The Case For Superman
June 14th, 2015 | by Kyle King
Welcome to ComiConverse! I will be your friendly neighbourhood Superman writer.
Since this is my first posting here, I should begin with an introduction. My name is Kyle King, and I am a lifelong fan of superhero comic books who began reading them in the 1970s. While most of my previous writing has been about sports (at the weblog Dawg Sports and in the book Fighting Like Cats and Dogs), my work on comics has appeared at the Superman Homepage, ComicsVerse, and Progressive Boink.
All that’s just the introductory stuff, though.
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Let’s get to today’s fundamental question you need to have answered: Batman or Superman?
As with the dividing line separating Beatles fans from Stones fans, this demarcation doesn’t require audience members to make a strict either/or decision; sure, you’re allowed to like them both, but, at the the end of the day, you can’t like them both equally. Ultimately, you have to choose which one you like better than the other, even if the margin separating the two is fairly small.
While I bear no ill will toward the Dark Knight, I have to tell you up front that my preferred caped crime fighter has always been the Man of Steel.
Here’s why I am a Superman guy.
From the beginning, Batman and Superman have represented opposite sides of the same coin. Batman, indeed, deliberately was designed to be the antithesis of Superman; as Grant Morrison described the Caped Crusader’s creation in Supergods, “The first light had cast the first shadow.”
That the Batman moved to the beat of a heart of darkness was made clear from the very beginning, as Bruce Wayne famously and unmistakably stated when he declared, “Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot, so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black, terrible…”
He was and continues to be.
The suit he wears and the city he patrols make Batman always an inhabitant of the shadows. The symbol on his chest and the words he spoke when deciding upon that dark emblem were designed to bring dread to the criminal element that brought panic to the populace. When confronting such homicidal maniacs as the Joker, Ra’s al Gul, and Two-Face, Batman’s approach has always been to fight fear with fear.
That plan of attack might well be warranted, particularly in a gloomy gothic Hellscape like Gotham City, but there is another way and that way is on display in Metropolis, the City of Tomorrow. It is the way that focuses first not on frightening the worst of us, but instead on inspiring the best in us. It is the way that concentrates not on punishing the bad, but rather on protecting the good. It is the way that is symbolized not by a chest emblem intended to terrify the cowardly, but by one that means, simply and powerfully, “hope”.
One might even say it is the American way, accompanied by appropriate doses of truth and justice, and its champion is, as he said at the end of his most recent cinematic appearance, “about as American as it gets.”
I understand and appreciate the appeal of a darker take on the superhero genre, and I do not discount the rationale underlying such an approach, but, personally, I think there is quite enough darkness in the world. Consequently, I prefer the notion that a superhero should step out of the shadows and into the sunlight, which, as was made clear in such comic books as All-Star Superman and in such films as Man of Steel, is literally empowering for the Last Son of Krypton, as it is for the rest of us, as well.
Therefore, when forced to choose between DC Comics’ two most iconic superheroes (well, DC Comics’ two most iconic superhero men, at any rate), I come down on the side of the Action Ace who started it all because I refuse to allow the worst of us, rather than the best in us, to dictate who we should be. With all due respect to Batman, I am a Superman guy because I do not go gentle into that dark night. I await the arrival of the coming sun whose yellow rays give us strength. I concentrate not on the weaknesses we display today, but I focus on the Man of Tomorrow.
In that spirit, I’m looking forward to the days ahead as we ComiConverse together.
Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing