ByKit Simpson Browne, writer at
Writer-at-large. Bad jokes aplenty. Can be gently prodded on Twitter at @kitsb1
Kit Simpson Browne

(Warning: the following contains mild SPOILERS for some older DC comics...and a whole lot of terrible stuff being done to Jimmy Olsen. Continue at your own risk, etc. etc.)

Now, if there's one hero it's near-impossible to imagine doing something fundamentally awful, it's most likely Superman. With the Man of Steel traditionally being about as clean-cut as it's possible for a hero to get - he didn't even grow his hair below his ears till the '90s - it's inevitably a challenge to picture him brutally assaulting a villain, or casually destroying a city block on a whim.

Seeing as we've already discovered that Captain America was briefly hooked on Meth, though, it's high time we took a look at just how accurate the super-boy scout's image really is.

And as it turns out?

Superman Isn't as Nice a Guy as He Seems

Y'see, when you take a look back over the many decades of adventures that he's had, it turns out that Supes hasn't always been quite the shining beacon of wonderfulness that he's usually made out to be.

In fact, Superman is, on occasion, a massive ass-hat - and just below are seven times that fact was glaringly the first two years of Superman's comic book existence.

First up?

7. Superman Scams Everybody

Back in 1939's Action Comics #11, Superman was...well, still getting to grips with this whole 'super-heroism' thing. His intentions, though, were already pretty darned noble.

Upon discovering that a group of shareholders have been scammed by some disreputable businessmen (who'd sold them worthless stock for a new oil well), Superman does the only thing he can think to do, and...buys up the stock?

That's right - rather than chasing after those pesky crooks, Superman just buys up all of their own worthless stock, and then...drills for oil.

At which point, rather than returning the shares to the business folk who got screwed over - or, y'know, calling the cops - Superman decides to...scam the crooks out of a million dollars.

After essentially blackmailing the crooks out of a million dollars for the site of the now-functioning oil well, Superman drags them to the site, and promptly does this:

Which, crucially, doesn't help the situation at all. The crooks still own the land, which they now know there's most certainly oil underneath, the original shareholders still got screwed (just slightly less) and Superman? Well, SUperman just made a million dollars, so he's just fine and dandy.

Or, in other words, Superman just screwed everybody over.

6. Superman Doesn't Understand What a Proportional Response is

Sticking with the golden age of comics for a moment, Action Comics #12 featured one of Superman's shining moments of ridiculous idiocy. Upon hearing that the mayor won't do anything about the city's problem with dangerous drivers, Superman opts to take matters into his own hands...

Rather than using his powers to save those about to be hit by cars, however - or even trying to improve safety standards - Superman opts for a subtly different approach: He destroys every car he can find...

And, when that's not enough? He goes right to the source, and destroys a car factory.

Or in other words, Superman's response to a deadly problem is to become an alternative deadly problem until people are scared straight.

Which is, lets be honest, not the kind of attitude you want a super-powered god-man with the ability to see through walls to be taking - even if it does (inexplicably) kind of work.

Not, of course, that Superman is above being a complete ass-hole about the newly enforced rules...

I mean, come on, dude. That cop's just doing the job you made him do. Give the guy a break, why don't ya?


5. Superman Doesn't Understand How Relief Operations Work, Doesn't Care

Way back in Superman #2, our hero demonstrates exactly why he can't ever be trusted to run for office. Noticing that after a cyclone hits Florida, the government rebuilds slums in the form of modern housing projects, Superman decides to destroy a whole bunch of slums.

Which, on the face of it, is kind of dopey, but at least well-meaning. Until, of course, you consider the fact that he just made all of those people homeless for (at the very least) months, and destroyed all of their possessions in the process.

Also, this being not too long after the Great Depression, there's a legitimate chance that those people wouldn't be able to afford the (eventually) rebuilt houses anyway. If, of course, the politicians even follow through on the promise.

On the plus side, though - Superman got to smash some buildings. So I guess it all worked out OK in the end for the kids who no longer have a roof over their heads.

4. Superman Destroys the Brooklyn Bridge for No Good Reason

See that image there? That's Action Comics #12's title panel, which depicts Superman destroying the Brooklyn Bridge for no apparent reason, and isn't referenced in the comic book that follows it.

Or, y'know, ever again.

Presumably he just did it for the hell of it, and the good people of New York figured it'd be cheaper to just fix it than to call down his factory-destroying, house-smashing wrath on Manhattan...

Next up?

3. Superman Sexually Harasses Lois Lane

That's right - back in the old days - Superman #3, to be precise - Clark Kent was a massive skeeze-ball. His response to Lois rejected his advances? To persuade his boss to literally force her to go out with him:

Now, I know things have changed over the years when it comes to workplace rights and general attitudes towards dudes being creepy, but c'mon...the fact that Lois' response wasn't to kick Clark in the nuts must've seemed unrealistic even back before World War II had kicked off...

That isn't the limit to Superman's dickishness to Lois, though:

2. Superman Actively Screws Over Lois Lane

Now, later in that same issue, Lois gets demoted from her position at the newspaper so that her job can be given to Clark - and just to be clear, that isn't the worst thing that happens to her that day.

Y'see, she's given a chance to get back in her (giant tool of an) editor's good graces by uncovering a jewel-smuggling ring - something which apparently involves a lot more sexual harassment from the smugglers than you'd expect:

Superman, though, eventually saves the day, and after continuing to be a dick to Lois...

...decides to completely screw her over by stealing the story that she had been working on:

The worst part? In the next story, Clark's on vacation in a reward for the scoop he stole from Lois.

Finally, though, let's head back to Action Comics #2, where:

1. Superman Hates Torture So Much (That He Tortures a Bunch of People)

That's right folks - back in 1939, Superman hated torture just as much as the next guy...

Which, when he ran into a soldier seemingly about to torture prisoner in the South American nation of San Monte, Supes demonstrated by...straight up murdering the guy:

Which would, I guess, be a pretty typical piece of vigilante justice - were it not for the fact that Superman liked to torture people the exact same way:

Y'see, thinly veiled threats of violence aren't actually any less a form of torture than what Superman witnessed over in San Monte - the only difference presumably being that Superman always did them while jumping really high...

...which...makes psychological torture OK, somehow?

The worst thing about all of those horrifying examples of Superman's fallible moral character, though? They're all from the first year and a half of his comic book existence.

I mean, just think about all the weird and terrible stuff he must have got up to in the seventy-six years since...

Actually, hold up a second. Maybe it's best not to...

What do you reckon, though?



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