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Author Topic: DCMB K-Metal discussion  (Read 2785 times)
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Great Rao
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« on: January 07, 2006, 06:23:20 PM »

Here are some extracts from the old DC Message Board thread, "Superman from the 30s to the 50s," circa 2002:

Quote from: "Aldous"
The inspiration for Kryptonite may have come from an unpublished story by Superman's creators, in 1940, about a substance similar to Kryptonite called K-metal. This story never saw print probably because it contained a scene in which Superman revealed his secret identity to Lois. Obviously, "second thoughts" withheld this development from publication.

Quote from: "BruceWayneMan"
I brought this up over on the Archives board a few months ago but astonishingly didn't get much attention. I'm bringing it up again because the latest Wizard lists it as the number one published story in comics. In 1940, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster produced a story in which Clark Kent is forced to reveal his secret identity to Lois Lane as only the immediate intervention of Superman can keep her and a group of criminals from suffocating in a mine. Although the gangsters die by the end of the story, Lois from here on in, would be left with the knowledge that Clark Kent is really Superman. The story also introduced kryptonite although it was refered to as k-metal. DC never published the story since it would shake things up too much, but Mark Waid discovered the finished (save for coloring) comic in DC's archives about 10 years ago. This is the greatest comic related discovery of all time and yet my mentioning of this has never managed to sustain interest for very long. Nevertheless...

(For the record, Mark Waid didn't discover the "finished comic," he discovered Jerry Siegel's type-written script.)

Quote from: "Aldous"
How would you suggest interest be "sustained"? I'd be happy to discuss the K-Metal story, but without the actual comic to read for ourselves, we don't have a lot to go on...

Quote from: "BuddyBlank"
Quote from: "Aldous"
How would you suggest interest be "sustained"? I'd be happy to discuss the K-Metal story, but without the actual comic to read for ourselves, we don't have a lot to go on...

Which is entirely the point. The discovery of this story is on a par with the discovery of a lost Beatles album, or of a fifth Gospel, or a new scroll of the old testament. Its historical importance can not be overstated. Its existence is noteworthy (nay, absolutely incredible) for a number of reasons:

Firstly, the story should absolutely be printed. But will DC ever make it available? I certainly hope so. Its inclusion in an upcoming archive would certainly boost the sales of the book, or maybe DC should print it as a one-shot? Or in a "1942 Annual"?

Also, since S&S came up with this story, in a sense, this is the "canonical" version of "how Lois learned Superman's secret ID." Although such a story has been told a few times since, this is the first (and original) version.

But it also raises some questions: What would Superman's continuity look like now if that story had run? What would have happened next? Would Lois have been hit on the head with a rock the next issue and then forgotten the secret? Or would she still have known? Would she have kept it a secret or blabbed it to the world? Would she have been killed? Or would she have eventually married Clark? The 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, etc, Supermen could all have been very different from the way they were.

Which leads into another thought: What if the editors had let S&S tell all the stories they had wanted to tell - with their version of Superboy, Lois knowing the secret ID, "K-Metal" instead of Kryptonite - what what Siegel and Shuster's full-blown vision of Superman have been? I doubt we'll ever know the full picture, but this story is a glimpse of it.

If we know about the existence of their version of Superboy (never published), and if we've just learned about the existence of this story (never published) - what other stories don't we know about? What other ideas did they have which were shot down? How many other Siegel and Shuster Superman stories are sitting lost in the backs of file cabinets, or are collecting dust in the backs of closets?

Quote from: "Aldous"
It's fun to speculate...

Jerry & Joe needed editorial direction, it could be argued. In the first newspaper strip, Superman tore the wings off a plane full of baddies and let it crash in flames. Censorship problems had to be avoided. Whitney Ellsworth imposed editorial controls on Jerry, and, again, it could be argued this was necessary to take Superman to the heights he attained.

In hindsight (and only with hindsight), it would seem a mistake to let Lois in on "the secret" in the early days. (My opinion.)

But, like The Beatles, who you've mentioned, who the hell knew Superman would last so damned long at the top?! They had no idea he'd still be going strong in 2002. He could've been washed up in just a few years, at most. Why not churn out any exciting development, like Lois discovering Superman's secret?

"The bottom line involves choices.  Neither gods nor humans have ever stood calmly in a minefield forever.  Good or evil, they are bound to choose.  And when they do, you will see the truth of all that motivates us.  As a thinking being, you have the obligation to choose.  If the fate of all mankind were in your hands, what would your decision be?  As a writer and an artist, I've drawn my answer."   - Jack Kirby
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Silver Age Surfer

« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2006, 08:07:19 PM »

Good set-up there.... Cool

I especially like Aldous's point about no one knowing the longevity of Supes and it kind of hints at how the longevity leads to such a passion about continuity, reboots, etc.
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