Thursday, May 30, 2013

#HowDoesHeShave? #AndIsHeAVampire?

So, let's talk about a close shave.

No, no, not that one, but the Superbaby-bottom-smooth shave that Clark Kent generally sports. Which brings us to that never-ending question about Superman: how does he shave? Well, it appears that Gillette Razors, manufacturers of the official tie-in razor blade* to this summer's sure-to-be-blockbuster** have an answer to this perplexing question which has boggled the mind of each and every Superman fan since 1938 nosy-nosy Lois Lane, who, you gotta admit, was not always running on full pistons. If you're so darned certain that Clark Kent is Superman, why not just jab him with a hatpin? But I digress merely to make fun of pre-Crisis Lois, and darn fun it was, too.

So, how does he shave? Actually, Gillette has taken out that very same phrase as a URL, which will lead you to their YouTube page (who says this isn't the Ginormous Gillette Age of Social Media?) to suggest not one, not three, but, much like the ersatz Supermen... Supermans?... in "Reign of the Supermen" (ah!), they give us four possible solutions to the Kryptonite-edged five-bladed sharp problem at hand, er, such science notables as Bill Nye (a science guy), famed actress and noted neuroscientist*** Mayim Bialek, Mythbusters Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, and some guy who thinks he knows something about Superman named Kevin Smith. But on my blog, he doesn't get bold HTML and he doesn't get his video featured. If you want to see it (or any of the others), scoot on over to that Gillette YouTube site. But it's my blog and I'm gonna spotlight Adam and Jamie. (Sorry Kari.)

Now, let's get this out of the way first, okay? As any fanbull would tell you right off the bat, this is how Superman shaves.

Panels from Man of Steel #4 (November 1986), script and pencils by John Byrne, inks by Dick Giordano, colors by Tom Ziuko, letters by John Costanza

So, the answer to that question is, he shaves with his eyes wide open, in about ten minutes, with Lois in the other room.

Panel from The Adventures of Superman #561 (September 1998), plot by Karl Kesel, script by Jerry Ordway, pencils by Tom Grummett, inks by Denis Rodier, colors by Glenn Whitmore, color separations by Digital Chameleon, letters by Albert DeGuzman

Say, have you ever smelt hair burning? It is not a good smell. Let's let Lois clue us into Clark's grooming habits and why they require a well-ventilated bathroom:

Panel from Action Comics #765 (1938 series) (May 2000), script by Joe Kelly, pencils by Kano, inks by Marlo Alquiza, colors by Glenn Whitmore, color separations by Wildstorm FX, letters by Richard Starkings

Now, to be fair to our favorite L.L., that ain't the real Ms. Lane right there. That is one of Superman's arch-enemies, The Parasite, the evil power-sucker who bores into Superman's intestines and lives off the nutrients in his blood stream absorbs superhuman energy and who apparently at this point was heavily into Lois Lane cosplay. Man, that's got to be tough for Clark, huh? Sleeping with the Parasite? I think he's got more worries than just the smell of his burning other-worldly beard.

Yep, you don't tug on Superman's cape, and you can't cut his hair:

Cover of Superman (1939 series) #38 (January-February 1946), pencils by Jack Burnley, inks by George Roussos

And yes, sharp-eyed readers: that is a copy of Batman that Supes is reading as he relaxes in the chair of that baffled barber!

Cover of Batman (1940 series) #32 (December 1945-January 1946), pencils and inks by Dick Sprang, letters by Ira Schnapp

The "I can't cut Superman's hair" trope has been revisited so many times that there was probably an entire episode devoted to it on Smallville. Here's Lana Lang trying the same thing. Say, I call shenanigans on Lana having enough physical hand strength to snap the blade off a pair of scissors. And even if she could, she oughta be wearing safety goggles. That thing'll put your eye out, Lana!

Cover of Superboy (1949 series) #63 (March 1958), pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Stan Kaye

Yes, even though Lana is trying to cut Superboy's under what seems to be the light of a red dying star but is actually just her "QT Tan-at-Home" sunlamp, she keeps on breaking her mom's scissors. Check out that sideways grip she's got on the shears. I absolutely call shenanigans on her breaking them. Jonathan Kent had a great thing going on at his general store with those scissors made out of crackers, didn't he?

Panel from "The Two Boys of Steel" in Superboy (1949 series) #63 (March 1958), script by Jerry Coleman, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Stan Kaye

So, there, we've settled it. Nobody can shave or cut Superman's hair, not nobody, not even...

