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Is Superman a Human or Alien?
Blue Boy Scout
So... the age old question.

Is he Clark or Superman?

With the New 52 in Superman's life, the writers are saying they're going to emphasized Superman's alienness. As a long-time Superman fan but Superman Homepage newbie, I thought it would be instructive, at least for me, to open up this debate again.

I haven't been a Superman fan all my life. I mostly liked Marvel (and Sonic the HedgehogSmile) at first. But I fell in love with Superman because of how human he seemed to me. He felt different from other people, yeah, but only in the ways I did. He was just a normal guy raised by good parents who wanted to do the right thing.

This aspect of Superman has been affirmed since John Byrne invented it by Jeph Loeb, Geoff Johns, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Superman: The Animated Series, Justice League, Smallville etc. It's one of the most beautiful things about the mythos how it breaks down the barriers of what we think of as human vs alien. It is the reason I relate to him. It is the reason, in fact, that I think Aquaman has not done well is that his humanness has not ben emphasized. It needs to be kept with Superman.

But not all comic writers agree with that. Notably Mark Millar compared Superman marrying Lois to Tarzan marrying a monkey and Grant Morrison made Superman a detached god in "All Star" like he was in "Superman Returns". Of course, Morrison is a special case, because--as he said in interviews after "Supergods"--he thinks that superheroes should become our replacement for monotheism.

People tend to use Superman as a metaphor for Jesus. So of course, if one sees him that way, that would be one reason to emphasize his alienness as a secular messiah. But that's never been what I've liked about him. I mean, I've already got the real Jesus. I don't need a substitute. Wink To me, Superman is not Christ, but The Ultimate Christian--someone who, just like me, is trying to live the way Jesus would want. That's why I like him.

Recently, Jon Stewart came out with a book called "Earth" that listed all the famous fictional aliens on our world. They had ET, Spock... but Superman was absent.

I was upset at first until someone pointed out what that meant.

Superman has won.

After years of trying to convince the world he was human and not an alien, we finally believed him.

Jon Stewart didn't include Superman as an alien, because to us, he isn't an alien. He's one of us.

...So, anyway. That's my view. What do the rest of you think?
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JoeA1
I've posted these comments elsewhere on the boards, but they seem relevent to this thread so I'm posting here as well.

Superman is not Kal-El of Krypton. He is Clark Kent of Kansas. The whole point of Superman is his humanity despite his god-like abiltities. To emphasize Superman's alien origins rather than his human upbringing is, I think, a mistake.

To change Superman to try to make him more relevant to kids weaned on the internet and ultra-violent video games will never work. To do so is to squander that which makes the charecter unique.

Superman does not fit into the modern comic world full of angry, brooding anti heroes. Clark Kent has the power of a god, but does not feel that his might makes right. Clark wants to be might FOR right.

Some think that attitude makes him the "big blue boyscout" who is boring to the modern comics reader. I don't agree. I think that attitude is what makes Superman special and accounts for the charecter's longevity.

If DC sticks to Superman's classic elements, I predict he will still be flying around Metropolis righting wrongs long after The Punisher and Wolverine have fallen out of favor.
 
AKalel
I think it comes down to how you define human and how do define alien. I am curious where there any superheroes on the alien list?
 
Blue Boy Scout

>AKalel wrote:


I think it comes down to how you define human and how do define alien. I am curious where there any superheroes on the alien list?


I don't think so. But they were only doing the hugely famous ones like E.T., Spock, etc. Superman is the only one who would've fit in the level of famous they were going for.
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Hypoxic
Put simply, yes, to Earthlings, Kal-El is an alien. Part of the appeal and pathos of the character though is his deep humanity.

>Blue Boy Scout wrote:

Grant Morrison made Superman a detached god in "All Star"


How do you figure? Superman was deeply troubled in All Star by his impending demise and made the storied messiah-sacrifice.


>Blue Boy Scout wrote:


>AKalel wrote:


I think it comes down to how you define human and how do define alien. I am curious where there any superheroes on the alien list?


I don't think so. But they were only doing the hugely famous ones like E.T., Spock, etc. Superman is the only one who would've fit in the level of famous they were going for.


Spock's mother is human, so he is half Vulcan.
Easy, miss. I've got you.
_____

Get away from me, padre. You reek of the irrational. - Lex Luthor
 
copacetic
He's an alien being, pure and simple. He was brought up by humans and he looks humans, but he's still a Kryptonian. To say he's human is to imply he has human biology. It would be correct, however, to say he has strong human characteristics. Since Kryptonians are usually characterized as a cold, calculating race, Kal-El is different in that he feels a lot more compassion for humans and specially identifies with them.
 
AKalel
The thing is in some mythos he came Earth as a baby so in that case you could say he is a alin. But in one version he was born via birthing matrix which as I understand was like a artifical womb and he was not "born"till he arrived on Earth which makes him human. So there is no clear yes or no to is he human or alien.
 
