Second time’s the super charm

§ December 16th, 2019 § Filed under superman, this week's comics § 5 Comments

When we last met, I was about to go under the knife for another eye surgery. Well, I’m happy to report things went swimmingly, I was in and out of the operating room in a flash (not so much the waiting room, which we sat in for quite a while) and my eye seems to be healing up nicely. The end result is that I now need glasses for pretty much any close-up lookin’, as the replacement lens in my left eye is meant for distance vision, but that’s okay…at least it leaves me able to drive.

Anyway, I’m fine, and once my other current eye issues settle down to the point of being able to get real glasses, versus the array of dollar-store cheaters I’ve been depending on, everything will be just dandy. Or at least as dandy as my eyeballs will allow.

And it turns out I can still read comical books, which I tested by getting caught up on the last several months’ worth of Superman, culminating in this issue:

[SPOILERS for said issue ahead]

…Okay. I’m fine with this turn of events, just as I was the last time this was done with Superman, near the end of the New 52 run just a few years back. I thought then that the public revelation of Superman’s dual life as Clark Kent made for an interesting twist in the ongoing comics, one we hadn’t really seen before in the mainline continuity as an extended storyline. That was kinda the last hurrah for that particular version of Superman before he was replaced by the return of the post-Crisis/John Byrne reboot/married to Lois/has a son version that had been the main Superman for the 30 years prior to the New 52. (Look, I know that’s a lot to absorb if you’re not familiar with Superman’s publishing travails over the past decades, so take a moment if you need one.)

My feeling about the New 52 version of the public revealing of the secret ID is pretty much summed up by my post about a story just prior to that, when Superman revealed his ID to just Jimmy Olsen. In short, it was fun to read, scratches bit of an itch, but these twists to the Super-formula don’t have the impact they should have had because it’s still this weird not-quite-Superman version of Superman DC was foisting off on us as part of their rushed-into-existence New 52 line-wide relaunch.

But now, we have…well, as close to the “real” Superman back in comics as we’re going to get, without Siegel/Shuster/Swan/Schaffengberger/Boring/Plastino etc. coming back from the dead to do more stories. I think Bendis has been doing a relatively decent job writing a recognizable Superman that falls in line with the Superman comics of the past, while still feeling like a “modern” comic. I mean, there’s the occasional rough edge, or some Bendis-istic quirk, but by and large they’ve been fine.

Thus, the repeat of the plot of “Superman Reveals Himself!” (ahem) so soon after the last time they did it still feels somewhat…new and fresh and interesting, because now it’s “really” happening to the “real” Superman, and not some What If — er, excuse me, “Elsewords” — version. It reminds me a little of [hold on…SPOILER ALERT for Batman: Hush, of all things] that time when it looked like Jason Todd had come back from the dead, but it turned out to be Clayface, which kind of honked everyone off, so Jason Todd really came back later on and though the shock of the return was just slightly muted by the previous fake-out, it was still a surprising twist that grabbed attention. Okay, that’s not a 1:1 analogy, but I think you get the idea.

Back to the current comic, here…yes, I think this will make for some interesting stories. And yes, I’m sure this will eventually result in some reset-button putting of the worms back in the can of restoring the secret ID (and hopefully not yet another reboot). But I’m willing to see where this goes, especially with the idea stated in this issue that Superman will continue living and working as Clark Kent. If that doesn’t result in someone shouting at him “WHY ARE YOU SITTING AT A KEYBOARD…PEOPLE ARE DYING IN ACCIDENTS ALL OVER THE CITY” in every issue…well, I don’t know what to tell you.

I also have a vague memory of one of the Elliot S! Maggin prose novels from decades ago — Miracle Monday, maybe? — where Superman’s ID is revealed, and someone discusses how weird it would be if he continued as Clark Kent, that it would be kind of perverse for him to continue acting like a normal human when everyone knew that he was an alien superbeing. I’m getting details wrong, I know, it’s been many years since I’ve read the book, but it’s something like that. But that message still colors my perceptions of what Superman still hangin’ out as Clark post-revelation in the comics would be like. It’d just be…uncomfortable, if realistically depicted.

On the other hand, the more modern interpretation of the Clark/Superman dynamic, as Byrne tried to firmly establish in his reboot, was that Clark was the “real” persona, whereas Superman was the “disguise.” That’s a difficult thing to do, given that the star of the comics, the guy that puts butts in seats, is Superman, so by default he’s the “main” identity. However, if one does keep in mind that Clark is the real person, then him continuing his life as Clark should feel less peculiar than how that long-ago Maggin book would have it. The end goal is probably something along the lines of “Hey, it’s Tony Stark! That’s the guy who occasionally does stuff as Iron Man!” instead of “Hey, it’s Superman pretending to be one of us, just a slob like one of us!”

This is all based on one single issue of the storyline, by the way. Bendis could very well be planning to address some or all of this in his comics, so I’ll just read it and see. …I did want to point out a couple things about this issue that…didn’t ring true for me. A couple of those quirks I may have mentioned earlier in the post.

First, Clark tells Perry White he’s Superman, and Perry gives him a hug. Okay, I can buy that, because they’ve been friends for years, but it’s not followed by Perry immediately firing him from the Daily Planet for years of journalistic fraud. Okay, it’s comics, suspension of disbelief and all that, but it’s a bit tough to swallow. Again, future storylines may address this, but just in this issue as a standalone story, it still felt wrong.

Next, Superman gives his press conference (a well done sequence for the most part, I thought), and after telling everyone “hey I’m Clark Kent, I’m married to Lois Lane, okay see ya” he flies off, basically leaving Lois to fend for herself. Maybe it’s not as bad as all that, but it felt odd to me that Superman would just bail on his wife and pals in the wake of this revelation. Or maybe off-panel he told ’em “meet you at Big Belly Burgers after the speech” and they all had some fast food after the issue was over. Hey, why not.

Before I shut off the computer for the night, I’ll add that I really did love the scene of Jimmy Olsen messing with Superman as he tries to convince his longtime pal that he’s really Clark Kent. Genuinely funny.

Okay, that’s that. Thanks for sticking around after my brief hiatus, pals, and I’ll be back soon.

5 Responses to “Second time’s the super charm”

  • ScienceGiant says:

    Hrm. So it’s true: Mikester has no controversial take on Superman.

  • ScienceGiant says:

    So it’s true: Mikester has no controversial take on Superman. Well, well, well. Glad to know your eyes are doing well!

  • Ward Hill Terry says:

    The upshot of the revelation of Clark’s real identity in Maggin’s novel is the complete looting of his apartment by souvenir hunters. This was in a time before online auctions. Is today’s society any more acceptable of famous people’s privacy?

  • Robcat says:

    Oh, sure… Superman gives up glasses and secret identity just as Sterling GETS glasses….

    Don’t think we can’t tell where this is going “Mike”…

  • @misterjayem says:

    Good to have you back in the saddle, Mike!

    — MrJM

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