Corey Trench's Blog: My Growing Life

Action Comics #900: Why Superman Still Matters
April 30, 2011, 4:02 pm
Filed under: Life

Next weekend, we will see a caped figure with the power of a god save the human race from certain destruction at the hands of evil. Why does this all sound so familiar? 

It is commonplace in today’s Hollywood cinema for our superheros to be larger than life. They can do amazing things. They can be seen as a foil to our mortal selves. They are a spectacle.

However, there was a time when just the mere idea of a brightly colored, costumed “super” being with abilities “far beyond those of mortal men” was just plain silly.

The 1930s. America was in the midst of a economic downturn (how’s that for timely?) and people were looking for anything to escape the harsh reality of their impoverished lives. Comic books were just one form entertainment that was accessible enough to those wanting to be somewhere else for a little while. The stories were about men who were adventurers, detectives, and war heroes–everyday, normal men.

Enter Joe Shuster and Jerry Segal, two Jewish Americans who dreamed up a character that was anything but normal. He was born on the distant planet of Krypton, a world inhabited by a advanced society with superior technology, and the last of his kind. Jor-El, his father, aware of the planet’s impending doom, created a rocket ship to carry him to Earth. There he would have powers that would make him faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

He would be a “super” man.

Joe and Jerry gave their character unbelievable power. He would be able to lift cars and bullets would bounce off his chest, which had a yellow and red “S” on it. At the time, this was simply unheard of.

Just imagine, if you will, a scene where a caped man is lifting a car over his head with distressed criminals running around in a panic. This was the cover of Action Comics #1. It became the best selling comic ever and would usher in the age of the superhero.

Now, 899 issues later, we have Action Comics #900. It is evident that the character has gone through many changes over the years (the most controversial being Superman renouncing his US citizenship) but the core principals of what made him great to begin with are still there. He is a figure with great power, but is still one of us. He is an example of what mankind is capable of, having the ability to inspire and go beyond what we think is possible.

It is no wonder why Superman continues to be a part of our culture. It can be wittnesed whenever we open a comic book or watch the latest superhero flick on the silver screen.

Now, we believe a man can fly.


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