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CSBG Archive

Silver Age September – Clark Kent’s Incredible Delusion

After a month of spotlighting the strange (if endearingly strange) history of comic books (and especially the Silver Age), I think it is worthwhile to show the comic books of the Silver Age that are simply great stories period. Here is an archive of all the Silver Age comics features so far!

Today we look at an unusual 1965 Superman story (#174, by Edmond Hamilton and Al Plastino) where Clark Kent is convinced that he is not actually Superman.


Our tale opens with Clark Kent receiving a visitor…

Clark quickly looks for answers, and thinks to ask Batman (Supergirl is on a mission in space)…

Clark just can’t handle this…

This leads to the most impressive part of the comic, where Clark goes to a psychiatrist, who does a pretty good job examining what he THINKS Clark’s teen years were like…

It is fascinating to see Clark actually doubt himself. How could he NOT?

Of course, there is a twist still to come…

I won’t spoil the reveal (which is extremely far-fetched, but still poignant). Hmmm…although…I dunno if this story has even been reprinted! If someone knows for sure, let me know. I might spoil the ending if the story has not been reprinted.


I’m guessing it’s a Superman robot that gained sentience and decided to replace Superman out of some kind of envy or something, then created some power-nullifying shoes to put his plan into effect?

I’m going to google the issue after this comment to see if I’m right.

Also, the psychiatry scenes were very well written. It seems Edmond Hamilton, based on this story and his work in general was decently versed in psychiatry. That diagnosis is right out of Alfred Adler.

When I searched the name of the story to see if I was right, i found the same story was in the Superman daily strips as well in 1964. Does that mean it appeared there first?


A lot of Superman stories were repurposed from the newspaper strip and vice versa. The timing suggests that the strip came first here.

That is one weird-looking Batman.

This looks like a really cool story.

You are not going to “spoil” the ending!?!
AAAARRRGHHH. Right now I hate you with a passion that I usually save for my ex wife.
Curse you sir, and good day!

Geez dude, just use Google. That’s what I did and found it like in 10 seconds.

I didn’t know that perfect memory was one of Superman’s powers. This is a great story, but I need to know the end.

Once Superman became effectively invincible, he must have been a hard character to write. How can the story create tension when Superman has god-like powers? This story does a good job of creating that tension. I feel like the writers of the silver age got around the problem of dramatic tension by playing up the comedy and soap opera aspects of Superman. Overall, I find all the silver age Superman stories that have been featured this year to be entertaining, even the goofy ones.

You didn’t give the issue number but Showcase Presents has only reprinted Superman up to #166 from 1964 so it’s not in those. Go ahead and spoil the ending. Didn’t you see the news story last week about how peeking at the ending of a story first is supposed to enhance your enjoyment of the story?

T., thanks for the link to the comic strip version. It’s cool what Superman can do with “chemicals.”

Fair enough, John!

Rather than a robot, Superman decided to create more human-like duplicates of himself, so he created an android. The android was not working well, so Superman planned to stop production. But then a blast of electricity seemed to destroy the android. In reality, it hid behind a lead object as it decided that Superman wanted it destroyed. So it worked out an elaborate plan to replace Superman, including sending Batman a note from Superman at the Bat-Cave to pretend he did not know Superman’s identity (presuming, correctly, that Batman would trust a note left at the Bat-Cave from Superman). He then used a small device in Superman’s shoes to simulate red sun radiation.

Man, no wonder Superman has such a shallow rogues gallery. He spends every issue being a douche to Lois or fighting himself! And is it just me, or are Superman comics like the opposite of Ockham’s Razor? If I ever find myself in a mystery with Supes, I’m just going to come up with most convoluted explanation I can and inevitably it’ll end up being the solution.

Man, I know everyone in the ’60s was on acid, but I just don’t get it.

You know it’s the Silver Age…when bad guy’s a plan revolves around the victim wearing a particular pair of shoes.

Well, to be fair, what I did not mention was that the android put the device in Clark’s shoes. And it is normal enough for Clark to wear the same shoes to work each day, isn’t it?

I’ve read this one! We’ve just had a copy sitting around the house since I was a kid.

The therapy scenes are better than some (they’re definitely Showing Their Work) but I always crack up at his sendoff. “I can’t help you with your delusion until you separate what you’re imagining from the real facts!”

Love it! Al Plastino’s art is Curt Swannier than Curt Swan.

Silver age Superman stories are incredibly neurotic:


Loved this issue!
Despite some criticism here, the story WAS intriguing, and resulted in you lot really wanting to know the ending. Sixties DC comics gave you a lot more of a story between the covers; there were far more twists and turns than nowadays, where most of the mag can be taken up with just one fight scene (and sometimes a whole page is taken up with just one image). That’s not storytelling, it’s merely a line of artwork!

“unfastening my outer garments” – now there’s a line everybody should use.

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