Happy Birthday, Superman!

For a man of 70, he don't look half bad...

Today (June 1st, 2008 ) is Superman’s 70th birthday. I thought I’d take this opportunity to discuss the character a little bit, and tell you guys what I think of ol’ Blue.

It cannot be argues that Superman is one of the greatest superheroes out there. Power-wise there are not many who can go toe to toe with him (and that’s part of the problem, more on that, in a bit). He’s also the one who brought about the “age of heroes”, it was due to Action Comics selling so well that DC started putting out books like Detective Comics, and the Marvel (then Timely) super-hero books would never would have seen the light of day were it not for him. But does Superman, as a character, work in today’s day and age?

Honestly, I don’t think so. I don’t read any Superman books, I find him boring. Superman’s ideals of “Truth, Justice and the American Way” are all well and good, but today’s society is not the society that was around 70 years ago. First off, the global village is drawing ever nearer – so shouldn’t it be “the earthly way” or “the global way”. Secondly, there’s the matter of powers. Superman is a god among men. He can do anything. The biggest problem with Superman, and I’m not the first (nor am I the last) to say this, he cannot be challenged. That’s why people keep resorting to that stupid green rock. That stupid, moronic rock. When people realized they couldn’t just keep resorting to the green rock, they brought in a red one. Great.

But sitting here and complaining is all well and good, but everyone can complain. Here is how I would go about Superman, given the chance. There are two things I will address – the first is the “Truth, Justice and the American Way” thing. I will take each of those values and examine them, really examine how they pertain to Superman and the world around him. Is Superman really following his own ideals? I’m not going to go into specifics here, I am still a writer planning on writing comics, so these are story ideas I would actually be interested in doing. I really think that there is a story to be had by taking these ideals and examining them with a 21st century mindset.

The other way to explore Superman stories is not to focus on Superman. Focus on the world around him and how they react to having a god among them. Superman has a great supporting cast around him – Perry White, Jimmy Olsen and most importantly, Lois Lane. What’s it like being married to a god? How does it feel going to bed knowing the world’s most powerful man lies next to you? These are where the stories are. But it’s not just Superman friends – his villains should also make fascinating stories. You see, mainstream audience don’t know this, but Superman does indeed have a rogue’s gallery. Quite a good one, too. It’s not just Luthor and the rock. Brainiac, Parasite, Metallo. Hell, even semi-ridiculous villains like the Toyman and
Mr. Mxyzptlk can all pose interesting dilemmas, as long as you make the story about them rather than the Big Boy Scout.

It seems that is the way the Super-Books are going now, with the Zod arc which finally completed a couple weeks ago, and Geoff Johns upcoming Brainiac arc. We’ll see how things shape up.

So – Happy Birthday Kal-El, may the next 70 years be just as good (hopefully without dying this time around).