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Welcome to the four hundred and seventy-ninth 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 seventy-eight. This week, did the “With Great Power…” speech happen to Superman fifteen years before it happened to Spider-Man? Was there really a Hagar the Horrible soda? And was Ventriloquist originally invented as a Judge Dredd villain?
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: Superman’s adopted father gave him the “With Great Power…” speech fifteen years before Spider-Man got it from Uncle Ben!
As we revealed many years ago in Comic Book Legends Revealed, Uncle Ben is never actually shown telling Peter Parker that “With great power comes great responsibility.” In fact, it is not even ATTRIBUTED to Uncle Ben in Amazing Fantasy #15…
However, that issue at least does debut the phrase that would become a key aspect of Spider-Man’s comic book career.
But was it even the first time that phrase had been used for a superhero?
Amazingly enough, not only was it used before, it was used over over a DECADE earlier!
In the first Columbia movie serial starring Kirk Alyn as Superman in 1948, the first installment tells the story of how Superman came to Earth and how he became, well, you know, Superman.
In this version of the Superman mythos, Clark Kent is content with just living at home with his parents and not using his powers to help mankind. His adoptive father, though, sits him down and tells him that with all of Clark’s great powers that he has a great responsibility to help the rest of mankind (pretty much the opposite of what Clark’s dad tells him in the Man of Steel).
He then tells Clark that he must use his powers for “Truth, tolerance and justice.”
The scene occurs two minutes into the following scene…
Click here to watch the video right from the two minute mark, where the conversation begins, if you don’t feel like waiting (but if you can’t wait two minutes…well, then you’re quite a busy person, I guess!).
I’m sure that Stan Lee did not actually get the idea from this serial (although I guess it is possible), but it is still quite an amusing coincidence!
Thanks to reader Richard F. for suggesting this one!
Check out the latest TV Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Did Kiefer Sutherland intentionally add dialogue to episodes of 24 to mess with people playing 24-themed drinking games?
On the next page, was there seriously a Hagar the Horrible soda?
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