Every comic book reader remembers their first time. It is the nucleus a long and exciting adventure in the world of comic books. It is your origin story. Every superhero has one and so does every reader. My comic origin began with Action Comics #463: “Die Now, Live Later!”
The year was 1976, and I was four years old. For my birthday, my grandfather introduced me to what would become my boyhood hero: Superman! That year I got a Superman figure, Superman beach towel, Superman pen and Action Comics #463, starring Superman. (By the way, I do still have all of these things, even though the comic book has long since lost its cover.) The cover featured Superman being slugged by a very colorful villain named Karb-Brak from the year 1976 all the way back to 1776! Well, who wouldn’t want to open it up and see how this could happen?
The first page has an image on it that will forever be burned on my brain. It shows Superman standing with the founding fathers of our country signing the Declaration of Independence! At age four, this changes everything! SUPERMAN WAS AT THE SIGNING OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE?!?! How could I not read on? The story goes, Clark Kent (Superman’s secret identity) is in the year 1776, working as a reporter for the Pennsylvania Gazette. His editor is “none other than Benjamin Franklin.” Clark has no memory of being Superman or that he is from the future. And his current assignment is to chronicle the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Did I mention it was July 4, 1776?
Now this wouldn’t be Action Comics if there wasn’t excitement, right? As Clark goes about his day, he discovers things that aren’t quite right. He is able to stop a runaway horse carriage without a strain. When rebel spies try to beat Clark up, it is his steel chin that breaks the hand of his assailant. It is then, when he sees his reflection in a mirror that he realizes who he truly is: the Man of Steel! He remember everything. He remembers that he belongs in the year 1976 and that Karb-Brak sent him to the past because he is deathly allergic to Superman. You read right. Karb-Brak is from a planet from another galaxy full of beings with superpowers. But he had to leave because of his allergy. Earth was the only place he could go, but then he found Superman caused the same allergic reaction and he had to get rid of him. So instead of killing him, Karb-Brak sends Superman 200 years in the past with the help of a time ray. This is a lot for a 4-year-old to wrap his head around.
Without going too much farther into the story, Superman foils a plot by spies to steal the Declaration of Independence, flies forward in time and defeats Karb-Brak once and for all! And once again the world is safe thanks to the Man of Steel! And I was hooked! Wow! Anything could happen in the world of comic books. It was this exciting, albeit strange story that would send me down the road of comic books for many, many years to come. I would find adventure. I would find disappointment. I would find sadness. But most of all, I would find years of joy.