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mygif

Great article, and I love that you brought up the Iron Giant, even if only through a footnote.

One caveat: Isn’t Jesus an aspirational figure, too? He says stuff like “Love one another, as I have loved you.” And “If any one would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” I’d certainly say the majority of Christian writers present Jesus also as the paragon of human potential. And as he is believed to be fully man as well as fully God, surely Joseph and Mary had as much influence in morally shaping the young Jesus as Pa and Ma Kent had with Clark?

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mygif

But isn’t Superman “base virtue manifested in human form without the usual limitation we expect”? His moral code might as well have been handed down from the Almighty, considering how blameless a life the Kents have. And I think if he lost his powers he WOULD rage and ponder it for a while, if for no other reason than because his effectiveness is now so blunted.

I think what Superman is missing is being given not a more shaded morality but a more complex one. You always know how he will jump, and that’s not so exciting to some people. I wonder how a Superman raised in Metropolis by a kind couple would have turned out?

All that being said, It’s Superman IS a great book, and one I’d suggest to anyone. There’s points where you can just hear the theme music kick in. That book made me like Superman more than any comic ever has, because he was more relatable.

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mygif

I think there’s another reason why people find him “boring”. When you are reading Superman as a teenager, he is an inspirational figure. And you want to be like him. Honest, decent, simply “good”. But most people do have lies, deceit and general “bad” stuff in their figurative rap sheet in their mind when they look behind grown up and all. Then Superman becomes a “what could’ve been” in a subconscious level. He kept being noble while we don’t. And people don’t really like to be reminded of that.

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mygif

Great piece. I believe that 52 got the de-powering of Superman almost exactly right- he doesn’t bitch and moan about it, but it certainly takes some adjustment, and he finds himself not taking the risks and doing the “good” that he would otherwise do without hesitation. He needs a kick in the pants from Perry White before he gets there. But one of my favorite scenes in that series (which is my favorite comic series ever) is his first scene with Lois, where she has to keep reminding him to use oven mitts and such: he’s such a goob, but so generally good. Had Superman just been Clark Kent his whole life, there would be nothing remarkable about him at first glance, but he would have been the most worthwhile person around.

@zob I don’t see why the fact that all of us have, “sinned, and fallen short of the glory of [Superman]” would make him a boring or unappealing figure. Isn’t there something to be said for a paragon, someone who never fucked up like you fucked up, and you can look to as an inspiration?

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mygif

While I like your take on Superman as essentially a guy trying to be good and how you tie that to his origin story as a corn-fed American, I think there’s another aspect that we’re missing: he’s a super masquerading as a regular guy.

That is, ignoring subtext for a moment, I think most superheroes and villains are people who have gone through something. (Martian Manhunter might be an exception here, but who else?) But Superman is really this godly being who spends a lot of time trying to hide his godliness.

Which is interesting mostly because, looked at that way, Superman kind of looks like a passing story: a Jewish fantasy of growing up in the midwest and being able to blend in with the Americans around you while keeping your identity secret.

(There’s also something to be said here about the ethical contribution of Jews to American life in the 20th century (cf. Susan Sontag, “Notes on Camp”), but that might be a little far.)

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mygif

Thank you. Because you’ve verbalized just about everything that I thought was wrong with JMS’s “Superman Earth One” graphic novel.

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mygif

Evil Superman, or Non-Virtuous Superman at least, is not a new idea and has not been for a very long time

Evil Superman, as a concept, actually pre-dates Heroic Superman.

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mygif

Great post. As someone who loves Superman but cannot read a recent Superman comic to save a life, you encapsulate the character perfectly.

My go-to answer for this one is “he is a man who can quite literally do anything, but still consistently chooses to do the right thing.”

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mygif

I can’t wait for it to be possible to discuss Superman again without someone bashing J. Michael Straczynski.

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mygif

Something that isn’t commented on very often in Superman origin stories — but really should be — is that with super-hearing, he can hear people in trouble, presumably quite often.

His powers not only give him the ability to help people, but they make it very clear how much people around him need help.

