#2. Superman Drugs an Innocent Man and Takes Over His Life (Action Comics No. 4, 1938)
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Superman has a lot of moves in his arsenal, from lifting heavy things to standing placidly while bad guys' bullets bounce off his chest (OK, it's just those two). But there are certain things that it's impossible to imagine Supes ever doing, like, say, shooting somebody with a flamethrower or stabbing someone with a switchblade. Or dressing up in a checkered sport coat, sneaking up on a guy and sticking him with a hypodermic needle:
It's a little-known fact that Dexter was based on old Superman comics.
The background to that situation only makes it stranger. In this 1938 issue, Superman overhears a coach and some thugs talking about rigging a football game, and decides that the easiest way to thwart this plan is to impersonate a player on the other team, Tommy Burke. The Man of Steel stalks Burke as he's leaving his girlfriend's house one night and injects the man with some unknown sedative/paralytic to kidnap him. Superman then whisks his incapacitated victim away to the man's apartment, where he nonchalantly informs him of his intentions.
"I also took the liberty of dyeing your hair blond while you were out, for no particular reason."
Yep, "I'm going to take your place in life for a few days" is the entire explanation Superman gives to the guy before going away, leaving him a prisoner of his own body. At this point Burke has no idea if his insane doppelganger will go on to stop a rigged game, or murder everyone in his family, or merely bang his girlfriend.
Anyway, Superman attends the football practice as Burke, but a locker room misunderstanding leads to him being pummeled by another guy.
Every other panel of this scene was NC-17.
Superman ends up brushing off his attacker, knocking him out and probably breaking every bone in his body. The coach then kicks "Burke" off of the team for being a dangerous maniac. So far, all Superman has accomplished with his brilliant plan is scaring the crap out of an innocent man and getting him fired from his job.
"If we lose another match, I'll have to go back to my old job as a Dick Tracy impersonator."
However, Superman goes into the practice anyway and proceeds to mop the floor with everyone else with his superior strength and complete disregard for human life. Coach Dick Tracy is impressed and puts him back on the team. Soon, the thugs working for the other coach hear about this "Burke" and decide to pay him a visit at his apartment -- where the real Burke is still knocked unconscious by Superman's date-rape drug.
"Hey! I was watching him sleep!"
Superman watches as the thugs kidnap the helpless man and doesn't lift a finger. After following them to their hideout, Superman decides that he kind of hates Burke anyway and just fucking leaves him there with the murderous thugs, since they obviously "mean him no physical harm."
"Whereas I mean him both physical and mental harm."
Superman goes on to play the big game as Burke, managing to put the two thugs in the hospital and scaring the crooked coach into resigning. In the end, Supes saved the day and returned the man to his rightful life ... and he only had to commit a handful of felonies in the process.
#1. Superman Goes on a Car-Wrecking Rampage (Action Comics No. 12, 1939)
This unbelievably insane adventure starts with an image of Superman destroying a bridge for reasons that are never explained or even referenced in the story.
"How many times do I have to say it?! Cantilever bridges only!"
In the story, Clark Kent learns that a guy he knew died in a car accident. Pissed off, he changes into Superman, breaks into a radio station and formally declares war on all cars.
"And people who don't use their turn signals? You're next."
Now, "fuck reckless drivers" is a noble sentiment and one we can agree with, but soon it becomes obvious that Superman's personal vendetta isn't with the people who drive but with the actual vehicles. Superman starts his bizarre one-man crusade by going to an impound lot and flinging cars around like discuses -- he never even bothers to check why the cars were there in the first place or if they belonged to the people who had committed the violations, and probably doesn't care.
"They can just fly to work or whatever."
His bloodlust is still far from satiated, so Superman goes to a used car lot and starts tearing shit up in front of the puzzled owner.
"You can mail the bill to 135 Fuck You Avenue."
But Superman knows that he's only been addressing the symptoms, not the cause, so he goes to the source of all this evil: a car factory.
Superman single-handedly kept the Depression going well into the '40s.
Not content with just tearing up the cars, Superman brings down the whole fucking building, and this time he doesn't even warn the workers to evacuate the place -- by now they should know to do that as soon as they see Superman coming anyway.
"I forgot why I was doing this after, like, a minute. But by then I was in the zone."
After destroying enough personal property and putting enough people out of work, Superman decides that the next logical step is to kidnap the mayor, because fuck it, he's Superman, he can do whatever he wants. Superman hauls the mayor to the morgue and forces him to look at all the victims of reckless driving, blaming his policies for all those deaths.
"You had police tracking down rapists and kidnappers when they should have been checking expired registrations!"
The terrified mayor agrees to crack down on traffic laws, and the story ends with Superman feeling that he has done a good job when Clark Kent gets a parking ticket.
"I'm still going to have to fry you with my laser vision."
Comic book characters tend to get blander and more family friendly when they hit it big -- in Superman's case, we believe that this was actually a good thing.
For more superhero insanity, check out 5 Superheroes Rendered Ridiculous by Gritty Reboots and 5 Absurd Ways Comic Books Have Resurrected Dead Superheroes.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Climbers Who Gave Altitude the Middle Finger.