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CSBG Archive

Things That Turned Out Bad – That Time Superboy’s Robot Teacher Got Him Laid

In this column, I will spotlight plotlines by writers that probably weren’t a good idea at the time and have only become more problematic in retrospect. I’ll try to stick with stuff that’s more ill-conceived than flat-out offensive (like racist stereotypes of characters during the 1940s).

Today, based on a suggestion from reader Tony (although my pal Michael also mentioned it to me awhile back), we look at one of the most disturbing Superboy stories of all-time. You can’t truly prepare yourself for the messed-up stuff that happened in 1977′s DC Super Stars #12 by writer Cary Bates and artists Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, but you should at least attempt to ready yourself for what you’re about to see.

The issue opens with Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen flying home from an assignment…

This leads to a flashback to Clark Kent’s last few months as “Superboy” before becoming SuperMAN. Some strange stuff is going down in Smallville and Superboy figures out that someone is testing him. He eventually discovers that it is his robot tutor from Krypton…

The robot teacher also tormented…er…I mean TAUGHT Supergirl, as well, in a story I covered in the Goofiest Comic Book Moments of All-Time.

Okay, so while at the Senior dance, Clark meets a new girl who strikes his fancy when suddenly…

Clark eventually figures out that this is all a telepathic attack by his robot teacher…

Now we move to how Clark Kent lost his virginity…

I love the bit where she essentially says, “Everyone in Smallville is too stupid to figure it out.” Also, Clark always complains about Lana trying to prove that he’s Superboy but clearly as shown here, it turns him on.

Just to make sure it is clear that they had sex, we’re given these next few panels…

Oh, is “all night patrol” what they’re calling it these days?

The story takes a bizarre turn, though, when the Robot Teacher unleashes a trio of Big Foots in Smallville, to test to see if Superboy knows enough to keep them from being exploited by the human race. Superboy takes the Big Foots to a remote part of Smallville (I love that Smallville’s forests are dense enough to safely hide three Big Foot monsters). And then things get really real…

Yes, you read that right. Superboy’s Robot Teacher brainwashed some random girl into having sex with Superboy to teach him not to kill, even when his dream girl has seemingly been murdered. And as creepy as that is, it is perhaps even creepier that Superboy, while pissed off, is also basically, “Oh well, Robot Teacher, I guess you had your reasons for brainwashing this girl into having sex with me. You rascal, you!” It’s pretty much rape, right? She willingly had sex with Clark, but only because the robot PROGRAMMED her to do so, so it still counts as rape, I think.

Thanks for the suggestion, Tony! If YOU have a story that you’d like to see featured in I Love Ya But You’re Strange, e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com.

76 Comments

No one tell Geoff Johns about Superman’s robot teacher.

It’s like Summer of ’42. Only with a Kryptonian robot.

I wonder how long it’ll take before Grant Morrison hears about this story and decides to incorporate it into the New DC universe’s continuity.

What exactly would have happened had Superboy failed the test?

So it was a robot that taught Superman how to be a d@#k.

I wonder how long it’ll take before every bizarre DC comics story that’s ever showcased on this site is not followed by a comment saying “Grant Morrison will probably bring this back to the DC canon”. That joke has become kinda tired.

Now I see where he got the Dickery from – that damned robot teacher!

Wow…that is pretty messed up.

Wow, there are some messed up Superman stories, but this one is downright disturbing.

Horniest Bates/Swan Supes story EVER.

Personally, I like how this story was drawn in 1977 but the robot looks straight out of a Flash Gordon serial from 30 years earlier.

“A superboy’s work is never done, Martha! I’m sure he had more than enough to keep his hands full!”

Fnar fnar. Nudge, nudge, wink wink, say no more!

cool arrow, that’s probably because the robot in this story had previously appeared in a comic from 1957 and was making his second appearance here.

Oh, is “all night patrol” what they’re calling it these days?

Actually, the kids nowadays call it a “poon patrol.”

This is a perfect example of why I hate when modern comics commentators try to claim that the very essence of Superman, what he was always about, was “to represent the ideal best in us, the best that humanity has to offer.” Even if he represents that now, it’s a total retcon. At first he was a total fascist imposing his will on everyone for whatever he thought was the better good, then he spent a few decades engaging in or at least allowing petty “superdickery” like this.

