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 figure that he became over the decades. Personally, I think in some ways, Superman's many powers and strengths are what makes him a bit weak as a character since he is virtually invulnerable physically and his potency allows him to deal with problems in a very simple manner, thus reducing the potential for dramatic conflict and characterization.
Another aspect of the character that often is forgotten is the fact that while Superman is often treated as being almost Christ-like, he was created by Jerry Siegel
and Joe Shuster
, two Jews who drew their inspiration from the mythological heroes of pagan religions (Hercules, Adonis, Thor, etc.) and that Superman's origin story bears more than a little resemblance to the Biblical story of Moses. Like Moses, Superman was sent from his native home as an infant and upon his arrival in a strange new land, grew up as a literal and figurative alien before becoming a powerful leader and hero for the oppressed. Just as Moses was sent down a river in a raft, baby Kal-El was sent in a spacecraft from a dying planet. Whether people choose to acknowledge the Jewish parable, it's there and it didn't go unnoticed during those early years before and during WWII.
That's something Superman has lacked in recent years. While initially he was seen as an immigrant come to America, who then becomes a social crusader fighting for the common man and against corruption, he later grew into an emblem of authority and became a mainstream enforcer of the status quo. I suppose I miss the former version since he was more human and more of an outsider.
Still, the character of Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman is timeless and it's fascinating to see the different interpretations of him in comics, animation, television, and films. And along with Batman and Wonder Woman, Superman forms a sort of superhero trinity within the world of DC Comics