Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Man of Steel
Monday we had a story set in MLJ Comics' transition period from superheroes to Archie Comics, and today we reach back to MLJ's beginnings.
In his early days Superman was known as the "Man of Tomorrow" and MLJ's Steel Sterling was the Man of Steel. Sterling debuted a couple of years after Superman, in Zip Comics #1. Superman later became the Man of Steel.
Steel Sterling, as you'll see in his origin story from said Zip Comics #1, 1940, had a reason for being the Man of Steel. He jumped into a vat of molten steel and came out a superhero. I do not recommend you try this, but in comic books I guess it's as likely an origin as Superman arriving on earth as a baby from Krypton, or Eel O'Brien falling into a vat of chemicals and becoming Plastic Man.
The story is credited by the Grand Comics Database to Abner Sundell, and the artwork to Charles Biro, who later rose to fame (and infamy) by creating Crime Does Not Pay.*
*There is a text story in Zip Comics #1 with art by a young Mort Meskin, author uncredited. It's about the notorious kidnapper/murderer William Edward Hickman, executed in 1928 for a horrible mutilation killing of a child. It reads like something Biro would have used later in Crime Does Not Pay. When reading several online articles about Hickman I saw his victim was twelve years old, not eight as this two-pager says. Nowhere else but in this article did I read anything about Hickman taking a really long time to die on the gallows, while witnesses stood around watching him fight the noose by using his neck muscles. Did that actually happen, or is this some fever dream by a comic book writer?