Saturday, May 12, 2007

Kryptonians Attack! (Action #8: Cover Date January 1939)

When I'm feeling uninspired, I can always find my muse with a solid Golden Age Superman story.


Main Hero: Superman

Main Villain: Gimpy

Others of Ambiguous Morality: Neighborhood Ruffians, the U. S. Military


Scene I: Frankie Marello is sentenced to the boys' reformatory for assaulting and battery after a robbery. His mother pleads that his son is a good boy in an underprivileged environment, but to no avail. Reporter Clark Kent agrees, and thinks there is more to the story when he hears Marello's friends complaining that "Gimpy" didn't show.

Scene II: At Gimpy's pawn shop, we learn that Gimpy pays the boys to bring him stolen goods. The boys go to attack Gimpy, but he gives them leads on addresses to rob, and they leave him. Gimpy calls the police to get the boys arrested before they come back, but Superman breaks in and gives him an hour to get out of town, and then drops him in a vat of tar that is happily sitting in the pawn shop. (I wonder who was so hard up for cash that they pawned their barrel of tar!)

Scene III: At the houses of the elite, the cops are on the watch for robbers, and see the boys try to break in. Superman breaks up the arrests and rescues the boys from facing the consequences of their actions. After stopping Gimpy in his attempts for revenge, Superman convinces the boys to pursue constructive pursuits instead of crime. ("If bein' clean an' honest is yer code then its gonna be ours, too.")

Scene IV: After seeing that the government is helping to rebuild Florida cities after a cyclone, Superman decides that the poor would be better off if he acted like a cyclone and destroyed the slums. He tells everyone to evacuate, and then destroys the entire area. The National Guard is brought in to stop him, but to no avail, and the air assault merely destroys the buildings faster. The slums are soon replaced with sparkling, new housing projects for the poor. The police chief is secretly happy that Superman destroyed the town.


See, people who don't understand the glory of Golden Age comics should be forced to re-read this story from Action 8. It has absolutely everything, including everything that is wonderful and everything that is ridiculous about liberal politics, all in a story that is only 13 pages long.

In the beginning, a court scene where crime is blamed on "society" rather than criminal. Clark Kent recognized that the underprivileged kids in the underclass are given few options, and as a result resort to crime.

At the end, the most reductionist and silly analysis of the cure for urban poverty -- new apartments. In the world according to Superman, the problem of poverty isn't lack of money, it's low-quality housing. If the unemployed and poor were taken out of their slums and put into up-to-date high-rise apartments, then everything will be better. The fact that the poor won't have the money to maintain their apartments, and will have turned in low-rise slums for the high-rise "projects" of the 1960s and 1970s never occurs to him -- at least not before he single-handedly destroys an entire neighborhood.

So, while I am still of the view that "Amazons Attack!" has so far provided a pretty flimsy rationale for the Amazons to completely destroy Washington, D.C. and kill all the men in their way, it is not the most irrational destruction of a major American city by erstwhile heroes.

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