Happy Birthday, Superman! + Jyger’s Favourite 5 – 5 Favourite Superman Stories
Hey guys, it’s February 29th! Guess who is celebrating their birthday today? 😀
… … … …Okay, let’s try THAT again…
I swear to God, YouTube!!!
There we go! 😀 And yeah, go figure that, in official DC canon, Superman is a leap year baby. Personally, I would prefer to celebrate his birthday as being the date when Action Comics #1 came out, but since there is an actual birth date given for him in the comics, here we are. And for a man who has had stories told about him for nearly 80 years, who has saved the world more times than I could dare count, and has been rebooted and given multiple continuities devoted to telling various tales about him, naturally, everybody’s gonna have their favourites. As such, here are five of my personal favourite stories, both from the comics, the various animated series he’s been involved in, and the movies he’s been a part of. So, I suppose we should start off with the most obvious one that anyone who reads my blog knows is gonna be on here, simply because I’ve gone on and on about it already, meaning I won’t have as much new to say about it here…
In looking back on this book, it’s all the more clear to me just how much potential the New 52 Superman has as a character that is ultimately squandered. He is probably among the more imperfect versions of Superman to be shown off in the mainstream, and yet is shown to nonetheless be an inspiring and heroic individual primarily due to one thing: He never, ever gives up. He keeps trying, no matter how bleak things get, even when his own life is on the line, and even if the entire world pleaded for his sake not to. And sometimes, that means failing and eating dirt. But what’s always been most important to him is to never stop trying. Like all past versions of Superman have done when they are at their best, he inspires others to be better through his actions and his kindness. In addition to all that, though, there’re also great cameos by Batman and Wonder Woman that actually make sense within the context of the story and aren’t just shoved in to make a buck, there’s plenty of Lois Lane being awesome, Lex Luthor remains the great and evil puppeteer, and even Jimmy Olsen gets some nice moments in here and there. There are some clichés of modern Superman stories involved, like the military being leery and untrusting of him, and the reveal of another alien who has appeared on Earth to contest him, but there’s just something about the context in which it’s presented here that works a lot better. If you want a good Superman read set in the New 52, this is probably the one for you.
Probably my favourite modern reinterpretation of Superman’s origins. Granted, it could’ve been stretched out to a four or five parter so that the stuff involving Clark as Superman could’ve been expanded on more, but hey, he’s technically still getting started in the next few episodes anyway, so it works fine for what it is. It even addresses my biggest gripe involving Superman’s origins, which, if you’ve read my blog for a while now, you already know: HOW THE FUCK DID NOBODY ELSE ON KRYPTON KNOW THE END WAS COMING AND DIDN’T HAVE A MEANS OF GETTING OFF THE PLANET?!?! Here, though, the explanation given actually makes a lot of sense. Making Lois more of a rival to Clark kinda works well, too, and lets us see her really working her ass off and taking some serious risks, to where it’s obvious and forgivable that she needs saving so much. Any of us would under those circumstances, it just happens to be her. Granted, I don’t quite get why her skirt is so short that, when Superman carries her around, everyone beneath her is getting a shot of her underwear, but whatever. Point is, it’s a great first outing for the hero and look at his origins for a new generation.
The more I think about it, the more I realize how this is pretty much the archetype of the classic Superman story: Mad scientist creates a device that’ll severely fuck up the world, Lois gets into trouble trying to do her job, Superman has to get involved, and through his quick thinking and incredible powers, he saves the day. And honestly, even after nearly 75 years, it still holds up really well. Yeah, there’s some stuff involving his origins that are talked about that I don’t agree with, like the idea of him being naturally super without the need for the sun, or the fact that he was raised in an orphanage, but, all things considered, not the worst version of his origins I’ve ever seen, either. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s in public domain right now, so there’s very little in the way of stopping you from doing so.