No one tell Geoff Johns about Superman’s robot teacher.

I wonder how long it’ll take before Grant Morrison hears about this story and decides to incorporate it into the New DC universe’s continuity.

I think from now on, whenever Brian covers a goofy Silver Age story, he should always include a comment about hoping Geoff Johns doesn’t update the story and a comment hoping Grant Morrison WILL update the story, since one or both sentiments always seems to show up in the comments section anyway. :D

I wonder how long it’ll take before every bizarre DC comics story that’s ever showcased on this site is not followed by a comment saying “Grant Morrison will probably bring this back to the DC canon”. That joke has become kinda tired.

Oops, I wrote my comment before I read this one. But yeah, I’m glad I’m not the only one tired of it. The Geoff Johns one is growing into a close second though.

Wow, there are some messed up Superman stories, but this one is downright disturbing.

It’s funny, as I was reading I kept thinking, ok Brian this is bad but not that bad. Okay, so she’s shaking her ass and the guys are checking it out…okay so the robot steered him into getting laid…bad but not that bad…and then that final twist. Wow. Easily the most disturbing story Brian’s covered yet, I think. The robot basically sexually violated that girl against her will!

The original Robot Teacher established that by Jor-El’s decision, the teacher was to pass judgment on whether Superboy was qualified to use his powers or should remain as an ordinary earthling, IIRC. So presumably that applied here.
While I enjoyed the tests in the story when I read it the first time yes, that is a disturbing finish.

The whole sex angle in this story is truly creepy. This is right up there with the Carol Danvers Immortus story, maybe even worse. I mean, Carol at least got to know what happened to her, while this girl gets sexually exploited and then mind wiped.

I love how the robot faked “Misty’s” death. ‘No one died! Her “death” was simulated by super-scientific methods!’

Come on, Superboy, don’t know you your super-science?!? Whatta maroon!

Incidentally, I believe there was a follow up to this story in the late 80s.

The robot also used super-science to regenerate “Misty’s” hymen. Unfortunately, the monstrous mechanical miscreant couldn’t do anything to alleviate “Misty’s” crippling PTSD, which was only exacerbated by the telepathic repression of her serial rapings at the hands of “the world’s greatest super-hero”.

Unable to ever again connect emotionally with another human being, the poor girl chose to become a flight attendant, essentially wandering the globe, never putting down roots, only careening from one meaningless and empty encounter to the next. She contracted AIDS before the disease (and dangers) were well known, and died alone, broken and miserable.

It was a pretty depressing story.

Just imagine Clark explaining this story to Lois?

“So, Clark,that’s how I lost my virginity… I was a wild little Army brat, and I seduced a young up and coming 2nd Lt under my father’s command, just to get my distant and borderline sociopathic father’s attention. Not my finest moment, I know, but I was young and stupid… How about you Clark, how did you lose your virginity?”

“Well, my robot teacher mindwiped some random chick, and made her fall in love with me against her will. I repeatedly raped that young girl over and over again, for months. It was great!

You see, the robot had computed the requirements of my ideal physical type, and programmed her mind with all the personality traits I hoped for in a girl (Thank you, Super Perfect Recall). Ah, my first love… but anyway, like all good things, it couldn’t last. You see, a sasquatch smashed her brains in. I was pretty annoyed, but it turned out it was just a test by my robot teacher to see if I could control my temper. What a jerk! (Kidding. I love that guy).

Anyway, having passed the test, I realized I was all done with that broad. My robot teacher took care of the messy details… wiped her memories of my sexual… let’s say indiscretions… and dumped her on a bus or something. You know, come to think of it, I never even learned her real name! Hah, what a goofball I am sometimes.

But she was hot, let me tell you… me and Jimmy, we ran into her a few years back, and he was all like ”Woo-Wee! She’s really prime!’ as he salaciously licked his lips (Love you, Super Perfect Recall. Best power ever).

Best part? She totally didn’t recognize me. Thank Rao! I mean, who needs that headache..? ‘Are you the dude who raped me all those years back?’ How awkward would that conversation have been? So, yeah, anyway, that’s how I lost my viriginity. I was such a gullible kid!”

Then Clark laughed a goofy little guffaw as Lois became cross.

