Whilst hunting thru the internet looking for comic covers to post relating to the letter "K", I came across this extremely interesting posting about the actual date of Superman's birthday. I'd always assumed (foolishly, it now seems) that Superman was born on the Kryptonian equivalent of February 29th, but this article sets out to prove that that is just one date among many that could lay claim to being the Man of Steel's birthdate.
I'm sure this subject has already been covered elsewhere on this site but at the risk of repetition I'd like to flag this article.
That was fascinating reading! Thanks for posting, Steve!
That was a pretty exhaustive examination. As he notes, there have been *lots* of Supermans. I was always most interested in the Silver Age Superman that would've been around until 1986, and it's hard to argue with Mort Weisinger about that guy. So when he says Supes' birthday is February 29th, as he did in WF #164, I tend to agree. Why it's supposedly "tongue-in-cheek" I don't know. That's where all the later references to that date come from. It seems pretty authoritative to me.
I don't think cover dates and on-sale dates are very reliable, as there's no reason they couldn't tell a Christmas story in July or a February birthday story in October, just like they could've inserted an Earth-2 Superman story into any issue of Superman at any time even after most stories about the Earth-1 Superman (and they did). They're all just stories from his career, not necessary told in order or that follow one day upon another--or even feature the same guy. That helps cover a lot of slips.
Since then, each Superman--and I don't even know many there have been who count as new with the various rebirths, revamps and Nu universes--could have been born or celebrated on another day or on two days or whatever.
It's interesting that there's so much interest and scholarship on Superman's birthday. It shows how extensive and detailed Supes' background is. And that we actually care. After all, it doesn't see to make much difference, and I never hear anyone ask when Peter Parker's birthday is.
I always figured they picked that date both because it would alleviate readers wanting it celebrated every year in some form (although it never seemed to come up even in Leap Years) and because it's so memorable. Any other date we might forget or confuse, but that one sticks out, especially to kids. Having Leap Day as your birthday is a kid's nightmare!
Feb. 29 is a pretty bad birthday. April 1 and Dec. 25 aren't desirable either. I'm pretty happy with mine.
Wasn't there something in that exhaustive article about Kryptonians only celebrating (well, mourning) their birthdays every six years? Maybe that idea was inspired by the every-four-years of Leap Day.
Or maybe it was just another dopey idea that we should pretend never happened.
Of course, given that Kel-El was born and spent his early years on another planet in a distant star-system it would be totally impossible to convert that into an Earth-date.
For example, if you had been born on the planet Venus, a day on Venus lasts longer than a year. It takes 243 Earth days to rotate once on its axis (sidereal day). The planet's orbit around the Sun takes 225 Earth days, compared to the Earth's 365. So if you were born on a specific day on Venus, such a day would correspond with 243 Earth days. Difficult to recalculate an equivalent Earth birth-date from that sort of information.
However, if you're Superboy in the SA and want to know your birthday, you could either used your memory-enhancing helmet or go back in time/space to see your birth and then look at the nearby calendar, which would no doubt be divided into the same 12 months as on Earth. Easy peasy!
OK, not likely; I'd say it was probably the day they found him; there was a huge snowstorm after all.
Or maybe the Kents just told him it was February 29th so they wouldn't have to think up presents for a boy who could make diamonds out of coal.
While we're on this subject, may I bring up the perennial issue of all the imaginary stories in the SA that posited the possibility of Lois and Superman producing offspring. Even at age 10 I figured this was unlikely, and asked my mum "If a human and a dog mated, would they produce a baby?" Mum was quick to reassure me that this was impossible and even went into some detail about different species being unable to reproduce together. Subsequently, when reading a "this could happen, imaginary" story about Supes and Lois having a son, I used to shout out loud "No -it's impossible!" If two different species couldn't reproduce, then it was an odds on certainty that a human and an extra-terrestrial certainly couldn't. The chances of Superman's DNA being remotely similar to Lois's is a million to one. At best, their offspring would be disfigured and utterly disabled!
So: You're accepting in NON-"Imaginary Stories" that there was a man from another world who lands on Earth and, because of "gravity," "yellow sun rays" etc.. can accelerate and change direction in mid-air, shoot heat beams from his eyes, has a density that makes him invulnerable, can fly through time and meet himself, fly into the far future to meet a cousin who wasn't born in his time period, etc.
BUT: When it was posited that MAYBE two humanoids (who may have even sprung from the same amino acids and protein chains from meteors or alien civilizations that spread life through the universe on similar worlds of different sizes) had offspring, like horses and donkeys do all the time, in a story the editors flagged as Probably Not Going to Happen, you were shouting out loud at the impossibility?
If you haven't, you should read Larry Niven's "Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex"essay. It will back off your incredulity from them having kids to their wedding night!
Frankly, it seemed to me that any time Lois tricked Superman or begged him to marry her, all he needed to do was grab a random Imaginary Story and let her read it. They always seemed to be the epitome of the saying "Be Careful What You Wish For!" And that was even more so when they had kids.
You make a good point MSA, and I take on board your comments. However - the arrival of a small extra-terrestrial from another planet is not, in itself, illogical. The fact that the extra-terrestrial may have super-powers, given a yellow sun and a a much smaller gravitational pull, is also not illogical. I agree, that's it's not very likely, but it's not illogical. It could conceivably happen. It doesn't contravene the laws of physics.
But, for an extra-terrestrial to impregnate a human female is illogical. It goes against the laws of nature and what we know about genetics and DNA.
I loved the Man of Steel of Steel, Woman of Kleenex webpage. Illuminating!
When you generalize it to "super-powers," it sounds reasonable. But I defy science to explain how a being from a heavier, red-sun planet comes to earth and gains the ability to levitate, change direction and speeds in air, shoot heat and x-rays from his eyes and fly fast enough to go back in time.
HOWEVER, if we believe that physics is flexible enough to do all that, I say it's also flexible enough to have that organism adapt his reproductive system as needed to meet his current needs, based on environment, etc. AND, as I noted, since Kryptonians so closely resemble Earthlings, it's possible that they developed in similar ways from the same basic ingredients anyway.
I know, what are the chances? But they don't need to be high, it just needs to happen in *one world* in the entire multiverse of billions of possible universes, and that's the one in which our stories (or at least that story) are told.
OR, given that we never see Lois in labor, maybe the kids are grown in petri dishes, a la the Superman movies? Maybe Supergirl contributed some eggs and Lois adopted them? Don't ask don't tell!
All I'm saying is, if Imaginary-Story physics can split Superman into two identical beings in red and blue costumes, Jimmy Olsen can marry Linda Danvers and never realize she's wearing a wig, and Superbaby's rocket can land in the jungle and he can be raised by gorillas, then the biology of Superman and Lois reproducing in an "imaginary" story did not make me bat an eye.
Sadly, it's also my duty to inform you that the Crisis on Infinite Earths Absolute Edition included a Crisis Compendium that turned EVERY IMAGINARY STORY into a "real" story and assigned an Earth number to its wacky situation. So the story of how Superman and Batman grew up as brothers in WF #172 was said to have taken place on Earth-172, etc. Check them out here.
As you can clearly see, I'm not (but I wish I was) lying! So your problem is even bigger than you thought. Because those stories weren't just a one-off What If that was illogical but gone when you closed the cover, those places actually EXIST in the DCU somewhere, logical or not!
Assuming, of course, that none of the revamps, rebirths, Nu universes, etc. since then have wiped them away. I'm sorry for your gain.