10 Silver Age Superman Covers You Need To See To Believe

Silver Age Superman comics embraced a spirit of playful imagination, which occasionally broached full-blown ridiculousness. As zany as these comics could get, they often paled in comparison to their covers. The purpose of a comic book cover is to grab the attention of prospective customers, and during the Silver Age, that meant dialing things up significantly.

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Superman covers fit into two broad categories. In some narratives, Superman has to think his way out of radical changes to his status quo, such as having a lion’s head or developing a strange new power. On other occasions, one of the characters does something incredibly cruel, leaving readers to wonder how the writers could possibly justify the accompanying stories.

10 Superman’s Son Gets Him In Trouble With Lois

Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane ran for over a hundred issues, and the vast majority of these comics centered around Lois’ romantic conflicts with a certain Man of Steel. The cover of issue #39, with art, pencils, and inks by Kurt Schaffenberger, promises the tale of “When Lois Lane Hated Superman!” It features Superman and Lois settling down and having a Super-Baby.

Naturally, the baby tears through his father’s locked safe and reveals its hidden contents to his mother. Married men clinging onto memories of past loves is nothing new, but keeping autographed portraits of one’s exes, hidden in a vault in the house, takes it to another level. And yes, Lois Lane is wearing an apron to indicate she’s a married woman.

9 Superman Gets Jimmy Locked Up (Again)

During the Silver Age, Superman’s desire to maintain his secret identity often matched or even trumped his desire to help others. The Man of Steel sinks to a new low on the cover of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #10. Written by Otto Binder with cover art by Stan Kaye and Ray Burnel and pencils by Curt Swan, the cover was paired with the tagline, “Superman’s Greatest Double-Cross!”

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This image begs several questions about Superman and Jimmy’s dynamic. Despite being a reporter, Jimmy is still Clark Kent and Superman’s pal, so why he’s so desperate to out his friend is a mystery. Furthermore, it takes a certain kind of person to willingly place their friend in solitary confinement at an asylum just to keep a secret.

8 Clark Kent Is Engaged To A “Hillbilly”

Fifties comics didn’t have a good track record when it came to depicting women or people of color. But Superman Vol. 1 #94, written by Otto Binder with cover art by Wim Ortimer, broke new ground with the tale “Clark Kent’s Hillbilly Bride.” The woman in question belongs to a rural community in the mountains near Metropolis, which is presumably a surrogate for Appalachia.

This cover has a lot of groan-worthy details, especially the decision to convey the bride’s ‘hillbilly nature’ by substituting the word “my” with “mah.” The whole concept is borrowed from a popular trope in this era: a sophisticated city slicker becoming the object of a rural woman’s unwanted advances.

7 Lois Settles For Superman’s Dad

Lois and Superman’s relationship during the Silver Age was incredibly volatile. Both parties frequently discarded the other the moment an attractive new character popped onto the scene. However, of all the alternative Supermen Lois has gone out with, Superman’s dad is probably her most unsettling conquest.

This was the scenario presented by writer Otto Binder and cover artist Kurt Schaffenberger Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane #59. Additionally, since Silver Age Superman comics transported their tropes to whatever new location they featured, Lois’ rivalry with Lana Lang was recreated with another ‘L’ initialed woman – Superman’s mother, Lara.

6 Lana Gets Stuck In A Phone Booth

The cover of Adventure Comics Vol. 1 #298, written by Robert Bernstein and illustrated by Curt Swan and George Klein, stars Superboy, Lana Lang, and a phone booth. It also highlights the latest in a long line of strange transformations.

Except this particular mutation doesn’t involve the protagonists becoming Human-Lizards or Werewolves or anything particularly fantastic. Instead, the horrific calamity Lana Lang and Superboy suffer is getting fatter. Stranger still is the notion that the best way to convey this conundrum was to have Lana Lang climb into a phone booth and get stuck.

5 Jungle Jimmy Gets Betrothed To An Animal

Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #98, written by Otto Binder with cover art by Curt Swan, was accompanied by the tagline, “The Bride of Jungle Jimmy”. There’s a lot to unpack in this image, starting with the implication that Jimmy’s sojourn into bestiality is a part of a practical joke concocted by Superman.

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Then there’s Superman describing himself as a local witch doctor and wearing a bedazzled hat as proof. But the pièce de résistance is the visual of a leopard-skin-clad Jimmy Olsen slipping a ring onto the finger of a female King Kong, who’s wearing a floral tiara and an intimidating scowl.

4 Superman Figures Out A Loophole When It Comes To Incest

The Comics Code Authority was partially formed in response to Fredric Wertham’s allegations of a pedophilic subtext in Batman and Robin comics. Yet, this same Code had no issues with Action Comics #289, written by Leo Dorfman, which begins with Superman rejecting his underage cousin because – and only because – incest was banned on Krypton.

On the cover illustrated by Curt Swan, George Klein, and Ira Schnapp, Superman opts for the next best thing: an adult doppelganger of Supergirl. Apparently, Luma Lyna also fits Superman’s other requirement for picking a spouse by possessing the initials “LL”. Sadly, there were no Silver Age covers that explored how this informed his relationship with Lex Luthor.

3 Superman Has Plenty Of Love To Go Around

“The Amazing Story of Superman-Red and Superman-Blue,” which was published in Superman Vol. 1 #162, is a widely beloved Superman tale. But its cover also highlights the deranged idea at the heart of this classic story, which is Superman’s decision to resolve his love triangle with Lois & Lana by splitting himself in two.

Written by Leo Dorfman with cover art by Kurt Schaffenberger, this cover seems more preoccupied with where Superman Red, Blue, and their respective families settle down. However, modern readers may wonder how far Superman is willing to go to juggle multiple women. And since Kryptonian law doesn’t seem too concerned with polygamy, there may be several other mono-colored Superman variants roaming the Universe.

2 The Sanctity Of The Courtroom Trumps Secret Identities

DC’s 1986 reboot of Superman implemented several divisive changes, but one change that was universally welcomed revolved around Superman’s secret identity. It never made sense why people would assume he had an alter ego in the first place. Secondly, there are more pressing conflicts for Superman to take on.

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The cover of SupermanVol. 1 #176, written by Leo Dorfman and illustrated by Curt Swan and George Klein, represents this trope at its most absurd and self-involved. The selling point of this comic was that a judge maneuvered Superman into a corner by asking him his secret identity under oath. Adding to the absurdity is the lawman’s stipulation that Superman out himself by writing on a blackboard.

1 Lois Lane Solves Racism In This Superman Comic

This infamous cover tagged “I Am Curious (Black)!” was part of Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #106, written by Robert Kanigher with art by Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, and Gaspar Saladino. The story inside concerns a trip to Metropolis’ majority-black neighborhood in a well-intentioned but disconcerting attempt to highlight contemporary racism.

There’s so much to unpack about this cover. Firstly, there’s no real reason for Lois to change her race to get her story. Secondly, Superman’s racial reassignment machine is highly improbable, even by superhero standards. And then there’s the issue of minimizing the black experience by having a Caucasian appropriate their culture in the most brazen way possible.

NEXT: Top 10 Post Crisis Retellings Of Classic Superman Stories

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