Friday, June 19, 2009

Episode #79: Happy Birthday, Clark Kent!

I was surprised to find during my research for episode #7, Happy Birthday, Superman!, that Clark Kent has a birthday on June 18. That is the day that is traditionally accepted in Superman lore as the day baby Kal-El's rocket landed on Earth. So his "Earth Day" is recognized as Clark Kent's birthday. As mentioned in episode #7, Superman's accepted birthday is February 29. Clark Kent's middle name is sometimes given as Jerome and other times as Joseph, after either of Superman's creators. His first name Clark came from his mother's maiden name, Martha Clark, as told in the ten page story The Origin Of Superman in Superman #53, July/August 1948, published on May 5, 1948. It was reprinted in the trade paperbacks Superman In The Forties and The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told.

Batman found a unique way to celebrate the day that Superman landed on Earth in the story The Key To Fort Superman, from Action Comics #241, the June 1958 issue, published on April 29, 1958. Some comics gave the date as June 1o, but the June 18th date has become the traditional date.

In the 1940's radio show's first origin, Superman landed on Earth as an adult. Later references in the radio episodes matched the origin from the comic books, having him land on Earth as an infant.

Clark Kent spent his pre-school years on the Kent farm. His parents sold the farm and moved into Smallville when he began elementary school. They operated a genreal store. These were some of the details from the twelve page story The Origin Of Superman in Superman #146, July 1961, published on May 4, 1961. The story was written by Otto Binder and drawn by Al Plastino, and has been reprinted in Superman In The Sixties and Showcast Presents: Superman vol. III.

In the Jerry Siegel penned thirteen page story That Old Class Of Superboy's Clark attended Metropolis High School. The John Sikela and George Roussos drawn story was the third story in Superman #46, May/June 1947, published on March 2, 1947. Clark's high school nickname was "specs" and was known as his class's quietest student. The web site noted that this issue was the first mention of Superboy in a Superman comic book, and is considered the first Earth-1 Superboy story. I could find no reprint information for this story.

Jor-El's Last Will, a twelve page story from World's Finest Comics #69, March/April 1954, published on January 28, 1954, depicted Clark attending Smallville High School, which makes more sense than the previously mentioned story. No reprint information was available for this story.

Several stories depicted Clark attending Metropolis University. It was unclear to me if Clark went to college before or after the death of his parents. The whole story about their last days was told in The Last Days of Ma And Pa Kent, the first story of Superman #161, May, 1963, published around March 21, 1963, written by Leo Dorfman and illustrated by Al Plastino. Details about this story were discussed in episode #37: Happy Birthday, Jonathan Kent. This story was reprinted in Superman In The Sixties and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. IV.

Clark Kent's College Days, the ten page second story in Superman #125, November 1958, published around September 18, 1958, was written by Jerry Coleman and illustrated by Al Plastino, about a college professor who suspected that Clark Kent was Superboy. This story was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archive vol. I and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I. The Girl From Superman's Past, the ten page third story in Superman #129, May 1959, published around March 19, 1959, told the story of Clark's brief college romance with the mermaid Lori Lemaris. Bill Finger wrote this story, which was illustrated by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. It was reprinted in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, Superman: the Man Of Tomorrow Archive vol. I and Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I. Some details about Clark's college life these stories show are that he was a member of the cheerleading squad and belonged to a fraternity. He also took a wide variety of courses, from biology to astronomy, art and music.

After college Clark Kent became a newspaper reporter at the Daily Planet newspaper (the Daily Star during the golden age). In Superman #1, Clark got his job at the Daily Star by phoning in a story to the Star editor about Supeman stopping a lynch mob at the local jail.This story was reprinted in Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. I and Superman Chronicles vol. I. Superman #133, November 1958, published on September 17, 1959, told another story titled How Perry White Hired Clark Kent, a nine page story written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Al Plastino. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman vol. I.

Until the Man Of Steel mini-series reboot, Clark Kent had a meek, mild-mannered, some might say weak, personality that was as much a part of his disguise as his glasses. He lived at 344 Clinton Street, Apartment 3-D (after the 1950's 3-D Superman comic book). Clark became a TV reporter after Morgan Edge, president of Galaxy Broadcasting, bought the Daily Planet newspaper and moved Clark to TV news. He would be joined on the TV newscast by sports reporter and Kent practical joker Steve Lombard and co-anchor Lana Lang. This was part of the changes new editor Julius Schwartz made to Superman when he took over for the retired Mort Weisinger. Schwartz' first issue as editor was Superman #233, January 1971, published on November 5, 1970. The story, Superman Breaks Loose, was written by Dennis O'Neil, pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by Murphy Anderson. It was reprinted in Superman From The Thirties To The Seventies, Superman In The Seventies, Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told vol. II and Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore.