“Clark, I’m being serious! You make up the craziest stories some times! If you don’t feel comfortable telling me you had a night with Lana, or whatever it was, you’re just being silly. I won’t be jealous… but making up stories where robots help you rape innocent girls and then use gorillas to kill them…”

“…Sasquatches…”

“…Sorry..! Sasquatches, whatever, I mean, it’s just plain cruel. I thought you loved me, Clark! Why can’t you just share your life with me, you big jerk? I knew I shouldn’t have told you my story first!”

Hilarious, no!

A Horde of Evil Hipsters

January 15, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Let’s face it: Grant Morrison adapting this story is the best thing that could be done with it (except of course burning every existing copy and pretending it never happened). He is, after all, one of the few writers working for DC who wouldn’t turn this into some sort of misogynistic bullshit plot device (“Killer rape robot from Krypton”). Well, I suppose Gail Simone wouldn’t do that either.

From Cary Bates’s script: “OK, Curt, I’m shameless. Let’s go with an ASS SHOT. Motion detailed. Balloons from above. She’s walking, restless as always. We can’t take our eyes off her. Especially since she’s got one fine ass.”

What’s really sick about this story is the fact that the whole raping a brainwashed girl aspect was entirely unnecessary . The final reveal could have been that the girl was a lifelike robot of some kind, one capable of even fooling Clark’s super senses (given the capabilities of the robot teacher, that would not be a stretch).

Trajan, yes. It would still be freaky, but not so horrible.

@trajan23:

The whole sex angle in this story is truly creepy. This is right up there with the Carol Danvers Immortus story, maybe even worse. I mean, Carol at least got to know what happened to her, while this girl gets sexually exploited and then mind wiped.

This is pretty damn creepy, but nothing comes close the Carol Danvers/Immortus story.

@ T.
It’s funny, as I was reading I kept thinking, ok Brian this is bad but not that bad. Okay, so she’s shaking her ass and the guys are checking it out…okay so the robot steered him into getting laid…bad but not that bad…and then that final twist. Wow.

Yep.

I had seen this story before, but I had forgotten the twists at the end. Something about Misty turning out to be the stewardess compounds abduction, brain-washing and sexual violation. It really drives home that this character went on to have a life after being used to manipulate Superboy. It raises a lot of questions, like does she really have 200+ I.Q.? If so, why did she wind up a stewardess? Does she ever wonder what happened in those weeks she was away from whatever life she had? Did she just walk home with an unaccounted for lump on her head and a strange attraction to men in horn-rimmed glasses? Didn’t she even get a signal watch out of the whole deal?

I mean, it is a genuine shame that DC re-booted its continuity at least twice between the publication of this story and the invention of the comic book internet.

Dean Hacker:”This is pretty damn creepy, but nothing comes close the Carol Danvers/Immortus story.”

You might be right, what with the whole “brainwashed into falling in love with Marcus then giving birth to him” stuff. I suppose that I was just thinking in terms of the fact that Carol did learn the truth and did get the chance to ream out the Avengers for not caring about what happened to her. This poor girl never even got that limited degree of catharsis.

Having just reread the Marcus arc, it’s not just the brainwashing that bugs me. The set-up for the arc in which Carol questions whether Wanda can be a parent and still an effective Avenger and adds that no, she’ll never ever be a baby machine gives it an unpleasant Stick It To the Uppity Feminist feel (I don’t know if that was the intent, but it had that feeling).

Maybe I am misremembering, but was the story really unrepresentative of the usual mindset of 1977?

@ trajan23:

That Avengers story gets creepier the more you think about it. While this poor woman never gets the slightest agency, what happens to her is fairly straight-forward.

@Omar Karindu:

I am going to defend the ass shot. It serves three narrative purposes:
1. It conveys character information about Jimmy. He is the guy who elbows his buddy to look at an attractive woman. We all know that guy and it is reasonably consistent with what we know about Bronze Age Jimmy.
2. It conveys character information abut Clark. He is NOT a guy who leers after a hot stewardess. His interest in women are more romantic, since he immediately starts day-dreaming about an old girlfriend.
3. It sets up the twist at the end by introducing her as a character while keeping her face obscured.

Honestly, the story is weird and creepy, but really well told. The close-up of Misty with the hand-writing over her face is a really haunting image.

I remember reading an article from a comic book about this story. According Cary Bates, he would often try to sneak in “questionable” scenes to see if the Editor and the Comic Code people were paying attention.

