092. Superman and “He Could Stop the World”

Superman #8 (Jan-Feb 1941) is another comic from DC that closely follows the plot of the Doc Savage story “He Could Stop the World” from July 1937.

Both stories follow the same basic plot — advanced science is going to create a new civilization. Here are the other similarities:

There is a hidden laboratory within a semi-extinct volcano in a western state.

The two scientists in the story talk about creating a new civilization based on their work.

Giant humans guard the remote mountain laboratory.

The US mint is robbed. In the Superman story, giants rob the mint, while in the Doc Savage story mind control techniques provide the mechanism for larceny.

In the Doc Savage story, Patricia Savage and Ann Garvin become prisoners of the mastermind. In the Superman story, it is Lois Lane and Lillian Carson who are prisoners.

Portions of both stories take place on a glacier high on the mountain.

Buildings at the secret mountain laboratory complex are built of super-strong glass.

Both employ the magnifying glass trick to make it appear captives are growing to giant size. This idea was originally used in “The Fantastic Island.” Donovan picks it up again with Patricia Savage on the receiving end in “He Could Stop the World.”

The secret laboratory is destroyed by a volcanic eruption.

It’s another classic copy job. Lawrence Donovan ghosted both of the Doc Savage stories in question. The similarities make one question if Donovan was ghosting scripts for DC.

In “The Secret Kenneth Robesons,” Will Murray interviewed DC editor Mort Weisinger who stated that he knew Lawrence Donovan and that he thought Donovan was a good writer. Marilyn Cannady’s book, “Bigger than Life,” documents Lester Dent’s friendship with Mort Weisenger. Julius Schwartz who was working for DC at the time these stories were written was well acquainted with Mort Weisinger.

In 1932 the two young men had been partners on an early fanzine, Science Fiction Digest. Modern readers can only wonder at the connections but there are some interesting possibilities.