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Cover Stories by Jon B. Knutson
Jon Knutson presents comic book covers with a common theme
and relates any information and comments about them.

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COVER STORIES for 08/14/2005

Welcome to this 14th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!

Today, we're looking at four comics covers featuring a son of Superman! Yep, it's imaginary story time... so hang on to your hats!

There have probably been more "children of Superman" imaginary stories than just about any other kind - yes, even including "Superman marries Lois" stories! And of course, I'm sure most of you are familiar with the "Super-Sons" stories that appeared sporadically in 1970s issues of World's Finest, featuring the sons of Superman and Batman.

Most of these one-shot stories, however, ended in tragedy of some kind, as did most imaginary stories!

Action Comics 217

Here's a very heartwarming cover, eh? Although despite the cover blurb, I don't think the super-son here could be considered a baby, eh? I mean, he is walking, and he's saying, "Let's play catch, daddy," instead of "Me want to play catch," as would be more typical of baby-speak in Superman comics (as well as Bizarro-speak, which leads to the question, "Do Bizarro babies speak in proper English?" But I digress). This cover was pencilled and inked by Al Plastino. "The Amazing Super-Baby" inside was also pencilled and inked by Plastino, and no, I have never read the story, so I can't tell you anything about it!

Also appearing in this issue of Action were Congo Bill by Ed Smalle, and Tommy Tomorrow in "Secrets of the Planeteers" by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney.

Action Comics 232

This Curt Swan/Stan Kaye cover features a gag that was definitely recycled... I know there's at least one Superboy cover in which Lana Lang's gained super-powers, and is adopted by the Kents to be Superboy's sister, and the two kids roast hot dogs by x-ray vision and cool lemonade with super-breath, too! (I guess Smallville wasn't big on fried chicken for their picnics?).

Note Superman Jr.'s costume... it's a rarity, in that it's not an exact duplicate of Superman's! The basic design seems reminiscent of Mon-El's, but those lieutenant's stripes on the sleeves are definitely different!

I'm guessing that the Superman, Jr. in this book isn't a biological son of Superman, as his real name is Johnny Kirk (also, he doesn't have black hair, which seems to indicate Kryptonian genes are always dominant in other super-kid stories). I'm guessing this tale involves an orphaned boy who gains super-powers, and is adopted by Superman (and probably loses his powers by the end of the story, and turned out on the streets... just kidding! Probably returned to his real parents).

Within the covers, "The Story of Superman, Junior" was written by Jerry Coleman, penciled by Wayne Boring, and inked by Stan Kaye. This story has been reprinted twice! The first time was in Superman Annual #7, and then again in The Best of DC 25.

Also in this issue were Congo Bill in "Three Dives to Doom" by Nick Cardy, and Tommy Tomorrow in "Riddle of the Space Rainbow" by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney. This story was reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes (1973 series) #1!

Action Comics 327

Here's a twist on the "super-son" story... three generations of Superman, with an elderly Kal-El, his son, and his grandson! Thanks to Steve Chung of the Silver Age Reviews list, I can tell you a bit more about this story I've never read!

I'll summarize from Steve's review.

The story takes place in the future, as Jor-El II, the son of Superman, has taken over from his father, the original Superman, who retired due to repeated exposures to green Kryptonite. Kal-El II, Superman's grandson, first asks his grandpa about why he took his Clark Kent identity, and about his career, then the two play (Kal-El II has his full powers, so is able to really give grandpa Kal-El a run for his money!). Kal-El II later flies on patrol, and spots a crime, but there's no crime left, so nobody believes him! Eventually, however, he is believed, and the elder Man of Steel joins his grandson to tackle the crooks.

Of course, after the criminals (who are really robots) are dealt with, nobody believes the elder or younger Superman!

This cover was pencilled by Curt Swan and inked by George Klein. The story inside was by the same art team, with story by Edmond Hamilton, who also created the SF pulp character Captain Future! Superman's cousin Supergirl also appears in the story "Fugitive From Justice," by Leo Dorfman and Jim Mooney.

Action Comics 391

And finally, here's this cover... with a story of triumph and tragedy! This cover was by the classic Swanderson (Curt Swan/Murphy Anderson) art team, with the story "The Punishment of Superman's Son" written by Bob Kanigher, pencilled by Ross Andru, and inked by Mike Esposito.

In this story, Superman's son doesn't inherit his father's desire to do good, and fearing that his son will become a meance to the world, Superman uses Gold Kryptonite to remove his powers! But don't worry... later in the story, his son "grows up" and faces responsibility, and (unless I'm misremembering), Superman transfers his own powers to his son, now that he has shown himself worthy of taking over from his father.

Backing up this story are the Legion of Super-Heroes in "The Ordeal of Element Lad," with art by Win Mortimer and Jack Abel.

Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at for other musings and ramblings by me!

Jon B. Knutson

<< 08/07/2005 | 08/14/2005 | 08/21/2005 >>

Discuss this column with me in World Famous Comics' General Forum.

Recent Installments:
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10/14/2007Installment 127: Comics Never Made - Drive-In Movie Classics and Fantastic Film Classics
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09/30/2007Installment 125: 1-10 - Challengers of the Unknown!
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09/16/2007Installment 123: Comics Never Made - Drive-In Movie Classics and Fantastic Film Classics
09/09/2007Installment 122: Reader Challenge - a reader gave me four comic book covers, and challenged me to come up with the theme!
09/02/2007Installment 121: Cartoon Stuff
08/26/2007Installment 120: Sports
08/19/2007Installment 119: 1-10 - Captain Marvel Adventures!
08/12/2007Installment 118: Comics Never Made - Five comics that never were!
08/05/2007Installment 117: Carnival
07/22/2007Installment 116: A G-g-g-g-g-ghost!
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