Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Battle of the Super-Origins: "Clark Kent: Mild-Mannered Reporter"

Today’s post is going to talk about something a little different: “Clark Kent: Mild-mannered Reporter.” Oh yes, I’m talking about the disguise that Clark has to have in order to have some sort of a normal life. Is Superman the real deal and Clark Kent the disguise? I’m not here to answer that question, but I do believe that there is a part of Clark Kent that is a disguise. So with all that being said, let’s get “Swell”.

...Swell. Who even says that? Oh well...

In MoS, the disguise is created so Clark can move freely through Metropolis without someone saying “Say Jim! Wooo!” and other things to that effect. All he does is put on some glasses, slick his hair back, and slouch a little bit. The only times we really see this disguise in action is in issue four where he is on his “date” with Lois, some of issue five, and a little bit of issue six. It easily fools Lois and Lex Luthor. He doesn't really do too much to stand out except when there’s trouble. If I had to compare his disguise to anything, it would be that this disguise seems more “George Reeves” and “Dean Cain.”

Great disguise...

Birthright’s version of the disguise is probably the most detailed version out there. While Clark is in Smallville, he realizes that if he is ever going to let the populace to trust him, he has to reveal his face. He still wants to have a normal life though. That’s where the disguise comes in. We then get two well-laid out pages of “Super Clark” becoming “Just Clark”. He wears baggy clothes to hide his physique, slouches a little bit, quiets his voice, and wears the glasses. Ma Kent even gives Clark a book on acting that he does use in perfecting his disguise.

 This... is a pretty good page. 

 In the disguise, he tries to not stick out, be a bit dull, be shy, and be meek. He'll pull off a clumsy move, but it's not a constant thing with this version. The disguise has everyone fooled, even Lois and Lex. There is one point where Lois notices but she just dismisses it. Perry even  wonders if this is the same Clark who traveled the world and got great stories. He does get dissed by some of his co-workers though for being dull and boring. I guess I could say that his disguise is a mix of all of the ones that have come before.

The disguise from Secret Origin is essentially a Christopher Reeve impression. That’s why there isn’t much to say about it. We don’t see how he comes up with his disguise, but I can guess that it comes from dealing with extraordinary powers for about ten years. In the disguise, he’s overly clumsy, pretty meek, really nice, and has the lamest excuses.  He is the epitome of a geek.

There are points where he does use the disguise to his advantage. In the scene involving Lois and Corben, he comes up to Lois and introduces himself to Corben. He then gives John the handshake he kind of gave Zod in Superman 2. Heck, I’ll just show one of the funniest pages ever below. He also uses the disguise to throw off hints that he is Superman. When Lois starts her intruding again, he goes “Clark Kent” on her and it works…for now anyway. Remember, these two do get together eventually.


Finally, we have the Nu52 version. We also don’t see how he came up with his disguise, but we can pretty much figure out how and why he came up with it. He wears baggy clothes, wears his hair in a shaggy way, and has the glasses to boot. His attitude is that he is a normal guy who seems to get beat up for reporting about Metropolis’ corruption. His disguise may actually be the most casual one of the four. I don't know if it is the most normal though. That title may go to MoS.

So which is the best disguise?  This one is a more personal one. Personally, I have been more of a fan of the Dean Cain version of the disguise. I feel like it comes off more naturally. Now I’m not saying that I hate the Chris Reeve version of the disguise. “Clark Kent” in Secret Origin probably had some of the funniest moments in the book. The scene involving Corben and the interview with Lex Luthor are a couple of examples. Still, that disguise just feels too forced. I get that he has to hide his powers, but I don't if he would have to go to this extreme. Even Lois notices that Clark is obviously hiding something---Twice!!  Plus, I don’t know if being mild-mannered includes this:
Anyway, which is the best one? I have to go with Birthright for a few reasons. First, we see a well-thought out creation of the disguise. We also get to see how “Clark Kent” is viewed by other people. It seemed that a lot more thought went into how this persona of Clark would be portrayed. I also like how it is a mixture of what came before. So, the point goes to Birthright.

Score tally:
Man of Steel (MoS): 2
Superman Birthright : 2
Superman Secret Origin : 3
Superman and the Men of Steel (...Nu52): 2

And now... it's time to get to the harder decisions: Clark Kent/Superman, the art, and the story. 


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