Day 40: Supertown!

What else does one call the residence of the gods of Highfather’s world, domicile of those fantastically-powered humanoids who go about their daily routine doing fantastical things? Word is that Jack originally intended to call the megalopolis floating high above the pristine and virginal planet, Supercity, but the New York office nixed it for the more humble appellation. And that works better, I think, bestowing it a more ironic, playful name that also gives it a more homey, welcome designation, where friends and family reside.

Supertown is the wildly futuristic capital of New Genesis, homestead of the New Gods (the good ones, anyway), including The Forever People. And its discovery by Superman, using his microscopic vision to deeply “enhance” Bobby’s photo of a fading Boom Tube (now that’s some high-definition camera!), gives the Man of Steel pause to consider there just might be a sanctuary of equals for him to feel at home.

Supes sees evidence of a towering golden metropolis and, having just pondered his intense loneliness as a minority of one on earth, he yearns to find out if it really exists. The marvelous conurbation, he will later learn while visiting in a forthcoming issue of Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen, is very real indeed, graced with massive memorial statues of departed gods (commemorating the fallen of the first New Genesis-Apokolips war), sprawling council halls, magnificent fountains, rich and fragrant gardens, and spires that reach for the heavens.

Perhaps Supertown represents young Jacob Kurtzberg’s view of the midtown Manhattan of the 1920s and ’30s, Gershwin’s sparkling, glowing urban center, with the majestic, newly constructed Rockefeller Center (with its massive, gloriously gold statute of a Titan), the grandiose heights of the just-built Empire State Building, the Great White Way’s promise of love and riches and happy endings, and the “young gods” toiling in the resplendent edifices rising from littered avenues to better their lives and improve the world in spite of the Great Depression crushing down on the nation.

As the Fourth World unfolds, we’ll be spending more time in the awe-inspiring principality of Izaya the Inheritor, but it’s fun to note our first viewing is a mere glimpse from a microdot in a photograph, a tease and promise of a place where dreams and miracles are made real.

4 thoughts on “Day 40: Supertown!

  1. patrick ford

    Just imagine if that photograph were taken with one of today’s digital cameras. Superman would never have seen “Supertown” in the photograph, just a bunch of dots.

    1. Mike Hill

      Jack having Superman use the same power to discover the whereabouts of Bloodmoor in [Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen] #143 presaged present-day steganography, by which information is hidden in the bits of a digital image file.

  2. Richard Bensam

    The one thing that always bothered me about this story is how Superman jumps to a conclusion totally unsupported by the limited data available to him — photos of some alien visitors, a possible glimpse of an unearthly city, and boom! He’s decided this must be a place where he could be among his own kind. This is one time when I feel like Kirby was pushing too hard. The drama of the moment would actually have been heightened if Superman had instead flown off to investigate these strange visitors as he’s done so many times before… never suspecting they might have the answer to the sense of isolation which has been bothering him. “Little does our hero suspect…” is a much more classic and effective dramatic motif.

    (That said, the way Kirby finally pays off that plot thread near the end of his JO run is awesome.)

  3. patrick ford

    Richard, Superman knows what’s at the “end of the rainbow” because Jimmy Olsen has just described “superkids” emerging from it.

    See the panel above.

    Jimmy Olsen: “So you’re grabbed by the Boom Tube, huh?”

    “That’s how the Superkids said they got here. Through that tube.”

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