You can thank — or blame — Mort Weisinger for all the giant turtle men who used to wander around tearing up highway bridges.
The first was cover-featured in the July 1940 issue of the Weisinger-edited pulp magazine Thrilling Wonder Stories, an illustration for Out Of The Depths by H.L. Gold.
In 1941, Weisinger moved from Standard Magazines to National Periodicals as editor of the Superman and Batman titles. That’s why Superman’s pal became a giant turtle man in Jimmy Olsen 53 (June 1961).
Superman might have had a sense of déjà vu, because he had also confronted a giant turtle man in Superboy 30 (Jan. 1954).
As the Curt Swan/Bill Finger story The Giant Who Came to Smallville! opens, a turtle the size of a Volkswagen clamps onto the Smallville mayor’s car, prompting Superboy to sort things out. The Boy of Steel returns the turtle to its owner, a local scientist named Willis, who complains that no one in Smallville takes his growth serum seriously.
“They all think my giant turtle is just a freak — an accident!” he says. “And they call me a crazy scientist!”
Can’t imagine why. It’s not like he would leave his growth formula in a temptingly shiny test tube next to the baby crib where his infant son could drink it.
Oh wait. He did.
It would prove to be Willis’ last mistake. While the baby was drinking the stuff, his parents were being killed by a volcanic eruption at the remote location to which they’d moved.
The baby, now grown to giant turtle manhood, wanders off to Metropolis, where he plays with an ocean liner as if it were a toy boat. Superboy has his hands full trying to protect the innocent child from being killed by military planes while shielding the public from the giant and finding a way to corral it. With characteristic compassion, he does so by finding a way to befriend the giant boy, not by frightening him.
Superboy develops an antidote to shrink the creature back to normal and arranges for the Smallville mayor to adopt the orphan, while keeping him in the dark about any colossal reptilian incidents in the boy’s past.
Cross-index this one under Monster Toddlers, a category that includes the Fantastic Four’s Infant Terrible and Captain James T. Kirk’s Squire of Gothos.
The story worked a little better here than when it was retooled for Jimmy Olsen. After all, Jimmy had to be not merely expanded into a giant turtle man but also “babyfied” in the brain.
It’s also easier for readers to accept the idea that a toddler might drink a dangerous super-scientific freakish-transformation serum than that Superman’s friends Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Lana Lang and Perry White would do so.
And, of course, delightfully.