Sunday, September 7, 2014

Superboy's Greatest Foe? Bad History! (Or Hitler! But No, It's Bad History!)

So who was Superboy's greatest enemy?

No, seriously:

But, you know, the real enemy in this story is a sliding timeline and a writer with a terrible sense of history (sorry, Frank Robbins)...

Up until the late 1970's, DC maintained that Superboy's youth in Smallville took place in the 1930' this:

Let's see if we can get a more specific date:

Well, the Munich Agreement was 1938, so that pretty clearly ties it down, right?

But wait a minute...if "The 'Babe'" means Babe Ruth--he retired in 1935!!

This makes no sense!!

Maybe they meant Babe Barna, who played 9 games in 1938 for the Philadelphia Athletics! Or Babe Dahlgren, who played a robust 27 games for the 1938 Yankees. or maybe Brooklyn catcher Babe Phelps--he was an all-star in 1938! Or...

Of course, there's another problem...assuming Superboy is a young "teen," say 15, in 1938, that means when this story was published (1970), that would make Superman 47!! Oops, perhaps that might be too old for the world's greatest hero! That's what happens when you fix your story to specific dates...

Anyhoo, what about Hitler's "Mission: Liquidate"?

Ahh!! Sabotage!!

And the following message appears all over town:

Of course, the good people of Smallville would never give in to that kind of threat, would they?

Well, that was quick.

Superboy flies into orbit, while Pa Kent investigates:

Yes, because when doing covert sabotage missions, you always use explosives prominently marked with your national logo...

But how will these Nazis know if Superboy comes back to Earth?

Wait wait wait--the term "radar" wasn't coined until 1940!!! And Hitler and his military commanders put radar development on the back burner until the 1940s because they viewed it as a "defensive" I'm not sure about their having space-radar in 1938.

Yes, they called Superboy a "super-linguist." Go ahead, laugh. Get it out of your system.

Superboy finally demonstrates that he doesn't need to actually be on Earth to wreak havoc with German plans:

And the moral of our story?

Wait--the people? The same people who exiled you at the first vague threat? The same people who did nothing to defend their freedom, and just stood around waiting for you to rescue them from orbit? They are Hitler's real obstacle?

We're doomed.

Hey, what about that warning to Washington? It's 1938 (maybe kinda sorta?), and we've captive Nazi saboteurs with clearly marked Nazi ordinance in a pretty clear act of war against a civilian target. This was a real "Pearl Harbor" moment, right?

Wait--the entire town? Sworn to secrecy? These guys?

I really don't believe that Lana Lang could keep that secret. Then again, on an Earth where Babe Ruth was still playing in 1938 and Germans had space-radar, anything is possible....

From Superboy #168 (1970)

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