The Man of Steel
Truth, Justice, and the American Way
Horse shit. I hate Superman. No, not because he’s “bad ass” or “the best.” Well, it’s not for those reasons in the manner you’re thinking. It’s because he was essentially the first, and for the majority of the tense and purpose of superhero-dom was … and he was created infallible. Yes, I get it. THAT’S THE THING about Superman. Right, but it’s soooo wrong. The other greats?
Spider-Man – Let’s not even get into the mess of his parents, Aunt May has died, Gwen Stacy died, he’s broken up with Mary Jane, he’s had secondary characters central to his world die, his initiation to the hero world was the ultimate lesson in responsibility as he was directly involved in the death of his Uncle Ben, etc etc. He constantly “loses” and has integral people in REAL peril and has REAL consequences. He always has.
Batman – Watches parents get shot point blank, has been broken, cannot (until recently) maintain any meaningful relationship with anyone (not named Alfred) without alienating them or turning them to the bad side, loses plenty of times, has been the direct or indirect cause of death for several characters in his lore, etc etc etc.
Flash, Cap, Iron Man/Stark, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Thor …. ditto on down the line.
There is true heart break, loss, and sense of doom around every other comic character you can even dream of putting into the “greatest/biggest/etc” debate. Any other name in this pantheon has an aura of REAL vulnerability about them either personally or in the sense of life/death of themselves. Superman? Not so much, not really. Yes yes he’s born of tragedy. The Last Son of Krypton (but not really) … entire world/people exploded … cosmic infant. Yes, that sucks. Though, it’s not quite the same for an infant to be jettisoned in the greatest lifeboat in the history of ever before ever knowing anything, and to have your parents gunned down in your face as a young child. It isn’t the same to be believe yourself to be the last of an entire race you never knew as opposed to having the woman that raised you as her own son, because we find out years after his introduction that our protagonists parents were murdered by the Red Skull, die. Yes, tragic, that seemingly an entire race of people was obliterated in a planetary explosion. As time has worn on nothing about it resonates in any significant way though. Yet, I’m supposed to believe that his overbearing compassion and protective nature comes, in part, from this loss? What the what? Oh, but yeah he’s not really the sole survivor of Krypton. In fact, a whole city somehow survived the planet exploding and his cousin happened to reside there and survive. Of course there was the Phantom Zone filled with Kryptonian criminals that weren’t killed with the planet. Plenty of others to include a robot. Oh, and there’s the dog and monkey too … because why not.
Also, I’m supposed to rally behind this guy a’la Hulk Hogan? The embodiment of freedom and all that jazz? Sorry, the tag line of Truth, Justice, and the American Way fits Captain America … not a literal alien that crash landed in Kansas. STOP before you even start with the whole “bigger picture” “embodiment of the spirit” etc etc about Superman and his representation. I GET IT. But honestly, no. He didn’t choose to come here and engross himself in the USA’s ideals, beliefs, and approaches. He didn’t yearn for better and to make a difference. He didn’t cross borders himself and ….. you get the picture. No, it was happenstance. It was dumb luck he landed in Bible Belt Kansas near the farm of two overly amazing human beings. This wasn’t a choice. This wasn’t a person striving for more. This wasn’t any beautiful story of humanity. Nope. So don’t. This is a dude that comes from a people on another planet that, despite being eons further forward on the evolutionary and evolved chain, were far more human than human and destroyed themselves. Sorry, but that ain’t a poster boy I can champion. If anything he was raised to be something he isn’t.
An even bigger issue than this is that Superman effectively killed off any chance the DC Universe ever had of blossoming and finding a cycle of perpetual growth. Every single issue one could dream up can be simply solved by the word “Superman.” That’s it. Done, dusted, and ditched. No issue. Hell, THE ONE that did come up was nothing but (imagine this) an ancient Kryptonian horror experiment. Yup, the being that “killed” Superman is OF COURSE originally from Krypton. He’s since been marginalized while Supes has “evolved” even more. Though, the entirety of DC is FILLED with “could of been” characters that fall flat or hit that glass ceiling “because Superman.”
DR FATE: Magic right? I mean literally the analogue for Dr Strange (likely higher up the chain though) and the pinnacle of a direct weakness for Supes. Yet, no helmet and he’s pretty much a kid’s birthday party show performer.
ORION: On paper we’ve got a winner. In reality? Eh. Daddy has whipped his ass and so has the Silver Surfer (who is in the 2nd tier of Marvel power beings, which says a hell of a lot). Though, pretty recently Supes has had no issue with him and with the powering up of the golden boy in blue he’s only gotten closer/more powerful (on paper) to the son of Darkseid.
SPECTRE: For all tense and purposes this shouldn’t even be anything other than an answer to “who could whip Superman’s ass without thinking about it.” BUUUTTT he’s restricted by DIVINE LAW which is even more strict, dutiful, and focused than Superman’s own boy scout code. How convenient for ol’ blue boy.
PHANTOM STRANGER: Pretty much all everything and master of pretty much all magic. Though, he hardly ever appears unless the issue is grandiose in nature and needs the attention of someone of his level of being. So he’s never around and if he is … he’s gonna be on the side wearing red undies.
CAPTAIN MARVEL/SHAZAM: Honestly this guy SHOULD be the centerpiece character in DC. He can go toe to toe with Supes in strength and essentially all other arenas. There’s even a magic element and oh yeah, literal power of the GODS! Still second fiddle though despite having taken on/bested a whacked out Spectre.
Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Eclipso, Anti-Monitor ….. it goes on and on. Honestly, it pisses me off the more I write about it. So …. yeah, I’m going to just say once more:
Superman sucks …