Monday, February 01, 2016

Real Name: Kal-El (aka; Clark Kent)
First Appearance: Action Comics #1 (April, 1938)
Fight Club Ranking: #6

Featured Fights:
- vs BATMAN: The Dark Knight Returns #4 (Jun 1986)
- vs THE CRYSTAL CREATURE: Secret Origins #32 (Nov 1988)
- vs DOOMSDAY: Superman #74 (Dec 1992)
- vs SAVIOUR: Action Comics #713 (Sep 1995)
- vs MASSACRE: Target: Superman #1 (1995)
- vs JUGGERNAUT: DC versus Marvel #1 (Mar 1996)
- vs HULK: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs METALLO: Marvel versus DC #3 (Apr 1996)
- vs MOLE MAN: DC versus Marvel #4 (Apr 1996)
- vs BATMAN: The Dark Knight Strikes Again #1 (Nov 2001)
- vs CATWOMAN: Batman #611 (Mar 2003)
- vs BATMAN: Batman #612 (Apr 2003)
- vs THOR: JLA/Avengers #1 (Sep 2003)
- vs FLASH: Flash #209 (Jun 2004)
- vs EQUUS: Superman #206 (Aug 2004)
- vs GREEN ARROW: Superman/Batman #14 (Jan 2005)
- vs WONDER WOMAN & FREEDOM FIGHTERS: Superman/Batman #15 (Feb 2005)
- vs ULTRAMARINE CORPS: JLA: Classified #3 (Mar 2005)
- vs PREUS: Action Comics #824 (Apr 2005)
- vs CAPTAIN MARVEL: Superman #216 (Jun 2005)
- vs ATOMIC SKULL: Superman/Batman #21 (Sep 2005)
- vs BATMAN/KRYPTONITE MAN: Superman/Batman #23 (Nov 2005)
- vs MONGUL: Infinite Crisis #1 (Dec 2005)
- vs JIMMY OLSEN: All-Star Superman #4 (Jul 2006)
- vs GENERAL ZOD: Action Comics #846 (Feb 2007)
- vs DARKSEID: Superman/Batman #42 (Jan 2008)
- vs INJUSTICE LEAGUE: Justice League of America #15 (Jan 2008)
- vs SINESTRO CORPS: Green Lantern #25 (Jan 2008)
- vs BATMAN: Justice League: The New Frontier #1 (May 2008)
- vs FLASH: Flash: Rebirth #3 (Aug 2009)
- vs BATMAN: Superman/Batman #78 (Jan 2011)

The last seven days have seen a whole lot of concerned discussion amongst the comics intelligencia about the foundational principles and morals that make DC's Man of Steel: Superman.

As you might expect, some of the freest voices on Twitter have been those presently unattached. I've seen the likes of Tom Breevoort, Erik Larsen, Dan Slott and Kurt Busiek giving their take intermittently, and a lot of what they've had to say has been encouraging. The topic boils down to whether or not Superman should kill - and the prevailing wisdom seems to be: No - he should not.

The topic was a hot button issue throughout 2013 after Zack Snyder's Man of Steel was released to theatres in July. The newest movie version of one of the world's best known pop culture icons left a lot to be desired. The lacklustre presentation culminated in the demolition of densely populated Metropolis, and Superman's decision to execute General Zod after the fact. In pursuing the fight in a modern city, Superman could be rightly described as party to the destruction. His decision to choose lethality - a departure from established mythology. So-called "realism" meeting alien superheroes.

The scene ultimately reads like leftovers from the ill-fated mid-2000s, mid-tier, Dr. George Miller directed Justice League film. That movie was skewered by simmering creative differences and the crippling 2007 writer's strike, but it's said to have pulled directly from storylines spun out of Infinite Crisis. When Wonder Woman snapped grand villain Maxwell Lord's neck in comics, it caused a mild stir. I saw it as the reclamation of what makes an Amazon warrior princess unique. A challenge of ideology more appropriately applied to a character in need of a stronger sense of individuality. An opposing facet to set her apart from her fellows in the "Trinity". Superman and Batman do not kill.

The controversially lethal Superman receives a sequel in March when the cinematic DC Universe converges on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It's the continuation of the adventures of Henry Cavill's Man of Steel, with Ben Affleck joining in as Batman, and Gal Gadot stepping up to be Wonder Woman. So far, it has all the hallmarks of another dour appropriation of the hero-on-hero conflict that's come to define the last ten years in superheroes - opposing Captain America: Civil War, the story told across the street. Early indications suggest Superman's destructive urges provoke Batman into the titular conflict. Wonder Woman will probably play peacemaker of sorts. The course will, in some fashion, be corrected, and the world will move on, but the original question remains.

There was a lot to dislike about Man of Steel, but it was particularly galling to see Superman participate the way he did. So much of the character's storied tradition is in limiting human casualty. Last month, The Death of Superman finally joined the feature fight archive. That story begins with a tooth and nail struggle that takes place at the residence of a single mother with two boys. In Superman #74, he gives up chase of Doomsday to first ensure the safety of those immediately in danger. Even in a story on course to tell a rare tale of Superman's physical vulnerability - it's the vulnerability of those around him that takes dramatic precedent. Superman doesn't kill - and doesn't willingly throw away the lives of those around him. Not in rural outskirts, not in Metropolis CBD.

The issue of whether or not Superman kills is an important one, but it's arguably a mere by-product of a broader on-going assassination of the character. Tom Breevoort rightly pointed to age brackets more prone to be afraid of ridicule for appreciating a character who simply does the right thing - but I don't think it stops there. Throughout the internet age, confused misapprehension has perpetuated myths about the Superman - he's too powerful, he's just a cape, he never loses, I haven't for read 70 years so its too hard to get into, etc. Left unchallenged, these perceptions run the risk of becoming a convenient reality. As publishing directives, they're a well deserved slow death.

It's true, LA's warped search for reality has a lot to answer right now. They shut down New York and changed everything forever. But LA never had a firm grip on superheroes and it's hard to get angry at them for that. The comics knew better but they sold themselves short. Literally. Instead of selling the unique virtues of decades of serial publication and fantasy, they chose to sell to unfounded fears with reboots, reductions, regressions. Buy our product - it has no future, it has no past!

Superman in a t-shirt, Superman as Doomsday, Superman wearing armor, Superman unchained, Superman unjust god among us, Superman the destroyer, Superman the killer, Superman the dictator, Superman the villain. The ultimate permission for pathetic, snivelling humans to finally open their resentment for a figure who refused to choose evil, weakness, the easy way out. Lex Luthor never turned the people against the last son of Krypton as effectively as DC Comics finally did.

Superman doesn't kill. Superman isn't real. He's an impossibility given two-dimensional flesh. He's a sun-powered titan on a collision course with the impossible. He shows us everything we can never be, but should strive for any way. He's impossibly strong - and that's the way we like it!

He can do many things, but there's something Superman shouldn't do. Superman shouldn't kill.

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