He was totally shocked that the “overnight patrols” stuff made it through to print.

I bet Grant Morrison is working on a story based on this right now.

But the key to its mystery will lie in some random panel.

@Dean Hacker: I’m making fun of Frank Miller as much as Cary Bates there. And you must admit, the scene here puts the reader in line with Jimmy’s gaze, not Clark’s. You could just as easily focus on Clark not listening and have Jimmy obviously leering off to the side to establish the point, especially since the previous panel does most of the same work. In any case, “focus on the woman’s wiggling ass” is a rather surprising choice for a panel in a Bronze Age Superman story; DC was generally still aiming at a younger audience than Marvel in that era.

@Omar Karindu:

I got the joke and even laughed. It was just that I thought Bates and Swan deserved a defense.

To me, the difference between what Miller & Lee did in ASBAR and what Bates & Swan are doing here is subtle, but not trivial. That shot of Vicki Vale’s backside is an objective “camera” and the only information that it is conveying is that Vicki Vale has an attractive body. It is gratuitous on a couple counts. First, it has no bearing on the story Miller & Lee were telling. It had nothing to do with Vicki Vale as a character, or the plot of ASBAR. On the other hand, the over-the-shoulder shot that Bates & Swan use is subjective. It conveys character, advances the plot AND establishes the theme of the story.

Big difference.

Also, depictions of male desire was by no means off-limits in Bronze Age (and earlier) DC Comics. Take this cover of THE ADVENTURES OD BOB HOPE for example: http://www.thecomicshop.com.au/covers/comics/b/bobhopeadventuresof-102-dc-vg.jpg. You could argue that the standards in that regard were actually more permissive back then. Female desire and the consequences of either were another matter entirely, of course.

The problem with story is that Misty the Stewardess is a total cipher who acts as a passive vessel for Clark Kent’s passage into sexual maturity. You could probably tell a charming story on the same topic with exactly that same amount of “night patrols” and ass wiggling. What is missing is a female lead that is an actual character.

omg i remember how cruel the super teacher was to super boy doing that with the girl the first time i read that story. thus proving how crazy dc was way back then. hope no one tells geof or grant morrison about the super teacher . mostly grant for he would want to resurect it

Bob Hope’s screen persona was quite lecherous and that carried over into his comic-book incarnation. I wonder if they found it easier to get away with that in comedy?

Of course I happened to read this just after buying the latest issue of Back Issue which celebrates Superman in the Bronze Age. You know this is going to be in the back of my mind reading that now.

I’m really enjoying the comments. At the time I read the story originally NONE of the points brought up even crossed my mind. Rape? Supes getting laid? To me there are all valid points viewed now through the prism of a more ‘modern’ sophisticated audience? Perhaps. Certainly it’s the type of audiences that questioned the way Professor X erased people’s memory during the early days of the X-Men.
This story, for me, was essentially an alien (Kryptonian made) robot, using alien logic (with no regards to human sensibilities) to achieve a goal, basically prepare Superboy for his inevitable change into a MAN.

I thought that the first time Clark called himself “SuperMAN” instead of “Superboy” was when some professor tried to use some sort of lie detector to prove that Clark was Superboy. Clark was able to get away with saying “I am NOT Superboy” and it registering as the truth because he had just changed his name to SuperMAN. If I remember correctly, this was when Clark was in college in Metropolis, so Ma and Pa Kent were dead by that point.

So, this is clearly an Imaginary Story!

It’s not rape if a robot from outer-space makes you forget it happened.

I wonder if Hallmark makes a card that says “Sorry about using you to f*ck with Superboy’s head and tricking him into raping you!”

It’s silly to “defend” a goofball story like this and it’s even odder because it follows a comic book plot that would have almost no analogy in real life but Clark Kent did NOT rape this girl. It’s fair to say he had sex with her without her consent but there was NO WAY he could have known that was what he was doing.
That’s why I’m saying it’s so hard to try to fit actual logic to it. I guess you could said Robo-Pimp raped her but it was more like he set her up to be raped or something.
As for having “almost” no analogy, I guess it’s possible there’s some kind of rare psychological condition in which a woman could be in an altered state or have multiple personalities so that she willingly went along with sex even though her main personality or normal personality would have declined. But even in a case like that, how could you blame a stranger who didn’t know about her condition and who didn’t force or trick her into sex?

