If Superman were really super…

As I sit here watching my mother rest between sips of broth and earl gray tea (thank god she’s actually eating something; the nausea’s been so bad this weekend she can barely stomach much of anything (which is made even more tragic by the fact that it was just Thanksgiving!)), one of the bajillion things running through my head was the power of super-heroes, and what our world might be like if the Justice League of America, with all their resources, actually existed.

I’ve started a couple of posts about Wonder Woman that I’m fine tuning between mom-feedings and bathings (and actually drawing — the process of which feels absolutely wonderful, even though I don’t have much of a work station at my mom’s place), and I’ll get more into heavy super-hero stuff in a bit. But, as I was sitting next to her, watching my mom struggle against the discomfort of her numerous cancer-induced fevers…

… I was thinking, “wow, Superman’s from an advanced alien race; and he can see molecules; and he can move at the speed of light;  and he’s super-fucking intelligent, probably one of the smartest people in the galaxy (yes, even smarter than Batman –!); and he has crazy, unexpected resources (the scientists in the Bottle City of Kandor; the computers in Brainiac’s old labs; even Lex Luthor’s mad genius and inventions); and he’s got that Fortress of Solitude filled with the secrets of the universe (and a big ol’ cosmic zoo); and can fly across the world in 27.3 seconds or something like that; and if were real I bet he’d spend at least some of his down time with Wonder Woman and the Martian Manhunter and Mister Terrific and all of his hero chums to find cures to all the diseases that plague humanity, like cancer.”

And then I started daydreaming.  “If Superman were real, and he were really super, he’d fly right up to Inwood with some special device or formula he invented (maybe with the help of the Justice League, or maybe just something he whipped up in his free time) and he’d give it to my mom, and all the other people that needed it, and he’d cure them of their terrible diseases (maybe with one of those cool vision powers he has; like, he’d just cut the cancer out of their body with finely tuned heat vision, or something!).   And then all the people he helped cure would be free to give back to the world all the love and goodness and enthusiasm they have, and they could be doing super things too — super good things, for their family, friends, and neighbors; for their husbands or wives or kids or pets, or even for themselves. For science and art and all the things we think define the best of humanity.  So they could truly be super, just like the Man of Steel himself.”

And then I got to thinking about how awesome a world would be with a Superman in it, especially if he was the Superman I think he probably would be (those Kents raised him right). ’cause I think that world would be a lot brighter than the one we live in now.

A lot of people in fandom think Superman’s boring because he’s so powerful, but moreso I think because he’s so good.  I think people resent heroic characters like Superman and Wonder Woman because they’re incorruptible; because, even if they make mistakes, it’s always in the service of doing good, of being good, of trying to make the world a better place (there are other socio-political reasons people dislike/mistrust Superman, but what I’m talking about right now is his  general, in-universe approach to being a hero).

I’ve never thought being “good” was a problem, and I loathe the meme that says “good” is boring and that “sociopath” is kick-ass.    I rather dig Superman, at least conceptually, partly because he’s so good.  Because he tries so hard to do right by people for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do, the just thing to do (kind of like Nightwing, too).    Because being good to people is honorable and noble and worth doing; because it makes the world you live in and they live in better.  And I know that if Superman were around, and he wasn’t busy battling the Prankster or Maxima or that evil S.O.B. Doomsday,  he’d bring that special device or formula or whathaveyou over to my mom up here at the tippy-top of Manhattan, and he’d make the cancer destroying her body go away, just like a super-villain being locked away  in the Phantom Zone.  Then he’d probably sit with her for a sec while her strength came back — heck, he might even politely sip a couple of sips of the tea we have brewing (he wouldn’t want to take any away from mom, after all) — before flying off so he could do the same for so many others (and stop Darkseid from taking over the world between visits).   And, with so many of us happy and healed, we could help him do all that crime fighting and universe saving and good-deed-doing —  if he didn’t mind us being just as super as him.

But I don’t think he would.  He’s good that way.

6 thoughts on “If Superman were really super…

  1. Stephanie says:

    Superman & Wonder Woman get a lot of grief for their ‘goodness’, but it’s these two who give hope & inspiration to so many in need (says the girl with a crappy childhood who looked to the Amazon Princess for comfort & a role model).
    A world where heroes were truly ‘super’ & helped everyone, everywhere is a world I’d like to live in, too.

  2. Erik Warns says:

    I remember seeing Superman 3 as a kid and there was a scene where Jimmy got hurt at the chemical fire. Superman used his x ray vision to tell the medic that his leg was broken. I always wanted to write Superman stories where, in between fighting villains, he spent time in hospitals or around the world using his powers to help heal people. Superman 4 shows Superman speaking italian or some foreign language. I always thought what would make him interesting was not just his ability to fight evil but his compassion and intelligence.

  3. Phil Fogel says:

    Loving your posts, never stop dreaming, writing or drawing 🙂

  4. Ones the reasons I believe characters like Superman and Wonder Woman are not well liked and have to be made “bad ass” in order to seem appealing is that readers like to read tough angsty “macho” characters and often get a sense of indulgence at seeing such characters whether it be Pushier, Spawn, or who ever beat someone brutally and senselessly and take their anger out at the world in such fashion, they wish they themselves could do that or be like that character in the real world as opposed being just a fanboy or Joe Schmoe at the office. It’s one reasons why I think gritty superheroes and zombie post apocaloyptic stories are popular in comics right now due them really speaking to the fantasy of doing whatever you want and look tough, “sick, “badass”, or whatever while doing it, and problems and conflicts being solved through violence.

    Characters like Superman and Wonder Woman who try to solve those problems in a manner that’s more direct and yet less physical and more peaceful manner don’t live up to the fantasy of being able to solve problems with a gun barrel or a snap to the neck.

    It’s funny of how many heroes back in the SIlver Age (no matter how stupid and ludacris those stories were.)solved problems through creative means as opposed to killing the villains. Now you can agrue that was because of the comics code but now even in situations where you would think these super powerful people can stop like mind controlling the justice league or a person getting kidnapped, they resort to someone like slitting their throat or crushing their skull. Part of me thinks its the fault of the writer being creativity bankrupt and (or) people now just want to escape to a world where punching someone to a lifeless pulp is the answer to all their problems.

    Sorry about the rambling Phil.but I too just hate, hate, HATE the mentality that “having good and morals is boring”

  5. Dale says:

    We live in a dark cynical world, where the majority needs to think, nay demands that our heroes show feet of lead, that they are not heroes because they are inherently good, they must be as bad as the villans they face but have the strength to rise above it.

    Utter rubbish I say, keep our heroes good and pure of heart and try our best to emulate them.

    Great reading your Phil, take care of Mum and enjoy the holidays. We look forward to your work and know that you are off emulating your hero, doing good.

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