Glen Weldon, National Public Radio’s go-to comics guy, dives into 1938 precedents and origin of the nation’s favorite alien son and most popularly long lasting superhero, detailing his career up to the start of (British!?) Henry Cavill’s 2013 movie incarnation. Born from the cheerfully geek and extended adolescent minds of Jerry Siegal and Joe Schuster, he was actually first conceived in 1933 as a villain and refined during a long gestation.
Originally representing “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” when we regarded those elements without much irony, his powers, psychology, approach to doing good, and political orientation have shifted around a bit during our 75 year acquaintance. Recently, and probably most awkwardly, a storyline had him stand in solidarity with Iranian protesters and renounce U.S. citizenship, although that seems likely to be a momentary bobble. Weldon’s exhaustive, and sometimes mind-numbing, detailed handling of Superman’s graphic and cinematic evolution across years, parallel Earths, and story lines should be sufficient to solve most fanboy-or-girl controversies without bloodshed. It would also be an good research starting point for examination of just what the big guy’s life may, or not, say about “the American Way.”
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