Friday, July 10, 2015


He's one of Superman's earliest opponents and is featured on the Man of Steel's single most iconic image, and yet most folks only know him as "The guy freaking out in the corner." Well, the guy freaking out in the corner of Action Comics vol.1 No.1 (cover date June 1938) has a name, and that name is Butch Matson.

Debuting in the breathlessly paced first appearance of Superman, Matson is only one of a half-dozen characters whom an early, roughly-sketched Superman flings around with general impunity. He's certainly not the first. Before the Man of Tomorrow can start hucking Butch Matson around like a bag of fertilizer, he has to work his way through a lynch mob, a wife-beater and an intransigent butler. And in case you're worried that Superman failed to heft any of these people above his head and fling them around like stuffed animals, be at ease - he chucked 'em all over the place. Early days Superman sure loved to literally throw people around.

So what was Butch Matson - a gangster, a super-villain, a mad scientist? Well, no, not really - at first, he's merely a masher.

Having wheedled his way into a date with Lois Lane, Clark Kent's romantic delight is interrupted mid-number when hulking, slope-browed Matson - enchanted by Lois Lane's wriggling tuchus - tries to step in on the young couple. Clark puts up token resistance, but has to draw the line at physically stepping to Matson, for the sake of his secret identity. Lois is under no such compunctions, though, and answers Matson's offer with a slap across the mush.

This sends Matson into a fury, so in short order he's assembled his entourage. The coterie of hulking man-apes roughly collect Lois Lane and make off with her in Matson's understated green sedan, raising the stakes from "emphatically friendzoned" to "straight-up kidnapping."

Matson's ultimate plan for Lois is unspoken but, presumably, pretty dire. He's not abducted her just to bring her to his favorite waffle house, is my guess. Luckily, Superman is hot on the tail of Matson, his crew, and their doomed avocado-colored hooptie.

The end result is that Matson's crew of neckless thugs ends up scattered to the four winds, the resale value of their ride is diminished to sub-scrap levels, and Matson himself ends up hanging from a telephone pole.

Lois' kidnappers are all but forgotten by the very next panel (which is the famous image of Superman looming over Lois Lane, telling her that she needn't be afraid and that he won't hurt her ... despite what he did to that car), and the fast-paced story moves on to Superman's next daring deed without extrapolating on Matson's fate. I assume he either died on that telephone pole or developed a pathological fear of dance floors.

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