Hypoxic

>AKalel wrote:


The thing is in some mythos he came Earth as a baby so in that case you could say he is a alin. But in one version he was born via birthing matrix which as I understand was like a artifical womb and he was not "born"till he arrived on Earth which makes him human. So there is no clear yes or no to is he human or alien.


Yes, but even Byrne's (silly) birthing matrix origin doesn't eliminate the genetics involved. A person with Japanese parents isn't ethnically Latino just because he's born in Mexico.

Kal-El is, in every version, genetically Kryptonian and therefore alien to Earth.
Easy, miss. I've got you.
_____

Get away from me, padre. You reek of the irrational. - Lex Luthor
 
A6K
It's odd I've never asked myself is he alien or Human but who is the real personality, Superman or Clark Kent?

In what persona does he act like himself? I always like Lois and Clark (the TV series) in the aspect that Clark created Superman. So he is himself in civilian clothes and has to put on a different persona and carry himself in a different way as Superman.

It's easy enough to understand to me, when I'm in uniform I act differently and carry myself differently than when I am in regular clothes. I know what my position is and what is expect of me so I naturally fill that role without thinking.

So I would say Superman is more alien, epically in the new 52. Clark knows what is expected of Superman, who he needs to me and the uniform probably makes him think of his alien background. It's not that farfetched to think. I look at myself in uniform, get saluted, called sir and act like I am expect to and supposed to act. So for Clark to don the Superman outfit and act more alien and like Superman is a very grounded and expected behavior to me. He didn't wear that suit and be a global figure growing up, so why would that be the real person?

Heís human as Clark but alien as Superman.

That's what I think anyways, based on my experience in wearing a uniform vs not, espically in public.
 
AKalel

>Hypoxic wrote:


>AKalel wrote:


The thing is in some mythos he came Earth as a baby so in that case you could say he is a alin. But in one version he was born via birthing matrix which as I understand was like a artifical womb and he was not "born"till he arrived on Earth which makes him human. So there is no clear yes or no to is he human or alien.


Yes, but even Byrne's (silly) birthing matrix origin doesn't eliminate the genetics involved. A person with Japanese parents isn't ethnically Latino just because he's born in Mexico.

Kal-El is, in every version, genetically Kryptonian and therefore alien to Earth.


So you are saying he is alien because his parents were not born on Earth or have any genes that one would find a human of Earth would have? I am just trying to understand what you mean by genetics. Sometimes I look as a human that has a greater potential then the average person. I know some people think part of the thing that makes Superman so (no pun intended) Super is what he does with his abilities. I know this might be confusing but when you think of it is look at someone like Hal Jordan sure he was born on Earth by Earth parents but he has abilities that are special to a average human plus given to him by aliens. Sure his powers are not realy the same kinds as Supes but I think what they do defines them after all as I see things its not like for the most part Superman goes around shouting he is from another planet and movies aside other then family and some friends would the average non comic book reader/collector know his origin current or past. If so which one would they say. Finally going back to my birthing matrix mention above sure it seems his parents knew he would be different then the average person Earth but it seems to me they were not 100% on how when they placed his gentic material in the matrix after all would you say a Kryptonian on Krypton was human if it had no powers man made or other wise?
 
copacetic
He's biologically and genetically an alien. How is that so difficult to understand?
 
AKalel
its more of a question of how those words are defined. i know it might be biased but if you did not know anything about clark kent and saw him on the street there is no way one could tell u that he was not normal its not like if u saw sinestro or a guradian on the street. to me in most ways they are more alien then clark/supes.
 
copacetic

>AKalel wrote:


its more of a question of how those words are defined. i know it might be biased but if you did not know anything about clark kent and saw him on the street there is no way one could tell u that he was not normal its not like if u saw sinestro or a guradian on the street. to me in most ways they are more alien then clark/supes.


Yes, but only from a purely aesthetic perspective.
 
Hypoxic

>AKalel wrote:


its more of a question of how those words are defined. i know it might be biased but if you did not know anything about clark kent and saw him on the street there is no way one could tell u that he was not normal its not like if u saw sinestro or a guradian on the street. to me in most ways they are more alien then clark/supes.


Well, AKalel, the definition of genes and genetics cannot be tossed around to suit a fancy. Clark is genetically not human and is no less alien than Sinestro or Krona. The difference is Clark has humanity, but this doesn't mean he's human.

I've raised animals my whole life and I've known dogs and cats who seemed to have more "humanity" (and in a few cases greater intelligence) than a lot of people I've met. This in no way means those canines and felines were human.
Easy, miss. I've got you.
_____

Get away from me, padre. You reek of the irrational. - Lex Luthor
 
copacetic

>Hypoxic wrote:


Well, AKalel, the definition of genes and genetics cannot be tossed around to suit a fancy. Clark is genetically not human and is no less alien than Sinestro or Krona. The difference is Clark has humanity, but this doesn't mean he's human.

I've raised animals my whole life and I've known dogs and cats who seemed to have more "humanity" (and in a few cases greater intelligence) than a lot of people I've met. This in no way means those canines and felines were human.


