In defence of Superman

A depiction from the graphic novel Kingdom Come

A friend of mine said that Superman was boring. That he was, as a character, lifeless. Batman was more interesting, more flawed, more real. Even Spiderman was a better character. Superman was just…meh.

I probably should have bitchslapped him. But part of me was a little too overwhelmed to come up with a reply.

Taste, even in superheroes, is really subjective. Most of my friends are Marvel die-hards. But it never mattered to me what imprint was on my comic so long as I loved reading it. And I loved Superman.

While Batman was a millionaire playboy cum secret vigilante, unlike Batman’s Bruce Wayne, Superman’s ‘other’ identity as Clark Kent was no mere facade. This was a being like an angel out of the Scriptures, literally falling from the heavens, invulnerable and able to fly. But considering the average human being is easily swayed by the trappings of money and power, Superman was happy enough to have a steady job and the company of his loved ones.

His upbringing brings up the question of nature versus nurture: he could have chosen to reject humanity as a “lesser race”. Yet being raised by humble, decent folk, Clark Kent grew up a humble, decent man.

Superman, for me, personifies all those people who live for bigger things and bigger causes. Who sacrificed much to do good and make the world better in some small or big way. He lived to serve as do so many people today and for me that lack of selfishness, the compelling urge to just “help somebody” – that’s a superpower in itself.

This superhero didn’t need to learn the hard way, as Spiderman did, that great power comes with great responsibility. All Superman needed was a good heart. And that, I think, is a story worth telling too.

The following panel from the graphic novel Kingdom Come encapsulates everything I love about Superman.

“Of all the things you can do…all your powers…the greatest has always been your instinctive knowledge of right…and wrong. It was a gift of your own humanity. You never had to question your choices. In any situation…any crisis…you knew what to do.”

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