All of us at the store are a comic fan in one way or another, we pretty much have to be to work here. Although some of us may not be the biggest super hero or DC fans, Superman has been there and has affected us in some way or another.
With the release of Action Comics #1000 right around the corner (April 18th), we wanted to share some of our favorite memories of the Man of Steel.
I was never been shy about being anti-Superman. For a long time if anyone asked me my opinion, I would say Superman didn’t appeal to me. He’s too strong, too good, too boring. I’d concede that Red Son was worthwhile, but that was it. The idea of a perfect being that never made mistakes didn’t interest me, as Supes so often becomes (when poorly written). As I’ve gotten older and been exposed to more comics, I started to see a few decent sides of Superman. It wasn’t enough though; he still had the same “lawful good” boy scout aura that turned me away. Finally, I was exposed to a few scenes from Superman comics that really hit home with me. The first was from the Injustice comic of all things, when Batman was in jail for killing the Joker. The short conversation between Clark and Bruce really stood out, the dynamic between the two and all the ways they’re similar. A short time later I saw an album of the famous scene where Superman talks to a woman poised to jump off a building. He doesn’t preach perfect morality, he talks to her person to person. That scene stuck with me more than almost anything else in comics, even years later. The moments where Superman is the least super and the most human are the ones that matter. Over 80 years, of course there are plenty of bad Superman stories to point to. I realized that’s true of every character. When Superman is written right, he is perfect by being imperfect and human. I hope we get a few more truly amazing moments like that over the next 80 years of Superman stories.
Superman has many fantastic powers but his greatest, by far, is his superhumanity. More so than being faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, or being able to leap a building in a single bound. Superman's humanity is so pure it can inspire actual human beings to become greater than they were.
No person's troubles are beneath his attention. Whether it's getting someone's cat out of a tree, extinguishing the flames of a burning apartment building, or talking a suicidal girl off a building ledge, everyone is equally important to Superman. The fact that he does all his good deeds with a smile and effortless, friendly charm further gives everything he does a comforting touch.
It is a great reminder that we can always treat each other with compassion and kindness. More so than battling intergalactic threats, monsters, robots, or anything else, this has been the key to the Man of Steel's lasting appeal.
I was never a huge fan of Superman. As a kid I didn’t read comics, but I did watch a lot of TV. Bruce Tim’s Universe, starting with Batman the Animated Series, is where I got introduced to a lot of DC’s characters, including Superman. Even with these amazing cartoons I never thought Superman was all that cool or interesting, at least that was an opinion of me as a kid in the 90’s. I grew up holding onto that “he’s so boring, when you can beat everything what fun is there?” line of thought about the man of steel, until recently.
I started heavily reading comics with the New 52 launch in 2011. In this time I read a couple of stories including Superman before but he still never caught my interest. That is until DC’s Rebirth Event in 2016. I initially didn’t pick up many of the books in the not-a-relaunch, but after loving the few titles I did read, I decided to pick up more based on customer and friend recommendations. The Superman title caught me off guard, it was a genuinely fun story. It also brought the Alien from Krypton down to Earth and made him more human in relatable ways without stripping his powers. I think Superman is best this way, relatable but still being the best of humanity. Since reading Tomasi and Jimenez run on Superman I’ve since gone back to some of Superman’s more notable stories and have found a new love for him. That Superman story line has changed the way I look at the Man of Steel ever since, and if you haven’t read it yet I’d totally recommend it, Superman fan or not.
My first experience with Superman comics was the Death of Superman arc. I was just starting to collect comics at the time and I really wasn't into Superman or anything DC. My buddy who was collecting about a year before me let me read his copies and I really did enjoy that arc but I still wasn't sold on that character. Through the years I tried to get into Superman I would pick up an issue now an again. I even tried to like the silly Red/Blue Superman era. I realized at some point that I didn't really care for Superman when he was just a character that punches things until they fell. The Superman that I like is the one that writers portray and play up as more human/Clark Kent than Superman. That's why stories like Red Son and the latest run of Action Comics resonate the most with me.
Maybe I’m not the best person to share their opinion of Superman, since I am the only human on Earth that doesn’t think Superman Returns is a bad movie. But the stories that embedded themselves in my head were the ones where he does things that any regular human can do. Mark Millar’s Superman For the Animals, where all he does is read a letter a child sent him about how Superman inspired him to stand up to a bully. Grant Morrison’s All-StarSuperman where he reaches out to a suicidal girl to tell her that she deserves to live. A little-known story by Judd Winick called Superman/Shazam: First Thunder, where Superman, having learned that Shazam is secretly the 11-year-old Billy Batson, demands to know “Who did this to you”? Who put a child in danger?
Those encounters help to ground the character in humility and modesty - to remind readers that he does good because it’s what people ought to do. There to inspire, to reach out a hand to the young and the hurt and tell them he’s there to help - not because he’s an overpowered alien capable of punching Darkseid through time, but because ‘that’s just what you’re supposed to do’.
So even if you hate Superman Returns, just remember the one scene, where he’s asked if he can tune out all the voices in the world. And he doesn’t. Because when people cry out for help, you’re supposed to listen.