Very often I wish I was Superman. It seems like it would be odd, because I’m 37 years old and have been a grown up for awhile. Wishing you were Superman is something you kinda leave in elementary school I should think. I don’t ever tuck a bath towel in the back of my shirt and try and leap a tall building. My thing is when you think about the world we live in and the pain that many people experience every day, Superman could do some real good there.
I read Superman comics each month. Some are great, some totally suck and I wish I had my 4 bucks back. The great books, Scott Snyder’s Superman Unchained for example succeed at not just making the book about fighting intergalactic baddies and smashing up cities. Its about the heart of a small town farm boy, whose parents raised him to be a good person and fight for those who don’t have the power to fight back. In the latest issue, Superman is battling it out with Lois Lane’s father who is a high up in some black ops, clandestine, military group. The book really goes out of its way to make Superman feel like an alien, an outsider. Superman works well when he’s what I call “Othered” He’s different, he’s not like us, and we shouldn’t trust different. For most of my life Superman has been written as being the establishment character and it’s been Batman whose been the crazy man who puts on pointy ears to protect the night and give the city the hero is deserves and blah blah.
My point was just how Superman would truly behave and feel in the real world. Last summer’s Man of Steel movie did a good job of showing Clark Kent existing in the real world. I loved the scene in which the drunken jerk truck driver comes out of the truck stop to find his tractor and trailer demolished. Demolished because he was an ass to waitress and Clark himself when he tried to stand up for the girl. Some people complained about the scene. That Superman wouldn’t be that petty. Totally not true and without basis. When he first appeared, Superman would pretty much bully the bullies. Joe Schuster and Jerry Siegel, two Jewish boys from Cleveland created a man who could stand up to the bullies of Adolf Hitler or the union buster down the street. Writer Grant Morrison brought that attitude back when Action Comics was relaunched among DC Comic’s new 52.
Driving home today and listening to NPR reporting on the Gaza Strip violence my geeky mind drifted to What Would Superman Do? Think of the responsibility of being Superman, would you just let rampant destruction and deaths go unchecked? Or do you have to avoid interfering in the political and religious conflicts? A few years ago, DC Comics published an alternative history story in which baby Kal-el crashed landed in the Soviet Union instead of Kansas. He would be raised very different and not have the good, middle class upbringing the shaped the character everyone loves. He was a dictator and it was his way or the highway.
Nobody wants to be controlled by powerful alien, we all want to identify with that powerful character to do the best he can for the good of everyone. I think about how he sleeps when his super hearing can pick up the domestic abuse 3 blocks away from his Metropolis apartment. Children go to bed hungry every night. Its not the power to hold off and invading alien horde that makes Superman so great and so lasting for 76 years, its the heart and soul behind the character. It’s the desire to understand the gifts you have and the responsibility to use whatever gifts or blessings you have to make the world a better place. That’s what I love, I love Superman rescuing the kitten from a tree and helping rebuild a soup kitchen that was destroyed in a super powered throw down. I like my Superman to be a mirror for what good can be in a world of poverty and war.