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A DC Comics character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and widely considered the first superhero and cultural icon.

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It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's... Cardboard-Cutout Man!

  • Jun 22, 2011
  • by
Superman! The original Superhero, so ubiquitous that people forget his origins. I don't mean his origin story, I mean his creation and first appearance in the first ever volume of Action Comics. Also, the fact that the reason the phrase "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound" was included in his list of special powers is that he originally wasn't able to fly. He could leap very high, but not actually fly.

Superman is such an icon that the first Action Comics is now worth well over a million dollars. He's frequently used as a standby to promote righteousness and good virtue, and he's often used as an American icon, promoting truth, justice, and the American way! Well, since the American way has a habit of evolving, it's usually just the first two these days, and the Superman comic has reportedly acknowledged that - I read that a recent storyline had Superman visiting Philadelphia and renouncing his American citizenship, which certainly throws an interesting twist into his mythology.

Twists like this are necessary for Superman to stay relevant in this world now. In these globalized times, people aren't as eager to follow American values as they once were, and so that new storyline puts a great new twist on what Superman does. You see, as much as I do like Superman, he's like The Beatles of the superheroes. If you've read my review of the Fab Four, you know I love them but am very critical of their reputation. It's the same with Superman: I love his adventures. I loved Superman: The Animated Series as much as I did its more celebrated Batman brother. But he's the least interesting and engaging of the four major superheroes. (The other three being Wolverine, Spider-man, and the ever-awesome Batman!)

As you damn well should know even if you've never set foot in the United States, Superman's powers include flying, super strength, heat vision x-ray vision, and frost breath. His strength makes him invincible - the man really can't be hurt by anything in this world. But that's the problem! Someone had to dream up an outlandish, absurd weakness called Kryptonite in order to create some sense of drama. The Animated Series was great because it was able to think of some truly original ideas to create drama and tension - I'll never forget the episode with Fate. But for the most part, Superman's weaknesses don't really deter him for long. The comics even acknowledged that he can't actually ever die.

Part of the problem is that when Superman was created, the idea of a superhero was known only to buffs of ancient mythology. The mainstream had never seen anything like him before, and his creators - I forget their names - thought they might be able to coast on his powers forever. Since there's no killing Superman, there's no danger or drama, and even if anyone learns he's Clark Kent, well, what can they really do about it? If Superman is Clark Kent, that just means they can't kill Clark Kent too. Kent could still lead a potentially normal day to day life if people knew he was Superman.

Batman, on the other hand, is a vigilante, detective, and scientist rolled into one. He uses technology to do his work for him, but he's a perfectly normal human being. Therefore, his character lends a lot of drama to people learning that Bruce Wayne is Batman, and his need to be Batman, and the fact that he will absolutely, positively never actually kill any bad guy he subdues if it can possibly be avoided. If people find out he's Batman, he's toast. Superman not only doesn't have any problems if people learn he's Clark Kent - and if they decide to do something to Lois Lane, well, they're in the lose/lose scenario: If they let her go unharmed, the Big Blue Boy Scout will still take them to face justice. If they do harm her, well, they're just pissing off fucking SUPERMAN, and good luck with that because he can dish out the intergalactic beatdown of all time.

People do try, though, quite often, and sometimes they do come up with creative ideas. The popular TV show Smallville was created to tell the story of Superman's adolescence, the previously mentioned Superman: The Animated Series was very good with its ideas, and the renouncing of his American citizenship is keeping him relevant with the changing times. Even I'll admit that for the problems inherent in the Superman character, there's still something luring people back to him, and he's probably this timeless for a reason. He represents an ideal of goodness that inspires many people who try to reach it themselves.

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More Superman (Kal-El, Clark Kent) reviews
Quick Tip by . December 05, 2011
I was never a fan of Superman. This guy is too strong, seriously the only thing that can hurt him is kyptonite. I guess thats why i like Doomsdayso much. He is the only one who is a real threat to superman.
Quick Tip by . August 22, 2011
Often sited as being the most important and most iconic superhero in comics, mainly because he is considered to be the first, Superman is nonetheless one of the most classic cultural icons and he definitely deserves respect. However, as time has gone by, and it's been well over 73 years since he debuted in Action Comics, Issue #1, and during that time Superman has evolved a great deal. It's often forgotten that Superman could not fly in those early issues and that he was not the über-powerful …
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Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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Superman is a fictional character, a comic book superhero widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective Comics, Inc. in 1938, the character first appeared in Action Comics #1 (June 30, 1938) and subsequently appeared in various radio serials, television programs, films, newspaper strips, and video games. With the success of his adventures, Superman helped to create the superhero genre and establish its primacy within the American comic book. The character's appearance is distinctive and iconic: a blue, red and yellow costume, complete with cape, with a stylized "S" shield on his chest. This shield is now typically used across media to symbolize the character.

The original story of Superman relates that he was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton, before being rocketed to Earth as an infant by his scientist father Jor-El, moments before Krypton's destruction. Discovered and adopted by a Kansas farmer and his wife, the child is raised as Clark Kent and imbued with a strong moral compass. Very early he started to display superhuman abilities, which upon reaching maturity he resolved to use for the benefit of humanity.

While referred to less than flatteringly as "the big blue Boy Scout" by some of his fellow superheroes, Superman is hailed as "The Man of Steel", "The Man of ...
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