Clark Kent first joined the staff of the Daily Planet in 1938 at a time when the news cycle was no more complex than a unicycle.
In the December issue of the rebooted “Superman” comic, he quits the paper in disgust, but not before he gives the newsroom a glimpse of one of his Kryptonian superpowers, the superpower of … oratory.
“I can’t be the only one who is sick at the thought of what passes for the news today,” he yells, while standing for some reason known only to the artist like a gymnast who has just stuck the landing in a balance beam routine.
I know how Clark feels ... about the state of news, not the balance beam.
I, for one, am sick of getting breaking news alerts that consist of little more than updates on what’s happening in the latest Superman comic.
I love those alerts, as do the whole class of readers that Clark is refusing to pander to anymore.
Clark may have given up pandering, but DC Comics apparently still thinks it has some mileage left in it.
The company’s attempt to revive interest in Superman seems to involve a stunt-a-month strategy – Superman dates Wonder Woman; Superman quits the Daily Planet; Superman find his home planet of Krypton with the help of a real-life astrophysicist; Superman turns the Fortress of Solitude into a giant meth lab, lacing the drug with kryptonite with the help of a strung-out Jimmy Olson.
I made that last one up.
These stunts seem designed to capture the fickle interests of mainstream journalists like me, but maybe that’s just narcissism on my part. If there’s one thing I am never fickle about, it’s narcissism.
I am not sure why DC is picking on newspapers.
Like the newspaper industry, the comic book industry is trying to find a viable new business model to address changes in reading habits.
Newspapers aren’t DC Comics’ enemy. The enemy of DC Comics is Marvel Comics, the company responsible for all those lucrative films starring Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers.
If DC wants to depict Clark quitting something, it should show him refusing to read “The Avengers.”
Of course, to quit The Avengers, he’d have to acknowledge the existence of “The Avengers.”
DC seems to have Clark Kent and Superman doing a lot of things these days that are calculated to appeal to younger readers.
At the beginning of the aforementioned issue, Superman is on day five of five days’ worth of bench pressing.
He is told by a doctor who looks like a supermodel that the weight he has been lifting is equal to a planet.
It is my opinion that a guy who is willing to spend 120 consecutive hours in a gym is less intrinsically interesting than any guy who is not, even if the former can lift a planet.
I may be in the minority there.
The tastes of contemporary superhero fans seem to run to ordinary humans who do extraordinary things. Superman’s invincibility makes him vincible to reader boredom.
Rumor has it that DC wants to make Clark a blogger, which will certainly increase his seeming vulnerability.
As a blogger, Clark won’t have Lois Lane to slip Superman scoops, and every time he opens his browser, he’ll be racked with guilt over that pop-up ad he persuaded Lex Luther to buy.
Readers who are treated to scenes of Clark in his pajamas at 3 in the afternoon eating baked beans out of a can and trying to moderate blog comments that consist mostly of variations on “That was a total waste of my time” and “You should go kill yourself,” will begin to see Superman as vulnerable in pretty short order.