What DO you get for the man who has everything? Well, if you wanna stay on his good side, probably not what Mongul got him. This story’s actually been retold and reimagined from its original comic form at least a couple of times. The ones I’m thinking of are in the fantastic Justice League Unlimited series, and as an episode of Supergirl, entitled For The Girl Who Has Everything. Admittedly, I lean more towards the JLU version, but that could simply be because it’s the first one I saw. However, all three tend to show that the most painful and heartbreaking thing you can do to a person is to make them live out their perfect scenario and then force them to abandon it for the greater good. Also, the comic has probably one of Jason Todd’s best moments EVER. It’s emotional, it’s action packed, it’s For The Man Who Has Everything.
Oftentimes considered by many to be one of the all-time greatest stories of the Man of Tomorrow. Once again, the animated version is the one I first saw, but having read the comics since then, I can tell you there are things about it that they change from the original that I both like and dislike. In terms of the like category, I think I prefer the ending of the movie, where we see Luthor, in what could be his final days, finally understanding Superman and what he stood for, what he himself could’ve been all along if it’d really mattered to him, and while he doesn’t necessarily redeem himself, he does make a gesture that perhaps will let his life have some positive meaning. In terms of the dislike, though, the pacing is a bit off, but that’s kinda obvious, due to trying to crunch down a 12 issue comic mini-series into a 76 minute movie. However, while there are of course some things that had to be cut, the one thing that I wish to God could’ve been kept in wasn’t. I don’t why, if maybe there was concern about showing this for whatever reason, but it is quite possibly the greatest scene involving Superman that you will ever see in your life. Here’s the context: Superman is dying. No ifs, ands, or buts about it, he is going to die. As such, in his last days, he is spending his time doing as much as he can for the world as possible, saving more lives and accomplishing greater wonders than he ever has before. And right as he’s in the middle of all that, his super hearing intercepts a call made by a single child…and this is what happens.
THAT is Superman. THAT is the Man of Tomorrow. How great is this scene, you might still ask yourself? Mark Waid called it the most moving scene in a Superman book ever, and he has read EVERY SINGLE COMIC ABOUT SUPERMAN. As I once shared on my blog, POW once awarded it as the greatest moment in comic book history. As TV Tropes put it, “If you took all eighty years of the character’s history and distilled it into a single pure moment containing all his best qualities, that one page would be it. He inspires strength, wisdom, kindness, freedom, value and hope in just a few words. And he saves a life.” And in terms of how it impacted the people who read it…well, let’s let this person tell you.
… … …I’d put down my fedora for this, but let’s be honest, I don’t really wear it much anymore. It’s gotten kinda old. Regardless, this is where we get into real talk, so just bear with me. A lot of people ask me from time to time how I can care so much about superheroes, when they’re just fictional characters drawn on paper. And, even I’ve asked myself on occasion why it feels like all I know how to write about are superheroes, or people and characters that are heroic in their own ways. This is the reason why: Through their stories, superheroes inspire people. They inspire us to be better, to be stronger, to be truer to ourselves, and to be kind and noble. I think that’s also why I watch Atop The Fourth Wall and find myself in the same corner as Lewis Lovhaug when he talks about comics. He once said that “Superheroes are basically the equivalent of modern-day knights-errant, they go out and help people and fight injustices. But a lot of the best superhero comics are the ones not actually about superheroes hitting supervillains or each other, anything like that. It’s the ones that show that superheroes are about kindness and decency and something far more noble than the adolescent power fantasies that people often critique them as”. I tend to agree. Sure, it’s always great to see superheroes give evil people their comeuppance, and of course I still love a good superhero brawl as much as anyone, but THIS is what they should always be about. They are kind, they are compassionate, and in their fictional tales, they show us what we can be in real life.
…Oh yeah, and one other problem one can have with the animated version of All-Star Superman is that he apparently kills Solaris. I don’t know enough about Solaris to know if he really qualifies as a living creature, so if he does, then yeah, that’s a strike against the movie. Really, the only reason I’m okay with it in Superman Unbound is because, by then, Brainiac was more…well…Um, Obi-Wan, you wanna help me out here?
Thank you. lol
And those are my favourite Superman stories. Got one that wasn’t on here? Leave it in the comments section, and don’t worry, I’ll likely be sharing more of my favourite stories and moments in a couple of years when The Man of Tomorrow hits 80 years old. And hey, be sure to leave any words you’d like to share with Superman on his birthday on your own, as well. Ja né!