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April 18: Strange Visitor from Another Planet

April 18, 2014
18Superman saved the life of an innocent woman on death row, stopped a man from beating his wife, and brought a corrupt politician to justice in his first appearance in Action Comics on this date in 1938. Created five years earlier by Jerry Siegel, and drawn by his Cleveland high school friend Joe Shuster, Superman, according to Siegel’s daughter Laura Larson, was able to champion many of the causes that Siegel believed in and to fight “very real social evils his readers were powerless to conquer . . . What he could not do, he had Superman do.” The “true genius of Superman,” she continues, “is both his dual identity and his compassion for the human race. He chose to use his unsurpassed powers for the good of mankind, usually for people he didn’t know.” Action Comics was launched by Jack Liebowitz, with a print run of 200,000 copies; Superman was a last-minute addition from the slush pile. Siegel and Joe Shuster were paid $10 per page, or $130 for their work on this first strip. Action Comics #1 is the only comic book that has sold for more than $2 million for a single issue. “Early, Clark decided he must turn his titanic strength into channels that would benefit mankind . . . and so was created ‘Superman’, champion of the oppressed . . .” -Jerry Siegel