Saturday, October 12, 2013

From Fear to Favor

This rare, digitally restored full-feature cartoon features Superman, in his first animated movie (1942) where he battles a character based on Nikola Tesla, the Mad Scientist (who has a raven rather than a pigeon) . Animated by the award-winning Max and Dave Fleischer Studios of the 1940s, it demonstrates how Tesla was turned into a mad scientist by the mainstream media.

Today, he is viewed by DC comics ("DC"-ironic, isn't it) for the peace loving genius he was, as demonstrated by the comic below. 
This story offers up yet another twist to the "What if Superman had landed (where/when)...?" scenario, but still stands out as a great story to read. The premise is that the DC universe characters existed--in some form or another--during the latter decades of the 19th century. Clark Kent, sans costume or need for a secret identity, makes his debut at the Centennial Exposition in 1876, when he flies in carrying the first pieces of what would be the Statue of Liberty.

Kent's goal is to offer his strength, speed, and other talents to top scientists in order to speed up the already dizzying pace of scientific progress. He takes a job with Thomas Edison, but soon after forms a coalition with genius inventor Nikola Tesla and financial wizard Lex Luthor. It is through the progress of science and the happy accidents it sometimes breeds that his various co-workers--Ted Knight and Barry Allen--are transformed into the Starman and the Human Flash. A stranded alien later offers Clark the ring of the Green Lantern Corps, but Clark refuses it, allowing it to pass instead to Army Captain Hal Jordan.

The goal of the newly formed League of Science is to promote the use of science to help the common man. But it doesn't always work that way, particularly when the common man is the one who has to build all of it for low wages.

Toss into the mix a romantic feud between Kent and Luthor over the love of Lois Lane, Luthor's own ideas for building science-based weaponry using radium, and the betrayal by one of the other League members, and what you have is a historical superhero drama set against the backdrop of an Industrial Revolution gone horribly awry. (review by R. J. Carter)


  1. Tesla goes from super-villain to super-hero.

  2. Great topic.
    Thanks so much for your post. I found it so interesting.
    Thanks again.
    Spiritual Comic Books

    1. funny...that's the EXACT same wording you used on Steampunked #17.

    2. It's almost like they're a spammer!


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