Question 11.0 (3/29/2011):
In Action Comics #1 (1938), the brilliant scientist Jor-El places his only infant son into a rocket and sends him away from the doomed planet of Krypton. After an interstellar voyage, where did the rocket crash land on Earth?
The answer was D: Cleveland.
Though Superman's origin would eventually be rewritten so that he lands near the fictional town of Smallville, Kansas, in Action Comics #1, Kal-El actually lands just outside of Cleveland and is given over to an orphanage. When he grows up as Clark Kent and starts work as a reporter at the Daily Star, he remains in Cleveland, which is where Superman's first adventures take place.
Superman choosing Cleveland as his base of operations makes sense because he was created here by two young men who lived in the near East Side neighborhood of Glenville, about five minutes from the Case Western Reserve University campus. Jerry Siegel, the writer, and Joe Shuster, the artist, were recent high school graduates who dreamed of making newspaper comics like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. They had next to no formal training but were certain that their skills, though raw, had merit.
Finally, after seven long years of rejection letters for Superman, they were finally asked to cut and paste their newspaper cartoon so that it could fit in a new form of publication: the comic book. They did so, and now, nearly seventy-five years later, Superman is one of the most recognizable fictional characters (and brands) in the world. Siegel and Shuster sold their initial Superman story—and all subsequent rights to the character—for $130. They would fight to regain the rights to their character for the rest of their lives, a fight still being waged by their heirs.
Within a few issues of Action Comics #1, Superman decided it was time to leave (brain drain?) and moved (with no explanation) to the fictional city of Metropolis, an idealized version of New York City, and he has remained there ever since. Still, there are remnants of Superman's time here in Cleveland, including new public art installations at the boyhood homes of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in Glenville, and other such projects in the planning.
And if you guessed Central City, you were thinking of The Flash. Gotham is that guy with the husky voice who dresses like a flying rodent.
Question courtesy of Brad Ricca. Ricca is a SAGES Fellow who teaches a section of USSY 275: American Comics. His book Super Boys is forthcoming from St. Martin's Press.
Week Eleven Stats
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