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Welcome to the four hundred and twenty-fourth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous four hundred and twenty-three. This week, seriously, was Superman giving away radioactive secrets during World War II? Did Bob Kane actually swipe Todd McFarlane?! And did a cartoonist really coin the phrase “What this country needs is a really good five-cent cigar”?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There’s a little “next” button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: Did the U.S. Government tell the Superman radio show to quit using kryptonite on the show during World War II?
STATUS: I’m Going With True
I have written in the past about how the U.S. Government informed the writers of the Superman comic book and the Superman comic strip that they should not be doing any stories about nuclear weapons, in part because they did not want the American public to think that nuclear power was something that you would see in a comic book, ya know?
Heck, this topic was even the title of my book, Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed
However, in his recent book, Superman: The Unauthorized Biography, Glen Weldon uncovered ANOTHER example of U.S. government censorship at the time. This time it was on the Superman RADIO show!
You see, the government did not like the usage of kryptonite on the program, for pretty much the same reasons they didn’t want to see nuclear power treated like a joke in the comics (in this instance, ANY usage in a comic would be considered “treating it like a joke”). Discussion about radioactive elements, even ones as fantastical as kryptonite, was just seen as too sensitive for public consumption. So the Adventures of Superman radio show held off on using kryptonite on the show for the rest of the war (I am unsure of when exactly during the war the government told them to quit it). Kryptonite popped up again on the radio show in September of 1945 (here it is from an old Superman comic book).
Thanks to Glen Weldon for the awesome new information! Be sure to check his book out – lots of cool stuff in there.
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On the next page, did Bob Kane seriously swipe Todd McFarlane?!
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