Reign of the Supermen #481: Jim White

Source: Superman vol.1 #165 (1963)
Type: Red K Transformation
You think you know how Red Kryptonite works? That it never has the same effect twice and that each effect lasts 48 hours? Think again. In "The Sweetheart Superman Forgot!", he gets zapped, feels the plot-driven need to land in the sticks and bury both his identities before the comic springs a game changer on us.
The narrator's snark is warranted. This was a freak type of Red K which repeats past effects and doesn't wear off for weeks! And because it's powered by "super-irony" (no really, this story appears to be narrated by Alanis Morissette), the two effects Superman explicitly mentions are the effects re-experienced - amnesia and powerlessness. They could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by just saying it turns Superman stories into romance comics.
Meet Sally Selwyn. Her initials are S.S. but there's nothing sinister about that, honest. She's blond. She's a country girl. She thinks nothing of offering a strange man milk right out of the cow (yuck). And she's heir to an oil and farmland fortune. Hiding his amnesia, Clark gives his name as Jim White, proving he has some memory of his old life somewhere in that noggin of his. In fact, after drinking the fresh cream, he passes out (told you, yuck) and Sally brings him to the house to recover, where we're privy to his demented dreams.
This is what an amnesiac Superman dreams about. And this:
Alanis Morissette makes sure we get the IRONY of all this by explaining the dreams, as if even the most remedial Superman reader couldn't figure out those were Kryptonite monsters chasing him. "Jim" recovers after a bit and struggles with such things as shaving, because the Silver Age Superman never had to and has no muscle memory to help him out in his confused state. He becomes a farm hand/lumberjack/cowboy and though there's a big bully always playing dirty tricks on him because he wants Sally and her money for himself, the tricks always backfire and make Sally fall in love with courageous, kind-hearted, endearingly vulnerable Jim White. But he's po'folks, so he doesn't feel worthy of her love.
He vows to enter a rodeo and win a 5000$ prize so he can start his own business and not depend on her family's money, and shows just financially responsible he is by blowing his wages (and the 50$ he won with Sally at the dance) on a cheap engagement ring. ALANIS WARNING: SUPER-IRONY UP AHEAD:
Well, the bully strikes again at the rodeo. He gives "loco weed" to Jim's horse and thrown off, Jim breaks his back and is confined to a wheelchair. Sally is hopeful that some fancy surgeon can fix him, but before an appointment can be set, the bully, who just won't leave well enough alone, rolls a boulder down towards Jim, who's reflecting on his desperate situation on a cliff side. Just to scare him, you understand.
Well, that went wrong. So "Jim White" drowns and Sally thinks it's a suicide because maybe Jim thought she was only staying with him out of pity. It's all very sad. (There's a surprisingly adult moment when Sally's dad asks her if indeed she was. No answer.) Obviously, Jim DIDN'T drown. He was rescued by his friends beneath the sea.
So Clark wakes up with no memory of the last few weeks beyond the point where he buried his clothes and wallet. And when he walks into the office that day with some glib excuse for why he's been missing work, and hears Lois tell an intern Superman likely will never get married and she's the proof, we get some insight into WHY Superman won't commit to Lois or Lana:
He wants to be loved for HIMSELF, not for being Superman! And super-duper-irony, someone did, but he can't remember her. Oh romance comics! You're so cruel!

And did DC honor its promise to follow up on Sally Selwyn? It DID. And it involves yet another version of Clark/Superman, which is perfect for Reign of the Supermen. Tune in next week for another Sweetheart Sally story. I bet it'll be ironic as hell.


Anonymous said...

Not to get too dark here, but it seems like the most ironic thing in the story is the way it foreshadows Christopher Reeve's accident...

Siskoid said...


But seriously, the superhero in the wheelchair trope has been used on several superheroes, including the Flash and Batman (and most famously, Batgirl).

Martin Gray said...

I loved those Sally Selwyn stories - so super-soppy! And she had white-blonde hair!

But Alanis Morrisette ain't narrating, that woman wouldn't know irony if it was rolled down a cliff onto her.

Siskoid said...

To be fair to Alanis, the song IS phrased as a question.

"Isn't it ironic..?"

The answer is no.

Martin Gray said...

Are you saying that the things she suggests as ironic, like ra-aa-ain on yer we-e-dding day, she knows aren't ironic? Nah ....

Siskoid said...

It wasn't a defense of it. She wants the answer to be yes.

Siskoid said...

It's more like a song about irony having no irony in it because the songwriter doesn't know the definition of irony.

THAT'S ironic, right?

Martin Gray said...

OK, maybe 'ironic' means something different in Canada (note to self: watch more Murdoch Mysteries)

Siskoid said...

Nah, means the same thing, it's just one of those very badly used words.


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