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Favorite Superman Covers: Superman: The Man of Steel #37

I’m not much of an art person when it comes to comics–I tend to prefer story over art…but that’s not to say that art doesn’t play a huge factor! And through the years, there have been a number of Superman comics whose covers have particularly stood out to me, for one reason or another. In this series, I’m presenting 10 of my favorites and why they are favorites.

A Superman cover dominated by Batman…Batmen, rather. There’s something to that contrast that in and of itself makes this stand out for me. Also that this was–as I recall–one of the earlier tie-ins to the Zero Hour crossover…which I’m thinking was my first real “comics-universe-wide” such experience.

There’d been Eclipso: The Darkness Within and Bloodlines, of course…but this was a story that was taking place in the actual, regular (“real”) issues of the actual comics and not something constrained to special Annual issues.

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But there’s also just something about Superman facing all these Batmen that’s…fun. This also would have been a time where I’d become aware of the lengthy history of the characters, and through Grandpa’s old comics, and library reading, I’d’ve even been aware of many of the versions of Batman on this cover.

I’m aware of a poster–double-sided, I believe–that promoted this issue…with a flip-side showing Batman surrounded by Supermen. Said poster can’t be easy to find…but would be a welcome one to have.

Favorite Superman Covers: The Man of Steel #1

I’m not much of an art person when it comes to comics–I tend to prefer story over art…but that’s not to say that art doesn’t play a huge factor! And through the years, there have been a number of Superman comics whose covers have particularly stood out to me, for one reason or another. In this series, I’m presenting 10 of my favorites and why they are favorites.

This is another issue where I’ll take the variant over the standard, but only just barely. While I’d typically prefer the standard cover for “fitting in” with the trade dress/visual style of the rest of the series, this one’s just got a bit of an edge with the iconic shirt-rip, and the shiny-ish silver for the title.

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The image is also quite fitting with the caption–The Legend Begins!–as Clark switches to the Superman guise to do his thing. First appearance of this version of Superman, to best of my knowledge…so this could be the first time he DOES the shirt-rip, if you want to think of it that way.

I also can’t fault this being a variant, as–if ANY issues warrant them–the beginning of a whole new continuity for Superman, a new introduction to the character…and as far as I know it was only for this first issue, and not multiples on every single issue…it works.

Favorite Superman Covers: Superman: The Man of Steel #1

I’m not much of an art person when it comes to comics–I tend to prefer story over art…but that’s not to say that art doesn’t play a huge factor! And through the years, there have been a number of Superman comics whose covers have particularly stood out to me, for one reason or another. In this series, I’m presenting 10 of my favorites and why they are favorites.

I believe this was my first-ever actual Superman #1 issue–before I’d found a reprint of Action Comics #1, even before I acquired Superman (1987) #1. I believe I got this issue from American Entertainment (an old mail-order service). It came with a poster that I still have to this day.

supermanthemanofsteel001

This is another rather iconic image, “simple” though it is…It’s just Superman flying, a cityscape in the background…but the specific image has stuck with me since those early days as a fan of Superman–and comics.

The Man in the [Man of Steel] Mask: Clark Kent vs. Superman as "Real"

supermanbookshelf

While going through some old stuff I recently uncovered, I found this old essay I wrote for a class in my undergrad days…probably 2002 or so. Figured I’d share it on this blog, as it’s at least some “new” content, and I’ve obviously not been posting much lately.

A lot has changed in the intervening years since this was written–including the fact that the Superman in the comics today is NOT the same Superman referenced throughout this essay (as of 2006 and the end of Infinite Crisis).

As I formatted this to post, I spotted a bunch of glaring errors and issues…but left ’em in here, to maintain the integrity of the original document. And…this could become a monster of a project if I were to play editor to my 8-9-years-younger self. 


In Superman comics since 1986, Superman’s identity has been changed—most notably in the portrayal of the Clark Kent portion as “true” while Superman is portrayed as a “mask.” Despite nearly sixteen years since the change, this portrayal of the character has had little impact on the way he is seen. Many people—fans, scholars, and the general public—see Superman as the “real” character while Clark is the fiction. “Superman differs from his predecessors in science fiction by being able to exist within society by disguising himself as the self-deprecating and mild-mannered Clark Kent. It is the Kent alter ego that is supposedly a fiction, while the Superman personality is taken as real.” (Thomas Andrae “From Menace to Messiah” 1987.) Using the Superman comics themselves, I will show Clark Kent as the primary character while Superman is the mask.

In the essay “The Good, the Bad, and the Oedipal” (1987), Lester Roebuck suggests that “The Man of Steel’s heroic stature depends on his ability to keep the Clark Kent portion of his psyche carefully segregated.” I believe that it is actually the maintaining of his Clark Kent psyche that allows for the heroic stature of Superman. Raised as Clark Kent from birth by adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent, and instilled with a sense of American values inherited from them, Superman as a hero is merely Clark Kent in a costume. In The Death of Superman (1993), this is explicitly stated: “The raised him to be a hero…to know the value of sacrifice. To know the value of life.” In World Without a Superman (1993), the reader is shown a flashback to Jonathan talking with a young Clark, and Clark explains “You’re the one who taught me how to care!” Additionally, in 1986’s Man of Steel, after revealing to Clark the rocket that brought him to earth, Jonathan tells him “Whatever this thing really is, wherever you came from, you’re our son now. You’re an American citizen–and that means you’ve got responsibilities.” When Clark prepares to leave Smallville, he shows acceptance of parental guidance when he tells Martha “After all the times you and he have talked to me over the years . . . You told me all those times that I should never use my special abilities to make myself better than other people–to make other people feel useless . . . It’s time for me to face my responsibilities.” With that, Clark began several years of secretly helping others, before he was discovered. He worked in secret, seeking no glory or fame for himself, simply wanting to help his fellow man, as his parents had taught him to do.

After the world’s discovery of this super-man, Clark returned to his parents for advice. Explaining his concern:

“They were all over me! Like wild animals. Like maggots. Clawing. Pulling. Screaming at me. And it was all demands! Everybody had something they wanted me to do, to say, to sell! It was as if my first public appearance had unleashed the worst, the greediest, the most covetous part of everyone . . . They’d taken everything you’ve ever taught me and ripped it apart . . . I know I still have to use my powers to help people who really need me…but now they’re going to be looking for me. Expecting me. And I just don’t know how to deal with it!” (Man of Steel)

Working with his parents, the costume and identity of Superman is created. Years later, Jonathan reflects to Martha “I had the idea . . . The costume. The secret identity.” (World Without a Superman). After the costume is created, Clark proclaims “The whole thing works just fine! It’s got exactly the symbolic look I wanted. So, from now on, whenever there are people who need my very special kind of help, it won’t be a job for plain, ordinary Clark Kent…It’ll be a job for Superman!” (Man of Steel). This illustrates that Superman is intended as a “mask” to be worn in public. As Clark tells Lois in The Death of Clark Kent (1997): “I’m Clark Kent first and Superman second! Superman is the mask I’ve worn all along to have a private life!”

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