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Old October 16th, 2005   Darth Vader is offline   #1
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Default From Superman Through the Ages: What IC Should Fix about Superman

From Superman Through the Ages:

The Baby with the Bathwater
by Nathaniel Morgan, August 1997

Many people have been trying to put their finger on just what it is about the Iron Age Superman that is "wrong" - they've been theorizing about the changes to Superman's continuity, his history, or his powers. They've basically been trying to figure out just who Superman is. But this question is so easy and the answer so obvious that many people have missed it.

So here is the pop-quiz. Multiple choice:


Question 1

Superman discovers that Lex Luthor is formulating some plot against him. So he confronts Lex and says:



A
"Oh, No! You're tricking everybody! I'll never be able to stop you!" (Grabs Lex by throat) "What are you up to now? You'd better tell me, or so help me, I'll..."



B
"I don't know what scheme you've got going this time, Luthor, but whatever it is - it'll never work." (Hauls Lex off to jail)

Question 2
Superman and Lois head down to the post-office so that he can read his fan mail. When they get there, Superman sees the innumerable sacks of letters and says:

A
"Oh, No! I'll never be able to read all this mail!"

B
(Superman reads all the letters in 2.3 seconds at super-speed, using his X-ray vision so that he doesn't even need to open the envelopes)


For each question, if you answered B, you know who Superman is. If you answered A, you must work for DC Comics. Yes, both of the events in the As are from recent issues and serve to illustrate just how poorly DC understands Superman.
Superman's power level, his changed continuity, and even the new electro-costume are all irrelevent. The Golden Age Superman, the Silver Age Superman, and the Bronze Age Superman are all very different characters with different powers, different continuities, and different costumes - but they are all Superman.

Superman is moral righteousness - knowing what is right and doing it. That's it. He doesn't whine or complain about doing the right thing, he does the right thing because it wouldn't even occur to him to do otherwise.

The Iron Age "Superman" is a killer. This is not the right thing - it is the wrong thing. He complains, is unsure of himself, is pessimistic and ineffectual. He defeats himself before any villain even has a chance to. He is not Superman - Superman makes a difference.

T.M. Maple put it this way: "Superman is not just some big guy with a lot of powers. He should be a shining example of all that is worthwhile in humanity. His morals should be 'super' too."

DC Comics refuses to let real Superman stories be told. Even Scott McCloud, one of the best super-hero writers on the planet, has his hands tied in Superman Adventures.

Elliot S! Maggin has proven that it is possible to write post-Crisis Superman stories that actually have Superman in them. He has done brilliant work in Action Comics #642, Luthor's Gift, and the Kingdom Come Novel.

Mark Waid isn't even allowed anywhere near Superman.

DC doesn't like Superman - they are sitting on a goldmine but refuse to use it. Superman is the greatest hero of all time and today's comic book readers are literally starving for stories about real heroes.

Legends cannot be killed - someday, Superman will return. This web site is doing a great job of keeping him alive for just such a time. Meanwhile, I'll continue to follow the adventures of the white-haired Superman in Supreme and the red-garbed Superman in Astro City.

"Look! Up in the sky!"

I can't agree with this more. This is what Infinite Crisis needs to repair. Superman IS the DC Universe. Not The Batman. Not The Flash.

The Man of Steel. Bring him back and make him SUPER again. Not a whiney, uncertain, cynical one-time killer.

I think this is why a certain hero returned in the pages of Infinite Crisis #1, and I hope tha when the dust settles, we have the REAL Superman back.

Vader
 
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Old October 16th, 2005   darthlucifuge is offline   #2
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As long as superman is not too cheesy Im fine.
 
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Old October 16th, 2005   Darth Vader is offline   #3
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Define "cheesy." If by cheesy you mean filled with optimism, hope, integrity, honor, confidence, strength of character, a pioneering, adventurous heart, and a sense of wonder, than by all means, I want extra cheese!

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Old October 16th, 2005   rogerburks is offline   #4
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I doubt that I will ever be a regular reader of Superman no matter what they do. That said, I wish they'd make Superman an exploration of what it is like to have so much power in a world where most other people don't.

I don't want to explore just how finely you can slice everybody's power levels in the DCU. Superman should not be the most powerful person in every universe.

I don't want to explore sainthood as it relates to inherent superiority in power. Superman should not be a saint.

I don't want to explore superlatives in every conceivable way. Superman should not have super-intelligence or be anywhere near as fast as The Flash.

I want to see a real character, with common sense and a heart, who understands and demonstrates what it is to be a true friend and good partner. I don't want to see the shallow, passive, paralyzed Superman that we've seen since Identity Crisis.
 
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Old October 16th, 2005   darthlucifuge is offline   #5
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Define "cheesy." If by cheesy you mean filled with optimism, hope, integrity, honor, confidence, strength of character, a pioneering, adventurous heart, and a sense of wonder, than by all means, I want extra cheese!

Vader
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By cheesy I mean, like say hes fighting some one and all of a sudden he says some corney line and blows ice cold breath on his cape breaks it off and throws it at them while saying. hope you enjoyed the fall buddy ol pal.
 
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Old October 16th, 2005   Darth Vader is offline   #6
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I think we're in agreement that that's not who Superman is.

That's a caricature. And we've had a pretty underwhelming caricature of Superman for almost twenty years now, with a few exceptions.

