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COMIC LEGEND: Jerry Siegel nearly wrote “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow”
STATUS: I’m Going With True
Awhile back, reader Michael S. asked me if it was true that Jerry Siegel was the original choice for “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow,” the two-part storyline that served as a farewell to the Pre-Crisis Superman before John Byrne rebooted the character in Man of Steel.
The answer sure seems to be yes, although of course with the caveat that if it WAS written by Siegel, it obviously would not have been “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” as Siegel would undoubtedly have his own take on the story and not the same approach Alan Moore used.
In any event, here is Superman editor Julius Schwartz on the topic at the time:
I started to think, what am I going to put in my last two issues. And in the middle of the night, it came to me: I would make believe that my last issues of Superman and Action Comics were actually going to be the last issues.
Therefore it was incumbent upon me to explain all the things that had been going on in the previous years. For example, did Lois ever find out that Clark Kent was Superman? Did they ever get married? What happened to Jimmy Olsen, to Perry White, to all the villains? I had to clear it up.
I ask this at conventions: ‘Who would you, sitting in my editorial chair, mid-1985, ask to write that story?’ The answer was obvious – he wrote the first one, let him write the last one… Jerry Siegel!
Jerry and I spent a lot of time together at the (San-Diego Comic Convention) DC booth that year, and I finally asked him the critical question: Would he be willing to write the last Superman story? Jerry’s response was, ‘Oh… boy, well, I have to think about that… no, no need to think about it, I would love to write it!’ But it turned out there were legal problems that, because of the schedule, we didn’t have time to resolve, so Jerry wasn’t able to do it after all.
The next morning, still wondering what to do about it, I happened to be having breakfast with Alan Moore. So I told him about my difficulties. At that point, he rose out of his chair, and said, ‘If you let anybody but me write that story, I’ll kill you.’ Since I didn’t want to be an accessory to my own murder, I agreed.
While I would not be shocked if Schwartz embellished the tale a little bit, there’s nothing in there that makes me think that he is an unreliable source on the topic, so I’m going to trust him on this one and say that yes, the story is true.
Thanks to Michael for the question!
Check out some classic Comic Book Legends Revealed related to Jerry Siegel!
Did Siegel lose his father to a senseless act of violence?
Next up, how did an issue of What If…? screw up Avengers #200?
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