Eighty years ago, one man in a blue costume with a red cape lifted a green car above his head and changed the world forever.
Created by Joe Siegel and Jerry Shuster, Superman wasn't just the star of Action Comics #1, he was an instant icon that forever changed the landscape of comic books. Though Superman's actual powers would fluctuate over the ensuing eight decades, one thing that hasn't changed is his ability to inspire generations of fans from around the world.
The reach of Clark Kent's alter ego has expanded far beyond the realm of the printed page and has thrived on movie screens, lunch boxes, toys, watches, and so much more. With this monumental anniversary on our hands, this week we're looking at some of the coolest vintage Superman goodies you can add to your Fortress of Solitude.
Superman made his debut in 1938, but it didn't take long for his popularity to explode to the heights needed to create a fan club in his honor. In 1939, Action Comics offered readers a chance to join the Supermen of America fan club. The club ran for more than 25 years, but some of those earlier membership kits are incredibly hard to find in a condition above crumbling. Lucky for you, then, that one such collection is currently up for auction, including every last bit of the original mailing, minus a Superman pin.
Ordinarily that might be a deal-breaker for an item that's seeking a $600 investment, but the fact that so much else of this collection is in pristine condition from the earliest era of the Supermen of America covers for that a bit.
The letter from Clark Kent, including the ace reporter's signature, is a nice touch, as is the welcome letter from the fan club itself. The real star of the set, though, is Superman's Secret Code, which features nine different code keys based on the planets of Earth's solar system. Those codes were used to decrypt a special message from Superman at the end of every issue of Action Comics, and while we don't have any of them on hand, we're sure Superman had better messages than telling us to drink our Ovaltine.
If you're rolling a little deeper in tax refund cash, perhaps you'd like to invest in one of the original pieces of George Reeves' costume from the Adventures of Superman television show. Originally purchased at an auction for use in a memorabilia-based restaurant that never came to be, this "S" shield could be yours for the relatively reasonable price of $12,500.
A certificate of authenticity is included, so don't be dismayed by the non-traditional coloring of the shield. It's real, and it's spectacularly preserved. The chocolate and gray "S" is actually from one of the first three seasons of the show, when it was still shot in black and white, and a bit more serious in tone. Adventures of Superman transitioned to color in the back end of 1954, and it then became a bit more synonymous narratively with the comic adventures rather than the pulpy inspirations of the early years.
There's no exact episode or year that this "S" comes from, but that it was at one time worn by Reeves on the show should be good enough for memorabilia fanatics. Sadly, the complete costume wasn't purchased at auction, and only the shield remains from this particular uniform. Perhaps somewhere out there is the person who owns the rest of the gray and black silk costume with that missing shield shape in the chest. Wouldn't that be a bit of wonderful serendipity? It's more likely the rest of the costume was disregarded after the most valuable asset was removed, but at least it makes this item a bit more affordable. Relatively speaking.
If some vintage costumes and fan club items aren't your speed, we've got something truly special for you. Superman has had his likeness attached to a number of wild toys over the years, but perhaps there is none stranger than the vintage Superman/Wonder Woman motorcycle from Tam Toys. If the sidecar with a definitely not raven-haired Wonder Woman didn't sell you immediately on the kitsch factor, perhaps the mildly possessed Superman driving the motorcycle will. If there weren't pictures of this thing showing its authenticity, it would be almost impossible to believe something like this actually existed.