Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!
Superboy #115 – September, 1964
Cover Art by Curt Swan
I’ve just returned from a Las Vegas vacation and one of the most exciting things I did on the trip was visit the National Atomic Testing Museum. Did you know a large portion of the nuclear testing in the United States took place just 60 miles away from “Sin City” and that back in the Fifties the tests were actually a big tourist draw? It’s true!
One of the first exhibits in the museum prominently displays the famous Robert “Father of the Atomic Bomb” Oppenheimer quote, “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” It is a terrifyingly awesome line and if it doesn’t sound like something straight out of a comic book then I don’t know what does.
One of the most fascinating exhibits in the museum was a display of pop culture artifacts that had been influenced by the atom bomb. There is everything from ray guns to records and cereal boxes to survival crackers, but the one item that really caught my eye was a copy of Superboy #115.
In this comic, scientists perform an experiment on the young Kryptonian by having him drink some chemicals that set off an atomic explosion in his stomach and gives him nuclear breath. (Coincidentally, I had a similar experience later that evening after eating dinner at [redacted] down on the “Lost Wages” strip.)
When you stop to think about it, the atom bomb has had an enormous impact on the world of comics and it makes me wonder what kind of stories we would be reading without that irradiated influence. Certainly there would be no Hulk, probably no Spider-Man or Fantastic Four either, and definitely no Firestorm or Atom Ant.
If you’re planning a trip to Vegas, I highly recommend a visit to the very cool Atomic Testing Museum. They have an incredible array of educational interactive displays, historic videos and amazing artifacts. Learn more at: nationalatomictestingmuseum.org.
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