On Superman

Oh, hello. I was just thinking about about Superman.

Now, despite my intermittent grumbling about the military conspiracy as over-used plot device and "turning the public against super-heroes with little to no effort" as over-used plot device that we need to go back in time and assassinate before it rises to power, and despite widespread tongue-clucking about there being no Superman in any of the three or four Superman comics being sold, this past year hasn't been a bad one for the Man of Steel. I enjoyed the Mon-El, Nightwing and Flamebird stories in Superman and Action, for example, and World of New Krypton was an entertaining diversion into politics and subterfuge. Though if returning to the status quo was the intent all along it would have been more satisfying (to me, at least) if New Krypton had been shrunken again, rather than being blown up.

However enjoyable it was, I was looking forward to seeing Superman come back to Earth and get into some adventures - maybe fight a giant robot or thwart an invasion by dinosaur men. Or, I don't know, smack Shrapnel around. Stop Kobra from blowing up an orphanage.

Instead, walking and philosophizing. Now, I'm not opposed to my super-heroes having some depth, but... I think that I have to take you on a tangental but relevant trip before I can finish what I'm saying. It's from way, way back in Superman No.17 and it's what got me thinking about this much-discussed subject in the first place.

Clark Kent is covering the execution of arch-fiend Luthor, when suddenly:


Energized by the electrical charge, Luthor escapes and resumes his life of crime. As he and his men are robbing a train, Superman intervenes, and a car fight ensues.


But Luthor is not quite powerful enough to defeat Superman, and so he flees. His only chance is to acquire the Powerstone, a huge gem that Superman ends up with after he stops Luthor from making off with it.

Luthor outwits Superman with a fake newspaper story that sets himself up as Allerton, an expert in mystical gemstones.

He then grow to enormous size, hits Superman with a bridge, steals his powers and goes on a crime spree. Later, Superman plays on his ego and tricks him into dropping the Powerstone. Justice is served!

I didn't really need to tell the whole thing, but I felt like providing some context for the important parts: the car fight and the bridge-smack. Oh, and I suppose that the part where Superman tricks Luthor is also relevant. 

See, Superman is, without a doubt, a smart guy. He's a Pulitzer-winning journalist, he's written a few novels - he's manifestly not some big dope. He's surely thought about just how many people that he can hope to save in the course of his life. But his powers are the super-equivalent of a hammer, and even a smart man with a hammer is more likely to view a large proportion of the problems he encounters as nails. Realizing that a woman blames him for not zapping her husband's brain tumour should not cause him to spiral into an existential crisis, especially given that there's no logic to the claim that he could have helped (see here). If anything, his reaction should be more along the lines of a frantic quest to save everyone, just flying around at lightspeed until he collapses from exhaustion. Because that is where Superman's depth lies: deep down, he wants to save everybody. Hell, if there's any reason to believe that he would be so affected by this woman and her slap, it's because of this drive.

In summation: I want to read comics about Superman being a strong man who tries to do good. Possibly by fighting someone with a car. I am prepared to argue at length about this.

Thank you.