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A "new" star burst into view in 1934 in the constellation Hercules (before and after shots, top). This amazing nova, which was caused by the explosion of a layer of hot gas atop a dead star, may have inspired the creators of Superman to have the Man of Steel come from an exploding planet, says one author. A 1990s view of the expanding cloud of gas around Nova Herculis is at lower right. Superman himself exploded into American culture in 1938, with his first comic book (cover, lower left, and his original emblem at center) debuting in June.