The (Real-Life) Pentagon Kept Lex Luthor From Setting Off A Nuke
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In 1944, DC was planning to release a comic in which Lex Luthor sets off an atom bomb. This was a whole year before the attack on Hiroshima, at a time when all info on the atom bomb was strictly classified. Pretty crazy, huh?
Well, not so crazy, no. Sci-fi writers had long known about the power of the atom, well before the military managed to harness that energy in any usable form. A Superman radio show had even featured a villain seeking steel tubes for an "atomic beam" weapon a few years earlier, in 1940.
But in 1944, America was now at war, and it had an Office of Censorship. When it came to atom bombs, they were mostly concerned with keeping reporters mum about the actual Manhattan Project, but the Department of War also got an advance look at the "Battle Of The Atoms" Superman comic and asked DC to shelve it.
The way this story's often told, the Pentagon feared that if Superman let the world know about the atom bomb, Japan would prepare its defenses accordingly. We're a little skeptical that Japan was taking its cues about strategy from American comic books. More likely, the government preferred that the public not associate atomic bombs with supervillains.
In October 1945, with the war at an end and the Office of Censorship closing up shop, DC finally got to publish "The Battle of the Atoms." In it, Lex Luthor wields an "atomic bomb" which bears no resemblance to the ones America dropped. It looks more like a handheld grenade. It has no effect on Superman when it hits him, and it also has no effect on Lex, standing just feet away.
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Top Image: DC