The DC Universe is filled with heroes. Batman is an embodiment of vengeance and justice in a level of human perfection. Green Lantern is a willful space-cop. Wonder Woman is an ambassador of both peace and war from myths and legends. Everywhere you look, you can find a hero that represents something different.
All of them look up to Superman.
He’s the first hero, the greatest hero. When shit hits the fan, Superman is the one that’s going to save everybody. If you look at most major DC events, Superman has been the one to end things—the one to step in and solve the problem. He’s been a deciding factor in all of the Crises, certainly. Just imagine the awe that the civilians in the DC Universe feel when they think of Superman. I described him as Jesus in a cape a second ago, and it’s incredibly accurate—hell, he even died and came back to life. The entire DC universe mourned his death for months, and even that couldn’t keep him from returning to save them all.
All of this is absolutely key in why Superman is such an incredible character.
Once you process all of that, consider this: he’s Superman. He can do anything, because he’s Superman. That’s what he does. And he’s been dropped into a world that is determined to break him.
Superman’s “rogues gallery” has never been truly iconic, outside of Lex Luthor. He has a handful of other significant villains, of course, but outside of MAYBE Doomsday (due to the infamy) and General Zod (due to the second movie), your random person on the street couldn’t name them, unlike many Batman villains.
That’s arguably because the best Superman villains aren’t out to kill him. I mean, sure—that would be nice—but it’s not why they’re effective. They can’t kill Superman. It’s not going to happen
again.Instead, they can break him. They can attack those close to him and destroy Superman’s spirit. His heart.
This is why, despite being exceptionally dated by today’s standards in both story and art (in some cases—I’m looking at you, Jon Bognadove), I feel that the 90’s Superman books are key. They focused on the Superman books as one great ongoing soap opera, with each title telling a different part of the story every week. The Superman books were, essentially, a weekly comic for years. Action Comics, Superman, Adventures and Man of Steel told a cohesive story that addressed not only Superman, but—and again, this is important—his supporting cast. Not just Lois Lane, Perry White and Jimmy Olsen, but Lucy Lane, Ron Troupe, Cat Grant, Bibbo, Professor Hamilton, Maggie Sawyer and others. We got to know all of these characters intimately. We got to see just how much they meant to Superman…and why, when something happened to them, he felt it keenly.
Some of the greatest stories of that era, and also the early 00’s, dealt with Superman and his relationships on a psychological level, as we saw the perfect man slowly being broken down…and ultimately rising from that darkness. Because he’s Superman. It’s what he does. And he inspires.
Even after everything, he’s the ultimate messenger, showing us the rays of light in a bleak world.
That’s why I love Superman.
I wrote this and stand by it.
Today, DC officially confirmed that Clark Kent (better known as Superman, less-frequently known as Kal-El) and Lois Lane were never married in the new DC continuity. They aren’t even an item. Lois Lane is dating somebody else.
While I’m not thrilled with it, I’m okay with it. The Clark/Lois/Superman love-triangle is incredibly important to the basic mythology of the character, and while I feel that the marriage provided incredible character growth, I’m not fundamentally opposed to the idea that DC has decided to move in a different direction after fifteen years of the two being married, after twenty years of Lois knowing his secret. I’m enthusiastic about the new creative teams on Superman and (especially) Action Comics, and I look forward to reading the new DC universe.
With that said, I’d like to take a moment to remember this couple, my one-true-pairing in all of comics. They were incredible, partners to the end, which is not something you see in many fictional relationships. Lois Lane was Clark’s equal. For every superpower she lacked, she made up for it in sheer determination and innovation.
I’m going to miss them.