What do you get the comic book fan who has everything? A starring role in an issue of Superman, obviously. British billionaire Godfrey Bradman did just this — he commissioned DC Comics to create a special issue of Superman for his son's Bar Mitzvah.
How did the billionaire real estate magnate convince DC Comics to create the issue, how much did this feat cost, and are there any copies still out there in the wild?
A Very Expensive Bar Mitzvah Gift
Godfrey Bradman made his billions as the owner Rosehaugh, turning the British company from a tea retailer to a European real estate giant. Bradman made his wealth through a series of intelligent business decisions and clever tax moves, although the choice to fork over tens of thousands of dollars for a custom comic book starring his son does not fall in line with his business life.
The senior Bradman took notice of his son's affinity for Superman, and commissioned DC Comics to create a special issue starring his son as a Bar Mitzvah parting gift for attendees. Godfrey paid DC Comics £10,000 in the late 1980s for the creation and printing of the comic — a little over $29,000 when adjusted for inflation.
The cover of the issue, known as Superman Bradman in comic book circles, features Daniel Bradman (with an abnormally large head) and his friend Andrew Hunt teaming up with Superman to fight aliens.
Sparing no expense, the issue features pencils by legendary Superman artist Curt Swan, one of the most steady and prolific comic book artists of the Silver and Bronze Age. David P. Levin, who would go on to a very successful writing and producing career in the CBS/Viacom family, wrote the story. The original portion is eight pages, while the rest of the comic is a reprint from the then-recently released John Byrne Superman series.
"This Island Bradman"
The short, 8-page story is titled "This Island Bradman", a reference to the 1955 sci-fi flick This Island Earth. At the beginning of the tale, the entire Bradman family — not just Bar Mitzvah boy Daniel and his friend Adam — find themselves transported to an alien planet. The comic makes several efforts to point out that the Bradman family's palatial "Waverley Estate" is transported to the alien world as well.
In the story, the Bradman family is encased by a kryptonite force field within an alien circus, a circus where the family must perform regular afternoon shows for the enjoyment of their captors. Superman joins the Bradman family after an archaic robot's kryptonite blast sends him to the foreign planet.
Unable to leave due to a kryptonite bubble, Superman is saved by Daniel and Adam after they crawl through a series of ventilation shafts that lead to the exterior of the arena.
How Many Copies Did DC Print?
Although intended for distribution at Daniel Bradman's Bar Mitzvah, a number of copies circulated within DC Comics offices shortly after printing. In the 2010 coffee table book, 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking, a brief segment is dedicated to Superman Bradman. The footnote confirms the circulation of the commissioned comic within DC offices, and establishes a print run of 200.
Approximately 10 copies of Superman Bradman have surfaced for sale in the past few years on eBay and other public offerings, with the comic garnering $1000 or more when it sells. The comic continues to be a "Holy Grail" for Superman completists, and you can see comic book scribe and walking encyclopedia of Superman knowledge Mark Waid talking about the allure of the comic and his experience snagging a copy from the DC offices above.
Top image features a portion of the cover to Superman Bradman and is property of DC Comics. Images of the interior of Superman Bradman are courtesy of DC Comics via Daniel Levin's blog, Brainstorm Incorporated. CGC graded copy of Superman Bradman courtesy of DC Comics via Comic Connect. Sources linked within.