Friday, April 26, 2024

Flashback Friday: "Superman: The City of Tomorrow Volume 1," AKA I Suppose Superman Can Be Entertaining After All!

I made a Facebook post once where I don't remember exactly what I said, but it was along the lines of: Superman as a character generally bores me and I usually only like stories with him that are out-of-continuity and have a great writer ("All-Star Superman," by Grant Morrison) or involve him acting out-of-character ("Red Son," and, "Injustice," come to mind). My statement was how the DC comic Universe Superman generally just doesn't have yarns that interest me. One of my friends, Brian Lan (who also does great work with the Hero Initiative) saw this and didn't so much take offense as he wanted to school me on how, "Superman," can actually give us some good stories. He recommended a number of books to me and I made a request to my library so I could try them out.

One of the books Brian told me to try out was the collection, "Superman: The City of Tomorrow, Volume 1." It featured a number of Superman stories from the early 2000s that he told me didn't require too much knowledge of Supes to follow along with. Having read the collection, I will admit I was entertained. If one goes into stories keeping one big thing in mind, they can work well. the main thing to remember is that Superman is inextricably good and wants to help. If you hold onto that as a focal point you can enjoy many tales of Superman (or sometimes his civilian identity, Clark Kent). 

The concept with Superman is he faces an obstacle and finds a way to overcome it.  The obstacles can be big or small, but Superman's good heart and caring nature help him find a way. He has no ulterior motive, he just wants to help, and there is a kindness and purity to that which I mistook for boring at points but can see isn't boring so much as a starting point. It is a launchpad for stories about how someone who wants to be the best they can be towards others deals with a World where essentially nobody else thinks that way. Superman isn't cynical. Superman isn't spiteful. He's Superman, and the fellow has everyone's best interest at heart, against all odds.

Superman might try to help a man keep his house from being demolished by greedy building developers or he could end up having an epic fight in space with an interplanetary tyrant. He'll always try his and best and attempt to see the best in others. Garth Ennis, of all people (the man generally seems to hate superheroes and writes them as terrible people) wrote one of the best summaries of how Superman views, "Us," as Earth years ago in a comic that wasn't even about Superman--it was focused on a creation of Ennis named Hitman in a different comic than what I read but it bears sharing. Observe...

So yes, when you get some skilled writers (Joe Kelly plus Jeph Loeb and Mark Millar before those two went downhill in storytelling) and great artists (Doug Mahnke and Ed McGuinness to name a couple) you can create some solid Superman tales if you go into the tales knowing what to expect. I suppose my friend Brian had a good point and I thank him for turning me onto some solid Superman tales. I plan to pick up a book chronicling the recent, "Warworld," stuff as he told me that was excellent as well. I look forward to reading that too now!

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