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Superman - Trashing a Once Great Hero

Updated on June 23, 2012
The Death of Superman (The Beginning of the End)
The Death of Superman (The Beginning of the End)

The current Superman series reflects the paucity and mental incapability of the writers to retain the integrity and soul of the original hero. The current writers have turned Superman into a kind of Forrest Gump, walking (not running) across the nation for no known reason. Superman has lost the ability to fly. He has lost his costume and has to wear Levis -- so that we can "identify" with him. I've never seen a character so trashed in my entire existence.

And all of this is being done to sell a few more comics. If I were a billionaire, I would buy out these hack writers and place them on the island founded on "Lost." We do not need their "talents." This is not innovation. This is not creativity. This is not making an old icon relevant to a modern age. If anything, this represents a desperate move by DC to hire no-talent writers who have no emotional investment in a character that has existed since 1938.

I have no doubt that Superman will weather these hacks. He is immortal and will shrug off their ridiculous and derogatory depictions. Given time, Superman will return minus all the detritus that the current crop of writers at DC have used to besmirch his image. I am absolutely confident in this result because the symbol of Superman is much, much greater than the temporary brain hemorrhages of no-talent writers who -- for a period -- are given reign over the activities of the man of steel.

There are a multitude of ways to make Superman relevant to the early 21st Century without reducing him to the status of a lost, wandering hobo. If I were the executive editor at DC I would form a contest among children (under high school age) to come up with ideas where they would like to see Superman evolve and travel. The cumulative effort would reveal more inspiration than those who are on staff and earning an unwarranted salary.

The problem is that children are no longer reading Superman -- they can't afford to. Starting sometime in the eighties, comic books switched from being a media to be enjoyed by children and turned into a realm for adults. Some comic historian will ultimately realize that this was the death of comic books as had been known since the late thirties. Writing comics for an adult audience is an entirely different matter -- necessarily more complex and changeable.
After the "death" of Superman, adults who are still reading DC comics (or other brands) can and should expect ANYTHING. Because only one thing is clear now -- and that is the number of comics that can be sold in any given month.

The publishers, the writers, the artists, have no integrity left. It is all left to a matter of dollars and cents. With the price of comics hundreds of percent higher than the 1960s, the publishers clearly care NOTHING about their subject matter. They will construct their stories in such a way that adults keep buying their "crap." Like newspapers and magazines, the cost of production has skyrocketed, but even so it doesn't justify prostituting beloved heroes just to keep a failing industry alive.

The Semi-Bizzaro Superman
The Semi-Bizzaro Superman

For those who say that these changes are a good thing -- that it is a way of keeping a character relevant, I reply -- you are stupendously and absurdly wrong. If Superman could survive in his original form from 1938 until somewhere in the 90s, I do not buy that reducing him to a watered-down tramp has anything to do with character management or making him relevant to the times.

If Superman could go fifty years with his cape and red trunks, it's not relevancy that is an issue -- it's about creating a sensationalistic change that stirs reluctant buyers to dish out their hard-earned bucks.

And if you like the change, well, don't get too used to it. It won't last. Now that Superman has become as nebulous as a gas cloud, you can expect any number of ludicrous alterations -- again -- just for the sake of creating an EXCITING change.

Put Superman back into the imaginations of children and young teens. Let them explore where Superman should go, who he should confront, what powers he should hold. Leaving such criteria up to the jaded adults has been a disaster.

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    • JBrumett profile image

      JBrumett 4 years ago

      His shirt looks like one of those Under Armor spandex and his cape looks like the half cape that Power Girl wears in that photo. I'll admit that is pretty fail. Good thing he doesn't look like that in DC Universe Online. Plus, he has to fly up to Brainiacs ship to save you after you finish the tutorial.

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      I have always regarded Superman as the greatest superhero of all time..

      I have to agree with all your points.. In the above picture... he looks like some street side bum..

      But as you say... the character is too great to be diminished by such idiocies and will soon return to greatness

      Nice hub

    • KeithJK profile image

      Keith James Kennedy 4 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

      Great, solid points! Direction has definitely been his kryptonite lately.

    • rjbatty profile image
      Author

      rjbatty 4 years ago from Irvine

      Not long after the "Patriot Act" went into effect, Marvel launched its long series about who would "register" and unmask and who wouldn't. I can see the same kind of political influence in the down-grading of Superman. We are living through years of a very tough economic climate. Superman is the iconic figure of America. I have this uncomfortable feeling that the writers at DC feel they can tap into the low spirits of many Americans by turning him into a kind of hobo -- a man who wears a short-sleeved shirt, white socks, workman boots and a curtailed cape. By turning him into a middle-class (or lower) superhero, the writers may hope to garner a greater sense of identification between the reader and the man of steel. I think this is the absolutely wrong turn to take with the character. During the 30s, comic books depicted characters like Captain America and Wonder Woman making mincemeat out of the Nazis -- and that was to RAISE the spirits of the general infantry who were still young enough to be inspired by what they read and saw in comic books. If anything, today's Superman should be at his peak for the same reason. Yes, the trend has been to make comic book characters more "believable" by plaguing them with weaknesses. Maybe that was okay when America was at the top of its game, but now...? Are your spirits lifted by seeing Superman in a state of decay? Perhaps this weird turn downward for Superman may beef up DC''s sales for a period, but it cannot last. I don't believe the vast majority of fans want to see their hero in a state of disrepair. Superman is Superman. He may have his periods of loneliness being the only survivor of Krypton and living on a planet to which he can only marginally adapt. But, his earth parents gave him a grounding. They loved him as their own son, and so he was brought up to accept his differences and go forward with his mission to safeguard mankind. The uniqueness of Superman has always been that not only does he possess superhuman strength externally -- but internally as well. Attempts to inject him with angst is antithetical. If there was one character you could count on to be steadfast and confident, it was Superman -- and that is what made him the most beloved superhero of our time. Other than his temporary spurts of loneliness, his inner being was as well-adjusted, level, secure as any human being ... and beyond.

      The enduring success of "Superman the Movie" starring Christopher Reeve earned its reputation by portraying just such a character. He didn't sit in a cave and whine to his butler. Unlike Batman, Superman's earth parents were not murdered. His foster-father died a natural death, and Martha Kent (as far as I've checked) lives on to provide occasional moral support. As Clark Kent, Kal El's corn-bred upbringing in Smallville was as idyllic as anyone could ask for. The Kents never treated Kal El as an alien. No, he was immediately adopted, protected and given common sense guidance about how to live on planet Earth as a good person. Thus -- no hang-ups -- none other than you or I experience (given that we had stable parents).

      I realize DC is doing anything and everything they can think of to sell copies, but it irks me that the writers have no fundamental grasp of what Superman is or represents. Reducing him to the state of a nomad is kind of like burning the American flag -- if I can overstate things just a bit. Besides all his superpowers, Superman represented a steadfast, reliable, unequivocal, rock-solid soul.

      Superman is a national treasure, and that should be safeguarded and honored.

    • profile image

      AaronHubb89 4 years ago

      I actually enjoyed the Action Comics series...now the Superman series from the New 52 was the one that seemed the weakest out of all the Superman-related books. But I understand where you are coming from.

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