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Author Topic: DC's attitude adjustment and long live the Classic Superman!  (Read 32218 times)
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jmr72777
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« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2005, 08:04:44 PM »

Captain Kal,

It's great to hear from you again.

You and nightwing make very thoughtful points with regards to SUPERMAN and him being different from others.  I think you've come the closest to understanding what I've been saying about SUPERMAN all along with regards to his alienness.

But as to being unique, I think he will always be that.  He has a unique enivronment (OK, so Peter Parker works at a newspaper also -- first off, he's freelance, and secondly he's a photographer....Besides, Clark did it first.) He has unique friends, and a unique support group.  His enemies are his own (even if Luthor bears a strong similarity to the Kingpin, the circumstances themselves are unique.)  It is what the character does in these surroundings that will truly set him apart.

I have to say that I have heard more people berate SUPERMAN being perfect (the world's biggest boyscout) then I've heard people berating his failings.  To me, it's the fact that he can overcome his own failings to be the inspiration that he is that makes him so incredible.  If he has no failings, and does what he does, what is so inspiring about that?  I'm not perfect, so I can't hope to be like that.  I can only try.  But as someone who is not perfect who can succeed, that gives added hope that I can one day attain that.

He'd be inspirational either way, in my opinion.  I just think that he's a more interesting character with flaws.  It adds dimension.
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"They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be.  They only lack the light to show the way.  For this reason, above all, their capacity for good; I've sent them you......my only son"

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« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2005, 08:10:47 PM »

I accept all that you say as valid, at least from some fans' POV.

I just added this bit above while editing my last post so I'll restate it here.

Let's remember something else: The classic Superman appealed to more generations of fans than the Byrned version, and this includes the Post WW2 population bulge that dwarves the fanbase of any era. While the Byrned era appeals to some superfans, obviously, that fanbase is clearly a small subset of the total superfans.

I'm sure we could find some fraction of the fanbase out there that would buy a Superman based on Lobo or a mutant Superman or what-have-you.  I just think the classic version has broader appeal to more of the fanbase.  Maybe it's just me.
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jmr72777
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« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2005, 08:23:54 PM »

Thank you, Captain Kal.
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« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2005, 08:33:26 PM »

Hm. . .would we call this the Platinum Age? Renewed with the glory of the Silver, but an age with a unique feel all it's own regardless? I dunno.

 To me, Superman has always been a role model, someone whom we aspire to be, but he did have his flaws and foibles and humility too. . .in Clark Kent. Clark was Superman's other side, the part of him that allowed him to be human, to be fallible, to be one of us. People see Superman and feel free to deride him for being too goody-good, but they don't see the whole picture. Clark was Superman's humanity, the part of him that could screw up and sometimes did, who looked as silly and flawed as the rest of us. That's why I feel the 'Clark is the real man, Superman is the disguise' idea doesn't really hold water. Yes, Kal-El once thought of himself as Clark. . .but then he discovered his true origins, remembered his heritage, came to embrace it. He created the 'disguise' Clark to allow himself to stay in touch with that fundamental humanity he had learned to cherish from Ma and Pa Kent, but he discovered himself, his true self, and embraced it. He became something more than human. . .and in some ways a bit less as well. Clark may not be 'real', but he's Superman's outlet, his means of understanding us. No one in the modern DC offices seems to get that.

 The idea of 'All-Star Superman' is an encouraging sign, as is the return of Krypto and Kara. I'm hopeful DC has finally realized that throwing out the baby with the bathwater was a bad, bad idea. Now if we can just persuade them to make Clark the first Superboy and have him in the Legion you'd be looking at one happy camper. Wink

 -Def.
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jmr72777
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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2005, 09:08:00 PM »

Defender,

Quote
To me, Superman has always been a role model, someone whom we aspire to be, but he did have his flaws and foibles and humility too. . .in Clark Kent. Clark was Superman's other side, the part of him that allowed him to be human, to be fallible, to be one of us.


The fundamental problem here is that if Clark Kent is a disguise, and he's only acting, then he only has foilbles and problems as much as an actor playing a part.  Christopher Reeve didn't spend his time worrying that Lex Luthor was going to blow up California.  Superman did.  As Superman, he pretended to be concerned because he was acting the part.  By the point you make above, all of Clark Kent's concerns and problems should just melt away the moment he takes off his suit and gets into his Superman uniform.  A man with fake problems isn't very interesting.  Ultimately knowing that he could shed all these problems makes them very unreal and not particularly menacing.

"Oooh, people think Clark is stupid and they don't like him...Oh well, *riiip*  now I can fly away and it won't matter."  Clark can't have any real insecurities knowing that he can just tear open his shirt and have them all go away.  This is all about why Clark's problems have no bearing on SUPERMAN.  You can't say that Clark is the troubled character.  That makes the whole thing even more schizophrenic.