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mygif

I could not agree more. While Space Jesus is a valid interpretation of Superman, it is also an extremely narrow and limiting one.

Grant Morrison recently pointed out that the best Superman stories almost inevitably turn on a totally ordinary problem writ large. Like most of us, Superman wants to do the right thing in a world in which that is not always 100% clear. However, it takes creativity to tell that type of story.

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mygif
Dan Radice said on February 23rd, 2011 at 1:08 pm

And that’s why I’ve always loved Superman.

He does good not because he has to, or feels guilty, or desires revenge, but because he can. People generally don’t understand this motivation and perceive it as lacking impetus.

It’s funny because of you take out those “defining” moments in the lives of other heroes (Uncle Ben is never shot, Bruce Wayne’s parents are never killed, etcetera), the character resolves his or herself to a self-serving life of sloth.

In Superman’s case, no matter what (when written properly), he almost always ends up a hero.

I will never understand people not appreciating and admiring that.

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mygif

Good stuff. My personal interest in Superman has always come from the fact that he’s one of the more conceptually interesting superheroes, but at the same time, he’s quite emotionally powerful as well. It seems like it should be quite easy to write Superman comics that are about Big Ideas but still tug at the heartstrings (though admittedly a lot of writers push that too far into mawkishness or hero worship).

I’m interested, personally, in seeing some other superheroes try to bridge this same gap. We’re emotionally engaged with a lot of superheroes, but very rarely are they used as vehicles for tackling Big Ideas. I’d argue Grant Morrison seems to have pushed the X-Men into that territory, and Hickman is doing it with the FF.

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mygif

I really feel Superman lost a lot of his more interesting features around WWII. His earliest stories had him as a muck-raking journalist and rabble rouser fighting against the statis quo. He’d kidnap weapon makers and put them on the front lines. He’d strand mine owners in their unsafe mines until they promise to reform.

But eventually be became a statis quo hero, protecting the world that is rather than try to change it. I’d pay good money to read Superman vs Enron. Superman vs Alien Warlord #23, not so much.

That’s why I like businessman Luthor and President Luthor so much more than bank-robbing Luthor. But few writers are able to find a good way to use Luthor to show the problems with the status quo.

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mygif

Applemask: then it’ll have to wait til JMS stops writing shitty superman books.

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mygif

Superman, the anti-Iago.

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mygif

After each time I read these I want you to write one on a Marvel hero or villain. Not as a “hey he writes good! more! more!”
I’d legitimately like to see your opinion about Doom, Magneto or even Psychoman.

Oh well, merely the idle musings of a marvel boy.
Though Hellboy is my favorite anything ever, and always goes unmentioned. though thats the way us comic fans work isnt it, we go into hours and hours of text just to show we dont like something, or to prove something.
Never to just show how much we like something. Thats probably I always like these observations of yours.

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mygif

Fantastic article. If I could add anything, I think one of the facets of Superman that makes his morality so interesting is the creativity present in the way he works towards and implements it. Back in the Superdickery days, this usually meant being sort of a trickster teaching Jimmy Olsen a lesson through a ridiculous trial, but you still see this strand today. One of my all-time favorite Superman stories is “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” When you get past its repudiation of the Authority-style antihero comics, you get Superman questioning whether his way is right, being willing to die in the search for the right thing, and most importantly being able to trick his enemies into thinking they’ve lost through their methods until he explains that he’s won through his. That’s a brilliant issue and completely in his character. And it doesn’t act like it’s easy for him to know the right thing.

I’m straining to think of other major characters without that tragic origin. I guess Wonder Woman usually doesn’t, but we’re preferably looking for coherent origins. Captain Marvel has the death of his parents, but in his case I always thought a lot of his character came from not from that moment, but from his homelessness afterward and his gratitude to Shazam for giving him a way out: in other words, from an understanding of loneliness and charity rather than from the shock of the tragedy.

