“THE NIGHT OF MARCH 31st!”

So the question for the day is what does this cover have to do with April Fool’s Day?

Superman Vol. 1 #145

Cover taken from the Grand Comic Database.

Beneath this rather drab cover is a story titled “The Night of March 31st!“, which was written by Otto Binder and had art by Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff.  Even by Silver Age standards this was kind of goofy. 

In the splash panel on the first page of the story we see Superman streaking towards a ship where sailors are pulling Lori Lemaris, Superman’s mermaid ex-girlfriend, aboard and darn it all if the she isn’t pulling a Daryl Hannah and suddenly has legs.  Superman himself looks kind of goofy as well.  His left leg looks perfectly normal but the right leg has a sock and show instead of a red boot.  Things continue to be all about some strange when in the third panel on the page Clark hears the phone ring and uses his telepathic powers to find out that the caller is Perry White. 

And things just get weirder from there.  For the next seven and half pages Superman is suddenly without his cape for a panel, is faced with what a Bizarro Perry White who speaks perfect English, discovers that his cousin has revealed herself publicly without his consent, receives a visit from Streaky and Krypto while in his Clark Kent disguise at the office, has to deal with Lois being in love with Mr. Mxyzptlk, buys some ice cream from Lana Lang and is not only serenaded by Lex Luthor, Brainiac and Bizarro but finds that they have discovered his secret identity by reading a comic book they found at a newsstand run by Ma Kent.  The story ends with Superman passing out and crushing the bottle city of Kandor.

This is quite possibly one of the single greatest Superman stories published in the Silver Age.

No, I’m not kidding.

Apparently this whimsical tale was part of something called “The Great Boo-Boo Contest.”  I first ran across this story in the pages of The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told which, if memory serves, I got sometime during the summer of 1988.  On the bottom of the eighth page was a half a page worth of text about what the heck was going on in the story.  In reading it I get the feeling that the explanation is from Adventure Comics #339, where the story was first reprinted as a Hall of Fame classic since it discusses the story in the past tense.  In the original I am going to assume that there the empty area was used as ad space.  According to the guy writing the text piece (presumably Edmond Hamilton since it is signed Ed) even though the story is titled “The Night of March 31st” all of the action takes place on April 1st.

April Fool’s Day.

Ed goes on to explain, “In fact, this was the story on which our ‘Great Boo-Boo Contest’ was based a few years ago.  We received over 30,000 letters pointing out the goofs in the story,” and then lists some of the boo-boos that were made on purpose before challenging the reader to spot even more.

So in the spirit of April Fool’s Day (which is a holiday I have very little patience for actually) here are the boo-boos I found. 

Yeah, I’m not posting the story panel by panel because the only versions of the story I have are in the hardcover and softcover editions of The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told and those don’t scan easy.  If at some point I get this issue I’ll come back and through the scans in.  I hope you will be amused anyway.

Page 1: Panel 1- Superman is wearing a shoe and sock instead of his boot.

Page 1: Panel 3- Clark claims to have telepathic powers.

Page 2: Panel 3- Superman flies into action without his cape.

Page 2: Panel 4- Superman smashes through Perry’s wall instead of using the door.

Page 2: Panel 5- Perry White seems to be a Bizarro but speaks perfect English.

Page 2: Panel 6- Superman flies through the window instead of opening it.

Page 3: Panel 1- Superman’s right sleeve is from a dress shirt.

Page 3: Panel 2- Lori Lemaris has legs.

Page 3: Panel 5- Superman is missing his left boot.

Page 3: Panel 6- Supergirl has vacuum breath.

Page 4: Panel 1- Superman is wearing Clark’s pants.

Page 4: Panel 2- Jimmy is wearing a tux and there is a pay phone on Clark’s desk.

Page 4: Panel 3- Krypto has a short tail.

Page 4: Panel 4- Streaky says “Eeeoww!” instead of the traditional Meow.

Page 4: Panel 5- Clark is wearing a bow tie.

Page 4: Page 6- Clark is not wearing his glasses.  Streaky says “Arf, arf” and Krypto says, “Meeow”.

Page 5: Panel 1- Clark is still not wearing his glasses and his tie is solid black.  Krypto feels pain from banging his leg.

Page 5: Panel 2- Clark is once again without his glasses and his tie is still solid black.  Lois’ hair is longer. 

Page 5: Panel 3- Clark’s tie is white and black and he is wearing short pants.

Page 5: Panel 4- Clark changes to Superman in front of two onlookers.

Page 5: Panel 5- Superman is wearing glasses. 

Page 6: Panel 1- Lois is wearing a glove and and has a pony tail.  Superman is still wearing glasses.

Page 6: Panel 2- Superma is still wearing glasses.

Page 6: Panel 3- Superman is wearing glasses and not wearing his cape.

Page 6: Panel 4- Mxyzptlk is wearing glasses and Superman is wearing Mxy’s hat.

Page 6: Panel 5- Superman is still wearing glasses.

Page 6: Panel 6- Superman still has those glasses and his S is backwards. 

Page 7: Panel 1- Superman in glasses.  Actually he wears glasses for the entire page.

Page 7: Panel 2- There is a man in a parka in the right background and on the left are palm trees and chickens.

Page 7: Panel 3- The Leaning Tower of Piza (which Superman would later straighten and then un-straighten in Superman III) is in the background and a nearby apartment building has a “deluxe penthouse” that is a log cabin.

Page 7: Panel 4- Superman with glasses.

Page 7: Panel 5- Superman with glasses.

Page 8: Panel 1- Superman in glasses. 

Page 8: Panel 2- Superman in glasses.  Ma Kent is in the newstand.  Brainiac is wearing a hat.

Page 8: Panel 3- Superman in glasses.

And that’s about it I think.

So I hope you enjoyed that little trip in the Way Back Machine.  I’m normally not the biggest fan of Silver Age stories but this one always makes me smile.

More to follow…

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