OK, too harsh, perhaps? Just wait and see. Travel back with me to the halcyon days of 1965, and "Superman's Day of Truth".
Something strange is afoot: Superman insults a bunch of toddlers, and Supergirl rips the living hell out of her cosplay fan club:
But there is a reason!
"No matter what the consequences!" Let's remember that, shall we? I promise we'll come back to it.
Anyway, we see our "hero" insult Jimmy (his girlfriend is a "two-timing phony"), Professor Potter ("As usual your invention is a miserable flop"), and Perry White (his cigar smells like a "city dump"), all in the name of "honesty."
Then, in one of those coincidences that could only happen in Silver Age DC, some criminal defense attorney comes up with the bright idea to try to shake up Superman's testimony against his client, on the day when Superman has to tell the truth. Of course, this has never come up before or since, so maybe Metropolis has the dimmest attorney's in the land. Anyhoo:
Uh, Lois, wouldn't the fact that he is under oath be sufficient reason for Kal-El to be "compelled to tell the truth?" One would hope he's not in the habit of lying, especially when a man's freedom is at stake. Then again, apparently, none of the 56,789 thugs captured by Superman has ever had a lawyer clever enough to concoct these scheme before...How will Superman solve this dilemma?? After all, he must tell the truth, "no matter what the consequences," right?
Hmm, I guess Metropolis' judges are also deficient, for letting witnesses get away with this kind of crap. And since the Man of Steel didn't actually reveal his secret identity, that hardly seems like being honest "no matter what the consequences." But wait...Liar, Liar the Prequel isn't done yet!!
Ooh, way to avoid any emotional commitment, Clark!!
But it's finally time for the big reveal. Superman and Supergirl shrink on down to Kandor for an annual Kryptonian festival (again, never seen before or after):
It turns out, you see, that eons ago Krypton was enslaved by the vole-like Vrangs, until one day:
And as a result of Val-Lor's honesty, the Kryptonians rebelled, and drove off the verminous Vrangs. And now ever year, all Kryptonians pay homage:
Uhhh...nothing but the truth?!? Superman, you got some 'splainin' to do!!
OOOOOOOO...Kayyyyyy. So how, exactly, Kal-El, do you reconcile "no matter what the cost" with "using my superpowers to prevent giving away any really vital secrets?" Doesn't that mean that cost does matter? Do you understand the meaning of what you're supposed to be celebrating?
And let's discuss how you're "honoring" Val-Lor today, shall we? This Kryptonian hero, with no superpowers, was willing to give his life to speak the truth. You? You weren't willing to tell the truth to Lois or Lana about how your emotions. Oh, yeah, that must be one of those "vital secrets" you were rambling about.
That's how Superman "honors" Val-Lor: he insults his friends but selfishly uses tricks to prevent telling the truth about anything important to himself. Because I'm sure that Val-Lor would have used superbreath or something to cover up saying what got him shot. Yup, you're a real hero, son of Jor-El. Real sacrifices there.
Yeah, I'm being too hard on him. I mean, this really isn't any different than any one of 3 billion humans who give lip service to some religious/memorial observance and don't really follow the spirit of it. But we expect more from Superman, don't we? And why is he so anal about being truthful only when it can hurt his friends, not when it could hurt him?
Because Silver Age Superman is a douche bag.
Special note to all readers: my 100th post is coming up. Prepare yourselves!!
Superman's selfish version of honesty can be seen in Superman #176, 1965, following the "Revenge of the Super-Pets" story.