Superman: he’s faster than a speeding bullet. He’s more powerful than a locomotive. He’s able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. And he’s getting a little too frisky with Scott Free’s wife.
That’s the cover of Action Comics #593, published in October 1987. Scott Free, also known as Mister Miracle, is the character accusing the Man of Steel of making out with his wife, Big Barda. (If you’d like to know more about Free, you can read more here; for Barda, check out this link.) That seems like a weird plot line for a comic book, for sure. But it gets even stranger. Superman isn’t just kissing Big Barda. They’re, uh, making a movie — yes, that type of movie — and as seen below, it isn’t going too well.
But don’t blame Superman. He’s been hypnotized by a villain named Sleez, as has Barda. Sleez has a strange plan he’s concocted. He’s surreptitiously convinced Superman and Barda to co-star in his adult production, expecting the video to become a top seller. (This part probably makes sense, although if you’re going to hypnotize Superman, it seems like a terrible waste.) Sleez wants to battle another villain, Darkseid, a bad guy once described as the “ultimate embodiment of evil.” Sleez’s master plan: use the proceeds from the Superman/Barda flick to hire an army for this bad guy battle royale.
But don’t worry: Superman never became an adult film star, not even in the comics. The reason the director couldn’t get Superman to act passionately? The Man from Krypton’s moral fiber was simply too strong:
Sleez’s plan fails, and Mister Miracle ends up breaking up the party before it becomes available on demand at hotels across the country.
How the comic book writers came up with such a plot line? It’s not as nefarious as you may think. During the Silver Age of Comic Books — which ended in about 1970, and therefore doesn’t include this issue of Action Comics — it was common for artists to design covers first, before the story was ever written. Writers would then be tasked with creating a story line which helped explain the cover. The cover has Superman taking liberties with another man’s wife; if the cover was developed before the story in this case, the plot almost makes sense. (Almost.)
From the Archives: Superman to the Rescue: Action Comics #1 saves the day.
Related: Action Comics #593.