Somewhere between my transformative experience watching Superman II, and my utter bafflement reading J. Michael Straczinski’s Superman: Earth One, I’ve been on a bit of a Superman walkabout. Mostly, I’ve been trying to find the essential components – precisely what makes a Superman story feel “right.”
It’s easy to point to All-Star Superman as the apotheosis of what makes a great Superman story. Too easy, is the problem. All-Star Superman is nothing less than a love-letter to the entire idea of the character’s mythos, told in twelve parts and then…complete. And until some young, misguided upstart decides to write a sequel in 15 years, it will remain a perfect artifact.
It’s also a story emphasizing what Superman cares about when he’s only got a finite time left to live, and while that’s totally awesome…most Superman stories occur when he’s NOT dying.
So in the meantime, there’s 70-odd years of “everyday” Superman stories to go through, and god knows they can’t all be winners – but there’s got to be a few gems in there, too. So, looking at some of the high points (meaning, the collected editions I can grab through the library), what makes Superman, well, Superman?
Essential Component #1: Superman’s gotta smile. Read more »