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I Love Ya But You’re Strange – Kissing Cousins?

Every installment of I Love Ya But You’re Strange spotlights
strange but ultimately endearing comic stories. Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

Today we look at 1962′s Action Comics #289′s “Superman’s Super-Courtship.”

Just from the cover, you can tell that this is going to be a bit of an offbeat comic book…

Read on to see what happens!

Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney was the creative team on this story.

It opens up with Supergirl watching a sad romantic movie in her secret identity of Linda Danvers, along with her adoptive parents. This gives her the idea to fix Superman up with somebody!

I love Fred Danvers’ reaction. “That’s out!”

Also, it is amazing to think of the sheer power Supergirl has. “Hey, I think Superman would be good with Helen of Troy, let’s go meet her!”

The meeting does not go so well, as Supergirl ends up drawing attention away from the diva-licious Helen…

You got to love Supergirl’s obsessive peppiness!

While waiting for her next move, Supergirl cleans the Fortress of Solitude, which makes sense, because, you know, she’s a woman…

Gotta love Superman’s adamant position on the issue of marriage.

So anyhow, Supergirl’s NEXT idea is to go to the future so Superman can marry a grown-up Saturn Girl. The idea is doing well….

until there is a minor hitch in her plans…

“Oh right, I didn’t check to see if she was married.”

Hilarious.

Also hilarious is the out of nowhere shot she takes at Phantom Woman in the next panel…

“What about her? She MUST be single, as who’d ever want to marry HER?”

This then leads to the most awesome part of the issue, when Superman lets Supergirl know what kind of woman he wants…

Awwwwwkward.

Yes, because that damned Kryptonian law against cousin marriage is the only reason that isn’t a good idea!

This gives Supergirl an awesomely twisted idea, though. Superman can’t be with HER, so what about an exact duplicate of her?

Superman hits it off well with this lady…

I love Superman’s thoughts as he heads to the planet. “Man, I hope she’s like my teenaged cousin. Homina, homina.” Also, is “super-pick-up-artist” an unknown power of Superman’s from the Silver Age? Because he got down to business FAST.

Naturally, though, like all good fictional romances, this one is doomed, as Adult Duplicate of Supergirl cannot go to Earth because of our sun, which acts like Kryptonite to her, and she knows Superman can’t abandon Earth…

I like Superman’s hopefulness of the whole situation. “Thanks, Supergirl, I feel like total crap because of your meddling, but eh, I’m sure it is for a purpose.” And, again, the ability to read about Cleopatra and actually know that you could go grab her if you wanted to – no wonder Superboy Prime went crazy with power!

If you have suggestions for a future comic book story that you’d like to see featured here, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

53 Comments

Those old stories had a real stream of conciousness thing going on didn’t they.
I can’t help but think that by the time the artists/writers reached the last page they thought, “oh well, too late now.”

Love these old stories

I read this story as a kid in a DC digest. I thought it was horrible at the time because I was approaching it with the sensibility of an 80s Shooter-era Marvel kid and couldn’t appreciate the silliness, and even back then the cousin factor icked me out, but I can totally see its charm now.

First cousins can actually marry in 14 (I think) states in the United States. I know some who did marry. I’m not sure if the laws have been amended since then (it’s been 30 years or so ago, and it was 14 states back then), but it was perfectly legal. And the couple I know are still married, by the way.

I’ve always been startled by how many people find it so unusual. It was fairly common for hundreds of years. The odds of birth defects are only marginally higher (2% as compared to 1% for non-cousins). Now if these children married their cousins, then the odds of problems skyrocket.

Anyway, as with most things, there’s probably a LOT more of it going on than you realize.

It is the “teenager” thing that puts it over the top, though.

“If only it weren’t for these stupid Kryptonian laws, I would totally marry you, my teenaged cousin!”

I_Captain Blanco

August 2, 2011 at 7:30 am

So Superman’s a Jerry Lee Lewis fan?

Another Dylan titled column. Well played, sir.

randypan the goatboy

August 2, 2011 at 8:18 am

Brian….why did you do this? You know grant morrison is writting Action comics . I hope your happy. When we get stories involving Superman flying off into space to marry supergirls twin or worse yet Superman and Supergirl giving in to the love that shouldnt be. Is metropolis in Alabama in the new dcnu? so many questions

I hope to see a return of this kind of zaniness now that Grant Morrison is writing Superman regularly. :)

loved the almost smug look superman gives supergirl at the end when she learns the folly of trying to play match maker with superman. though one has to admit superman ideal wife in that story would be an older super girl is kind of a creepy.

