The celebrated Mr. K weighs in on a fickle populace…


“They pelted us with rocks and garbage.”

An old David Letterman catchphrase… or a strange little subcategory of superhero comic book covers?

It’s both because apparently, people really love superheroes… until they don’t, and then things get ugly. Or amusingly interesting, as in those covers depicting the citizens who once hailed the superheroes now turning against them for some imagined or trumped-up crime. Talk about cartoon cancel culture.

Memory being a tricky old thing, I was surprised to discover that the “People vs. Superheroes” conceit was pretty much a DC Comics thing and mostly confined to Mort Weisinger’s line of Superman titles in the 1960s, although his friend Julie Schwartz borrowed the idea from time to time for The Flash, Green Lantern, and Justice League of America, and would revive it again for a 1983 issue of The New Adventures of Superboy.

Here then, MY 13 FAVORITE ‘THE PEOPLE VS. SUPERHEROES’ COVERS (in order of publication date):

Superman #130 (July 1959). The Cyrusville cops obviously hadn’t really thought this strategy through, had they? “The Town That Hated Superman” cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye.

Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #39 (Feb. 1963). Even though it was an imaginary story, I’m sure Lois reacted more out of pain than true anger and I’ve always thought that period “When Lois Hated Superman” was a more a cry for help than anything else. Or perhaps a cleverly veiled scheme to make him buy her a new set of dishes, with art by Kurt Schaffenberger.

Justice League of America #19 (May 1963). Nobody bought their tired old defense of “Our evil doppelgangers did it!” — making the JLA The Super-Exiles of Earth.” Art by Murphy Anderson.

Action Comics #301 (June 1963). “The Trial of Superman” is all a set-up, see? But… by whom? Swan and Klein provide the cover art.

Detective Comics #330 (Aug. 1964). Robin better have a good explanation for shunning Batman as “The Fallen Idol of Gotham City,” that snot-nosed little ingrate! Cover by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.

Superman #184 (February 1966). Sure, they’re primitive superstitious aliens living on a planetoid zigzagging around the universe, but they’re people too and they know “The Demon Under the Red Sun” when they see him! Cover by Swan and George Klein.

The Flash #164 (September 1966). Mob justice at its finest! “Flash–Vandal of Central City” shows us why Central City couldn’t hang on to its “Best Tourist Destination” rating, but it’s still a first-class cover by Infantino and Giella.

Superboy #139 (June 1967). “Don’t ya recognize me, Ma and Pa! I’m your little boy!” Look, if you’re Superboy and you suddenly find yourself living in “The Town that Hated Superboy,” maybe it’s time to reevaluate your life. Cover by Swan and Klein.

Action Comics #359 (Feb. 1968). Either that kid’s lying or… uh-oh! “The Case of the People vs. Superman,” featuring an arresting cover by Neal Adams.

Green Lantern #66 (Jan. 1969). The title is “5708 A.D. — A Nice Year to Visit — But I Wouldn’t Want to Live There!” I can’t believe people will still be pelting their enemies with fresh fruits and veggies that far in the future. I don’t think they’ll still be able to grow fresh fruits and veggies that far in the future! Art by Mike Sekowsky and Anderson.

My personal fave. — Dan

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #118 (March 1969). Dirty hippies! “The Touch of Life!” cover by Neal Adams. Like, far out.

Action Comics #396 (Jan. 1972). What could possibly turn the Man of Steel into “The Super-Panhandler of Metropolis” 20 years in the future (which would be 30 years in the past now)? Science! Cover by Infantino and Anderson.

The New Adventures of Superboy #39 (March 1983). Snowballs are like Green K to Superboy on “A World Without Christmas!” Not really, but it’s a cool cover by Gil Kane. Oh, and I wrote the story.



— PAUL KUPPERBERG: My 13 Favorite WORLD’S GREATEST SUPER-HEROES Comic Strips. Click here.

Sure, you know Paul Kupperberg as the prolific writer of over a thousand comic books for such characters and series as Superman, Aquaman, Doom Patrol, Vigilante, Life with Archie, Bart Simpson, Scooby-Doo, and dozens more for DC Comics, Archie Comics, Bongo Comics, and others, and that he is also the creator of the series Arion, Lord of Atlantis, Checkmate and Takion, and is a former editor for DC, Weekly World News, and WWE Kids Magazine. But Paul is also the author of numerous books, including the superhero novel JSA: Ragnarok and the comics industry-based murder mystery, The Same Old Story, not to mention (but we will anyway) Paul Kupperberg’s Illustrated Guide to Writing ComicsI Never Write for the Money, But I Always Turn in the Manuscript for a CheckDirect Comments: Comic Book Creators in their Own WordsThe Unpublished Comic Book Scripts of Paul Kupperberg and Son of the Unpublished Comic Book Scripts of Paul Kupperberg. You can follow Paul at and at




Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I don’t know…there are plenty of Marvel covers depicting the people versus our heroes. Amazing Spider-Man 70, 90, 91, 96, 112…Captain America 195 and 260 (and 170…maybe)…Iron Man 45. And that’s not even glancing at The Incredible Hulk.

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    • Serves Batman right for slapping Robin!!!

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