Wednesday Comments – The Superman Conundrum

Superman is easily one of the most recognized characters in the world. He’s a global icon and one of the most valuable properties in the world. I can completely understand why DC is cautious with how they handle the character.

That said, some of the decisions that DC’s made around the character are puzzling. For instance almost 15 years ago, DC rejected a pitch made by Mark Millar, Grant Morrison, Tom Peyer and Mark Waid to rework the Man of Steel. Of course in hindsight it seems absurd to deny those writers the keys to Metropolis, but at the time DC had a policy against having “big names” working on marquee characters like Batman and Superman.

(If you haven’t read their pitch and want to, and you should, check it out.)

And honestly for all that Flashpoint accomplished, the resetting of the DCU, the inclusion of the Wildstorm characters and the return of Vertigo types like Swamp Thing and Animal Man, one of the biggest things was the jettisoning of DC’s history, making Superman the first superhero.

And again, I understand why DC did this. Superman was the first superhero. He paved the way for the characters that followed. He jumpstarted the genre. And DC wants their icon to the first hero in reality to be the first hero in their fictional universe as well.

I get the logic and the desire to want to make Superman special, within a universe populated with dozens of characters who rival Superman’s abilities and a planet literally full of characters with powers identical to his. It’s just that it seems to me that DC seems to be trying too hard to prop Superman up.

Let’s look at all that they abandoned to make Superman the first superhero in the DCU shall we?

-They got rid of the JSA and the rest of the Golden Age characters that are in the DC cannon. That’s literally dozens of characters.

-They got rid of the sense of legacy that was unique to the DCU. The sense of lineage that was carried down from Alan Scott to Kyle Rayner and from Jay Garrick to Bart Allen, among others.

-They got rid of the unique characters and adventures like J’onn J’onzz’s heroic exploits in the 1950’s and the entirety of the Justice Experience.

-They got rid of the critically acclaimed and much beloved Starman series, which beautifully illustrated the importance of legacy and honoring the past.

Of course I know that Superman being the alpha hero isn’t the only reason why those changes were implemented. We’re getting the point where many of the JSA characters would be nearing their centennial birthdays and as potent as Ian Karkull’s shadow abilities were, I doubt they could have slowed down the aging process that much.

It’s funny because a little over a year ago I wrote a column about how even DC knew Superman was lame. It actually made the internet rounds so much so that the first hit on Google isn’t even my original, but rather a repost.

Well, I’m not saying that DC has changed their tune and believes in the character again. In fact I’d say that all of the stuff they jettisoned, which happened to make Superman the first hero in the DCU, seems to underscore the notion that they think Superman’s not quite as strong as he could be.

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