Times Past, 1940
A JSA Classified story
by Nadra Enzi
In the early days of his career, Superman may not have known where he came from, but he knew enough to use his powers against those he hated most of all — bullies.
Clark Kent had supposedly caught a bad cold and could not come to work that morning at the Daily Star newspaper. In truth, Superman caught a protection mob shaking down shop owners in Metropolis’ Skid Row area.
As he leapfrogged from roof to roof, Superman felt like he could sometimes almost hover. He told himself that was impossible until he recalled that being able to jump an eighth of a mile was supposed to be impossible, too.
He decided to get out today and see where he could help out. He’d been diligent in his duties as Kent the reporter for a week without having taking any time as Superman, so he didn’t feel too bad about taking a sick day.
As his legs hurled him aloft over a boulevard, Superman absently wondered just how he was able to do this. Questions about where he had come from still gnawed at him, and he hoped that someday all those questions would be answered.
“Whoops! Time to pay attention,” he said to himself as his keen ears caught the sound of breaking glass from several blocks away. A glance on the way down from his last leap confirmed that his presence was needed.
Landing in the middle of the street in front of a red light, he smiled at the startled drivers and launched himself in the direction of trouble.
“I hate bullies!” he said to himself as his latest leap carried him through the air for six blocks, allowing him to land lightly on the sidewalk outside Sam’s Deli.
Walking up behind the big man standing watch outside, he tapped him on the shoulder and asked, “Eat here often?” Then he lifted him bodily over his head with one hand and loudly announced, “Gentleman, playtime’s over!”
Tossing his captive aside, Superman walked into the deli. A .38-caliber pistol boomed twice loudly, but Superman didn’t blame the gunman for trying. Most people didn’t believe he was bulletproof. He quickly snatched the fragments out of the air so no one got hurt.
“Put down the gun, and I’ll overlook your rudeness,” the costumed man urged. Shaking, the thug dropped the gun and raised his hands.
The last one swung a baseball bat at Superman’s broad chest, shattering it into more than a hundred pieces without even causing his target to take a backward step. He dropped the handle and raised his hands.
“You outside — come join the party,” Superman said over his shoulder, and the last thug obediently walked into the wrecked deli.
After the trio cleaned the demolished restaurant and spilled their guts on who their boss was, Superman stood guard over them while the ecstatic owner called Metropolis’ Finest.
By the time the police arrived, Superman had made himself scarce, perching on a rooftop overlooking Sam’s Deli. He was, after all, still officially wanted by the law as an illegal vigilante. Still, that didn’t stop the sergeant in charge — one of several Metropolis cops who liked what Superman was doing to fight crime in the city — from waving his thanks when he spotted the Man of Steel, as the newspapers had begun to call him. Superman gave a quick nod, then in a mighty leap, shot skyward as if from a cannon.
Sailing aloft for a minute or two, Superman spotted another matter requiring his immediate attention. He’d always had amazing vision, but once in a while he thought he could see through walls. Now he saw a teenage bully towering over a little boy he’d just pushed down onto the sidewalk, his fist drawn back to hit the younger child.
“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” Superman advised as he landed in front of the two youths, his red cape flapping behind his broad shoulders like a flag.
The teenage bully began stammering as Superman helped the victim to his feet, and with a humorless smile, the Man of Tomorrow asked, “You were about to apologize, weren’t you, son?”
“Y-y-yes, sir!” was all the bully could say before launching into a sobbing, hysterical apology that Superman had to use every ounce of willpower keep himself from laughing at.
After giving the little boy who was picked on a once-in-a-lifetime leap home, he returned to his original pursuit.
Mobsters have had to look over their shoulders or, rather, up in the sky ever since Superman made the scene two years earlier. He was a one-man army at war with them, and unfortunately for them, all their money and guns didn’t seem to be enough to stop the costumed strongman.
The one whose roof he made a man-sized hole in was no exception. Another overweight, overdue bully special delivered to the police, courtesy of the Man of Steel.
While his parents had taught him never to hate anyone, Superman hated bullies with a passion. He didn’t know why God had blessed him with the powers he had, but if stopping bullies was one of the reasons, Superman couldn’t have been happier about it.