Thoughts on Superman after reading Birthright
It took 2 sittings over the course of 7 days, one Sunday then the following Sunday when I felt I had the time to read all fo Superman: Brithright. I enjoyed it well enough. I really don’t know many specifics about narratives with Superman and prior to reading this I had some of the same problems with the character that other people generally mention:
He’s too good, where is the character drama, he’s a one trick positive pony
He has too many powers and writers just add shit as necessary
He just never seemed interesting.
His arch-enemy is just a human, that doesn’t seem fair.
Do all of his powers work all the time or is it selective? Like the hearing and the x-ray vision
When I first got into comics i picked up a collection of Alan Moore stories that had some Superman stories in it, I wasn’t too keen on him but I read the stories because i paid for them. It only makes sense. I kind of got into the drama but it still didn’t do much for me.
After reading Birthright I know what makes Superman comics interesting and it’s not Superman. It will probably never be Superman for me, he just can’t be the interesting part because he isn’t interesting. Clark Kent is the interesting part.
Superman Birthright is less about Superman and more about Clark Kent dealing with being Superman and having to deal with it. The human connection he attempts to make are interesting, his inability to make these connections and his hiding his alien self make him interesting. As a characters, Superman shows up to save the day and gets criticized for it by other people but Clark Kent has to deal with people and is working to make himself disappear so people don’t link him to Supes. There aren’t many interactions for Superman with anyone because he’s too busy saving the day then leaving before the military or the press have the time to figure out who he is. All of his character building is based out of who Clark is.
Thinking about those Moore stories I read they were about Superman and not Clark so they were boring. One of them it was Superman’s ‘birthday’ and Wonder Woman, Batman and Robin went to the Fortress of Solitude to celebrate but some alien villain sent a robot or something and I forgot what happened. Supes was angsting about belonging, i think, I haven’t read it in about 4 years. That story is forgettable to me because it’s him at the top and dealing with being at the top. I remember another one where Lois knew Clark was Superman, they were married but their life sucked. Or it was a dream caused by something from the robot, I really can’t remember.
I’m more interested in the human component of Superman comics than him being a hero. What makes him a flawed character, how do his powers and his true heritage interfere with his life? Maybe that’s why if I just picked up a comic and he was fighting aliens or other super-beings I’d be bored because i feel there’s a (human) connection missing.
I know I keep saying ‘human connection’ but I mean an emotion investment in the character and his life. What makes him feel and what makes him care other than his ability to feel life. How does that work?
Funny is growing up the 90s i didn’t watch Superman: The Animated Series, I just didn’t like the art style do I didn’t want to give it a chance. It is possibly the most mainstream opportunity I had to get to know the character as a kid. I loved Batman: The Animated Series - I guess the biggest factor then is my brothers didn’t watch it as often. There was just something that seemed dull about the character that I never really wanted to give him a chance.
Birthright was interesting but i think because it spent so much time showing how Clark has to deal with being Superman more than it showed Superman having to deal with being Superman. i don’t think many of my judgements have been changed but if I hear of a well written Superman trade coming out i might give it a once over and decide if I want to buy it instead of always walking past and buying something else.
I guess it’s also good to say, I don’t read many superhero comics. I have some of the staples of Batman (Killing Joke, Dark Knight etc) I have a few Avengers, a small number of Iron Man, one or two Daredevil, Green Arrow and a smattering of others. I mostly read independent comics, one off narratives, or a non superhero series. I have Y: The Last Man, The Gaiman run of Sandman, Preacher, the Boys, Sin City and some other long-form comics publications but a lot of one offs. I think i like knowing that the story has an end or that I don’t feel I have to buy 20 books across 5 series to get the full narrative. It’s nice to know there is only one continuity, if someone dies they’re not going to be revived or be alive in a different plane of existence, i think it’s nice to know that closure is a possibility and a probability.