A couple of days ago, a friend texted me. “Have you read Superman #39?” She’s a fan of superhero comics, but is not a regular reader. However, she was moved by the one-off story about the Man of Steel taking some cancer-stricken kids on the adventure of a lifetime. No doubt, she also remembered the story about John Rossi, the Salt Lake City photographer who had dressed up disabled and sick children as members of the Justice League, and then put them on posters.
With the latest issue of Superman, we have a case of art imitating life. Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s “Goodnight Moon” is an old-fashioned Superman story aimed at kids of all ages. A self-contained adventure, it gives us a Man of Steel who is unabashedly good, and a true symbol of hope.
Drawn by Barry Kitson, with additional inks by Scott Hanna, and colors by Gabriel Eltreb, Superman #39 represents a good jumping-on point for casual fans who may only know the character through DC’s cinematic outings, including Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
I have to admit to a certain fondness for Snyder’s filmic take on Superman. The idea that Clark isn’t perfect and has to grow into the role works well within the narrative structure of a motion picture. The fact that he must deal with the consequences of his powers, and the aftermath of murdering Zod, on his way to become a beacon of hope, lends a real world feel to the character. That people have misgivings about Superman in Snyder’s films also adds a touch to reality to the story. After all, history shows that humans don’t take kindly to difference, and that we tend to tear down those who offer us hope.
But then again, Superman doesn’t exist in the real world.
Still, Snyder’s take on Superman is only one of many interpretations of the hero. It isn’t as extreme as Frank Miller’s idea that the Man of Steel is a “boy scout,” and therefore boring, but it is somewhat critical of the mythos.