PS to my previous post: The fact that I don’t think you can say Clark Kent raped the girl doesn’t excuse his lack of post-brainwashed-into-letting-Superman-hit-that follow-up on his part but I would wonder how much good it would do for this girl to explain it to her. Might have given him a good reason to take apart that defective Teacher-Plot Device though….

“You see, my favorite hobby is handwriting analysis…”

Sure. Duh. You’re a teenager, right?

******

“My heart goes woo-woo-woo/Over you-you-you/I love you true-true-true/Yes I do-do-do.”

Not Dylan’s *best* work. I think Robot-Teacher had his work cut out for himself on this one.

*********

“What he saw too late for even super-speed to save the day….”

Man! I wish I could have saved the girl of my dreams! Unfortunately, I’m *only* faster than a bullet but since science has long proven how much faster a bigfoot flings one of its petrified feces…! Why, Misty? Why didn’t you use your 225 IQ and powers of handwriting analysis to save yourself?

Oh, for a follow-up in which Misty shows up with a ten-year-old flying brat. And Clark should have realised Misty wasn’t real – no LL initials (then again, they may have been in Misty’s surname or real name, a la Sally Selwyn).

I bought that book as a kid, it just weirded me out.

Martin Gray may have proved my earlier theory wrong. Misty didn’t get pregnant which I think proves that it was a case of legitimate rape.

Commander Benson

January 17, 2013 at 6:47 am

“I thought that the first time Clark called himself ‘SuperMAN’ instead of ‘Superboy’ was when some professor tried to use some sort of lie detector to prove that Clark was Superboy. Clark was able to get away with saying ‘I am NOT Superboy’ and it registering as the truth because he had just changed his name to SuperMAN. If I remember correctly, this was when Clark was in college in Metropolis, so Ma and Pa Kent were dead by that point.”

Capaware, you are recalling the story “Clark Kent’s College Days”, from Superman # 125 (Nov., 1958), and you got the essentials quite correct. During his junior year of college, Kent ran afoul of one of Metropolis University’s professors, Thaddeus Maxwell, who became convinced that Kent was Superboy. After outwitting previous attempts by Maxwell to ferret out his secret identity, Kent cannot avoid undergoing a polygraph examination conducted by Maxwell.

As you stated, Clark is asked if he is Superboy, and the polygraph shows that he is answering truthfully when he replys that he is not Superboy. The machine provides a truthful reading because at this point, Clark realises that he is no longer Superboy, but Superman.

However, the “coming of age of Superboy” was one of those “reinvent the wheel” concepts in comic books. In other words, every ten-to-fifteen years, a new writer comes up with his own idea of how it happened. Besides the one that Mr. Cronin spotlighted above, there were two more Pre-Crisis stories which purported to tell how and why Superboy became Superman.

The next one was eponymously titled just that—”The Day Superboy Became Superman”—and appeared in Action Comics # 393 (Oct., 1970). With the theme of revelence at its height at that time, this was a touchy-feely story meant to highlight social awareness. In this case, Superboy is having trouble with a local gang of young toughs from the slums. Calling themselves “the Raiders”, they commit crimes in order to improve the quality of their lives.

Set sometime between Clark Kent’s junior and senior years of college, a fellow student of Kent’s, Marla Harvey, defends the Raiders ‘ actions with the usual babble about them being “forced to” commit their crimes because of their socio-economical plight. And she chastises Superboy for spending his time fighting crime and dealing with menaces from outer space, instead of addressing the social injustices of man.

At the end, a tragic turn of events costs Marla Harvey her life and, of course, proves to Superboy that she was right. (Being a 1970 DC story, it could go no other way.) And the Boy of Steel pledges to address the social ills that plague mankind. With that newfound “maturity”, he changes his name from Superboy to Superman.

Then, fifteen years later, another writer took a shot at explaining the “Superboy-to-Superman” thing—in the four-part mini-series Superman: the Secret Years. Set during Clark Kent’s days at Metropolis University, we learn that Clark had a close buddy, Billy Cramer. So tight were they that Clark revealed his secret identity to Billy and gave him a super-sonic whistle to use in emergencies (an early version of Jimmy Olsen’s signal-watch). Issue # 3 sets up the change when Billy is trapped in an apartment fire, and though he blows on his super-sonic whistle until he is blue in the face, Superboy cannot respond because he is dealing with a greater emergency in which hundreds of lives are at stake. Billy dies.