Most of the ones that don’t have that are sidekicks and marginalized, though. Tim Drake had a non-tragic origin until they went and killed his family, which probably explains his popularity. Connor Hawke’s heroism comes from a combination of his ashram upbringing and his abandonment at Ollie’s hands, but they always play him like a Puritan when he should be more like Aang from Avatar. There’s Stargirl, of course, who becomes a hero out of teenage rebellion (albeit partly spurred from resentment at having a new father in her life), which is pretty brilliant and makes me wonder what Geoff Johns could’ve been.

Then there’s my favorite superhero, Flamebird (Bette Kane), who becomes a hero as an expression of romantic longing, plus probably some social climbing and longing for fame and respect. I always thought there were a ton of potential facets to her story. Before Geoff Johns went insane, he seemed to be leaning that way, because she totally steals the show in that Beast Boy miniseries he did back about ten years ago. There’s a part where her idol Dick Grayson berates her and tells her she’s not cut out to be a hero, and I always got the sense there was resentment on his part because she DIDN’T have any loss in her motivation. Which is a nice, unexpected thing to see from the cheerier member of the Bat-family.

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mygif

Superman is a Jesus analogue because he is morally infallible by virtue of being all powerful and to me, an atheist, that’s really, really boring. He has no personal conflict. He is the unquestionable moral compass, but these morals are imposed on him by Heartland America. In “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?” he berates The Elite for not being physically perfect, and then effectively mutilates them on camera. If you interfere with Superman, he will leave you crippled (but functional, for this is the mercy of Superman). Killing is wrong but mutilation is fine because Heartland America Brand Morality Superman says so. If you don’t agree with Superman you don’t deserve to fly. Of course, nobody in the book questions this.

In “What’s So Funny…” there’s a way to save everyone, just step aside and let Superman do the work. In the Bible, there’s a way to save everyone, just stop making decisions for yourself and let Jesus tell you how to vote on Prop 8.

That’s why I dig the hell out of Red Sun. Superman is still an all powerful being doing what he believes is right, but this time it’s communism. Heartland America Brand “right” is replaced with Soviet Right and we see just how much the ultimate adjudicator of “Truth, Justice…” changes when you replace “the American Way” with “The Soviet Way.”

He’s also an analogue for Jesus in a meta-fictional way: he’s morally perfect because his writers never offer him a moral challenge. Elohim/Jehovah/Jesus is never wrong because the writer decrees that all opposed to him are devils. Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman is never wrong because the writer decrees that all who disagree with him are villains. What makes these proclamations unsatisfying is that neither character needs or gives an explanation. They both say “Do unto others” but Superman doesn’t want to be de-powered or imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, and Jesus never let anyone trap him in a whale or give him boils.

The superman cannot lose an argument because he cannot be wrong because he is the superman. It was smarmy when the Apostles wrote it and it’s smarmy when modern authors write it.

Ultimately, I can only speak for myself when I say that most satisfying characters in legends or stories are the ones that overcome personal conflict and become better people. Superman is the apex. He does not improve because he is perfect. He cannot overcome because he has no obstacles. He cannot sacrifice because he cannot die. He is not a character, he is an ideal.

And that is why Superman (and Jesus) is boring to me.

(Although I honestly wouldn’t mind being proven wrong on this. I certainly haven’t read every comic, and if there are examples of Superman making a genuine moral sacrifice, overcoming a personal obstacle, or making a mistake that leads to self improvement, I’d be happy to know!)

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mygif

@zob I don’t see why the fact that all of us have, “sinned, and fallen short of the glory of [Superman]” would make him a boring or unappealing figure. Isn’t there something to be said for a paragon, someone who never fucked up like you fucked up, and you can look to as an inspiration?

Have you ever spent much time around a person who’s really, truly virtuous? It can be inspiring, but if you are not equally virtuous, equally devoted, it can also be exhausting and depressing. It’s all too easy to realize how many ways you fall short of those people, and to then realize that they don’t ever think about it, that they don’t even notice how much better they are than other people. I think Superman, in the wrong hands, becomes a written version of that.

