Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oh, How the Times Have Changed: Superman #326

I just finished re-reading Superman #326 in preparation for the writing of this post, but I really didn't have to.  I've read that story so many times over the past thirty-two years that I practically have it memorized.   Marty Pasko is one of my favorite writers of the Bronze Age, mainly because of his Superman stories, and #326 is one of the issues that won him that place in my heart.
The story is entitled "A Million Dollars A Minute," and deals with Superman being mind controlled by a mad scientist working for UBS, the chief rival of GBS, the TV network where Clark Kent anchored the Evening News at the time, into signing a contract in which he promises to reveal his secret identity to the world on UBS.  Now, the way Supes, big blue Boy Scout that he is, sees it, a contract is a contract, whether you were mind zapped by mad scientist or not, so the bulk of the story deals with Superman's efforts to not only foil the bad guys, but protect his secret identity as well while keeping his reputation for integrity intact.  It strikes me as somewhat ironic that while the Man of Steel goes to such great lengths to keep the public at large from learning his secret, that same issue features a sub-plot, setting up the following month's showdown with Kobra, in which the Deadliest Man Alive quite inadvertently discovers that secret when he traces an alien weapon stolen from him by SKULL agents to Clark Kents apartment, and finds, just hanging there alongside his legion of identical blue suits, a spare Superman uniform.
Anyway, the title of the story, "A Million Dollars A Minute," refers to the rate UBS charged advertisers for commercial time on the broadcast where Superman was to reveal his identity.  That "...unprecedented rate..." was, as the hypnotized Superman states on the splash page, "...the highest price ever..."
Seems kind of quaint, doesn't it?
It's probably obvious by now why I was thinking of and chose to write about this particular comic today, of all days.  After all, it is, as you may have heard, Super Bowl Sunday, and tomorrow morning, as is the case every year, there will most likely be more talk about the commercials that aired during the broadcast of the game than about the game itself, and while a million bucks might have been an unheard of sum for a minute of airtime back in 1978 when Superman #326 hit the newstands, tonight's advertisers will have shelled out two and half times that amount for a mere thirty seconds. 

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