Friday, February 25, 2011

All about Superman

Superman is probably my favourite superhero. I know, I know, not very imaginative, but there is something about his all-round super-ness mixed with his empathy and yearning to be fully human, that really appeals to me. This is a guy who could be anything he wants - a god among men - and yet, all he really wants is to date the popular girl and keep everyone happy and safe. You gotta love that.

In the comics, Superman can come off as a bit of a boy scout, a little flat and unrelentingly - unappealingly - good. But in the hands of a good writer, this character takes on more nuance.

For instance, I just read a really funny story by Nathan Pensky called "Lois Lane’s New Boyfriend Rubs It In After Beating Superman At Ping Pong At a Family Barbecue." It's title really says it all. Then there is "Man not Superman," a story by Jonathan Goldstien. Also told from the point of view of Lois's new, human boyfriend, it explores the dichotomy between Superman's hero persona and his alter ego Clark Kent.

My absolute favorite literary retelling of the Superman story has to be "It's Superman," by Tom De Haven. The book is set in the 1920s and 30s and explores Clark Kent's early life as he navigates family, friends, growing up and his place in society. It reimagines him as plodding farmboy of average intelligence and a deep ambivalence about his powers. For the first time, readers start to understand the man behind the cape - reminding us why his story appeals to us over and over again.

1 comment:

  1. Loos like I'm going to have to find a copy of that De Haven novel. Heard it was good. Here's the URL to a review of one of the better Superman comic book stories I've ever read...