I've come out of another long art drought, and as some of you may have noticed my current work involves the last Son of Krypton: Superman. I've been in a Superman state of mind in many ways of late, re-reading many of my older Superman comics, and purchasing Superman trades like All-Star Superman
, and Superman: Secret Origins
Superman and I have a very long history, as he, along with Spider-Man, was the first Comic-Book Superhero that drew my attention as a young child. My parents bought comics for me periodically, and most of the time it was either Superman, Spider-Man, and occasionally Batman related. To this day, when I see Curt Swan's artwork, it reminds me of my early childhood, and really pushes my nostalgia-buttons.
When Superman - The Movie
, came out in 1978, I was there, watching it in an all-too packed theater in my home-town of Logan, West Virginia. When Superman was revamped by writer/artist John Byrne in 1986 in the wake of Crisis On Infinite Earths
, I was there. I bought all six issues of The Man Of Steel
mini-series, and for the next two-plus years that followed, I didn't miss a single issue of the re-launched Superman title, and I bought many issues of The Adventures Of Superman
, and Action Comics
in that same period. Along with Marvel's The Transformers
, these were the comics I rarely missed, and the first comic series I followed from issue to issue. Logan had no comic book store (it would later, for a brief period between 1991-1995, during the speculator boom), but the proprietor of Logan Card and Gift Shop maintained a spinner-rack very faithfully for several years, and I was able to get the comics I wanted regularly.
When Superman died, I was there. When he came back, I was still there. When he married Lois Lane, I was there. When Superman Returns
hit the theaters, I was there. I've been there on and off over the years, but DC lost me when they revamped their universe into the "New 52" and became a bit "joyless" in its wake. The "Superman is a dick" meme was a pretty damn funny one, but it was less funny when in the wake of that revamp, he actually became something of a douchebag on top of the sundering of the Lois/Clark relationship, and the addition of armored clothing (and the loss of his exterior "undies" as well). And then there's Man Of Steel
, which hit quite a few right notes, and a lot of wrong ones as well.
In short, I lost "my" Superman.
Its funny in a way, because over the past 6-7 years I've also lost a lot of my faith in and hope for humanity, and a lot of my creative energy. Despite this loss of hope, I still try to live my life by the values I hold dear: compassion, politeness, truth, justice, equality, and awareness. I don't always succeed, as I'm only human after all, but by-and-large I still try, and I very much believe that "if nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do."
!) I may not like my fellow human beings very much a lot of the time, but when they are hurting I still have that urge to toss those irritations away and see what I can do to help.
And that's how I feel about Superman: a red-and-blue clad embodiment those best attributes of humanity, and the desire to help others, sometimes at great cost to oneself. When I think of Superman, I don't usually think of him punching super-villains, but rather I think of him saving people by guiding stricken airplanes to safe landings or stopping a runaway train, destroying threatening meteorites and dousing fires, neutralizing tornadoes, or even something as simple yet valuable as flying up to talk a suicidal person off a high ledge by telling them that they matter because he feels that every life is precious and important.
Yeah, its cool to see bullets bounce off Superman's chest, or watch him punch Darkseid right in the nose, toss General Zod back into the Phantom Zone, or haul Lex Luthor off to jail after his latest scheme to steal forty cakes. And yeah, I know a lot of people think that he's boring unless he's fighting some super-villain, but that's not how I usually see
him. And sure, some people also think he's impossible to relate to and that there's no way someone can be that powerful and
that good-hearted, but I don't think that way either. The standard he sets isn't one of vanity, but rather one of selflessness and strength of character. The one who does whatever he can to try to make things better, and to show and inspire us to the greatness that we could achieve together.
To me he'll always be the one who helps,
and the one who gives hope
We can help too, a little every day, and try to make the world a tiny bit better by the time we leave than it was when we came into it. And yeah, I think that its very unlikely that we'll do it since the deck is stacked so strongly against us thanks to a strong stain of selfishness, greed, and fear in our societies. But just because I think its unlikely, that doesn't mean I think a better, more just world is impossible. I don't think so at all, as I believe its very much within our power to realize, and that we can leave the next generation a world with hope in it. A world where the never-ending battle for truth and justice doesn't feel so hopeless after all.
Now, if you excuse me, I have a tall building to leap in a single bound...on paper that is!