Of course, in the best hands (the recent obvious example being All-Star Superman) he becomes an aspirational figure who’s human enough that we can look at him and see something linking us, but heroic enough that we feel some compulsion to follow his example.

Personally, I was in the camp that saw him as a boring and personality-free saint as a kid, but when I was about 14 and catching up on Garth Ennis’ back catalog, I found Hitman 34 and saw how amazing of a character he could be in the hands of a good writer who found important elements of the character and emphasized them in smart, emotionally honest ways.

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Fred Davis said on February 23rd, 2011 at 4:13 pm

While Space Jesus is a valid interpretation of Superman, it is also an extremely narrow and limiting one.

It also says something quite major about christianity that the jewish concept of the golem somehow translates into “jesus” when viewed by comic book reading christians.

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mygif

I think Kid Kyoto sums up my difficulties in dealing with the character. I don’t know whether I’d be able to write a continuity Superman story, just because I don’t know how one can reconcile his powers and motivations with a universe that must be flawed to be dramatic and/or relatable. It’s similar to the Reed Richards issue, but where the F4 can hang stories on team interplay, Superman isn’t quite the same. I don’t know where one would find the hook on him. I think the problem with writing Superman is not his parts in-separate, but the combination of his strong moral compass and his super powers. Where does his reach exceed his grasp? It seems like the only thing you can do is write him in a situation where he can only be reactionary, but that seems untrue to the character.

That’s why I think that personal tastes aside, Red Son does have merit. The hook of the story to me isn’t Kal El with Machavellian values, but what if he did try to change to world for the better? It’s a titanic undertaking of the sort where he should suffer despite his advantages.

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mygif

What do disagree with:
1) Not fond of the condescending tone with which he states that Superman is misunderstood. It’s one thing to say you feel differently about a character, but to say that most people do not understand and you do…
Imo, it feels unbelievably arrogant

2) He dismisses the comparison with Jesus with a mere sentence.
…And that sentence isn’t even correct.
He states that Jesus had his moral vision imposed because Jesus IS God.
Kinda.
Sorta.
Not really.
There were MANY times in the Bible when Jesus did not has access to all of God’s knowledge or power.
In fact, Jesus’s moral vision is EXACTLY like the moral vision of Superman: a combination of immensely decent ‘parents’ and a vision of an even greater morality from an otherworldly source.
Just as Superman didn’t learn of Krypton until later in his life, Jesus didn’t learn of his ancestry until later in his life.
The stories match up remarkably well.

3) He goes on to state that other superheroes are ‘limited’ because they have actual explanations for their motives.
I agree.
They are limited.
The same way that the way that pieces can move in chess in ‘limited’. The same way that most interesting games have ‘limitations’ otherwise known as ‘rules’.
In fact, if you look at the old Superman issues, the way that almost all problems were solved were by declaring that Superman doesn’t have ‘limitations’.
All of a sudden a building is on fire: guess what? Superman has freezing breath. Sorry we forgot to tell you about that one.
All of a sudden an iceberg s about to crash into a boat: guess what? Superman has heat vision. Sorry we forgot to tell you about that one.
Superspeed.
X-ray vision.
A secret base.
The list goes on.
Heck, even death doesn’t actually ‘limit’ Superman

Bleh.
I want my heroes to have limitations. I need it. And not some insanely rare substance that he is almost never around or the even more ridiculous ‘magic’. I need my characters to have plausible explanations. Why is Superman so good? Because he is!! Bleh.
It is how a character works within those limits that make the character interesting! Like any great game, it is the working within those rules that is where the juice resides!!

I need a hero to be great but not limitless.
I need my heroes to still be human.

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mygif

Superman is the great inspirational hero of his universe for the same reason Captain America is for Marvel: you’re absolutely right, it’s about someone making a deliberate choice to be the best possible person he can be, the one who sets the standard for the rest of us, the one who shows us what we’re capable of doing, if we but try.