Gee, thanks for this totally weird and wonderful intro to Superman’s slightly, ahem, mature side :)

At least the writers did not lack imagination back in those days :)

Kryptonian Rascal

August 2, 2011 at 9:29 am

Why didn’t supergirl just set him up with a future version of herself???? I’m saying this because she did feel happy when he found an ‘adult supergirl’………

I was surprised (and rather creeped out) many years back when I was working on a paper about Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, which ends with the heroine marrying her cousin, to learn that even today first cousin marriage isn’t illegal in a lot of places, including all of Europe and in 18 U.S. states. (Most of them are Southern and, oddly, in much of New England including New York and New Jersey. Yes, California is also on the list.) That said, there’s a strong social taboo against the practice throughout the industrialized world.

Historically speaking, though, revulsion at first cousin marriage is a relatively recent taboo, and it was legal in every state until after the Civil War. Albert Einstein, of all people, was married to a woman who was his first cousin on his father’s side through marriage and his second cousin by blood on his mother’s side. The composer Igor Stravinsky also married his first cousin in relatively modern times. So did Mario Llosa, who won the Nobel for Literature last year. All of which still seems very odd and Bizarro-world to me, no pun intended.

Those interesting, if creepy facts aside, I have to say Mort Weisinger was a weird dude. He frequently commissioned stories about characters being reduced to infancy, and approved stuff like this decades before anyone knew what GSA was. The story is just so…matter-of-fact bout Superman’s barely-restrained incestuous ephebophilic urges that it’s rather disturbing even with the above context.

I remember reading this in some compilation or the other and thinking that Superman was much more pervy than I imagined. Also, I love how many duplicates, twins, robot doubles, and alternate reality counterparts were running around in the Silver Age. I also really liked Luma Lynai’s costume for some reason.

Uh, Omar, your stat about the laws in the Northeastern part of the US may be accurate, but New York and New Jersey are most definitely NOT part of New England!

I think it’s important to remember that these stories were written for prepubescent readers. Marriage is about gender roles, romantic-but-only-emotional love, and maybe kissing. There is no sex involved. Besides, what’s the problem with noticing an attractive teenager? Many of them ARE attractive. It would only really be creepy if Superman were trying to come up with ways to mate with a teenager (and that runs right back into the whole “no-sexuality” thing from these old stories).

The editors of CBR are clearly huge Dylan fans. I always appreciate the references to his lyrics in the headlines, but this quote from the obscure but exquisite “Abandoned Love” is my favorite yet.

I always get screwed up by NY and NJ. They’re both named for places in England and have “New” stuck on the front of their names, but they aren’t culturally considered part of New England.

I just had the thought that it would be truly terrifying to hear Superman tell you to “squeal like a pig”.
(Maybe that’s why Otis was such a doofus in Superman the Movie?)

What I love is that Supergirl decides that what Superman needs most in the whole world is a woman to cook and clean for him, so she tries to fix him up with Helen of Troy. Are queens famous for their love of cooking and cleaning?

Throwing mistletoe darts? Isn’t that what killed Balder?

The Everly Brothers did a great version of Abandoned Love in the ’80s, with Irish bagpipes!

I love how in Legion stories in the Weisinger era, everything had to have a “spacey” angle in order to constantly remind you they were in the future. Like in that excerpt, she could have just been shown pinning the mistletoe with a dart, but no, it’s the future, so it’s important you know that it’s a “space torpedo” dart. Hilarious.

It’s so interesting to see what people of an era think the future will be like. Like back then, the space race was new and exciting, so visions of the future were just all about space exploration and rockets taken to absurd extremes. Now when we imagine the future, no one cares about space anymore, or rockets. It’s all about the internet, media and consumerism taken to extremes. Minority Report floating screens and computer networks.

First-cousin marriage taboo is a tricky one, as mentioned in the first generation it doesn’t really matter that much but if inbreeding is practiced for several generations it does show dramatically.

