Superman: Truth, Justice, and the American Way

"Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound"

1938 was a dark time for America, crime and economic collapse spread over the land as war loomed in the distance. Men sought dilligently for work to support their families, the Mob seized their claws on whatever they could, and in Washington; the President worked long hours repairing the critical state our fractured country was in. Yet, Americans managed to hold firm to hope, setting aside the worries of the day - we found peace of mind and joy at the movies, on the radio, and in the printed page.

Then, two men from Cleveland introduced us to a legend. America would find a renewed hope and strength in their caped icon. The common man didn't feel so small and helpless anymore. Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegal gave the Nation a hero, not from America like Babe Ruth nor of this world like Tarzan; but, a champion from far beyond the stars... from the planet Krypton. I will always picture him standing behind a beam of light, holding the American flag in one hand and the other on his hip, full of pride and determination, as the John Williams theme plays triumphantly. What I present to you now is a tribute, from a fan and storyteller, of our friend Superman.

"...Look up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane, no... it's Superman"

Although having undergone significant revision in recent years, the basic story of Superman is truly one of America's finest modern classics. For 61 years, he's endured as a symbol of truth and justice, his adventures gracing every medium known to man. To me, the greatest rendition of the Superman story will always be from Superman: The Movie. It conveyed the Superman epic with scope and majesty and yet with sentiment. If only every saga of the Man of Steel could be written and presented in such a manner.

I can't sit here and imagine I'm half the caliber fan most of you are, but Superman appeals to me. I think that is why he is so reconizable world-wide, he appeals to everyone. We see him and he holds a special place in our hearts, everyone from the youngest to the oldest amongst us. Superman reaches into the child in all of us, I mean, who hasn't wanted to be him and fly? When I see that familar S, I am filled with a child-like astonishment and awe. I know that other people think Superman is the consumate "goody two shoes", their heroes kill and maim and can't be distinguished from the villainy they should oppose. Even other DCU heroes affectionatly or sarcastically dub him 'The Big Blue Boy Scout'. I, for one prefer him this way, thank you very much. I think many of us cling to him for that very reason.

Superman is not just an alien with extraordinary abilities, far above mortal men... he cares for us. He radiates decency and integrity, it's not just the powers that makes him a great man, it is because he is Clark Kent. He, the All-American country boy from the Heartland. Clark Jerome Kent is too integral to the mythos and grandieur that is Superman. That rocket could have been choosen to have landed anywhere, at any time, even fleshed out for decades. Could it--would it have been the same? Perhaps, but I am thankful such curiosities are left to Elseworlds. The Kent's wholesome upbringing they raised Kal-El with is what makes Superman a gentle being filled with warmth, kindness, and innocence. An adopted son of man and Earth with honest values and a big heart.

His legacy isn't just that of a hero, but also a teacher; whose lessons have helped guide the generation before us and will the generation after as well. Not too many fictional characters can solicite such a reaction from so many nor have been bestowed with so much gratitude. It does seem very much that I speak of Superman as if he were real, so I want to close by taking this time to give a heartfelt thanks to the men and women who helped contribute and carve Superman into such credible dimensions. Thank you Joe and Jerry... ever so much. Thank you Superman for the wonderful adventures, important lessons, and for--- "The never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way."

Josh Grayson
(batsuper@hotmail.com)
January 2000