Young Kal-El (and we) were fortunate in that he was found by the two people on Earth most suited to raise a Kryptonian orphan, particularly Jonathan Kent, who may very well be the greatest father-figure in American literature — but even if Clark Kent (or Steve Rogers, for that matter) had no powers beyond that of a normal human being, they would still be the best they could be, and an example to us all.

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mygif

Minor quibble;

When people talk about how villains are more interesting, they MEAN Lex Luthor/Doctor Impossible. Not, say, Firebug.

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mygif

I’ve actually come to appreciate Superman only in the last few years, while as a child and teenager I was much more enthralled with the antiheroes (Spawn for a one) and Dark Knights and such. Also Gargoyles. LOVED that show.

I read It’s Superman! last year. What an excellent book that was. I agree that more people should read it.

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mygif

My one problem with it is actually that Superman hasn’t been like that for most of his existence; he’s always been a somewhat mercurial figure, playing pranks and jests on mere mortals in order to “teach them a lesson” (so many classic Superman stories involve him perplexing and confounding a villain he can defeat easily, just to watch the look of confusion on their faces before he stops them once and for all.)

Superman as he was written post-Crisis is the “nice guy” MGK describes, but Superman as he was originally written is a rabble-rouser (he frequently threatens violence against ordinary citizens who are doing unethical but not illegal things) and he became a sort of mischievous genie for a long while. These are aspects that have been sadly neglected, much the same way that Captain America is no longer a trash-talking liberal firebrand.

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mygif

I think it was in one of Chris Sims’s recent articles that the two defining moments of Superman’s life (as expressed on page 1 of All-Star Superman) are motivated by the desperate hope for his future by his biological parents and the decision to unconditionally love a child by a kindly couple that became his adoptive parents. And it’s these two selfless acts for the benefit of Superman leads to a lifetime of selfless actions by Superman that save the world, galaxy and all of reality countless times.

@Dan: I appreciate your point of view, but it’s poisoning your view of the character. There are lots of times when Superman is fallible, or when he makes mistakes, or fails to save someone. (spoilers below) The Guardians put him on trial for interfering with the cultural development of the human race (Superman decides he has a moral obligation to help whenever he can), he had a soul searching talk with Tommy Monaghan after he fails to save some astronauts, and in “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow,” a story that opens with a pretty direct Jesus comparison (This is the story of a man who came from the sky and did only good), Superman violates his moral code against killing (against an all-powerful evil being, and by accident) and depowers himself permanently and walks out of the fortress to die of exposure.

So, yeah, I’d say Superman is not the paper saint you make him out to be.

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mygif

Superman is one of my all-time favorite characters, for many of the reasons cited above. There’s a line, in the Crisis on Infinite Earths novelization by Marv Wolfman (and I’m paraphasing badly) that states that Superman was and did good because it was as though he could not see any other way to be.

It’s also worth noting that while the Kents were phenomenally important in shaping who Clark became, there’s some basic bit of goodness already in him. Witness the classic imaginary story where Krypton does not explode and Kal-El succeeds Tomar-Re as the GL for Krypton’s space sector.

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mygif

I have a serious love/hate relationship with superman. Love him because shit, he’s superman. Best logo in comics. Classic costume. Classic origin. Classic powerset (really he’s only as overpowered as you allow him to be).

Hate him because of the fact that the entire goddamn DCU revolves around him and far too many characters are marginalized just so they can be under the Superman Family banner (THE GODDAMN LEGION). He’s too perfect. Ive never been fond of married of Lois and Clark (never been really fond of Lois period tho). Rogues suck.

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comixkid2099 said on February 23rd, 2011 at 10:05 pm

You say that most of the Marvel characters are superheroes by accident. I have issue with this. The characters have superpowers by accident (Daredevil, FF, Hulk, Spider-Man) but they are heroes by choice. None of them accidentally fight crime.

Otherwise, fantastic article.

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mygif

This is great! You explain exactly why I love Superman so much.

I wrote a blog post on Superman and Batman recently that doesn’t come close to being as good as this, but I do think it provides a nice companion thought: “Heroes With Class”.

