Strange But True

Happy 75th birthday, Superman!: Remembering Man of Steel's trip to Boulder

Exactly 75 years ago today, the first Superman comic was published -- and to mark the occasion, the City of Cleveland, where Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the Man of Steel, is officially designating April 18 as "Superman Day."

We don't know of similar festivities planned in Boulder, but perhaps there should be, since Krypton's Favorite Son made a memorable visit to the community just a couple of years ago -- and nearly stripped Boulder residents naked in the process. Details and photos below.

Why did Superman make a pit stop in Colorado? As we noted in our original April 2011 post, the issue was part of "Grounded," a series that got under way the previous year. In it, Superman walked across America in order to "reconnect with the everyday people he is committed to protecting," according to USA Today. And as a bonus, DC Comics was able to engage readers in voting for cities and states where the stories would be set. Locales included Philadelphia; Detroit; Danville, Ohio; Rushmark, Indiana; Chicago; Des Moines; and Lincoln, Nebraska.

No surprise that Boulder boasted enough Superman readers to get their city included on this roster. After all, the city's among the most weed-friendly in the country -- and what goes better with ganja than comic books?

Not that Superman makes any allusions to this particular aspect of Colorado culture while leaving a voice-mail message for Lois Lane near the start of Superman #709, "The Flash Gets Grounded." Here's one of the early images:

In the next panel, Supes is explaining why he feels so at home in Boulder when something interrupts his reverie. No, the sound he mentions isn't a Boulder jam band prompting some Grateful Dead-inspired noodle dancing.... No, it's words in a language that he knows very well.... These Kryptonian phrases are just the beginning. Suddenly, Boulder is transformed into the equivalent of a Krypton historical pageant, with the city's streets, buildings and even its residents made to look like Superman's home planet during various periods in its history. The reason, as we learn later, has to do with a strange headband with a Kryptonian sunstone that the Flash discovered during a dig in Australia. When he put it on, he was so overwhelmed by the flood of imagery from Krypton produced by the headband that he couldn't remove this stylish bauble -- so he tracked down Superman and remade Boulder as a way of getting Mr. S's super-attention.

Superman ultimately manages to catch up to the Flash (because the Flash let him, the lightning-bolted one later insists), removes the headband and restores Boulder, even removing the Kryptonian outfits that wound up on locals. "I'm glad that Flash put these costumes on over these people's clothes," Superman says to himself. "I'd hate to see the headlines if he hadn't. 'Superman and Flash Strip Town Naked!'"

No such luck -- and not much action in the second half of the book, which is dominated by an expository conversation between Superman and the Flash at a Boulder coffee shop and a flashback (sans the Flash) to the young Clark Kent being stuck in detention with a surly teen Lex Luthor.

Some of the backdrops in the book actually resemble Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, while others suggest Anytown U.S.A. But who cares? Superman came to Boulder!

Hope you make a return visit during your next 75 years of saving the planet. In the meantime, happy birthday, big guy.

More from our Things to Do archive: "Superman nearly strips Boulder naked after Flash turns town into ancient Krypton (PICS)."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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