abilities. Before one case in which he's supposed to be shot with bullets, the criminals catch Jimmy sneaking a bulletproof vest into the area. They take it away from him to his apparent dismay. However, when the time comes, the crooks are still unable to gun down Superman — because the actual plan involved Jimmy hiding a powerful magnet nearby.
  • Kids Play Matchmaker: In issue #123, a well-meaning but poorly-typed wish from Jimmy Olsen sent Superman back in time to Krypton. Superman ends up needing to play matchmaker for Jor-El and Lara.
  • Kryptonite Is Everywhere: Issue #226 has Superman exposed to some kryptonite from Jimmy Olsen's box of Cracker Jacks. Although in that instance, it was red kryptonite, so instead of weakening or killing Supes, it turned him into King Kong.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • If issue #358 is anything to go by, Alec from the Tandy Computer Whiz Kids was written to be a "Smart Alec".
    • Minor villain Firefist is the man who re-discovered Greek Fire and used it for crime. His real name? Lyle Byrnes. In issue #608 (during the "Superman: Ending Battle" arc), while making small talk with a victim, he even says it's funny how that turned out.
  • Medium Awareness:
    • At times, especially during the Silver Age, Clark and Kara appeared to be aware of the Fourth Wall; Superman's trademark wink was always directed at the reader/audience. It was used for the last time (in the comics), and most depressingly, in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?.
    • In issue #714, the final panel of the final issue gives a nod to Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?.
    • In issue #192: "Clark Kent's Super-Son!", Clark Kent has lost his powers and forgotten he is Superman. Supergirl and Batman agree to not reveal anything because, well, the story would be over''.
      Batman: "Psst, Supergirl! We're the only ones here who are aware that Clark Kent is Superman!"
      Supergirl: "Of course, Batman, but we agreed that we'd never reveal the truth to Clark because... (dramatic pause) because you see, readers, that would ruin this imaginary story! So we're keeping mum and minding our own business! Let the writer and editor solve this super-mess they got Clark into!"
      Batman: "Check! As Supergirl said, we're sitting this story out!"
  • Mini-Me: In issue #125, Superman briefly loses his powers, gaining the ability to launch tiny versions of himself that possess all his powers from his fingertips, after touching a strange glowing alien ship. At the end of the story, Superman's mini-clone fades after being exposed to Kryptonite.
  • Mysterious Protector:
    • In issue #131, Superboy uses his powers to help three people with various problems (a lost briefcase, a stuck mask, and a dry well). None of them are aware of who was responsible; in fact, the girl with the mask attributes it coming loose to a male friend who was trying to help her.
    • In 1981 issues #362 and #365-366, a flashback to Clark's early days at Metropolis University show he operated in secret as Superboy, to avoid anyone noticing Clark and Superboy both moving from Smallville to Metropolis. During this time, the whole country's abuzz and wondering what city Superboy had moved to. One scene even shows gamblers in Las Vegas making bets on which city the Boy of Steel had picked. The cities guessed at included Metropolis, Gotham City, New York (future home of the Teen Titans), Washington DC (future home of Pre-Crisis Wonder Woman), Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit (future home of a short-lived version of the Justice League), New Orleans, and Chicago (a future home of Supergirl). Oddly, other than Metropolis and Gotham, none of the other fictional DCU cities were guessed at by anyone. Adding to the hype, each city claimed they'd found (false) "proof" of Superboy secretly doing super-feats there. The ex-Smallville Sensation finally comes out in the open, thanks in part to then-reporter Perry White deducing the Boy of Steel was in Metropolis.
  • Mythology Gag: In issue #520, Metropolis's largest toy store is J.L.E. Schwartz, a Bland-Name Product for F.A.O. Schwarz which doubles as another nod to Bronze Age Superman editor Julius "Julie" Schwartz.
  • Never Found the Body: Subverted. In "Luthor Unleashed", Superman assumed that Luthor has been incinerated by planet Lexor's destruction and leaves, failing to notice Luthor crawling behind an asteroid. In issue #385, which continues the storyline, Superman ponders his nemesis surely survived and wonders when and how Luthor will resurface.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Issue #355, "Momentus, Master of the Moon!" came out in 1980, with a villain whose private identity is Dr Asa Ezaak. The villain has glasses, thick sideburns, and has published two hundred books on topics ranging from Astronomy to Zoology. The issue came out the year after writer Isaac Asimov published "Opus 200". He's also known for the muttonchop sideburns that "good doctor" Ezaak is drawn with.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: In issue #286, Luthor has an Enemy Mine with Supes to save him from Parasite, outright telling him "I want no one to beat you but me!"
  • Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: In issue #415 "Supergirl: Bride Of- -X?" it happened to Supergirl, just after she died in Crisis on Infinite Earths. An alien named Salkor showed up on Earth claiming to be her husband, which of course Superman didn't believe. Later in the story, he finds a video Supergirl made in his fortress where she relates being injured by a collision in space with a Kryptonite meteor. Salkor, the hero of his world, finds her and nurses her back to health. Since she has amnesia, she hangs around and falls in love with him. But eventually, her old memories return, in the process pushing aside her memories of the incidental marriage. She flies back to Earth and resumes her life. Her memories returned just in time for her to make the video before her death. A lot of fans forget this story because it was a time of way-out stories as writers were cut loose to write any story they wanted before the reboot. Plus the marriage was a little bit gross by human standards.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: DC Comics occasionally tried out the idea of a character before going forward with the real thing. Issue #123: "The Girl of Steel" (1958), where Jimmy Olsen uses a magic totem to wish for a "Super-Girl" who would be a companion and helpmate for Superman, was clearly a dry run for the concept of Supergirl. Reaction was positive enough that DC introduced Kara Zor-El one year later in "The Supergirl From Krypton (1959)".
  • Power Loss Makes You Strong: The "Green Sun" story in issue #155 (August 1962). Superman is not only rendered non-superpowered, but blind. He still manages to overcome the Big Bad using ingenuity and gumption.
  • Powers as Programs: Subverted in Kurt Busiek's arc "Back In Action", where an intergalactic Auctioneer kidnaps a bunch of heroes with the intent of selling them to collectors. On his ship, everyone lost their powers. Superman figured that since everyone's powers came from different sources, that they were being blocked mentally. He breaks the block by putting himself in mortal danger (for a normal human) and is protected by his invulnerability. Since he knows it's a lie, the mental block is broken.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: In issue #172, Superman loses the powers he's had since his youth, bringing him down to normal seemingly for the rest of his life. Frustrated, he punches a mirror...and cuts his hand.
  • Ret-Gone: In issue #123, "The Three Magic Wishes", Jimmy Olsen creates an artificial entity called Super-Girl when using an Indian totem to wish for a crime-fighter who helped Superman out. Unfortunately, Super-Girl gets radioactive poisoning while saving Superman, so she asks Jimmy to wish her out of existence. Super-Girl vanishes, and her story was declared non-canon (rather than just declaring it an imaginary story, an alternate universe, or an event which was not to be mentioned again), which is because nobody brings her up when Kara Zor-El shows up.
  • Revenge by Proxy: In #172, a flashback appears of Superman sending Luthor to jail and the latter threatening to kill Lois and Lana during his next escape to get revenge on his adversary. Unfortunately, Superman's replacement doesn't think Luthor survived the breakout and won't investigate.
  • Rip Van Winkle: One story, aptly named "Rip Van Superman", sees Superman rendered unconscious in an accident involving Kryptonite. After a centuries-long coma, he awakens far in the future. Superman quickly realizes that he has long since outlived the people he knew and loved in his own time. This spurs the natives of the future to return him to his own period using a time machine, allowing him to miss only a week.
  • Secret-Keeper: In #172, Superman retires (briefly) after losing his powers. The only person besides his replacement who knows the reason why he hung up the cape is Jimmy.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shrink Ray: On the cover for issue #365, Supergirl shrinks Superman down to tiny size with a shrinking ray gun.
  • Space Base: Issue #181 reveals the Superman of the 25th century has an invisible fortress orbiting Earth.
  • Space Western: Issue #249 introduces Terra-Man, a human kidnapped by aliens in the 19th century. He grew up as their slave, eventually escaped, and became a successful space pirate. He eventually returned to Earth only to find that he'd spent so much of his life traveling at relativistic speeds that 100 years had passed. Despite all his high tech equipment, culturally he was a literal space cowboy, and he dressed appropriately. He even acquired an alien steed named Nova that looked like a winged horse.
  • Superdickery: Every so often, covers feature Superman or another character apparently behaving as a jerkass and/or villain.
    • The cover of issue #293 "The Miracle of Thirsty Thursday" shows the citizens of Metropolis dying of thirst while Superman holds them back from a gushing fire hydrant, preventing them from drinking. Of course, a thoughtful reader may assume that the clarifying context is that the water is contaminated in some way, and Superman is protecting them. But in this case, the "context" is that the cover is a lie: in the actual story, the people of Metropolis are affected by a serum that creates an aversion to water, and Superman has to come up with a means to make them drink.
    • The cover of issue #365 features Supergirl trying to shrink Superman down to nothing. Inside, she had been driven to insanity by Blymm, a member of the Superman Revenge Squad.
    • The Adventures of Superman 1991 Annual proved that the tactic didn't die with the Silver Age — it depicted Superman and Maxima making out in a graveyard, with Maxima seated on the tombstone of Lois Lane — who died married to Superman and pregnant. The story turns out to take place in an Alternate Universe.
  • Superpowers For A Day: In #172, Superman loses his powerset. When he needs to go up against Luthor and Brainiac, Jimmy protests his idea of simply bluffing them and contacts the Legion of Superheroes. Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Invisible Kid lend Superman their powers using a transfer device, and Jimmy adds his own Elastic Lad potion for good measure. Unfortunately, Brainiac is able to trigger sleeping gas partway through Superman's attack, and the powers are gone again by the time he wakes up.
  • Taken for Granite: In #172, Ar-Val employs a technique Jor-El figured out long ago, but claimed was too terrible to use, to give Superman his powers back. The technique drains the powers and life from Ar-Val's body, leaving him stone-like by the time Superman has the strength needed to break out of his bonds.
  • There Is Another: In issue #65 (August, 1950), Superman meets other Kryptonian survivors for the first time. Too bad that they are three Kryptonian rogues called Mala, Kizo and U-Ban.
  • Triple Shifter: In #376, Kara declares she has quit her soap opera actress job and is moving to Chicago because she could not juggle her job and her Supergirl duties.
  • Undying Loyalty: Extreme loyalty to Superman is one of Jimmy Olsen's foremost (and most well-known) qualities. In #172, Jimmy even stands up to a fully-powered Kryptonian to ensure the currently-powerless Superman is protected.
  • Unwanted Assistance: In #123, Jimmy Olsen creates a Supergirl construct when he wishes Superman had a companion (since Kara Zor-El hadn't arrived on Earth yet). Super-Girl tried to assist Superman, but she kept screwing things up. For example, when she tried to put out a fire with Super-Breath, it was so powerful, it knocked the building over.
  • Villain Team-Up: In #172, Brainiac breaks Lex Luthor out of prison so they can attack Superman together.
  • Voodoo Shark: Some writers have tried to come up with their own explanations to justify Superman's disguise. In #330, Martin Pasko suggested that Superman's disguise worked despite all the close calls because he also had a "super-hypnosis" power that prevented anyone from noticing Clark Kent's resemblance to Superman. This depended on his glasses, which were made out of pieces of his Kryptonian spaceship; in one comic Lois Lane saw Clark Kent in a suit and no glasses and assumed it was Superman trying futilely to disguise himself as Clark. Unfortunately, this fix just raises more questions, like why does a wig work as a disguise for Supergirl? Why does this disguise work over television? Also, there are many stories where Batman and Superman dress as each other. Does Batman have Bat-hypnosis? And why doesn't Superman use his hypnosis in more obvious ways, like hypnotizing villains to stop being evil? (He did do that to a group of Always Chaotic Evil Qwardians once, but he doesn't usually)
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Issue #431 introduced the villain Constantine Stratos, an insane Greek millionaire who fancied himself the scion of the gods of Olympus and used a weather-control machine to attack Superman. Superman destroyed the machine, but was not able to save Stratos, whom he believed was killed when his machine exploded. The end of the issue revealed that Stratos was very much alive and had been altered by his exploding machinery so he now could manipulate the weather by himself, without his technology. He was last seen swearing vengeance on Superman. This was in 1987, and he was never even mentioned again.. until 2005, when he appeared as a character in the novel Superman: The Never-Ending Battle.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In issue #244, the Galaxy computer develops self-awareness and creates a child of pure energy. Even as Superman's referring to it as the computer's child, he declares that it's too dangerous because of the energy the computer made it from and kills the computer leaving the child to perish from no longer having the computer's support. He's not bothered about it for more than a brief moment.
  • A Wizard Did It: In issue #330, Superman questions the absurdness of hiding his secret identity behind a pair of glasses. He finds out that because the lenses are made from plexiglass from the rocket that brought him to Earth, they've been amplifying his super-hypnotism to create a sort of Perception Filter that makes everybody see Clark Kent as a lot frailer than he actually is.
  • Worthy Opponent: "Lois Lane...Dead...Yet Alive", an alternate universe story told in issue #215, involved a minor villain named Dimension Master killing Lois Lane, and Superman having to deal with it. Dimension Master then has his shapeshifter wife briefly disguise herself as Lois just to further torment him. At this, Dimension Master is suddenly defeated by Luthor and Brainiac. Supes asks in astonishment why they are helping him, and they tell him that even though they are his enemies, they respect him, and they couldn't stand watching D.M.'s pointless cruelty.