Jerry Siegel, co-creator of Superman, wrote "The K-Metal from Krypton" script in 1940. According to comic book historian Will Murray, it was most likely originally intended for use in Superman #8, the January/February 1941 issue. (See Murray's article in Alter Ego #37 for details) The story marked many radical shifts in the life of Superman. Murray argues that since Jerry Siegel had recently gotten married and that his life had gone through many other changes since his first Superman story, Siegel wanted to alter Superman's life in similar ways. He also points out that the events in this story had been foreshadowed in earlier ones, and gives details of possible sequels.
Joe Shuster and his studio illustrated the complete twenty-six page script, but the tale was never published, most likely for editorial reasons. Gerard Jones, in Men of Tomorrow, explains how this marked the moment that creative control of Superman's destiny was forever taken from Jerry Siegel. Jerry's K-Metal story was quickly forgotten and languished in obscurity; his desired changes to Superman never taking place until decades later, some not at all. Joe Shuster's twenty-six pages of finished artwork were lost as well.
The only evidence of the story's existence appeared in 1970, when a small, grainy and barely legible reproduction of four pages appeared in Jim Steranko's History of Comics, Volume One. However, neither the story nor its plot were mentioned, the pages were only identified as being from an unpublished Superman story.
Siegel's script continued to remain completely forgotten and the story's existence unknown, until 1988 when an ancient, faded, and blurred carbon-copy of the complete script was discovered in a dusty box in the back of the DC library archives by a young staff member named Mark Waid. Having read Steranko's History of Comics as a youth, he recognized the story as being that unpublished tale mentioned in the book. He immediately read the entire script and was struck dumb by its historical significance. He then restored the document by re-typing an exact duplicate, typos and all, on an identical manual typewriter as had been used by Jerry Siegel. (See Mark Waid's article in Alter Ego #26 for details)
Since the finished Shuster Studio artwork pages were no longer available; and whether or not they even existed anymore, or where any surviving pages might be located, were all completely unknown; Mark made efforts at DC to have the story re-illustrated and published. These efforts did not succeed.
In 1994, Mark Waid gave a copy of the script to Alex Ross who read it and was equally amazed. After the critical success that had come with his work on Kingdom Come in 1998, Alex felt that his next project should be to illustrate Jerry Siegel's K-Metal script in a style as close to Joe Shuster's as was possible. The idea was rejected for editorial reasons, so he instead created Peace on Earth. (See Alex Ross's article in Alter Ego #30 for more details)
In the summer of 2003, Mark Waid's article describing the K-Metal story and his experiences discovering it were published in Alter Ego #26. Accompanying the article were reproductions of a few pages of the original Shuster Studio artwork, and a handful of script excerpts. I decided to scan the artwork pages and put them online at the former Superman Through the Ages! website, with a goal of eventually recovering the other pages and presenting the complete story on the web. To fill in the missing gaps, I scanned the script excerpts from the issue, and then hunted down a copy of Steranko's History of Comics, Volume One in order to add the four pages of artwork that had been published in it.
Soon after this all went online, I was contacted by artist Angel Criado, who wanted to complete the story by illustrating the missing pages.
Angel began his work, starting with a
pencil draft of the first page
and a few
Peter Jones, who owns the original artwork for page 20, came across the Superman Through the Ages! website and discovered our efforts— so he kindly sent in a scan of his page, which I added to the partial collection.
Artists Bob Rivard, Shane Foley, Randy Sargent, and Jon Bogdanove all agreed to join the project. New artwork has been created where needed and original pages have been restored when possible.
Through the efforts of Charlie Roberts and Doctor Thomas Andrae, the artwork for page 7 was recovered; and Doctor Andrae also provided a copy of the original artwork for page 12.
We are thrilled to finally be able to present Siegel and Shuster's "The K-Metal from
Article by Tor Kinlok, 2005-2007