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This week marks the 1000th issue of Action Comics, and the 80th anniversary of the Superman. Quite a bit has happened in the eight decades since Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the now iconic hero. Brian Michael Bendis, long of Marvel Comics is coming over to Superman’s publisher, DC, to launch a new era for the Man of Steel. Oh, and, due to fan demand, the classic red trunks are back. As Clark Kent hits eighty, we perhaps should ask why the myth of the last son of Krypton has persisted so long in popular culture.
I do not write this as a neutral observer, but as a fan of the character—and the larger DC universe—since before I was even able to read. The stories from Smallville and Metropolis (and Gotham and Central City and Paradise Island) populated the Fortress of Solitude that was my childhood imagination in ways that, looking back, I think pointed me onward to the writings of Lewis and Tolkien and beyond. But why did I, along with millions of others over the past eighty years, want to put that red blanket over my shoulders and pretend to fly?
Superman - Appeal
Author Grant Morrison (himself a prolific writer of comic books and graphic novels) has argued that Superman persists because he represents hope and power; he is the pop-culture equivalent of a “sun god.” Some psychologists would say that Superman appeals to us because of his power. We long for the grandiosity inherent in the ability to fly, outpace bullets, see through walls, or, as on the cover of that first Action Comics, lift a car over our heads. Some would say that children especially identify with the phenomenon of the secret identity; “I might seem to be bumbling, bespectacled Clark Kent, but if you could just...
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