This.
 
Blue Boy Scout
I think what we're talking about is two definitions of the word "Human".

Obviously, genetically, biologically, he is of Kryptonian decent. That is not what we're talking about.

But aside from that, in every other aspect, does he have all the aspects of a human that we use to define a human? In his mind does he consider himself one of us, or seperate from us? In every other aspect, is he one of us? You could say Data is a robot and not be wrong, but aside from the literal meaning of the word, doesn't he have almost every aspect of humanity (desire, longing, caring--even if it lacks emotion) that we consider to be human? It becomes a question then of if you define a human as where you are born or what you think, feel, and how you behave. That's what the movie Blade Runner was about.

It's true that someone of Japanese decent wouldn't be Latino if raised by Latinos, so Clark doesn't stop being Kryptonian 'cause he was raised by the Kents. But if a Japanese child was raised by Americans, what would he be?

An American.

This was one of the beautiful things about the character two Jewish boys living in America created--in an era where people still felt like the people coming from beyond our shores weren't quite "one of us", they created the ultimate alien immigrant who was still somehow, absolutely, "one of us".

Anyway, we may be splitting hairs here. I like Superman because he thinks of himself as human, just like I do, even though he feels different, just like I do. But that's just me.

(To your Question about All Star Superman, Hypoxic: I'm mostly recounting my impression of the story, as well as the fact that his Clark Kent persona was all a big act and Grant Morrison pretty much said he was looking at Superman as a benevolent deity in an interview. But the big moment for me was when Superman admitted to the Kryptonian Astronauts that part of the reason he operated the way he did was because he was a "scientist's son" who was bent towards "observing creatures" or something like that. That rang false to me--Superman doesn't have a hands off approach because he's an observer of humanity, he does what he does because he believes in the ideals of freedom Jonathan and Martha Kent taught him. Anyway, that was my impression.)
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Hypoxic
Blue Boy Scout wrote: -in an era where people still felt like the people coming from beyond our shores weren't quite "one of us"


Unfortunately, it seems that this is just as true, maybe truer, today as it may have ever been.

Anyhow, my point was Superman is an alien with humanity. I think that's essentially what we're all saying.
Easy, miss. I've got you.
_____

Get away from me, padre. You reek of the irrational. - Lex Luthor
 
Blue Boy Scout
I maintain that it's not half as bad as it was, but I get what you're saying.

And you're right. We're basically arguing semantics now.

I suppose a better question is (and this will probably be the thread's last cough before it dies) is which is his real identity: Clark or Superman. I fall down on the side of Clark, but I know a lot of people don't.
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Hypoxic
I think Clark is the more interesting component of the character, but only when contrasted with his birthright and powers. Clark would do good anyway, and this is where Byrne wrote Clark so well, having him be part of charities and the sort. The greatness of his goodness, however, is accentuated by his self-imposed burden which stems out of his positive acknowledgement of his powers.

He was raised as a Kent, but he's more than just Clark. Honestly, I think dissecting the character is an irresponsible synopsis of the value of his duality.
Easy, miss. I've got you.
_____

Get away from me, padre. You reek of the irrational. - Lex Luthor
 
Whogaman
From a physiological standpoint, Superman is classified as a humanoid which is defined as having human form or characteristics. And that definition can also cover the word extraterrestrial, which means, originating, existing, or occurring outside the earth or its atmosphere. By definition, Superman is both.

This whole conversation revolves around what you believe makes Superman human. Nature or nurture. By nature, Superman is an alien due to his being born on the planet Krypton. The physiological differences between Kryptonians and Earthlings give Superman and other Kryptonians "powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men". If you want to do some research on the Kryptonian side of Superman, read "A Unified theory of Superman's Powers" by Ben Tippett. http://www.qwantz...perman.pdf

Earth's environment gives Clark Kent the super powers that makes him Superman. This being said, I believe that it was how Clark was raised in Smallville that gave him the moral compass to use those powers to help and protect the peoples of the world. This is what makes him human.

Clark thinks of himself as human, despite learning of his Kryptonian roots. Then again Kryptonians have been portrayed as little different morally from Earthlings. Even in "the New 52", Kryptonians are depicted in human-like terms. the only exception to this is in the Byrne era where the inhabitants of Krypton are shown as detached and cold emotionally. That world was something to get away from. So that version of Superman said in issue #6 of The Man of Steel mini series in 1986 "I may have been conceived out there in the endless depths of space... but I was born when the rocket opened, on Earth in America." "Krypton bred me, but it was Earth that gave me all I am. All that matters. It was Krypton that made me Superman... but it was Earth that makes me human!!"

And also in an episode of Lois and Clark, Clark tells Lois, 'Clark is who I am, Superman is what I do.' So Clark considers himself as human rather than alien. Nature makes Clark Superman, but it is nurture that makes him human. If he didn't think of himself as human, he would be like he was when the Eradicator possessed him and made act as what it considered a proper Kryptonian should act.

Well, this is how I see it.

Peace Whoga
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