Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! (Why are you pointing out there’s a bird in the sky?) It’s a plane! (Again. So. What?) No! Wait! It’s…
SUPERMAN! The Man of Steel! The Last Son of Krypton! The Man of Tomorrow! And various other titles that are horrible inaccurate. Superman has been front and center since before I was born. He’s the epitome of “superhero”. He’s the standard. I used to have a Superman lunch box I carried when I was a wee lad.
I watched the movies, the cartoons, the tv shows, but I’ve never listed Superman as one of my favorites. Why? He’s too easy! He’s unstoppable, and even when a writer comes up with a way to stop him, you know he isn’t ACTUALLY going to stop him. The story becomes boring. Why bother? I liked him most as a member of the Justice League, but even then, why? He’s faster, stronger, and more powerful than anyone else on the team – why even be ON a team? He IS a team.
That being said, I went to leave the house yesterday. I looked at my attire. Superman t-shirt. Superman baseball cap. Superman lanyard with a superman pendant from a necklace my wife bought me when we first got together.
Why do I own so much Superman crap if I don’t actually LIKE the character?
Because it’s not about liking Superman as a character, the current incarnation, the movie, the cartoon version, or the current story arc. It’s about what Superman represents. What he’s been representing for decades now. And a little about respecting that. It’s about the instant recognition of that S, those colors and his cape. It’s about him representing the comic book industry as a whole, representing the superhero archtype, the hero archtype, the pursuit of doing and being better simply because it’s the right thing to do. He’s the ultimate boy scout, and that’s to be respected. In a world of far more than 50 shades of grey (cwutididthar?) we need that ideal. We need Superman to be that standard to keep us from straying too far off the beaten bath. And not just Superman, but heroes, both fictional and grounded in reality. Heroes that can’t be swayed. That, while flawed, can’t be corrupted. I believe they exist, if you look hard enough for them. But Superman can represent that ideal and that standard.
He can be the proud symbol of geeks and nerds the world over; instantly recognizable. You see that S (or in my case, S’s) and you can smile and nod as you pass, knowing you’re not alone in your geekery. Whether it’s the X-Men or the JLA you favor, everyone can find common ground under the umbrella of Superman’s cape. Brothers in Nerdness. Comic Book Comrades.
Or they just make more Superman stuff than anything, so I buy it because it’s the only geeky thing Wal-Mart will carry. But mostly that other stuff.