If SUPERMAN only has problems on a global scale, that brings me back to audience identification.  How do you identify with someone who only thinks on a global scale?  He should have some personal problems that the audience can relate to.  

I believe the story was called "Must There Be A Superman."  In it, the Guardians of the Universe introduced a touch of doubt to the Man of Steel.  That perhaps he was doing too much for humanity, and therefore stunting their growth.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but he spent a good deal of that story brooding.  It introduced angst.  And yes, this was before the Iron Age.
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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2005, 11:21:12 PM »

Hm. . .maybe I could've phrased myself a little clearer jmr. What I mean is that Clark represents Superman's ability to relate to us. Superman is human, fundamentally he's the ideal example of humanity. But for us as the reader, we need Clark Kent as our gateway into Superman, if you follow me. Superman is a god, or at the very least a godling, who has a moral core that many of us strive for, but can never really attain. But Superman does have the capacity for doubt and worry and anger, which while he restrains himself of while in uniform, he can experience and channel through the medium of his life as Clark Kent.

 Superman can be related to, I'm just saying it can be a bit of a challenge. All that perfection can lead to the impression of being a bit too much of an ideal. Just my opinion, your mileage may vary of course.

 I do like the idea of exploring the Clark/Kal-El duality a bit further. . .Maggin hit it on the head, but  I wonder if anyone else has really driven it home before. . .hm. Interesting stuff regardless.

 -Def.
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« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2005, 07:21:48 AM »

Quote from: "Defender"
Hm. . .would we call this the Platinum Age? Renewed with the glory of the Silver, but an age with a unique feel all it's own regardless? I dunno.


Quick side note: There is already a period of comics history referred to as "The Platinum Age" --the period from about 1900 to 1935 or so before the publication of Action #1.  Even if this is not a universally acknowledged fact, it would still tend to confuse many comics fans who take their comics history lessons from the Overstreet Price Guide (and there is a lot of good info in there! Cheesy ).

As to the issue of Superman's (split-)personality, morality, powers, etc:

I have always found the character to be essentially the same.  The Silver-Age version, as written by everyone from Siegel to Maggin, was a flawed character with god-like powers and hyper-competence (to use an idea from Great Rao's conversation with the author of the new Superboy text stories).  The post-Byrne/post-Crisis version of the character is slightly more flawed and slightly less powerful, to the point where he seems essentially the same as every other hero to most fans (indeed, it was deemed editorially acceptable to have him a murder a villain --a return to an aspect of his Golden Age roots, I might add).  But to most people outside the comics fanbase, the two versions were essntially the same, no?  I agree, the Silver Age version (or a contemporary equivalent, a la Morrison) makes more sense both editorially and from a marketing standpoint, but I don't really think that the kid who carried a Superman lunchbox to school in 1988 thought of the image on his pail very much differently than a kid in 1968 (unless 1988 was the year they introduced the mullet version of SM --a true aesthetic abomination  :evil: ).

And just for the record, I do not, and we should not, think of George Washington or George Bush, or nation states in general, as morally inspirational characters in the same league or sense as fictional paragons of virtue like Superman or legendary religious or mythical figures.  Nation States can only be moral actors in the negative sense without reduction to "lesser evil" politics.  (The exception to this is when a cartoonist like Frank Miller wants to make a philosophical or satiric point about the character and US foreign policy; or when we talk about Superman not as an idea but as a corporate property, the product of a morally ambiguous creative process.)

As to the issue of the Clark-Superman split, I think this is an overrated, ultimately futile (but still fun!) line of inquiry.  What is exquisite about the character(s) is the unknowable, contradictory nature of the duo persona, not the cut-and-dried idea that Superman is one thing and Clark is another, or that Clark is real and Superman is fake (or vice versa).  The duality was never dealt with to my satisfaction during the Silver Age despite any number of editorial assertions to the contrary.  And it is this exquisite duality which appeals to the vast majority of people, I would venture (Tarantino's Kill Bill script doesn't answer the question, it stirs the debate in the public's mind).  Every writer seemed to have a slightly different take, and the nature of the character(s) changed slightly as the stories required.  (Another interesting aspect of the character to endlessly speculate about is the morality of Clark/Superman's "deception".)

For myself, when I am a fan/reader, I identify with both Clark and Superman to varying degrees, and have a hard time separating their "personalities" and motivations in my mind (now or during the act of reading/watching).  The Superman who is an isolated alien has a lot in common with the schlub reporter who has a secret life, even if one or the other is just a facade.  Both characters have problems of a personal nature, usually shared, but often separate, all rolled up in one delicious schizophrenic ball.  

And who cares what any one editor, writer, or corporation asserts!  Superman is bigger than all of us at this point.
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2005, 03:13:07 PM »

How about the "Ruby Age?"  If that flops like bad plan of a Lex Luthor, he's a few ideas:"The Super-Age", "Sliver Age II", "Rebirth Age",
"Reborn Age".
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