Glen Weldon, Writr

Writes about books & comics for NPR & elsewhere. Panelist on Pop Culture Happy Hour. Unauthor, "SUPERMAN: THE UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY."

Author of the forthcoming "THE CAPED CRUSADE: THE RISE OF BATMAN AND THE TRIUMPH OF NERD CULTURE," due 2015 From Simon & Schuster.

In Action Comics #398 (March, 1971), just a couple months after Clark first became a TV reporter, his boss got him a sweet RV and sent him out on the road. 

This story, “The Pied Piper of Steel!” is one of my favorites, and not because Clark’s rocking a mustard-colored dress shirt Dwight Schrute would look at and be all, “Yikes.”

Well. Not just because, anyway.

I love it because it captures the essential disconnect between the character and his time, when Superman’s creators stopped writing for kids and started trying to write for what newsmagazines had taken to calling “the growing youth culture.” 

Over the pages of Superman comics, the 33-year-old Denny O’Neil was sweating speeding bullets trying to make Superman hip again. This little gem of story, however, was written by Leo Dorfman, then 57 years young.

What difference does a scant 24-year-difference in ages make, you ask?

Put it this way: In “The Pied Piper of Steel,” Clark covers a Woodstock-like event (“Those rock festivals are the big thing now!” he muses), where a nefarious concert promoter uses rock music to mind-control throngs of dirty, blissed-out hippies into forming a destructive mob. 

So. I mean.

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