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mygif

@John 2.0 Thanks for the recommendations! I’m getting the Hitman trades as they come out, so hopefully I’ll get to read that Tommy Monaghan/Superman encounter soon.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I find Superman stories boring when they are morality plays about a perfect man being perfect, but I love seeing him team up with Batman and punch robots and crap. Superman/Batman is my #1 guilty pleasure comic.

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mygif

I just watched the All-Star Superman DTV animation and I couldn’t recommend it more to fans of Superman or DC comics. It puts a great polish on the story told in the All-Star comic and is the best of the recent DC animations. It lightly touches on Superman’s disappointment in humanity as represented by Lex Luthor. He talks about all the good Lex could have done but chose not to since he didn’t care enough.

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mygif

Large caveats here- most of my Comic knowledge is from osmosis. Even trades are a waste of money to me- not enough story length or substance to justify on my anemic budget. That being said I do hang out with a lot of people who don’t find it so, and from them I glean my understanding.

See, I find these sort of analyses to be lacking, and I really cannot articulate why.

Supes is a good character, but he just isn;t compelling. He’s not. He’s a few short steps from pretty much omnipotence, and it shows. His enemies are eithertailored to him power level wise, or just out and out nusances that have to be very clever just to get under his skin.

Some tell me it’s the near omnipotence coupled with vulnerable loved ones that makes Superman interesting, I really don;t find it so. And there are cogent points in what MGK has brought up here too, but the character just isn;t interesting. He’s not. I don’t find myself caring when Superman’s world is threatened because I can’t empathise or connect to the character. He’s not a personality, he’s a force of nature on legs.

That being said I did immensely enjoy Superman/Shazam First Thunder. I wish that had been continued as a core element in the DCU. The idea of Clark as a mentor/father figure to Billy Batson worked wonderfully, and for a moment in all of it when Superman lost his temper and went after the Wizard for what he had done to a child? That made me connect to the character for the first time in; Well ever. And then it was over.

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mygif

meh.

I think David Carradine’s speech on Superman in Kill Bill Vol 2 was more convincing on the appeal of Superman. Especially how Clack Kent is Superman’s critique of humanity. But in reality, that’s more in regards to Superman as a concept than the actual character.

Superman as Clark Kent is an Everyman, but Clark Kent as Superman is what every man aspires to be. The problem with this is that Everyman characters tend to be devoid of personalities that would set them apart from other characters. This makes them tend to be a little boring. That’s the problem with Clark Kent as a character.

The problem with Superman, as a character, is that the Clark Everyman Kent persona seeps too much into Superman. If it didn’t and he had trained himself to use his powers appropriately, he’d be kneecapping criminals from the stratosphere with his heat vision.

This seepage could be due to Superman’s self acknowledgment that regardless of how much of a help he is and no matter how much he looks like us, he is still a freak. This has been hinted at in superman cartoons from time to time, but its not dealt with regularly, to the hindrance of Superman as a character.

Regardless of the underlying reason, the Everyman persona still drives the Superman character and that also makes the character needlessly boring.

This is why I liked Red Son. In this series, Superman did not have to pretend to be boring. He could strive to accomplish any number of tasks from learning medicine in a few hours to the careful mastering of sculpture. Red Son is not only about what Superman would be like if he was born in a country with oppositional politics, but if he didn’t have to hide among us as an Everyman.

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mygif

I never thought that Superman’s problem was his origin, or his morality, or even his nigh-godlike power; to me, it was always that there just weren’t that many interesting stories written about him. It takes some extremely talented writing to draw out all the depth of his character, and sadly, the character hasn’t had many extremely talented writers over the decades. A few, yes (very very few), but they’re all buried under an avalanche of crap.

The degree of difficulty for writing a good Superman story, one that highlights the points brought up in this essay, is just so high that I don’t think many authors can pull it off.