In issue # 4 (May, 1985), “Beyond Terminus”, Superboy is not seen on Earth for weeks as he isolates himself and goes into a heavy-duty “woe is me” funk. He broods over all of the loved ones that he was not able to save, especially his foster-parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent. While the Boy of Steel is having a good cry, in the outside world, Lex Luthor has escaped from reform school yet again and launched another criminal scheme. But Lex has upped his game. He has placed a series of destructive satellites in orbit around the Earth and threatens the various nations with destruction unless they give in to his demands.

Ultimately, Superboy comes to grips with the heavy responsibility placed upon him as Earth’s protector (in other words, he grows a pair) and realises that, with his newfound maturity, he is now Superman, just before zooming off and cleaning Luthor’s clock.

With all the upheavals and remodifications of the Superman mythos following the Crisis, there have probably been other such stories, but I wouldn’t know about those.

Commander Benson

Great work Commander, I remember a couple of those. Bob Rozakis writes about his Superman: The Secret Years series in the aforementioned new Back Issue on Bronze Age Superman.

Commander Benson

January 17, 2013 at 7:01 am

Thank you, sir. I try to serve, in my own humble way.

I was in my early teens when the story first came out and the all night patrol went over my head like it did the Code. It was only when reading a fanzine article a couple of years later that I realized what was going on. It does reflect badly on Jor-El that his robot would be capable of using a human as a pawn in that fashion, although as others have noted, compared to some of the antics of the Weisinger Superman such attitudes might be endemic to kryptonians. The dubious parts of the story could have been easily fixed, some in ways that wouldn’t have tipped off the Code. For example, when the teacher explained how it “recruited” Misty, Superboy could have complained, with the teacher revealing that its explanation was another part of the test, testing Superboy’s attitudes toward humans. The teacher could have then explained that he actually got Misty’s consent when he recruited her (or better, her parents’ since what teenage girl would have passed on the opportunity to “help” Superboy. As for the sex part, while it probably could not have been addressed directly in the story, since the teacher had the ability to plant illusions in Superboy’s head, it could have implanted post-hypnotic suggestions putting Superboy and Misty in a fugue state every time they got close to actual sex (otherwise the robot would have either needed to find a non-virgin or, as noted above, use super-science to revirginize Misty so as to return her to original state). Actually, an interesting follow-up story might have been the teacher coming back to an adult Superman for a follow-up exam because he never protested what happened to Misty and serving as the catayst for the Weisinger jerk Superman to mature, but this is all way too much thought for one goofy story.

“Just to make sure it is clear that they had sex…”

It wasn’t clear to me. Brian, I think you’re reading a lot into it that just isn’t there. But you want to have fun, so go ahead.

@Kevin to the B Well, I suppose they may have stayed up all night making smores. That would make Clark a man …

I’d never even heard of this story. I’ve collected long runs of “Superman” and “Action Comics” and “Superboy” and “World’s Finest” and other titles from that era which had lots of Clark Kent material in them . . . but I’ve never paid any attention to a title called “DC Super Stars.” Live and learn!

Arun’s suggestions address some of the problems that were on my mind as I asked myself: “If I were in Superboy’s shoes, what would I have done to that robot when I learned the awful truth?”

For instance, I wouldn’t be quite as angry at the robot if it turned out that Misty had volunteered for this for some strange reason, and that her parents back home were aware that she was safe and sound during that lengthy absence — instead of their going out of their minds with worry and frantically begging the local cops to search for their missing daughter! (I’d still be pretty peeved, though.)

Just as I was typing the above paragraph, the cynical thought belatedly occurred to me that even if the robot had said that Misty was a willing volunteer, and that her family knew she was safe all this time, that too might have been a lie! I’d probably have insisted upon seeing some ironclad proof before I cancelled my current plan to destroy the robot before it could mess up anybody else’s life!

By the way: If the “programmed Misty persona” was Clark’s ideal girl, with whom he was bound to fall in love, does that mean Lois and Lana and all the others never had a serious chance, what with their IQs being so much lower than 220 that Clark would never really be able to respect them for their brains?

P.S. I see T. suggested that in the earliest days of his career, Superman came across as a shameless fascist. I said much the same thing last year! On April Fool’s Day, I posted a detailed critique of the original Siegel/Shuster material from “Action Comics #1″ and “Superman #1,” explaining why I felt that this alleged champion of truth and justice came across as a champion of the idea that “nobody gets to short-circuit the judicial process by torturing or killing people whom you believe to be guilty of felonies . . . except for me, because I’m special!

I mean, we’re talking about a guy who drives off a lynch mob as they come for a suspected murderer in a jailhouse, then listens to their intended victim tell him that the murder in question was actually committed by a night club singer . . . so Superman races over to that night club and tortures the girl into signing a “confession” which he then rushes to the state governor! Was I really the only one who saw anything wrong with that picture? What if the guy in the jail had been lying through his teeth about who did what in the original murder case? He never mentioned anything remotely resembling “evidence” to support his allegation!

Who knew Superman was quite so gullible as to believe “anything a jailbird tells me about a recent murder must be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and this justifies any extreme actions I take”?

(P.P.S. I’m planning some follow-ups for April Fools Day, 2013, looking skeptically at the earliest stories about a handful of other famous characters who debuted in the Golden Age.)

Could we just add a final page to the story?
In the next panel, we see Clark in the background, hands tied together with plastic ties, blinking the tears out of his eyes while the air marshal glares at him coldly. In the foreground, we see Misty, can of Mace in her hand telling the other stewardesses, “Then the creep says, ‘I’m the girl of his dreams’! Can you believe it?”
Cut to the Daily Planet, where Lois and Jimmy are taking turns walking by Clark’s desk and cooing, “The girl of my dreeeeeeeeams. She’s the girl of my dreeeeeams! What a loser…” Clark makes a mental note to get revenge on Jimmy later by adopting him as Superman and then treating him like dirt. For Lois… Well, she’s suffered enough.
Then it hits him! He hadn’t thought about this experience in years but now that he has…
He contacts Robot Teacher. Tells RT that he needs to brush up on his telescopic vision and X-ray vision powers.
“Hey, I just remembered that Misty girl! We know she’s prone to hypnotism and once you work your super-advanced science, that chick becomes a FREAK! So don’t you think it’s time you helped Supergirl become SuperWOMAN…. And I [ heh, heh] can be tested on my watching skills! Oh, yes, they could, uh, be needed to save humanity any day now.”

Reading the more recent comments, I’m glad I’m not the only one who read this when it first came out and didn’t think of anything beyond make-out sessions. Of course that’s a classic approach to this sort of material–leave it ambiguous enough that nobody can accuse them of showing Superboy having teenage unmarried sex. But yeah, it does read that way a lot more now that I look at it.
Not that not having sex excuses the Teacher brainwashing Misty.

Fraser — I agree with you. That’s why I didn’t even dwell on the subject of “did they or didn’t they?” when I posted my first reactions, earlier today.

If I had read this story when I was, say, six or eight, I might not have seen this as a sexual encounter (although I would have been bothered by the mention of Superboy not coming home at all that night).

And even looking at it today (for the first time in my life), I agree that it’s ambiguous enough to leave things up in the air for a reader to interpret as he or she sees fit.

I remember, ages ago, reading a book about writing techniques. To illustrate a point, an author talked about a time, back in the mid-twentieth century, when the following things happened regarding a story published as a serial in a regular magazine (not a comic book).

1. End of an installment — the hero and the heroine are sitting in her apartment, talking about the current murder mystery (or whatever the plot was all about).

2. Start of the next installment — it’s the following morning, and the hero and heroine are still in the same apartment, and now they are eating breakfast together as they talk about plans for the day.

3. There is no mention in the text of what, if anything, has happened between them since the end of the previous scene.

4. Nevertheless, various readers are shocked by the implications of these two characters (not married) “spending the night together,” and they write in to complain to the editor of the magazine.

5. The editor prints one or more of those letters in a later letter column, along with a statement: “We are not responsible for whatever fictional characters may do between issues of our magazine.”

“2. Start of the next installment — it’s the following morning, and the hero and heroine are still in the same apartment, and now they are eating breakfast together as they talk about plans for the day.”

