Monday, November 24, 2008

Superman, The World's First And Best Superhero

The timeless story of Superman, the world's first superhero, was introduced in June of the Action Comics book #1: it essentially is a story about the assimilation of the immigrant into American society, here so aptly illustrated by Alex Ross. Superman is an alien from another planet, sent to Earth by his parents due to the imminent destruction of the planet Krypton where they live. In the original comic book story he is left to grow up in an orphanage and takes on the identity of Clark Kent. In later versions, he is found by a childless farming couple by the name of Kent and is raised as their own with mid-western American values and ambition. When he comes of age Clark moves to the big city, takes on the guise of a mild-mannered newspaper reporter and beomes a superhero using his super powers fighting for truth, justice and the American Way (the "American Way" phrase was added during the Cold War era TV show due to the anti-communist stance of the time). The Cleveland, Ohio teen-aged creators of this character, Jerome Seigel and Jerry Shuster, had their story published in Action Comics #1 in June of 1938. These boys were the sons of first-generation immigrants to this country and through this character basically explored the idea of the challenges addressed in trying to assimilate into the American culture. The superhero aspect is derived from the fact that the father of one of these boys was held up at gun-point in his dry-cleaning shop, and although not shot, died of a heart attack during the crime. This inspired his son while writing the story to create a character that was essentially invulnerable and so was born the "Man Of Steel". Over the years many different versions of Superman have been offered, but basically the story is one of striving to fit in with society.