Clark would be challenged more when he had to become Superman, having to do his super deeds during a film segment or commercial break, and then return to the news set as Clark Kent.

Superman's, aka Clark Kent's physical measurements were given in Action Comics #297, February 1963, published on December 27, 1962, in the story The Man Who Betrayed Superman. His features were listed as black hair, blue eyes, 6' 2" tall, 44" chest and 34" waist. This story was reprinted in Showcase Presents: Superman Vol. IV.

Clark Kent would "die" in Superman #423, part I of the story Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, September 1986, published on June 12, 1986. The story was written by Alan Moore, pecilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Perez. Clark's secret identity would be exposed when Lana opened a box, filled with Superman action figures, that had been mailed to the studio. When Lana activated one of them, they flew out of the box and zapped Clark with laser beams, leaving his Clark Kent clothes in shreds and revealing the Superman costume underneath. With his identity exposed Superman discarded his Clark Kent disguise. This had been part of a scheme by the duo of Toyman and the Prankster.

The Earth-2 Clark Kent was raised by John and Mary Kent. They died around 1938, before his debut as Superman. Clark worked as a reporter at the Daily Star newspaper for editor George Taylor. The Earth-2 Clark would marry Lois Lane in Action Comics #484, June 1978 issue, published on March 27, 1978. This first Clark and Lois wedding story was written by Cary Bates, pencilled by Curt Swan, inked by Joe Giella, lettered by Ben Oda and colored by Tatjana Wood. This story was reprinted in Superman In The Seventies.

Earth-2 Clark would succeed George Taylor as Editor-In-Chief of the Daily Star in the pages of Superman Family #196, July/August 1979 in the fifth story, Editor Of The Star. The eight page story was written by Cary Bates, pencilled by Kurt Schaffenberger, inked by Joe Giella, lettered by Todd Klein and colored by Adrienne Roy. Editor Taylor created a challenge between Clark and fellow Star reporter Perry White, which Kent won.

The Earth 2-Clark Kent / Superman would disappear to neverland at the end of Crisis On Infinite Earths in 1986 and would die at the end of Infinite Crisis in 2006.

The modern, post-crisis Clark Kent came to Earth not as a toddler, but as a fetus in the beginning of Man Of Steel #1, 1986. Jor-El installed a star drive on the birthing matrix of his son Kal-El, which would shield him from interstellar radiation. The matrix opened when the Kents found it on Earth, so you could say that Superman was technically born on Earth. As noted in episode #47, Superman For President, he could possibly run for President of the United States if he wanted to.

Unlike his pre-crisis golden and silver age version, the modern Clark Kent grew up on the Kent farm throughout high school, and was the star player on the school football team. After Pa Kent told him the truth about how he had been found, Clark traveled the world. This pre-Superman era for Clark would not be detailed until the 2003-2004 mini-series Superman: Birthright, written by Mark Waid, pencilled by Leinil Francis Yu and inked by Gerry Alanguilan. In the World of Metropolis #3, 1988, Clark would end his travels in Metropolis, where he enrolled in Metropolis University and worked as a cook in a diner. He was able to cook a little faster by secretly using his heat vision on the grille.

Clar Kent would get his job on the Daily Planet by walking off the street with the first interview with Superman, much to Lois Lane's envy for many years. He would briefly leave the Daily Planet to serve as Editor-In-Chief of the Metropolis magazine Newstime, before returning to the Planet to resume his job as reporter. Not only was Clark an award winning journalist, but he wrote at least two novels, The Janus Contract and Under A Yellow Sun. The latter was published as a graphic novel by DC Comics in 1994. Clark would marry Lois in the pages of Superman: The Wedding Album, December 1996, published on October 9, 1996. They presently live at 1938 Sullivan Place, after early DC editor Vin Sullivan, who was partly responsible for bringing Superman to DC Comics.

Superman Fan Podcast can be found at , , and most other podcast aggregaters. Send e-mail to . The podcast theme is Plans In Motion composed by Kevin MacLeod, part of the royalty free music library of .

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Superman and all related characters are trademark and copyright DC Comics.

Thanks for listening to this episode of the Superman Fan Podcast and, as always, thanks to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

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