Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Battle of the Super-Origins: Superman - Part 3

The Superman

Finally, here is the section about Clark in Metropolis. His reasoning for coming to the city is still the same: he comes to Metropolis to help people in need. They are all determined in fighting for their cause. All the versions also treat everyone the same way. He treats Luthor the same but he ain’t afraid to choke or punch one.  He regards his parents in the same way and he kind of treats Lois the same way. Of course, there are still differences. His friendship with Jimmy in the Nu52 is different and the way he treats his true heritage is different. In MoS, he doesn’t embrace his Kryptonian heritage like he does in all of the others. He’s like “So I’m an alien with knowledge of my home world? Meh, I’ll pass.”

Insert Wayne Brady joke here.

What I really want to talk about here is when he is in uniform. We actually have two types of Supermen here instead of four:
  • The traditional/stereotypical Superman aka “The Christopher Reeve,”
  • And The Golden Age Superman aka “The Hardcore Superman." 

The tradition Superman is the one everyone knows and loves. There’s a reason I call this version “The Christopher Reeve.” Byrne’s version and Johns’ version fit into this type pretty easily. After all, they were mostly influenced by the first Superman movie. They’re the ultimate Boy Scout, saying awe-inspiring speeches along the way. For example, there’s the interview with Lois in MoS and there’s his conversation with Jimmy in Secret Origin. Now that doesn’t mean they don’t treat villains with a light touch. Just watch what MoS Superman does to Bizarro and see what Johns’ version does to his superpowered opponents and some of the military.

Coming in Summer 2013: Mr. Not-So-Nice Guy starring Jackie Chan as Superman!

Then we get the type I would like to call “The Hardcore Superman.” In other words, it’s the Golden Age Superman. The Nu52 version easily fits that model. Morrison did the unthinkable and decided to literally go back to basics with this new version. He’s at the same power level he was back in the day and he plays by his own rules even if it peeves off the law. What’s cool about this version is that he takes it all with stride.  When his opponents become more and more of a threat throughout the origin, he keeps his cool. He beats the human threats pretty easily: Corrupt businessmen, the police, the military, and wife beaters. The challenge really comes when he has to go up against the Collector and Metal-Zero and he handles it like any Superman would…with a ship to the face!

 "Superman using a small ship to beat Brainiac” is brought to you by Grant Morrison. Coming soon is“Superman sings Darkseid to death".

Birthright is kind of in the middle when it comes to which type he fits in. He does seem more in tune with “The Hardcore Superman”. He’s got a lot of the attributes of the Golden Age Superman. At times, he’s rough with his bad guys. I mean, he pretty much went into “real wrath of God” mode when he saw the village getting attacked in Africa. Another big example is when he’s in Metropolis during his first outing. After he stops a couple of high school kids from pulling a Columbine, he finds the gun dealer and…well… he does the unthinkable with the guy. By the way, I really like this moment:

 I may not be the Law, but dang it, I’m scaring you straight!

Unlike the Nu52 version, he’s at least approachable. He does reach out to Lois and confide in her during his time in Metropolis. 

All of these guys have to prove to the city and the world that they are not a threat and that they are here to help. The only one who doesn’t face any opposition is the MoS Superman. The rest go through the same process. When it’s revealed that he is an alien or that he's different, everyone begins to distrust him. The Nu52 Superman was already getting it since his city didn’t take kindly to vigilantes. Johns’ version gets his cuts in when the military (or more like General ‘A-hole’ Lane) attacks Superman towards the end of the book. The one who probably gets it worst is the Birthright version. I mean, he gets it all throughout the book.

There is more I can talk about, but here is a good place to stop. So in saying all of that, which version of Superman do I like the best? It’s tough because they all have attributes that I like. They also have moments in the books that are purely awesome. Well… I like all of the Supermen! Yes, I’m going there. I like that we get to see different aspects of Superman. We get the side that’s kind, relatable, and inspiring. We also get the side that I would like to call “BAMF”…or BMS (Bad Motha Sucka).  Well, now it’s time to make my final decision…


So to conclude this long, 2,000+ word part, which version of Kal do I like the best? As I said before, it’s tough to choose. It’s the main character of the book and I personally think that he is written well in all four of them. Looking at all of the different things I talked about in the last three posts, the answer is kind of obvious: it’s Birthright for me. I think it’s cool to see Clark deal with all of the problems that get thrown in his face here. We actually get a lot of Clark here. We get an extended flashback scene, a pre-Superman adventure in Africa, an important time in Smallville, and his time in the city. He seems pretty relatable here as well. He’s a guy who’s found his calling and is struggling to do it.

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

Now this doesn’t mean I don’t like the other versions. They all try to show the character at his best and they work. It’s just I kept going back to this one book when I wanted to read something. I still go back to it. If there is one book that probably centered on Clark the most, it’s this one. Now that I’ve gotten pass this hard part, there are two more places for me to go: the art and the story. I’ll see ya next time.

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