View Single Post
Old 03-23-2014, 10:08 PM   #704
Shazoogle! Shazoogle!
Lencho01's Avatar
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 25,985
Default Re: All Things Superman and Batman: An Open Discussion - - - - - - - Part 42

Originally Posted by gugumugats View Post
Where did you find this ?!?! It was very insightful. I wonder if they have something written up for other characters too.
From here...

Also, this quote from Maggin pretty much explains why I like Clark Kent (as the world sees him) as someone Superman created and part of what makes Superman/Clark Kent so different from other comic book characters. I mean, he even has his own Wikipedia page. How many of superheroes have that? Anyway...

Does Clark Kent Put on a Costume to Become Superman, Or Does Superman Put on a Costume to Become Clark Kent?
Most of the latter-day Superman writers, and several of my own contemporaries, come down on the side of the notion that Clark is the real person and Superman is just what he can do. I don’t agree with that at all and here’s why:

The hero must be the character’s best self. When Odysseus appeared at home disguised as a beggar the big resolution was that he was “really” Odysseus. When young Arthur yanked the sword from the stone what that revealed, even to himself, was that he was the king and always had been. When the prince of Egypt, for just his own sense of rage and righteousness, killed a taskmaster and was banished for taking the side of the slaves, only then did his real origin become clear to those around him. In every classical setting the hero first arrives in disguise and Superman is, at the very least, our own age’s quintessential classical hero.

Superman is, among many other things, an artist. When the rest of us create a character, that character is as well defined as we can make him. The comic book medium gave birth to our own classical hero because only in a medium that crude, whose end product is that apparently unfinished, can a creator so effectively suggest a concept of such endless potency. Clark is a complete creation of Superman, so complete that he’s effectively real. Clark is a natural born citizen. He votes. He has jealousies and shortcomings. He has opinions, real ones that occasionally diverge from those of Superman. They have altogether different spiritual beliefs, for example. Clark has appropriately nerdy hobbies. He scrapbooks, for heaven’s sakes. He collects his favorite classic TV commercials on DVD. His favorite is the one for the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce where the old man skips out of the retirement home to meet his grandson in the parking lot (“Hey, Boo-boo.”) and rides off for a weekend of gambling and debauchery.

Superman can’t do the stuff Clark can do. Not that he wouldn’t if he didn’t have a sacred duty to perform, but he can’t. So not only is Clark a construct for the purposes of guarding what measure of privacy he requires for his own emotional self-preservation, but Clark is the outlet that allows Superman to do the things that a Superman can’t do in public. Clark can, and that makes him Superman’s saving grace. Clark, the character, doesn’t need Superman, but Superman, the real deal, absolutely needs Clark. That’s why Superman created Clark and not the other way around. He created Clark and re-creates him every day.

Every day the President of the United States wakes up and puts on the raiment once worn by Lincoln and who he really is, during the period of his Presidency, is the President of he United States. And you call him “Mr President” for the rest of his life.

When he gets up in the morning the Heavyweight Champion of he World, whoever he was when he was born, embodies the mantle once carried by Ali and Louis, and from the moment someone says good morning that’s who he is, really. I once lost an arm wrestling contest with Jack Dempsey on the sidewalk outside the “21″ Club. He was 76 and I was 22 and do you think the old man would let the swaggering kid win and impress the girl he’s with? He couldn’t possibly. What he did was damn near break my arm and then said, “Winner gets the redhead, okay?” He was so profoundly “the Champ” that not even his closest friends thought of him as just Jack.

I once created a thing called “Lexcorp.” It was just a throwaway word in a story I wrote. But I thought about it for a long time and I was very happy when I came up with the name. It’s my name, and every time someone uses it I take a measure of pride in its use. I get to be the guy who first said that eventually Luthor evolves from a super-villain in a prison jump suit with a collection of wacky gizmos in a hidden basement somewhere, into a big badass industrialist. Obviously other people have done more with the concept than I ever did. Lexcorp has evolved into a major institution in Superman’s continuity and that was through no doing of my own. But I do insist that whenever someone somewhere mentions the “creation” of Lexcorp I get the credit as, properly in the continuity, Martha and Jonathan Kent certainly get the credit for first creating the concept of Clark Kent. But it is others who refined and continue to build Lexcorp. And every day that he gets up in the morning and goes to work, Superman goes far beyond the Kents’ original germ of an idea to build Clark.

Clark is real. That’s the whole brilliance of the concept. But the concept is even more “real” within the context of the storytelling than the storytelling can represent. That’s why the character is and thinks of himself as Superman.
I also still need to check out Miracle Monday because of this...

I’ve always been more comfortable with the idea of Superman being the real guy and Clark Kent being the mask, the disguise. That’s the Superman Maggin’s writing here and it’s a beautiful thing. Early in the book, he confronts this idea directly by having Pa Kent dream about a despotic Superboy gradually coming to use his power to rule the Earth in any way he chooses. Later, there are lovely passages wherein Maggin has Superman detail just how much he loves Clark Kent and how hard he works on making the Kent identity believable. Check this passage out to see what I mean:

The novel continues to approach the concept of secret identity in interesting ways, but revealing those aspects would put us solidly in spoiler territory, so I’ll abstain. Suffice to say, Maggin does good work with the title character and pokes him in new directions vis a vis his dual nature.
With that in mind, you can have a more informed look as to why Bill's explanation of Clark Kent in Kill Bill is all wrong. But, he is a villain after all and that influences his point of view. Lex Luthor wouldn't say anything positive about Superman too. Superman would likely indicate how Clark Kent is much like Pa Kent. A mild mannered bespectacled man. Ma Kent's often shown to wear glasses as well. So, there's no judgement of humans as weaklings. But, a love for them.

And on that note, to me the whole geeky Clark Kent is just reflective of its times. What would be a called a geek in Reeve's time is different from today. So, I don't think Clark needs to be depicted as bumbling fool. This can currently be seen in the New 52, which has Superman/Clark Kent more like he was in the Golden Age.

I was at some diplomatic party once. Got to talking to this princess who told me that when it came to Superman, I was missing the point. She told me, "His real strength lay in his generous spirit and sense of what's fair." - King Faraday

He’s much more of a working class superhero, which is why we ended the whole book with the image of a laboring Superman. He’s Everyman operating on a sci–fi Paul Bunyan scale." - Grant Morrison

"Self Portrait" By Batman
Lencho01 is offline