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Old October 16th, 2005   Sonic Death Monkey is offline   #7
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The Superman that's been most interesting to read is the most powerful being on the planet who is an inspiration to many people. He has his own obstacles and challenges, but he overcomes them without complaint. That's the way he was written until about 10 years ago...which is about the time when he was punked by Doomsday. So maybe Bats is right about him.

I always preferred the pre-Crisis Superman because his position as Number One Hero was unquestioned. The revamping of his origin and keeping his adoptive parents alive were the best things about his reboot, while his reduction in power was my least favorite.
 
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Old October 16th, 2005   Eric Q is offline   #8
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Well the point of IC is to show how difficult and dark it has been and will be. So that could be the reason that he has been more mopey. And that him being mopey is to show how hard it has been for him. I mean when you see Superman having trouble, you know everything is going to be hell for the DCU. If he was smiling, could you see IC as a real threat?
 
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Old October 16th, 2005   Can1 is offline   #9
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Make him the biggest and best aspect of the DCU again.

He has seemed like a guest in his own house for more than a decade now.
 
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Old October 16th, 2005   Eric Q is offline   #10
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I think it will be much more gratifying when he overcomes all of his obstacles and gets back to doing what he does best.
 
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Old October 16th, 2005   Can1 is offline   #11
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I think it will be much more gratifying when he overcomes all of his obstacles and gets back to doing what he does best.
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Old October 17th, 2005   superman1984 is offline   #12
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maybe this is why i was so happy to see Earth 2 Superman again!
 
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Old October 17th, 2005   TJLamb0518 is offline   #13
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Interesting opening post. Sure the original title was "The Baby with the Bathwater"? Cause it sounds like"Oh, no! This is not what I'm used to! Change it back, change it back!" would be an equally serviceable title.


Byrne started out doing Superman right. It was about the MAN and not the Super. But, he and mostly others couldn't maintain it and we went back to big cosmic adventures, bottle cities and too many Kryptonian references. Remember Man Of Steel? After learning he was Kryptonian, his basic reaction was ...."Well. Good to know. Thanks. Back to work.". I LIKED Superman being Clarks' secret ID, not the other way around.
 
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Old October 17th, 2005   Matches is offline   #14
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Byrne started out doing Superman right. It was about the MAN and not the Super. But, he and mostly others couldn't maintain it and we went back to big cosmic adventures, bottle cities and too many Kryptonian references. Remember Man Of Steel? After learning he was Kryptonian, his basic reaction was ...."Well. Good to know. Thanks. Back to work.". I LIKED Superman being Clarks' secret ID, not the other way around.
ddf
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I liked Byrne's changes, too, for the most part. I think the problem lies in how subsequent writers have interpreted your last line there, though. Superman has become *too* human, as Batman notes in IC #1. He's whiny, indecisive, and neurotic. That's *not* Byrne's smiling, gung-ho Superman at all.

Making Clark Kent a viable character, as opposed to a beard, is a very good idea. Turning Superman into as big a nebbish as pre-Crisis Clark ever was, imo, was a huge mistake.
 
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Old October 17th, 2005   TJLamb0518 is offline   #15
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I liked Byrne's changes, too, for the most part. I think the problem lies in how subsequent writers have interpreted your last line there, though. Superman has become *too* human, as Batman notes in IC #1. He's whiny, indecisive, and neurotic. That's *not* Byrne's smiling, gung-ho Superman at all.

Making Clark Kent a viable character, as opposed to a beard, is a very good idea. Turning Superman into as big a nebbish as pre-Crisis Clark ever was, imo, was a huge mistake.
ddf
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Absolutely nailed it. It's like most writers just know SOMEONE in the Clark/Superman thing has to be a whiny little wuss. Then they hear Clark played football, had a few novels published and was considered moderately cool and they said "well, if Clarks' not the weeny, Superman must be" so they wrote him that way.

You could portray Clark as a normal, everyday guy and make Superman the expression of his wish fulfillment. Happier, more confident and maybe even ****ier. Let's face it, if we had Supermans' pwoers but hid them most of the time, that's exactly how WE'D act when we put the cape on...
 
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Old October 17th, 2005   CapeandCowl is offline   #16
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Absolutely nailed it. It's like most writers just know SOMEONE in the Clark/Superman thing has to be a whiny little wuss. Then they hear Clark played football, had a few novels published and was considered moderately cool and they said "well, if Clarks' not the weeny, Superman must be" so they wrote him that way.

You could portray Clark as a normal, everyday guy and make Superman the expression of his wish fulfillment. Happier, more confident and maybe even ****ier. Let's face it, if we had Supermans' pwoers but hid them most of the time, that's exactly how WE'D act when we put the cape on...
ddf
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Yeah, I think you have something there. I personally don't see why either persona has to be a nebbish. Listen, Clark Kent would never make it in a real metro newspaper if he was a whiny little dufus who let bullies kick sand in his face. For Clark to be a big time reporter, he has to be aggressive, extroverted, and smart in a private detective kinda way. It was funny to see Christoper Reeve play Clark as the clumsy bufoon, but for a running series, he has to be more than that.

I guess that is why when I read your idea of Superman as Clark's 'wish fulfillment'. I said to myself, yes that is it exactly. As himself - that is as Clark Kent - he should be like regular joe who works in the high pressure environment of a big city paper. As Superman, he should be larger than life, maybe even a little over the top.

None of this is to say that Superman shouldn't wrestle with what it means to be him and to be a hero - he should, considering the scope of his power and influence. but at the same time, I think Superman should be up for that challenge and use his moral compas to make the big decisions in a way that perhaps Batman and Wonder Woman cannot.
 
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