But it is an old one but sometimes being ignored: it appears that many pre-industrial cultures strongly favored or favor marrying outside your village/tribe, quite simply to prevent excessive inbreeding (in sparsely populated areas there are of course limitations, at some point there simply are no people who are not at least distant relatives living within a reasonable distance)
Of course being nobility is a whole different thing. Also when there are bigger amounts of property, land ownership and stuff like that, marrying a cousin can make a good deal and when it comes to children one can hope for the best.
But even if one wants to marry people based on such foolish notions as romance, it should be kept in mind that the social circles of unmarried youth could be quite limited, and chances were that notable amount of eligible maidens or bachelors you met were related to you.

Biologically the most sensible thing to do is still for a young man to go to some faraway place, notice some well-fed girl with wide hips and marry her. For some reason people insist on making things more difficult though.

The line I love that nobody seems to have caught is when she refers to her “little brain”.

It reminds me of a song from ‘Walk Hard’

In Superboy 204 there’s a Legion story about Brainiac being so in love with Supergirl he sleepwalks to his lab at night, builds a Supergirl duplicate robot and quits the legion to go drive around the universe in his space van with it. By Carey Bates and Mike Grell! S-girl does look pretty foxy here. Here’s one: how many times have people duplicated S-girl to make love to the copy?

Gee, Brian…now you really need to do one of these on the Hulk Annual by Paul Jenkins where the Hulk goes after his cousin. I’m not sure whether that, or this Superman story, was creepier.

It’s nice to knowthat Superman is prevented from banging his teenaged cousin like a rusty screen door by the full force and authority of the forgotten law of a dead planet.

LOVE THE SILVER AGE

Linda sleeps in her wig? Owned this story for years and not sure why I never noticed that before.

I cannot believe that no one has commented on the fact this story was written by Jerry Siegel himself.

I’m not familiar with Supergirl’s earth parents. From what Supergirl says to them at the start here, they know that Superman is pining for Lois and/or Lana. So…couldn’t they look into WHO Superman is? Who are these people that Superman trusts them with Supergirl? Did they turn out to be robots?

But yeah, this is a strange one. Eww.

This story is a perfect example of why i hate most Silver age Supes stories. They are normally stupid & anyone with a 3-year old brain can see right through them. i don’t consider this charming or even silly, just stupid, as if it was written to insult people’s intelligence. i would rather have a bad ’90s comic book than most Supes stories in the Silver age.

Now a Flash, Green Lantern, or Batman story, that would be different.

“have to say Mort Weisinger was a weird dude. He frequently commissioned stories about characters being reduced to infancy, and approved stuff like this decades before anyone knew what GSA was. ”
Boy, you don’t beat around the bush with matters, do you?

So.

GSA….

=Gay–Straight Alliance?
=Genetics Society of America?
=Genetic sexual attraction?
=Gerontological Society of America?
=Geological Society of America?
=Global Semiconductor Alliance?
=Google Search Appliance

Well, if there was any doubt that Superman is the farm-raised Clark Kent…

“So.

GSA….

=Gay–Straight Alliance?
=Genetics Society of America?
=Genetic sexual attraction?
=Gerontological Society of America?
=Geological Society of America?
=Global Semiconductor Alliance?
=Google Search Appliance”

GSA in this context obviously meant Genetic sexual attraction

MarshallCollege

August 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

I LOVE this issue – it’s one of my favorites that I own. It sort of casts an interesting light on all further Superman/Supergirl plots — if this is canonical, then…is that in the back of his mind? Really?

The point that was made about this being a story for younger kids is a good one. I first read this story as a kid (still have the issue around here someplace) without experiencing any of the ick factor that I do as an adult.

This column reminds me of the hilarious Super Future Friends podcast. The women there did a great commentary on this issue in episode 15.

As it happens, my father’s parents were first cousins (yes, they were from Alabama — of course!). Their two oldest daughters were twins, who in turn married twins. Makes me wonder how their respective sons were able to tell each other apart …

Without the law on Krypton, It would be.”Krypton, where our faimly tree does’nt branch out!”

Boy, I wonder how many filthy fanfics were born from this comic?

SUPERMAN: If I were ever to marry anyone, it would be someone super loveable like you, cousin! Unfortunately, Kryptonian law forbids cousins from marrying!

