Other Names: Shimshon; Shimshon; Shamshoun; Sampson
Earliest Appearance Listed in This Database: Old Testament (1050 B.C.): "Judges"
Earliest Appearance Listed in This Database (Additional Details): (mentioned in DC Comics) Action Comics (vol. 1) #7 (Dec. 1938): "Superman Joins the Circus"; (DC Comics, full) Action Comics (vol. 1) #320 (Jan. 1965): "The Three Super-Enemies!"
Super? (Has Super Powers/Special Abilities/Technology): Yes
Number of Appearances: 60
Comic Book Appearances: 9
TV, Film Appearances: 50
Video Game, Computer Game Appearances: 1
Birth Place: Israel
Samson was first mentioned in Judges 13:24 in the Old Testament of the Bible.
The first time Samson was ever mentioned in a comic book published by DC Comics appears to be in the "frontispiece" panel (a non-narrative panel 1 on page 1) in the Superman story in Action Comics #7 (Dec. 1938). The panel's narration text, intended to briefly introduce the character of Superman to new readers unfamiliar with him, describes the hero as "a man possessing the strength of a dozen Samsons!"
The full paragraph reads as follows: "Friend of the helpless and oppressed is Superman, a man possessing the strength of a dozen Samsons! Lifting and rending gigantic weights, vaulting over skyscrapers, racing a bullet, possessing a skin impenetrable to even steel, are his physical assets used in his one-man battle against evil and injustice!"
The same introductory narrative text, claiming Superman has "the strength of a dozen Samsons", was used in the page 1 panel 1 "frontispiece" of the Superman story in New York World's Fair Comics #1 (June 1939). Oddly enough, the text was reproduced exactly, except that the words "to even" were transposed in the phrase "skin impenetrable to even steel." The narrative box in "Superman at the World's Fair" reads:
"Friend of the helpless and oppressed is Superman, a man possessing the strength of a dozen Samsons! Lifting and rending gigantic weights, vaulting over skyscrapers, racing a bullet, possessing a skin impenetrable to even steel, are his physical assets used in his one-man battle against evil and injustice!"
The exact same text that was used in Action Comics #7 was used again in the page 1 panel 1 "frontispiece" in Action Comics #13.
In Action Comics #14, the page 1 panel 1 "frontispiece" text remained largely the same, but mention of Samson was omitted: "Racing faster than a bullet, leaping over skyscrapers, lifting and rending huge weights, possessing an impenetrable skin, spring great distances. These are the assets which aid Superman, champion of the helpless and oppressed in his unceasing battle against evil and injustice!"
The reference to "a dozen Samsons" was back again in Action Comics #16.
In Superman #2 (Fall 1939), in a story titled "Superman Champions Universal Peace!", Samson is mentioned for the first time a word balloon as part of an actual story. The previous references to Samson had all been part of introductory narrative captions in what essentially constituted half-page "splash pages."
In panel 2 on page 21 of "Superman Champions Universal Peace!" Superman is confronting three representatives from warring factions in the small nation of Boravia. The representatives have concluded that they can't come to terms, which means that the bloody civil war in their nation will continue. But Superman will hear none of this defeatism and continued quibbling. The superhero decides to force the representatives to make a peace treaty by threatening their lives. As the narrative caption describes, "Seizing one of the four pillars which support the walls, Superman tears at it . . ."
The pillar breaks into multiple pieces while Superman explains, "A guy named Samson once had the same idea!"
In the next two panels, Superman destroys two more of the hall's great pillars, leaving only one holding up the massive roof. The panic-stricken representatives capitulate and sign a peace treaty.
Superman in this scene was referring directly to a scene from the Old Testament: Judges chapter 16 verses 25-30. In this classic Bible story, Samson was captured by his enemies, the Philistines. His miraculous God-given strength had been stripped from him by the Lord due to his disobedience. But faced with evil all around him, Samson called on God for one last burst of strength, which he used to pull down the pillars and thus the roof, which destroyed his enemies.
This scene was popularized by the Cecil B. DeMille movie "Samson and Delilah." But neither Superman nor this comic book story's writer Jerry Siegel were referencing the Cecil B. DeMille blockbuster. The movie wasn't released until 1949, a full ten years after this comic book story was published. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were both Jewish and it was apparently through their Jewish religious upbringing that they were familiar with Samson, a figure they admired and compared Superman to.
The Samson-citing panel 1 page 1 introductory capsule description seemed for a time as if it had been permanently retired. But it returned in the Superman story in Action Comics #25 (June 1940): "Friend of the helpless and oppressed is Superman, a man possessing the strength of a dozen Samsons! Lifting and rending gigantic weights, vaulting over skyscrapers, racing a bullet, possessing a skin impenetrable to even steel, are his physical assets used in his one-man battle against evil and injustice!"
Suggested links for further research about this character and the character's religious affiliation: