We know it’s not Superman’s real birthday. Action Comics #1 made its first public appearance on May 31, 1938. In the context of the comic book world in which Superman lives, however, his birthday is February 29 — that’s today! Although Superman’s creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster designed the him sometime around 1932, it took six more years for the pair to finally sell the character.
The idea that Superman’s birthday is February 29 initially began as a lark. DC editors explained tongue in cheek in comic book letter columns that Superman remained eternally youthful because he was born on Leap Day, February 29, which occurs only once every four years.
When DC celebrated Superman’s 50th anniversary in 1988, they stuck with the clever bit of mythology, treating February 29 as the Man of Steel’s birth date. Even a Time Magazine cover story for March 14, 1988 commemorating the 50th anniversary (with a cover by John Byrne) declared for all of America that Superman’s birthday is February 29.
Of course, this bit of trivia has been rewritten several times over the past 77 years (yes, Superman is that old!) as DC has rebooted the DC Comics universe repeatedly, but the idea of Superman’s birthday being February 29 and the reasoning behind it still brings out the child in us. It’s like being reminded that there really is a Santa Claus — or a flying man who came from another world who still believes in truth, and justice.
Happy birthday, big guy.
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