I hate making posts with no visual aids, but I’m in that nebulous time period known as “after church” and “before work” trying to hit you with some content, so just imagine that I put different Superman illos throughout this thing, okay? I managed to find one image I already had uploaded, and it fits, so it’s going up!
Just so I can get this out of the way: Ed McGuinness, hands down, draws the best Superman. No contest. His Superman looks like a super-hero should look.
I’ve found that, in my experience, there are at least three different Supermen. They all share traits, but they all have enough differences to be distinct in my mind.
The first, and by far the most popular, is portraying Clark Kent as the true identity, and Superman as the uniform he puts on to go do good. I think of this one as Mild-Mannered Clark Kent as Superman. This is the one you tend to see in the comics. He’s got human parents, whose values he inherited, a human wife who means the world to him, and a human job that he’s inexplicably managed to hold onto. It’s the values of his parents that make him put on the costume. He has the ability to help, so therefore he has a responsibility to help. He does it out of what appears to be altruism, though one could say he gains some amount of pleasure from fulfilling his duty and making his parents proud. Also, he has a Kryptonian super-dog and possibly a cat. His cousin Kara has a super-horse who turns into a man who she has a crush on, but that’s so horrifically twisted we’re not even going to touch it. This Clark was also possibly Superboy, or would that be Young Superman now?
The other, and next popular (though it may technically be the most popular!) is Superman as Clark Kent, or Why Aliens Aren’t Human. Clark is his mask that he puts on so that he fits in. He’s an alien, and Jor-El’s exhortations to do right are what spur him on. He says stuff like “Great Rao!” and “Sweet Christmas!” He’s an alien masquerading as a human. Clark Kent is supposed to be him as human, blending in, but he way over does it. This Clark Kent is supposed to be down to earth, but he ends up slapstick. Knocking things over, tripping, “Whoops golly gee did I miss Superman again?,” “Hey Lois w-w-would you, ah, would you l-like to go to a movie?” and all that. He’d be a comedian if he got on Comedy Central. It’s like Superman as Jim Carrey. This is the one from the various movies. This one doesn’t have a super-dog, necessarily, but give them time.
The third, and my favorite, is the interpretation we saw in Miller’s Dark Knight Strikes Again. The Super Way or the Highway. He’s an alien with great power, and he knows it. He also knows that earth is horribly flawed, so he does what he can to fix it. Why? Well, because it’s right. Right pays no attention to laws, boundaries, or nations. He’ll cross your borders and fix your civil war himself if he has to, he just can’t let injustice stand. Toward the end of DKSA, this Superman asks his (equally awesome) daughter Kara Zor-El, “What do you want to do with our world?” He’s kind of a behind the scenes benevolent dictator. If you’re doing wrong, you’re in his sights, and let me tell you buddy, he’s got laser eyes. This is a change from the normal comics one in that he’s willing to do things for the greater good, rather than detouring around China because they don’t want him in their airspace. He’ll sling your giant robot into the sun (where it will eventually come back after hibernating, I’m certain) and then come back down and parade you in front of the people you were dictating… dictated… lording it over, just to show that the power is now theirs. He doesn’t have a superdog, and you better be thankful, because Kryptofascist (see what I did there?) will kill you for looking at him funny.
This is also the OG Superman, because he’ll come into your house and throw you up against a wall for hitting a woman. “Don’t get tough!” you’ll say. “‘Tough’ is putting mildly the treatment you’re going to get!” he’ll respond. “You’re not fighting a woman, now!”
In your face, wife beater.
So, yeah, Superfascist is the man. Have a desktop commemorating his awesomeitudinal cool factor.
What’s your favorite Superman?