Boy oh boy, do I pity today’s kids. They’ll grow up believing Superman is a dark, tormented soul who goes around destroying cities and murdering his enemies. Had they grown up in the fifties, they might have thought of their pajama-wearing hero as a rapscallion who escorts Lois Lane through the Trojan War or the pilgrims’ voyage to America in a bizarre bid to conceal his identity. They might have been tickled by how he turned a garbage dump into a vacation resort to protect some investors who’d been duped by a diabolical duo from Krypton. They might have seen him help a narcoleptic Hercules save face, ride a Pegasus, or match wits with toddlers. They might have cheered him on during a pro-wrestling match, marveled at how he was tricked into appearing on “This Is Your Life”, or witnessed him getting amnesia for the zillionth time. Basically, they might have thought Superman was fun.
So do that dark, tormented eight-year-old you recently took to see Batman v Superman a favor and get him or her a copy of Superman: The Atomic Age Sundays 1953 to 1956. IDW’s second volume devoted to Superman’s fifties Sunday comic strips is as colorful, kooky, and sweet natured as the first. It’s nice to see how a guy who could punch you through a Formica floor always figures out how to use his wits rather than his fists to solve problems and thwart crimes. He even takes a break from his grander duties to rescue a parrot! There’s a superhero I’d like to hang out with.
Superman’s arch nemeses are on short order. The only recurring villain is the less-than-formidable Prankster. There’s a nice amount of Lois Lane, though, and the stories are consistently amusing and outlandish. As was the case with the first volume of the Atomic Age series, extras are sparse with another short introduction from Mark Waid and another selection of Wayne Boring comic book covers, but the main attraction is lovingly presented and a timely reminder that Superman is supposed to inspire joy, not existential dread and migraines.