It's a well-documented fact that the character of Superman has undergone many shifts over the decades.

In 1978, Elliot S! Maggin's first Superman novel The Last Son of Krypton was published. Now, you might be looking at that timeline (or the cover art from the book) and thinking to yourself "Oh, this is the novelization of the first Richard Donner Superman film." Don't be fooled - this is an entirely different version of the Superman tale! Some quick examples:

  1. Johnathan and Martha Kent were selected by Albert Einstein (traveling in disguise under the name "Calvin Eisner") as the couple most fit to raise the incoming Kryptonian child

  2. In the novel, Clark Kent is a television anchor, rather than an investigative reporter at a newspaper.

  3. Clark and Lois not only do not work together, but there's no indication of any kind of romantic entanglement between them (although Superman, obviously, still regularly rescues Lois from certain doom.)

However, around the same time as he must have been working on drafts of the novel, Maggin was also getting Story and Writer credits from DC Comics for Superman.

Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to track down reasonably priced copies of issues of Superman from that period, so my question is: Which elements, if any, from Maggin's novelization which would have been a mirror of what was going on in the then-current iteration of the Superman character in the DC comics world?

Note: One obvious correlation between the novels and LATER issues of the Superman comic have to do with

Superman's experience in the afterlife, where he faces a version of heaven and is told that he has a unique - or at least RARE - opportunity to choose whether or not he ever wants to die. This was later used by DC Comics during the "Death and Return of Superman" storyline in the 1990's in Adventures of Superman Volume 1 #500,

but this does NOT fit the question, as it happened in the comics almost 20 years after it appeared in the novel. I am looking for parallels that would have been around the same period.

  • You mention that you couldn't find a copy of The Last Son of Krypton for purchase (at a "reasonable" price). Have you tried libraries in your area? worldcat.org/…
    – Shokhet
    Jun 28, 2017 at 13:56
  • It is the Superman COMICS from that period which I am unable to find in order to perform the comparison
    – TML
    Jun 28, 2017 at 15:02
  • 1
    Oh! I misunderstood that, sorry. Still, I think that libraries may be a useful resource, and might be worth a shot.
    – Shokhet
    Jun 28, 2017 at 15:28
  • It's a great piece of advice in general - I think a lot of people might be surprised to find libraries actually stock a decent amount of comics material these days. However, I have not been able to find much in the way of deep back catalogs - 1978 is before the "comics collecting bubble" really hit, so these issues are pretty difficult to track down. Thanks for the suggestion, though! :)
    – TML
    Jun 28, 2017 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


Elliot S! Maggin was, in fact, one of the regular writers of Superman stories for DC in the mid-1970s (including Superman # 293, "The Miracle of Thirsty Thursday," whose title almost certainly inspired the title for his second Superman novel, "Miracle Monday").

DC had done a little revamping of Superman in the early 1970s. As most people were getting their news from television rather than newspapers, they had Galaxy Communications buy the Daily Planet, and move Clark from newspaper reporter to TV news anchor of their Metropolis TV station, WGBS. In fact, they eventually brought his girlfriend from Smallville, Lana Lang, in to be his co-anchor.

While not necessarily connected, I'll note that Clark had a "costume" of his own; we always saw him in a dark blue suit, with a white shirt and a red tie. It was consistent enough that some writer (could have been Maggin, I suppose) wrote a scene where he explained that he specially treated his clothes to deal with the rigors of Superman' activities (he did occasional have to leap into action with them on; and, even when he took them off, he compressed them and stored them in a pocket in his cape). The treatment process determined the color palette he had to work with, so his clothes were always those colors.

Clark and Lois were rarely considered an item Pre-Crisis; Lois' romantic focus at the time was Superman, and she didn't know Clark was his alter-ego. During the 1960s, Lois' interest in Superman lead to innumerable "imaginary stories" where their relationship would take various twists. Lois, in fact, starred in her own title: Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane, which usually focused on that relationship in some way.

However, by the 1970s, the "Lois Lane" aspect of the title was starting to be focused on over the "Girlfriend" aspect. She was still Superman's girlfriend, but she had her own life, and her own adventures, that didn't always directly involved Superman himself. Their relationship was still there, but she was no longer pushing to marry Superman; presumably, their relationship has moved past that initial point where your entire focus is your significant other.

Besides Lois, Lana, and "Superman's Best Friend, Jimmy Olsen", his cast included Steve Lombard (WGBS sports guy, and obnoxious prankster/borderline bully - who , for some reason, sometimes had his pranks on Clark backfire), Morgan Edge (owner of Galaxy Communications; a clone of Edge had worked with Intergang, but Edge himself wasn't a criminal), and Perry White (Clark still occasionally did newspaper articles, and I think Lois still wrote for the Planet regularly).

Superman did have a Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic; however, in the comics, that was excavated out of a mountain, rather than grown from a Kryptonian crystal.

However, the idea that Einstein helped place Clark with the Kents was unique to this novel. That element of his backstory has remained fairly consistent; the Kents found him in his spaceship, and became his adoptive parents (formally or informally; in at least one recounting, the Kents were isolated enough by a bad winter that they got away with claiming Clark was theirs). I'm not aware of any in-continuity telling that involves any sort of government involvement, or the involvement of Einstein. As Clark has historically been considered to be in his late twenties or early thirties (I believe in the 1970s, he was perpetually 29), having Einstein play a role eventually becomes an impossibility.

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