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socraticsilence said on February 25th, 2011 at 1:07 am

I’ve always found to a certain degree Superman is a more accessible character than Batman- he’s at heart a farm kid who discovered he had the power to make a difference almost without limit- Batman on the other hand took a tragedy and became more than a man- its more inspiring yes but the sheer single-minded dedication is hard to even approach he’s not the Punisher (a guy who went mad and hasn’t been stopped, okay its hard to buy but it happens) he’s someone who literally from early pubescence on dedicated his entire life to a single end despite having almost no limitations on his actions due his wealth and intelligence. I guess what I’m trying to say, is that while Superman is an Alien from a dead planet, Batman’s the DC archetype who is the hardest to approach.

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mygif

i never found supes to be a jesus analogue & the description “a god who thinks he’s human” kinda bothers me.i always saw superman as no different than other heroes he’s just here to help people & to defend them from criminals but at the end of the day he’s clark kent honest journalist.
Luthor on the other hand is a “human who thinks he’s a god”, he can be summed up in that sentence..

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mygif

About the Jesus analogue re: The Iron Giant.

He declares himself “Superman” before sacrificing himself against the nuclear warhead.

And rises up 3 nights later in the purifying snows of The North Pole, one of the canonical locations of the Fortress of Solitude (I.E. Crystal Nazareth).

Um, so, using Iron Giant in this argument might not work so well…

The arguments that Supes wasn’t always so virtuous (that he was, in fact, kind of a dick during the 50s and 60s) are valid. It’s only by the late 60s and the 70s… when the comics writers were free to pursue moral issues instead of well-dressed muggers… that Superman’s moral code began to show. The movie (which took Jesus analogies and ran with them like a speeding locomotive) codified the traits of virtue we have in the Big Blue Boy Scout today.

In this regard, he *is* the most important character in the DC Universe. It’s always up to him to save the day for the entire UNIVERSE because, dammit, he chose this path and he takes the responsibility even where no one else will.

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mygif

This is why Jaime Reyes works so well as well, right? He’s just a nice guy who stumbled onto powers and tries to do the right thing. He doesn’t want to be a superhero his whole life, he wants to be a dentist. Jaime is awesome.

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mygif

Minor point of order, Brian G. – being a dentist is Jaime’s dark fantasy. His dark *power* fantasy. That’s what made Rogers original run the most awesome comics I ever read (and what got me into them in the first place), and why I wish they had killed him off the moment Rogers left to do Leverage instead of waiting for now.

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StevefromaRoughNeighborhood said on February 26th, 2011 at 4:56 pm

I’d like to take this out of comics esoterica and pose a general question: Would we be talking about Superman’s power as an aspirational figure without the Christopher Reeve movies? Or to put it another way, is this vision of Superman more a reflection of his place in pop culture generally than the reality of his role in the comics?

Because I gotta say, nothing Superman has ever done in any comic book is even a tenth as magnificent or inspirational to me as this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9vrfEoc8_g

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mygif

As far as the Legion being marginalized by existing under the Superman Family banner, remember they were introduced as supporting characters in a Superboy comic. It’s not like the group already existed and were shoehorned into the Superman cast, unless you’ve only read titles that date after DC’s Crisis On Infinite Earths.

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mygif

Great post from Rod & Josh! BTW, Rod, you wrote another great article about Superman; how a good Superman stories should show how he saves those around him rather than falsely placing him in danger. Can you put up a link for that article? Thanks.

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mygif

Great post ! If you want to continue to discuss we have an answer about Batmanification (but in french) here :

http://freakosophy.over-blog.com/article-batmanification-68623774.html

Enjoy

Freakosophy

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Niles Day said on March 13th, 2011 at 12:22 am

MGK, I know you’re a busy blogger and all, but you had to know this article was gonna unleash a thread. Mind responding to some of the solid counterpoints people’ve responded?

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[…] again, via Mark – possibly the best essay on Superman I’ve ever read. Superman isn’t a Jesus analogue because, unlike Jesus, his moral vision is not imposed. The word […]

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[…] need something horrible to happen to him for him to choose to do something good with his gifts. This essay goes into that idea even more (you should read it). I can’t say I remember my first Superman […]

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