By Scott Tipton
As the dog days of summer give way to the first days of the fall, I can't help but think back on the months past, and reflect on the weeks gone by. And as I do, a single thought comes to mind.
This cover appeared in a montage in SUPERMAN: FROM THE 30s TO THE 70s, and it's been mystifying me for about 30 years now, so when I stumbled across it while searching for back issues on the final day of this year's Comic-Con, you better believe it was coming home with me. Looking at the cover when I was a kid, there were just so many questions. Did Superman and Lois really get married? What's up with Lois' outfit -- are they in the future? Does Superman really hang out around the house in his cape? And what in god's name is up with that kid's head?
Unharmed, Superman and Lois head out for a night on the town, off to enjoy some soul food. Seriously.
Soon, Lois' odd food cravings and sudden proclivity for knitting reveal the news -- Lois is pregnant (despite the double beds). While Lois and Superman imagine what their child will be like, Professor Ulvo bathes the nursery with a mysterious ray beam. To what end, you ask? All becomes clear when the baby is born, just from the look on Superman's face.
The world press is clamoring to see Superman and Lois' baby, camping out in front of their house (and by the way, Superman seems to have entirely given up living as Clark Kent here, which is a little odd), but Supes and Lois refuse to let the world take a look at the kid (Hey, maybe this is why Tom Cruise is so reticent? Could Suri be an enormous-headed superintelligent brainchild? It all makes sense now...).
And with this panel, it's become clear to me, that FAMILY GUY's Seth McFarlane must have had this comic book as a kid, because there's no doubt about it -- Stewie Griffin is Superman's baby. The giant head, the overly mannered speaking style, the constant annoyance with his parents and criminal tendencies -- there's no two ways about it. DC needs to get the lawyers on the phone to Fox, and pronto. A big chunk of that FAMILY GUY DVD money oughtta cover the losses from that awful Keanu Reeves CONSTANTINE movie.
The Superbaby immediately starts making further demands, and is also not too happy with the service.
Shortly, Superbaby begins work disproving Einstein's theory of relativity, an idea that's a little lost on his Super-Pop.
Even tucking in the Super-Brat is a bit of a chore, as the little monster literally sleeps with one eye open.
The Man of Steel tried to get his mind off of his now-wretched family life by throwing himself into his work, dispersing a hurricane by creating a clean atomic blast in midair by clapping his chemical-bathed hands together. But the little Super-Killjoy even manages to throw a damp towel on that feat, thanks to his Super-Brain:
Now depressed and crushed from a lack of confidence, Superman is about to give up his career, then decides to try and make himself feel better by winning back the baby's respect, by entertaining him with a giant jigsaw puzzle given the baby as a gift (given by Professor Ulvo, as it happens). Unfortunately, when Superman fails to solve the puzzle, Super-baby has a Super-tantrum, solving the puzzle himself and then storming out of the house in pursuit of the folks who gave it to him, which he deduced from the picture on the completed puzzle. Boy, he is smart.
Superbaby arrives at Professor Ulvo's lair, learns how the professor bathed his nursery in special radiation so he'd be born a super-genius, and swiftly takes over the Professor's whole operation himself, plotting a scheme for world conquest, starting with -- where else?-- Metropolis.
The first thing the commerce-minded child does is stall all the jet engines at the Metropolis Airport with his Static-Inertia ray, demanding $1,000 tax for every takeoff and landing. When the airport cops try to bust him, the larcenous little tyke cuts loose with the heat vision, melting their guns into red-hot taffy. Superman arrives to administer a little Super-discipline, but when the kid fires back with the Super-Breath and the Super-Thermal Vision (which differs exactly how from heat vision, I'm not sure...), Super-Dad has no choice but to go for the tough love: Kryptonite.
Unfortunately for Supes, the little punk laughs it off, informing his father that in his spare time, he'd already invented an anti-Kryptonite serum. Damn, he's good. Superbaby makes with a counter-offer: join him in his quest to rule the universe, and he'd share the Anti-K serum with dear old dad. Superman refuses, and the kid is off on another villainous rant, disowning Superman and declaring them enemies, before suddenly slumping to the ground in a heap.
So was it just naptime? Maybe a case of Super-colic? No, it was a bit of parental intervention, it turns out. It seems Superman had literally decided the baby was too smart for his own good, and gimmicked the giant jigsaw puzzle to surreptitiously spray the kid with a Cerebral Neutralizer chemical of Superman's own devising (laced with liquid Kryptonite, naturally), to reverse the child's super-intelligence, which feels to me a whole lot like Superman just lobotomized his own son. Seems a little extreme to me, but maybe child-rearing is different for Kryptonians.
At the last minute, Superman and Lois realize that maybe they could have used that Anti-Kryptonite Serum, and rush down the hall to the nursery to ask the baby for the formula. Unfortunately, by this time, Superbaby's intelligence has been completely reversed, and Superman is S.O.L. Serves him right, if you ask me.
So there you have it -- the inside scoop on the original Superbaby. Makes that kid in the movie throwing the piano around not seem so bad now, eh?