WE THE PEOPLE: SUPERMAN and GEORGE PEREZ’s Lesson on the Constitution Still Resonates

It’s the FOURTH OF JULY: A rare comic from 1987, written by Joey Cavalieri…


More than any other day in our history, July 4, 1776 is our most important. It was the day our 13 colonies refused to be under the thumb of King George any longer. (For a great way to see the struggles of how the Declaration of Independence came about – and almost didn’t – watch the wonderful movie 1776.)

The second most monumental day in the forming of the United States was September 17, 1787, with the signing of the Constitution of the United States, which began within its preamble the three most essential words in any document in our history — “We the People.” Four years later, on December 15, 1791, the first 10 amendments to the Constitution were ratified by three-fourths of the state legislatures. These became better known as the Bill of Rights.

These three documents – which are housed permanently under protection in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., but open to view by every person in the world – are the integral threads of our country’s fabric. They were, and are, the voices of the American people.

But how to explain their significance to children? History can be a boring subject in school. But comics? Comics are something else.

On September 13, 1987, for the 200th anniversary of the Constitution, the New York Daily News published in its Sunday magazine a seven-page comic starring Superman, written by Joey Cavalieri and drawn by George Pérez. As it summarizes on the last page, “The Founding Fathers knew that no one person could be trusted with all the power. The Constitution sets up our system of government so that it divides where the power is held.”

Words to live by today.


Copyright © 1987 DC Comics



— REEL RETRO CINEMA: 1776. Click here.

— 13 COVERS: Hey, Baby, It’s the Fourth of July — With JOHN ROMITA. Click here.

13th Dimension contributor-at-large PETER BOSCH’s first book, American TV Comic Books: 1940s-1980s – From the Small Screen to the Printed Pagewas published by TwoMorrows. He is currently at work on a sequel, about movie comics. Peter has written articles and conducted celebrity interviews for various magazines and newspapers. He lives in Hollywood.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. Not only a fine and inspirational story (within the limitations of using Super Deus ex Machina and his time-hopping co-star) but ends with the never ending Clark Wink, as all iconic Superman stories should.

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  2. Happy Independence Day! Thanks for sharing this very special “Superman” comic from 1987 — it’s got all that pre-Crisis wholesomeness and so much more!

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  3. Technically, the date of the decision to tell the King and Britain to take a hike was July 2nd. It was the day the vote was taken and passed. ”On July 2, Congress officially voted for independence…” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Adams John Adams felt so strongly about this that he refused to celebrate on the 4th. He also passed away on the 4th of 1826.

    I’ve never seen this Superman story before. DC should print this as part of their facsimile line. I’d love some “new to me” Perez. This story also reminds me some of Action #463.

    Maybe next year Dan should do a “13 Crossovers with 1776” article. I can think of a few right off the top…. I’d get Paul or Jim working on that. They both seem a good fit to tell that story.

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    • Hi, Buck. In addition to July 2nd being the day that Congress agreed to the separation, it took two more days for the Declaration to be adopted. Per the National Archives: “Jefferson drafted the statement between June 11 and 28, submitted drafts to Adams and Franklin who made some changes, and then presented the draft to the Congress following the July 2nd adoption of the independence section of the Lee Resolution. The congressional revision process took all of July 3rd and most of July 4th. Finally, in the afternoon of July 4th, the Declaration was adopted.” And the actual Declaration document wasn’t ready to be signed until August 2nd…and even then some other signatures were added later.
      One other very ironic happening on July 4, 1826, fifty years later, in addition to John Adams passing away, it was also the day that Thomas Jefferson died. Jefferson went first.

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      • I’ve joked other times that the 2 day delay was caused as they looked for a stamp to mail the document off to England.

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  4. Thank you for this Independence Day gift: a charming and gloriously illustrated Superman story—which I never even knew existed!

    Has it ever been reprinted? It would instantly become an annual addition to my Fourth of July routine.

    Joey Cavalieri turned in a fine story with all the hallmarks of a Silver Age classic, in an understated, “modern” style. But you’ve gotta hand it to the late, great George Perez, who never gave less than a thousand percent on any job. Look at his portraiture of the Founding Fathers, the precision in his depiction of Old City Philadelphia and the the Statue of Liberty—and the pure fun of dressing Superman in a tricorn hat. He, too, was a gift to us: his legacy of artwork, and the man himself. God bless him, and our country.

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  5. Some fans have been asking for a Superman “rarities” book which would reprint one-offs, advertising materials, comics from toys and bubble gum, trading cards, etc. This would be the perfect place to reprint this story.

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