Meet The Superman You Almost Knew

Illustration for article titled Meet The Superman You Almost Knew

We may have come to know Superman as the Last Son of Krypton, but if Jerry Siegel's other choice for artist had agreed to work on the character, then his origin would have been more than a little bit different... and he would have become the Last Son of Earth. Under the jump, find out more about the Superman that we very nearly came to know and love.The discovery of this alternate Superman was made by Jeff Trexler as he worked his way through the masses of documents made public by the current lawsuit between Siegel's heirs and DC Comics over who owns Superman:

As Jerry Siegel would later explain, in 1934 Joe Shuster had become discouraged with the Superman newspaper strip and decided to let it go. His departure prompted Siegel to look for a replacement, so he sent an inquiry to [then Buck Rogers artist, Russell] Keaton. Which we have in these rediscovered documents in Siegel's follow-up letter outlining the origin story and touting the prospect of selling the strip to the Bell Syndicate.

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Siegel's letter to Keaton allows us to see the Superman that could have been. From his introductory notes:

We begin with "Superman" as a child and follow his history all the way up to maturity when the real story begins: of his adventures in helping those in need... The story of his youth will run at great length before we detail his adventures as an adult. Early, he will find that his great strength, instead of making friends for him, cause people to fear him. Mothers will not permit their children to associate with him, he will be hated in school sports because he never loses, etc. We can weave a very human story about him.

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Perhaps most interesting is the entirely different origin for the character:

In his laboratory, the last man on earth worked furiously. He had only a few moments left. Giant cataclysms were shaking the reeling planet, destroying making. It was in its last days, dying... The last man placed his infant babe within a small time-machine he had completed, launching it as the laboratory walls caved-in upon him. The time vehicle flashed back thru the centuries, alighting in the primitive year, 1935AD.

So much for "strange visitor from another planet." If this version of the character had been the first to see print - and in a newspaper, as opposed to a comic book - you have to wonder if he would have been so successful, and whether we would've had more time travel stories as a result. What if, as they say... Superman's Hidden History: The Other "First" Artist [Newsarama]

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DISCUSSION

@laughingacademy:

I never watched the 4400 so I couldn't say.

It just strikes me as more credible that Superman would be, after all, human. It also seems to me that it is equally believable that he should be from the future as from a planet in a distant galaxy- I can't say that either is a possibility but it does seem that the cost of sending a person from one edge to the universe would be about the same as sending someone through time.

The way I have rationalized the scenario is that in the future society produce energy in a way that creates a stable and inert super heavy element called Krytonium, the way that hydrogen fusion creates helium. Kryptonium slowly integrates itself into living tissue. It also slowly seeps into the planets core due to its heaviness where the compression, heat, and ambient radiation causes it to become Krytonite, which in turn releases energy that weakens Krytonium tainted organisms. At some point enough Kryptonium reaches the planets core to cause a chain reaction leading to the expected consequences.

Anyway, I hope that something like this is integrated into the proposed "reboot." It would be a nice plot twist to learn that Krypton is Earth. And it would make for some interesting intrigue to see what role Lex Luthor has in driving Earth along the path of self destruction.