Superman comics in the 1950s and 1960s were the apotheosis of the comic narrative, thanks to DC Comics' willingness to throw any damn idea at the wall, no matter how stupid, offensive, or offensively stupid.
These comics offer the impression that the Silver Age DC Comics editorial office was an episode of Mad Men, an episode of Mad Men starring five clones of Miss Blankenship, Roger Sterling on LSD screaming about the Japanese, and that anonymous guy Peggy Olsen gave a handjob to in a movie theater.
And while the 2013 Superman flick Man of Steel seeks to return some gravitas to the Kryptonian superhero — after years of characters breathing in space and whatnot — it's worth remembering that Superman was regularly bandied before the public as one risible motherfucker.
Look no further than this glorious archive of the Superman daily newspaper strip, which ran from 1939 to 1966 and adapted adventures from his comics.
One of the finest "we-got-deadlines-dammits" on display here is 1965's "The Goofy Superman," in which Superman is exposed to madness-inducing Red Kryptonite, after finally saving the populace from the 99th of the Mad Bomber's 98th hidden explosives. It never addresses where Superman was for the first 98 bombs, but that New Wave haircut probably required a trip to some off-world quantum barber.
So yes, Superman is promptly sent to a mental health hospital for walking on his hands and sitting on benches coated in fresh paint. And as a now sane Superman so diligently observes, irrationality was against the law in the 1960s. (As for that cannon on hospital grounds, that's a gray area.)
Superman beats the charges by claiming he was peer-pressured by the Rotarians or something. An evergreen dodge! He also nearly gives away his secret identity, which the reader must interpret as an inchoate cry for help.
In the 60 minutes it takes for Superman's papers to clear, everything flies off the rails. He ends up preventing an airplane crash while giving a patient — who's convinced he's Ulysses S. Grant — a piggy-back ride. Those doomed passengers now believe they were saved by Kuato from Total Recall.
This is the face of a Justice League of America no-confidence vote.
Because of a turn of events too uninteresting to elaborate upon here, Superman must smoke an entire box of cigars at the same time to preserve his secret identity. CLAAPPP!
Ostensibly he's trying to teach an abusive guard a lesson. But Superman probably does idiotic feats like this often to ease his immortal ennui. If I were Superman, I'd be replacing my bloodstream with gin daily and seeing how many peas I could hide in my ear just because I could.
Incidentally, "The Goofy Superman" — which stops being interesting after Superman consumes a sweat lodge's worth of tobacco — is not the only time Superman messed with humans for the sake of moral rectitude. The 1962 serial strip "Three Tough Teenagers" saw the Last Son of Krypton play Dangerous Minds with a trio of delinquent greasers. One of them he shot into space...
...another he appointed the Produce Emperor of Venus (ah, the voluptuous harem of tomato girls)...
...and the third hoodlum he irradiated so badly that the kid became a (tumor-covered?) monstrosity Superman pimps out to Hollywood. THE METROPOLIS SCARED STRAIGHT PROGRAM DOES NOT PLAY GAMES.
[Via Brooklyn Eagles]