This particular story is a reprint of Superman #40, from May/June 1946. This one slips in on a technicality, as the oldest book I actually own is from 1954. That means we probably aren't going to be getting too many golden age books here at Random Longbox, so let's dig in and enjoy this one.
There Is No Superman!
- Writer: Jerry Siegel
- Pencils: Ira Yarbrough
- Inks: Stan Kaye
It's fortunate indeed that Clark (Superman) Kent is on the scene to apprehend the gangsters. It's even more fortuitous that he has already written his article before the tournament is even over.
Nice journalistic integrity there Clark! If this gig at The Planet doesn't work out, I think there may be an opening or two at Fox News.
Superman shows off his super golf swing by using the mobsters as clubs and balls, and making short work of the whole affair.
Back at The Daily Planet the next day, Perry White is congratulating Clark on another fine Superman story when they are interrupted by someone bursting into his office. It's Professor Walter Whiffensniff, and he has the scoop of the century as he has scientifically calculated that Superman does not exist!
Needless to say, Perry, Clark, and Lois don't believe him. They site the numerous stories and eyewitnesses as proof of his existence. Undeterred, Professor Whiffensniff leaves in a huff, promising to give his exclusive to The Morning Pictorial instead.
Perry gives the story to Clark to follow up on. See this post from a few days ago for an in-depth look at the inner workings of a fine news organization like The Daily Planet.
Clark decides to tail the professor as Superman to better keep an eye on him. It's a good thing too, as he soon visits the home of "Flatnose" Flanagan. Superman was responsible for his recent incarceration and the professor is determined to question him about it.
You'd think a doddering old professor would be in over his head dealing with gangsters, but this is no ordinary scientist. Look at that hopping action! And the way he wields that umbrella! I would wager a bet that he is a master of the drunken professor kung fu style.
It's only a matter of time before Flanagan's goons get the better of him, forcing Superman to take action. He needs to talk to Flanagan alone so that he can convince him to play along with the professor's delusions.
So does he use his super speed to whisk Flanagan away before anyone is the wiser? Or how about his super ventriloquism to lure Flanagan to the other room? No, he uses the old prank call routine!
"Hello? Mr. Flatnose Flanagan? Do you have Prince Albert in a can?"
After some mild persuasion (or tortu--I mean enhanced interrogation techniques), Flanagan agrees to play along and tells the professor that he made it all up. Superman is a fake!
It's quite the scoop the next morning as Professor Whiffensniff's accusations hit the front page of the Daily Pictorial. It's all too much to bear for the citizens of Metropolis as toddlers and grown men alike are unable to cope in a world without Superman.
In a repudiation of the effectiveness of Superman's persuasion, Flatnose Flanagan heads to The Daily Planet and spills the entire story to Lois. It seems he was sore at Superman for making him lie to the professor. Never mind the fact that he was ready to rough up the old professor three pages ago...but lie to him? That's just a line his conscience refuses to cross.
Lois strikes back with her exclusive, which forces the professor into a desperate move. To prove that he is right and regain his reputation, he will put on a public demonstration.
So strongly does he believe that Superman doesn't exist that he is willing to be crushed by a steel weight to prove it. As Superman is the only person who could possible save him, his certain death will be all the evidence the world needs to prove his theories.
As the professor begins his experiment, a bank robbery is underway across the street. Clark, who of course was covering the spectacle for The Planet, dashes off to stop the robbery as Superman.
He soon has the situation under control and the robbers in police custody. The professor saw the whole thing and has had a change of heart. As a scientist, he cannot deny the evidence that he has seen with his own eyes...Superman is real after all!
So caught up was the professor in watching Superman's exploits, that he almost forgot that he is soon to be crushed to death by his experiment. He tries to shut it down, but the switch has stuck. He is doomed after all!
He decides that all he can do is make peace with his god, but how quickly he has forgotten that Superman is real!
Luckily for him, Superman hasn't forgotten!
He bursts through the electric barrier that kept the public away from the professor's death trap, and headbutts the gigantic metal block so that it crashes harmlessly away from the professor.
Transformed from the ultimate Superman doubter to one of his greatest admirers, Professor Whiffensniff gets a little starstruck and asks Superman for his autograph.
Superman, ever the good sport, is happy to oblige.
SO, WHAT DID WE LEARN...
In my research for this issue, I discovered that this is the first appearance of both Professor Whiffensniff and "Flatnose" Flanagan!
Surprisingly, it was also their last.
Also, never underestimate the power of the crank call in your pursuit of justice.
Well that brings Superman week to a close. Thanks for humoring me and indulging my love of Superman books.
We'll get back to some other heroes soon, I promise.
All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics