The Man From Krypton and Me

I have been reading The Man From Krypton. It is a book about Superman. It is a collection of short essays about Superman. There is a lot to think about with Superman. He is an American cultural icon with over 80 years of stories written about his. With thousands of issues of comics there have been many writers what have added to the myth of Superman. All of this makes for an interesting body of work to write about.

It should surprise no one to find out I was a comic book fan growing up. When I was in elementary school and junior high school I liked Marvel comics more than DC comics. DC Comic, the home of Superman, seemed to make less sense to me. It was easy for me to figure out what was happening inside the Marvel Universe. DC did not have that same consistency. The whole DC Multiverse with Earth-One, Earth-Two, Earth-X and so on, was stupid to me at the time. (My favorite was Earth-Hostess where Hostess snack cakes and pies were all that were needed from hero. I wonder what happened to that earth during Crisis on Infinite Earths

I did not start reading Superman until after Crisis on Infinite Earths. I loved John Byrne's Man of Steel. Before Crisis Superman was powerful enough to move planets (some of the time). When I was a young comic book reader I was really into Super heroes powers and weaknesses. Superman seemed to be too powerful and had too specific of a weakness. I liked to see how super heroes would be the odds. The odds were never against Superman.

The restart of the Superman storyline made it something I enjoyed. I also felt that I did not need to know 50 years worth of Superman stories to understand it. The Man of Steel story was great. Byrne did a lot to add humanity to the character of Superman. I think that is important. If you write Superman as a character that is not in touch with his humanity, there is very little to work with.

For the ten years I read Superman I found out that there were few good ways to write Superman as a main character and lots of bad ways. The question about Superman is what is compelling about him as a character. It is not struggle for him to beat any super villain. The stories have to be about something else.

I think the best Superman stories are the ones where the conflict is within him. When his life as Clark Kent is in conflict with his life as Superman. I think that Superman wants to be just a regular guy. He wants to be Clark Kent more than he wants to be Superman. If not he would just be Superman all the time. The problem is that Superman does not have any friends and Clark Kent does.

The next most interesting set of stories to me is when Superman has to make moral choices about using his powers. How many times can Superman put Lex Luthor back in Jail before you just want to kill him. Superman is so powerful it would be easy to see him get frustrated with the world around him. The storied like when he killed the Zod of the pocket universe. Superman has to live with killing someone. It is a great story.

The one idea that I would love to see explored is Superman is who everyone needs his help, yet he cannot help everyone. There are just too many things happening at the same time. Anytime a plane crashes, why did Superman not save them? Every time there is a fire, where is Superman to put it out? Samaritan in Astro City deals with this a little. In those stories the Samaritan is under stress because he cannot be everywhere. I want to see how people be angry at Superman because he was not there when he needed them. I would love to read more stories about the Superman backlash.

Reading the Man From Krypton has got me to think about writing comics. Part of me has always wanted to write comics. I have a couple of good ideas what I would do with a Superman story. One idea is a world where super humans stop being super heroes and super villains and just live everyday life. In that world Superman would become a one man habit for humanity. With his speed and power he could end homelessness on his own.

One of my recent favorite Superman stories is Superman: Red Son. I like it because it is not only a 'what if...' story, but it also deals with the nature of Superman. What parts of him would not be changed if history was different. It is worth looking into.


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