I’m reminded of the old Kellogg’s commercials using the stars of ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN that would depict Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White eating cereal together in the morning. Supposedly, they couldn’t use Lois Lane in these commercials because of what that might imply

Commander Benson

January 17, 2013 at 11:55 pm

“I’m reminded of the old Kellogg’s commercials using the stars of ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN that would depict Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White eating cereal together in the morning. Supposedly, they couldn’t use Lois Lane in these commercials because of what that might imply.”

That Lois couldn’t cook?

(Rimshot!)

That Lois couldn’t cook?

That Clark, Jimmy and Perry weren’t gay….?

Man with No Face

January 18, 2013 at 2:05 pm

“Kent is strictly SQUARESVILLE!”

Says the guy in the plaid pants and bowtie.

“’I’m reminded of the old Kellogg’s commercials using the stars of ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN that would depict Clark Kent, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White eating cereal together in the morning. Supposedly, they couldn’t use Lois Lane in these commercials because of what that might imply.’

That Lois couldn’t cook?”

If Lois can’t even pour cereal and milk into a bowl, then she must be a VERY bad cook, indeed!

“That Lois couldn’t cook?”

If Lois can’t even pour cereal and milk into a bowl, then she must be a VERY bad cook, indeed!

really? her hobby was handwritting analysis? what’s wrong with this girl!

ALSO entirely false, smart girls don’t get f**ked!!

Love reading these comments.

I think they were trying to avoid the Lois rimshot implications.

Ok, so the whole plot involving Misty is pretty creepy. I, for one, thought it was pretty awesome that the Robot Teacher chose to re-introduce himself to Superboy by setting off a bomb on him though.

Hence Superboy’s complaints later. He was upset about the Robo-Teacher setting him up with Misty too.
“You turned me on! You turned me on! You dropped a bomb on me,” he said.

Why is Clark bothering to stare out the airplane window with his “telescopic vision”? Doesn’t he have X-ray vision too? Couldn’t he pretty much just look down between his legs? Wait, actually that might look even more suspicious to Jimmy.

You know the robot teacher didn’t do his homework because the girl doesn’t claim her name is “Lola Lalanne”, which is obviously part of creating Superboy’s perfect woman.

As much as I hate to wade into “Grant Morrisson should…” territory, THIS particular story has a lot of potential for revisionist deconstruction. Obviously Superboy seriously FAILED the important part of this test: recognizing the horrible ethical implications of what his teacher had done. Why? Perhaps because he has a blind spot for what his “friends” do on his behalf, a character flaw that would allow him to remain buddies with a certain lawful-evil billionaire with a rodent fetish. This one story has the potential to totally destroy the modern Teflon Superman, a la Identity Crisis.

Disturbing plot twist aside, I like how Clark’s “ideal mate” has a passion for handwriting analysis. Because of course he would.

Got this issue in my collection.Good art at the least.

Wow, this is the robot teacher story? Been looking for info on this ever since I read the ‘Kator’ two parter in “New Adventures of Superboy”.

Now it makes the fact that Superboy built his own robot based off of the teacher and his ‘lessons’ a little more creepy. And Kator was a concept I was going to bring back if I ever wrote for DC. Just… Wow.

knew that dc stories way back in the 70s were a little crazy but this one takes the cake. including supermans old robot teacher proving to be one real nasty piece of work. from kidnapping and brainwashing a girl to be superboys dream love just so it could test if superboy will use his powers when superman wisely including faking it that she got whacked by a bigfoot. wonder how long before grant morrision gets a hold of supermans old robot teacher.

Sheesh, that was very creepy, certainly the core revelation. It would have been better if “Misty” were some elaborate android.

Well, this was a fun article and all, but anyone who thinks that the Superboy of the late 50s/early 60s would sleep with a girl on the first date at 17 or 18 years of age must be smokin’ some good stuff. Seriously, the Big Blue Boy Scout? I’m not sure that the Superman that married Lois Lane in the 1990s had sex before he was married (okay, there was that thing with Big Barda when Sleez had them under the influence), much less the young Superboy.

Close but no cigar – and this time, it really IS a cigar.

Well, this was a fun article and all, but anyone who thinks that the Superboy of the late 50s/early 60s

By 1977, writers had abandoned the idea of treating Superboy stories as actually being set X amount of years before the then-current date. The stories were set in a sort of ephemeral “past” but were generally just treated as if they were taking place in the present.

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