Wednesday, May 20, 2015


In Superman's defense, no one should be drinking from a fire hydrant in the first place.

This past Monday was something called "Miracle Monday," a sort-of "May The Fourth" for Superman nerds but it's infinitely better because we leave the rest of you out of it and it never trends on Twitter.

Originally a holiday proposed in the book of the same name by frequent Superman scribe Eliot S! Maggin (of the Connecticut S! Maggins, I believe), it's also not the only holiday spurred by a Superman story or invented by Maggin. There is also the mainstay of the dullest sports bars and college students who've been gifted with a light Friday schedule - it's Thirsty Thursday!

Debuting in the pages of Superman vol.1 No.293 (November 1975), Thirsty Thursday begins, as do a lot of Bronze Age DC stories, with the inept and absent-minded scientists at STAR Labs. Where would we be without these vial-dropping, radiation-causing, virus-creating nitwits in white coats? Probably gifted with another ten to fifteen years of health and vitality, most likely.

Superman straight going HAM on income disparity.
The origins of Thirsty Thursday begin with hirsute, hapless STAR Labs scientist Dr.Ishmael (What should we call him, do you think?) who, in the midst of developing a "volatile" liquid food substitute (Monster brand Energy Drink, I reckon) just straight-up drops a vial full of the stuff on the ground, spilling its contents everywhere. Turns out that the food substitute is crazy deadly, so Ishmael promptly quaffs an antidote, but apparently accidentally grabbed the formula that turns you into a caveman with super-strength and so becomes a crazy super-powered idiot who promptly runs outside to beat up Superman.

Additionally, the food substitute formula, exposed to air, disperses promptly around the entire city and gives everybody who breathes it a pathological fear of water. Again, this is a terrific food substitute formula, I can't wait until it's on the market. Gonna be a big hit with its audience of hulking freakazoids who got a thing about puddles.

Even Superman can't handle two crises of this scale simultaneously, having also just saved a baby from dying in a fire in what I have to confess is one of the most legitimately touching scenes from a Superman comic ever, no joke - these Bronze Age Superman books, cousins, they knew what they were doing.

In any case, so as to keep the citizens of Metropolis safe from overexertion until the formula wears off and they can drink water again AND to give himself some free time to finish beating the shit out of Dr.Ishmael,  Superman roofies the entire city. Using his heat vision, he pops open a STAR Labs sub-basement full of sleep gas, dropping everyone in town where they stand and neatly solving the problem of a laboratory maintaining a secret chamber full of chemical weapons under a highly-populated city. A problem-solver, that's our Superman!

" much the same way that no future historian has ever solved the mystery of the so-called 'Taco', nor known where to look for them..."

It all works out in the end, but apparently Superman never bothers to tell anyone in Metropolis why they all fell asleep at once, in their cars and at their desks or on the subway and street, curled up like a baby amidst the rats and the human filth. I'm not confident that the elevated train would gently come to a stop if the conductor fell asleep - I mean, I've seen The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3.

The absence of an explanation is evidenced by the story's bookends, wherein historians from the far future have repeatedly traveled back in time to unravel the reason behind "Thirsty Thursday," originally know as "No One Likes Water And Everyone Got Sleepy Day" before the special interest groups got to it. It's still a mystery, of course, because all the time-traveling historians choose to stay in the same hotel in midtown, and they all fall asleep too, like morons.

Besides Miracle Monday and Thirsty Thursday, the Superman books also logged Superman-related holidays for every other day of the week, like T-Shirt Tuesday, Beef-On-Weck Wednesday, Two-For-One Friday, Singles Saturday and Spinach Quiche Sunday, all of which I just made up and now I kind of want a beef-on-weck. Damn you Superman, why can't you be MY hero and bring me a sandwich from Buffalo?

"Oh no, and I knocked over this medical waste container. Whoops, I stepped in radioactive waste. Darn it, I released the kraken!"


James W. Fry 3.0 said...

Oh GOD, Jon! I go a little bonkers whenever I find out someone has read the Maggin SUPERMAN novels. I LOVE those things! They are hands-down my favorite iteration of Supes in any medium. Not perfect, you understand, but wonderful. Mostly because of how much texture they added to the stories Maggin was already telling in the funnybooks. For the record, I thought Cary Bates was a darn fine plotter, but Elliot Maggin was tops in my book where it came to stories that made me think "THIS is what's so cool about Superman!" I think you and I may have "discussed" this earlier. Lord knows these stories had more than their share of laughably stupid crap (I blame Superman comics for my unrequited dream of "accidentally" shooting a baby in the face with a laser), but these guys did know how to punch an emotional button or two. Thanks to you, I''m gonna re-read those books this summer. I prefer LAST SON OF KRYPTON to MIRACLE MONDAY, but they both leave me feeling pretty good.

Calamity Jon said...

You'll never overcome your fear of shooting a baby in the face with a laser until you confront it directly by shooting a baby in the face with a laser.

I have to admit an inordinate fondness for Maggin's novels. I just bought a new copy of Miracle Monday because my old one was in such horrific shape.

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