Cover of Jimmy Olsen #110 (April 1968), pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Neal Adams (!), letters by Gaspar Saladino


But now Jimmy, the self-described Mr. Action (not to be confused with Mr. Adventure, Mr. Showcase and Mr. Limited Collector's Edition or Mr. Famous First Edition), is doing the impossible: he's trimming Superman's hair! (Also impossible: that DC/National is so up to date that can can actually publish the cover of what's happening right now.) How, we ask, how can one of the Superman supporting cast members, especially the lovable but dorky Jimmy, be doing such a task? Well, for the answer, let's check in with Jimmy Olsen's Pen Pals.

No, no, I'm not kidding! Because it actually is a fan letter that leads to the answer posed on the cover...

Splash panel from "The Menace of Superman's Fan Mail!" by Jimmy Olsen #110 (April 1968), script by Otto Binder, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by John Giunta (?)

The answer is No, Jimmy cannot cut Superman's hair. Wha...What? Holy cow...I call shenanigans on that entire cover premise! Ah, Silver Age, you lie to us more often than Lindsay Lohan! And without the delight of your remake of The Parent Trap!

So, we've pretty much figured out that none of Superman's supporting cast can cut his super-hair...

Cover of Lois Lane #98 (January 1970), pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Murphy Anderson, letters by Gaspar Saladino


So, let's pretend that Lois Lane isn't a professional journalist with a full-time job and that Perry has assigned her to—hee hee hee!—go undercover as an actress—ha, ha, ha!—in an amateur production of Samson and Delilah—haw haw haw haw!—and they cast Superman as Samson and BWAW-HA-HA-HA-HA!

Panels from "I Betrayed Superman" in Lois Lane #98 (January 1970), script by Robert Kanigher, pencils by Irv Novick, inks by Mike Esposito

Thus ends the 32-year career of America's most popular action hero when he loses his powers in this issue of Lois Lane. It was an odd way to finish the story of Superman, but hey, they learned their lesson and they never capriciously killed off a popular character ever again in a modern issue of a comic book other than their own. (Meow.)

Oh, wait...turns out that wasn't Superman but some guy wearing one of those cool Mission: Impossible-style rubber masks that are completely lifelike and can fool someone who has been around that person for many years. As Steve Lombard from the front row says: "HA-HA-HA!".

So, that happened.

Just for fun, it occurred to me that it would be interesting to see if the reason it's so hard to shave Superman is that he's a vampire and therefore he can't see himself in a mirror. Hey, it's the DC Universe: it could happen!

Panels from Action Comics (1938 series) #1 (1987), script by John Byrne, pencils by Arthur Adams, inks by Dick Giordano, colors by Petra Scotese, letters by Albert DeGuzman

Then, Batman stabs the vampire through the heart with his Bat-Steak Stake. So Superman doesn't become a vampire after all in this story.

Okay then, let's try this one then.

Cover and panels from Superman (1987 series) #180 (May 2002). Cover: pencils by Ed McGuinness, inks by Cam Smith, colors by Richard Horie and Tanya Horie. Interior panels: script and co-plot by Geoff Johns, co-plot by Jeph Loeb, pencils by Ian Churchill, inks by Norm Rapmund, colors by Richard Horie and Tanya Horie, letters by Richard Starkings

Huh. Well, that's not gone right, vampirically-speaking. So maybe the reason Superman has problems shaving is not due to him becoming a vampire...

Panel from Superman (1987 series) #70 (August 1992), script and pencils by Dan Jurgens, inks by Brett Breeding, colors by Glenn Whitmore, letters by John Costanza

Panels from Superman: The Man of Steel #14 (August 1992), script by Louise Simonson, pencils by Jon Bogdanove, inks by Dennis Janke, colors by Glenn Whitmore, letters by\ Bill Oakley

Yeah, that's not gettin' us anywhere.

Well, regardless of which explanation Gillette eventually comes up with, I think we can all agree that Superman does have problems shaving. Good thing he's out to save us all instead of, I got nuthin'.

Okay, one last try. Maybe Superman's stubborn beard shears off when he flies so freakin' fast that he breaks the sound barrier.

Yep, that's my explanation and I'm stickin' to it.

*This may not be entirely true.
**This also be not entirely be absolutely true.
***This is absolutely, awesomely 100% true.

1 comment:

Gou Tongzhi said...

Epic. Epic post. Bugs Bunny reference. Grateful Dead (or perhaps the Rev. Gary Davis) reference. Seventy years of history, with jokes. And that misogynistic ass John Byrne, too ("she's too pretty for me to0 not keep around!"). Bully for you, Bravo! I mean, Bravo, Bully.