Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Did He or Didn't He...?

Here's an oddity. Superman #127 (the February 1959 issue) included a story titled "When There Was No Clark Kent." It had a typical plot for the era -- While working on a story for the Daily Planet, Clark is apparently killed in a factory explosion. Superman tries to carry on without a secret identity, but the lack of privacy and the constant requests for his assistance convince him that he needs his second life as Clark. So, he concocts an elaborate (but plausible) story of how Clark survived the accident, and the status is quo once more.

But the last panel of the story is peculiar. At the very end, in response to nothing at all, Clark thinks "He sure will!" Who is this mysterious "he," and what is it exactly that "he" will do? Is this a cliffhanger ending, suggesting a possible sequel?

I first read this story in 1967, when it was reprinted in Superman #197. Clark's thought balloon was missing from that reprint, carefully removed by an observant editor. In the eight years that had passed since the story was first published, did "he" complete whatever enigmatic mission that Clark had promised? Or was this part of a conspiracy to cover up "his" activities? If so, it failed, because the story was reprinted a second time in 2005, with Clark again assuring us that "He sure will!"

If Superman himself tells me that "he sure will," I have to believe it. Maybe "he" already did. If we only knew who, what, and when, we could be prepared. I don't know about you, but I'm going to keep looking over my shoulder.


  1. It's far more likely that there was supposed to be a second balloon from Lois, along the lines of "A good reporter should let his friends know what he's doing so they don't jump to conclusions."
    It would explain Clark's third-person thought as well.

    For whatever reason, that balloon was omitted, and I suspect that Nelson Bridwell, who proofread the story for reprinting, realized it and had the other balloon deleted.

    The later reprinting was done from the original film, so the balloon was back.

  2. So E. Nelson Bridwell was part of the cover-up, eh? I suppose that "he" probably blackmailed Nelson into cooperating by threatening to reveal what the "E" really stood for. I remain suspicious.

  3. This was reprinted in '05? Where? I don't recall seeing it at all! Thanks. :)

    Oh, and where's your "Follow This Blog" link? :) It'd make things a WHOLE lot easier to keep up with your posts. :)

  4. Thanks for the tip. I'll set up a "Follow" link later. I haven't been posting lately, but I hope to get back into the swing soon.

    The story was reprinted in the trade paperback collection, Showcase Presents Superman Vol. 1.