SUPERGIRL: Kal-El, Krypton is gone….there’s only us now….(removes clothes and stands before Superman in her underwear)

SUPERMAN: Great Scott!

(They kiss)

(Cue porn music)

Actually Peter David wrapped up his Supergirl run by having the Matrix Supergirl take the place of Kara Zor-El and marry Superman (he admitted in the TPB collection that he’d been fascinated by the idea of them as a couple ever since reading this story).
As several people said, less ick when you’re young.

Superman was about to in Panel 7…yup… I could sense it.

I know Silver Age Superman spent about 90% of the time thinking about the mechanics of his powers and origin in complete sentences, but it’s still a bit weird to see him explaining to Supergirl that she was born on Krypton and sent to Earth after it exploded. I’m pretty sure she already knew that.

Not as weird as, well, everything else about the story, but still…

[...] scenario actually happened once, with Supergirl's "exact duplicate" from another planet. I Love Ya But You’re Strange – Kissing Cousins? | Comics Should Be Good! @ Comic Book Re… We also find out that Superman would be all for it if wasn't for that pesky law (of a dead planet) [...]

God, I adore the utter insanity of Silver Age DC, we need more of that today.

This articles are just awesome!!! The best out there, thanks!!!

It’s even creepier when you realize that Weisinger wasn’t all that hung up on the whole “Superman is under 30″ thing that held sway for many years. I dimly recall a story from about this time (early 1960s) that suggested that Superman had been born in 1920 (which made sense, since the concurrently-published Superboy stories were clearly set in the ’30s). So we have a 42-year-old Superman admitting that, yeah, he’d gladly hook up with his 15-or-16-year-old cousin if not for that pesky Kryptonian hands-off-the-cousin law.

I also like how surprised he is at how hot Saturn Girl/Woman grew up to be. It’s not like the Legionnaires were eight-year-olds who he met once and never saw again–they were in their teens when he met them, and he was a member of the team for several of their years (whenever the adult Supes would meet adult Legionnaires, there was always this “Wow, I haven’t seen you in ages!” vibe, like he suddenly stopped visiting them when he was in college or something).

The situation isn’t all that weird, historically. It’s just weird in recent modern history. Ending nobility and the population shift to the cities have a lot to do with disdain for cousins marrying. Today people would say it’s icky to marry a brother or sister in law, but in the past that was a noble gesture. (If your brother died and your sis in law had no other options and could become destitute, then it was a kind, charitable act to marry her. But that’s 19th century and before.) Until the arrival of genetics, marrying within the bloodline was the best way to keep it “pure” (any mixing of noble blood was acceptable). And amongst the commoners, they were 70-90% rural before the industrial revolution. They simply didn’t have enough options to ban cousin-marriages.

Anthropologists have found that some cultures insist on marrying outside the tribe, but some cultures insist on marrying inside the tribe. Lots of cousin-marrying in the latter. It’s really just a matter of cultural norms, not necessarily a matter of universal morality or decency. (This is really only an issue when regarding offspring and recessive genes.)

I think Superman of that era really had no other choice if he had any concern about keeping his race alive. From a Kryptonian perspective, it would have been Superman’s duty. But this point became moot upon the arrival of the bottled city of Kandor. I think at that point, DC should have developed a new romance for Kal-El with a sweet Kandorian girl. (The Lois character was beyond stale at that point.)

Luma’s costume is seriously great – always loved it.

Poor Tinya – forever single except that her and Jo arguably became the Legion’s greatest romance making this line ironic.

And give it up for that Christmas tree.

Yeah, “give it up for that Christmas tree”–especially considering Superman, Supergirl and Sun Boy are the only people in the room who grew up on Earth and the Kryptonian cousins are the only ones who definitely spent their teens in households that celebrated Christmas (we don’t really know anything about Sun Boy’s background apart form the fact that he’s Dirk Morgna of Earth).

Maybe the Legion has one of those annoying people who can’t hear “Happy Holidays” without snarling back “Merry Christmas. I SAY MERRY CHRISTMAS!”

“what’s the problem with noticing an attractive teenager? Many of them ARE attractive.”
Try that “It’s too bad it’s illegal for us to marry” line on your teenage cousin. Lets see how that goes.

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