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Classic Comic Cover Corner – Action Comics #309

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Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!

Action Comics #309 – February, 1964

Cover art by Curt Swan

Action Comics #309 - February, 1964
Action Comics #309 – February, 1964

As our nation observes the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963, it’s only appropriate that we showcase one of the most infamous comic covers of all time, Action Comics #309, where the ill-fated Commander in Chief actually appeared in the comic a week after his unfortunate end.

At first glance it doesn’t appear that the President is featured on this cover, but in actuality Kennedy is helping Superman out by posing as Clark Kent (using a Clark mask) to help the Man of Steel keep his identity a secret. Yes, President Kennedy is the “Mystery Masquerader” in question on the cover text.

In the Edmond Hamilton story, “The Superman Super-Spectacular,” Superman appears on a television show that has celebrities reuniting with old friends and family, but of course Clark and Supes can’t be in the same place at the same time, so the hero asks the President to fill in for him (in disguise) and help to keep his secret safe.

Action Comics #309 - February, 1964

What makes this book so historic is that it hit the newsstands about a week after the President was assassinated.  Even though its cover date is February, 1964, that future date was used to artificially give the comic a longer shelf life (a common practice) and the book actually went into distribution and onto comic stands just after Kennedy’s death. There was nothing DC Comics could do to recall a book that was already on its way to market.

The original cover art for this classic, illustrated by the legendary Superman artist, Curt Swan, recently sold at a Hake’s Americana & Collectibles auction for $112,015. It’s also worth noting that a plethora of DC characters, including Batman, Robin, Perry White, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and oddly enough, Lori Lemaris in an aquarium, also appear on this cover with the undercover President Kennedy.

Unfortunately, November 22, 1963, was a day, like many before and since, where we learned that even Superman can’t save us from ourselves. RIP, JFK.

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.