It all started with Superman.
Not comic books, those arrived a lot earlier than the last son of Krypton. Not even DC, which had been making comic books for over three years at that point, starting with the all-original-content industry landmark New Fun #1 in 1935.
But Superman’s rapid explosion in popularity and unprecedented newsstand sales is the seminal event that built DC into a giant, transformed comics into a major publishing industry and mass medium, and marked the beginning of Super Heroes and the Golden Age of Comics.
Dreamed up by two Cleveland teenagers, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who developed their Superman idea over a series of years with hopes of selling it as a newspaper strip, at the core of their idea was a super-powered hero who had an alter ego as a crusading journalist (a natural choice for Siegel who had been active on his high school paper and briefly fancied the idea of being a reporter himself).
It all started with Superman and he started in Metropolis at the Daily Star.
Man of Action
The first appearance of the Daily Star in Action Comics #1
Superman would take his first leaps inside the pages (and on the cover) of a brand-new comic book series called Action Comics. In the story printed in that first issue (and reprinted many times since) we are introduced awkwardly to a Superman in mid-adventure. To make the story fit in the pages allotted for the issue, several key panels of backstory were left out (and would be added back in when the story was first reprinted in Superman #1).
The missing backstory further emphasized the importance of the newspaper to the original theme and character of Superman. We see (or don’t see in Action #1) Clark Kent asking for a job as reporter, being turned down for it and then later getting the job by stopping a mob lynching as Superman and calling in a report of it. But even without those scenes, we see in that first story a Superman who has just begun his dual careers as a superhero and (under his secret identity of Clark Kent) as a reporter at a major metropolitan newspaper. But the name of that paper wasn’t the Daily Planet—that was still a few years away. It was originally called the Daily Star.
A Star Reporter
The editor of the Daily Star, who both hired and fired Clark on a couple of occasions in those early issues, was the hot-tempered, brave and fiercely loyal (traits he’d share with the later Perry White) newspaperman George Taylor. But unlike White, Taylor didn’t seem to mind being called “Chief.” In later years, his son George Taylor, Jr. would become editor of the Star City Daily Star and would also unknowingly have a superhero on his staff, having hired Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) to write an opinion column.
But the most important thing about the Daily Star for Superman might just be who he met there. Lois Lane was already filing stories and fighting the glass ceiling as a female reporter at the male-dominated paper long before the seemingly meek Clark Kent arrived. It would have been in the crowded, noisy offices of the Daily Star that Superman would have gotten his first glimpse of Lois Lane and fallen in love. The complicated relationship and dynamic between those two characters, the love affair we now cherish today, was all first fleshed out during those two early formative years when they were working together at the Daily Star.
The decision to give the fictional newspaper that particular name—the Daily Star—was made at the very last moment. Lettering the pages of that story, artist and co-creator Joe Shuster got the spontaneous inspiration to name it for the paper that had the greatest influence on him—the Toronto Star. It was the comic strip pages of that newspaper (which he devoured before he could even read as a child) that inspired him to draw. Before the family eventually moved to Cleveland, Joe had also been a newsboy at the Star, exposing him not just to the newspaper business but to a downtown Toronto skyline that he later said he modeled parts of Metropolis on.
Beginning at the start of 1939, Superman also became the star of a syndicated newspaper strip, fulfilling the long-held dream of both Siegel and Shuster. The newspaper strip was also originally set at the Daily Star, but the increasing sales of the strip helped spell the demise of the paper’s name. The McClure Syndicate, which sold and distributed the Superman strip to newspapers around the country, had concerns that the name of Lois and Clark’s paper could jeopardize additional sales of the strip. They thought that newspapers who had a competing paper in their area that was also named the Star might be reluctant to pay for a comic strip that told kids Superman secretly worked for a rival paper. So, at the end of 1939, the name of the paper was changed to the Daily Planet in the syndicated strip and pressure was placed to use that new name elsewhere.
Moving Throughout the Multiverse
The Daily Star would disappear (but not forever) from Metropolis and the pages of Superman comic books with Action Comics #23. The name of the paper was changed in that issue, without internal explanation, to the Daily Planet, though George Taylor remained as the paper’s editor (for now). Taylor would be replaced at the end of the year in the comics, also without explanation, with Perry White, who was the editor of the Daily Planet on the new “Adventures of Superman” radio show that had just premiered on the air.
That might have been the last anyone had ever heard of the Daily Star outside of the occasional reprint of Action Comics #1 if not for the discovery of the Multiverse by the Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen) in 1961’s Flash #123 (“The Flash of Two Worlds”). By the 1970s, a new generation of comic writers who had been fans of the Golden Age comics were taking full advantage of the existence of the parallel Earths to tell new stories with the Golden Age versions of our characters. And since the Daily Star had only existed during the Golden Age, it was decided that the Star would be the Metropolis newspaper home of Earth-2’s Clark Kent and Lois Lane. This retroactively made the Daily Star the premiere paper not just of the original Golden Age and DC Universe but the original paper of the Multiverse as well.
These new adventures set on Earth-2 presented new possibilities and dynamics for the characters at the paper. One major change on the other Earth had Perry White as the ace-reporter of the Daily Star with him reporting to Clark Kent as his boss. But the biggest change at the Daily Star was that the Earth-2 Lois Lane and Superman were married—an event that occurred in the 40th Anniversary issue of Action Comics and would later launch their Earth-2 based backup series, “Mr. & Mrs. Superman.”
Lois and Clark were not only allowed to get married, but to grow old together on Earth-2, and they found themselves playing key roles in the cataclysmic events of both Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis. The later series even featured the original Superman and Lois saying their heartbreaking final goodbyes to each other at the entrance to a full replica of the Daily Star he’d built for her—the place where they first met.
Of course, as readers of the various Crisis events will also know, there are additional Daily Stars out there in the Multiverse. The most famous one is on Earth-3, where Lois Lane worked as a reporter at the Daily Star and gave birth to a child, Alexander Luthor, Jr., who would be at the heart of both Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis.
Recently, the Daily Star has made its way back into our primary superhero universe with the paper showing up as a rival to the more famous Daily Planet and once again edited by George Taylor. Over the years, the Daily Star has served at times as the first newspaper home of Clark Kent and is currently the news home of Lana Lang and Bethany Snow.
A Storied History
The Daily Star is more than just a newspaper. It’s a newspaper that time, the death and rebirth of Superman, and the appearance and disappearance of the Multiverse have never been able to erase. It’s an echo of Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Superman, Lois Lane and all the fans who love them that I hope never goes silent. It’s the name where it all started, so how could we start with any other name?