This is a repost of an article I posted on my old site, Creative Commons. Originally posted on June 21st 2011. This version has been modified slightly.
You should know by now that I love comic books……if you don’t,well than you obviously didn’t hear when Matt, Kyle, Rich and Myself talked Batman for three. fucking. hours. Go listen to it…….or when Cal and I talked 90s Animation, or when we talked about the DC Animated Films. Go ahead. I’ll wait…by the way, you can check them out on iTunes right now….
Done? Okay good. I feel its time to follow up that post, with a little bit of of introspective thought on a certain aspect of comics. The symbol. Not just any symbol, but THE symbol. The single most iconic emblem in American Pop Culture History. That’s not hyperbole either, that-in my honest opinion-is fact. A symbol as recognizable as the American Flag itself. A symbol that means as much to this country as that very flag. Something that you can throw on a t-shirt in any country-speaking any language-in any time since 1938-and it will be recognized. A symbol that is probably only seconded by those damn Mickey Mouse ears. What symbol is this?
That symbol. The Superman Shield. A piece of popular art that defines not only a subculture (comic book nerds), but defines a country. A symbol that has no prejudices or hate. A symbol that doesn’t represent white, or black, or hispanic, or asian or anything inbetween. A symbol that is known the world over-as more than just a “comic book logo” or a “super hero logo”. It’s a symbol that ushers in a feeling of hope, a feeling of strength, a feeling of power, a feeling of confidence, and a feeling of pride. Some people look at a crucifix to bring themselves to their feet in their morning-and some people wear an S Shield around their wrist. They look down to it during the day-when they just want to drive their pen into the eye socket of the customer infront of them-and take a breath. It’s nearly a religious feeling. It’s a feeling that people of any faith or creed share.
That’s the power behind the Superman “S Shield”. It knows no limits, it knows no bounds.
Now, I’m not the BIGGEST fan of Superman on the planet. I will admit, after the end of Smallville-I became enthralled with the Man of Steel. I’m apparently one of the five people who still think MAN OF STEEL (2013) was awesome, and the best superhero movie of 2013. I have faith that Batman vs Superman will be epic, and the Justice League film will be grand. I have the big 14 disc Superman box set, even if its just because 2 of the included movies are really, really good. (hint: they didn’t involve an emo Superman, or Richard Pryor…or throwing Nukes into the sun).
I’ve spent alot of time watching documentries on the Man of Steel, and reading back some old Superman comics I own. I still think the character has its flaws, but its not really about that, is it?
Superman is about perseverance. It’s about hope and passion. He’s the ultimate orphan. A refugee from a dying world. His entire planet was destroyed-and yet he still battles the darkness that resides in each and every person on this planet. He still fights for the meek and the strong alike. He sacrifices for the rich and the poor. He doesn’t discriminate by race, creed, class or sexuality. He fights the good fight, and doesn’t ask for anything in return-not even your soul.
Writing this is making me realize the uncanny analog between Kal-El of Krypton and Jesus of Nazareth. Wow.
I’ve re-watched the finale of “Smallville” a couple of times now, and it’s finally sunk in to me. The finale was more about the SYMBOL than Clark Kent or Superman. It took the idealogy that was presented in works like “V For Vendetta” and even “Batman Begins”-that a symbol, or an idea could outlast the man, and be more effective than any single man-super, bat, spider, or X alike….
The entire premise between the final sequences in “Smallville”-was that it wasn’t so much that Clark was beating up Darkseid and making him run away with his tail between his legs-(which as I have dually noted would of been INSANELY AWESOME….)-but rather about the sight of Superman showing up to send away the darkness would bring about the goodness in people. The sight of that SYMBOL. That big red S emblazoned everywhere, now on something people could tangibly see, is what sent Apokalips and Darkseid away (and conveniently into the sun…..damn it Superman!). I’m amazed I didn’t realize it earlier. The same could be said for Biblical times, the sight of seeing Jesus Christ walk on water, or rise from the dead-is what inspired his disciples.
I’m starting to notice a trend here….
“They’re a good people Kal-El, if they wish to be. They only need the light to show them the way”
-Marlon Brando as Jor-El. “Superman: The Movie” (1978)
Even in the ‘real world’-that symbol has been used as a beacon of hope. A sign that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I remember watching the news Freshman year, in mid September-and seeing workers, firefighters, and volunteers in white suits-with a big black S etched on their chests in either marker or dirt…I didn’t know which. These people-were most likely NOT your average “comic book geeks” making a joke that only they would get. These people where using a piece of American history as a symbol for another part of American history. Their efforts were super, and it even shows that in alot of the tribute art that was released post 9/11
A symbol, used to bring out hope in a hopeless time. Did these artists try to “cash in” on the blind patriotism of the time? No. No they didn’t-at least not in my book. They tried to capture the spirit of the nation-who collectively felt utterly helpless, by humanizing an otherwise deity. The first image there, of Superman completely awe-struck by the men and women who helped the clean of the 9/11 “Terrorist Attacks” (we’re not going to get into THAT one…at least, not in THIS blog…) simply uttering the word “Wow.” sends such a powerful message. The idea that a being-who if he was real-could simply walk across the world to the Middle East, and crush the skull of every single terrorist on the planet within the blink of an eye-being in such awe and inspiration by the capabillities of people who are mere ants on the totem pole compared to him, is simply breathtaking and novel. It shows the strength behind the symbol-and putting the men and women of the NYFD in the same light and breath as THE American Hero (sorry Hulk Hogan, you are the weakest link, good bye) should be an honor in and of its own.
Every time I’m depressed, or upset, or feel completely hopeless. I think of the braclet I used to wear on my arm. As I said above, people find inspiration everywhere, and I chose to see it in a symbol etched in a piece of leather. Am I saying that Superman is a direct replacement for Jesus Christ? Or should be treated as such. No. I’m something of a Christian and I do believe in the ideas the Bible represents (to a degree.) For me, it’s something I can relate to easier than a crucifix. I don’t see how people can get inspired by a man being nailed to a piece of wood anyways…….but than again I didnt think people would get aroused by goat por—-nevermind.
That was quite the little rant, now wasn’t it? Thoughts? Comments? Leave them below…..
*removes glasses and undoes tie*…this looks like a job……..for Superman…*zooms off*