Paul Gadzikowski

The Return of Archy the Cockroach

Superman in the 90s

jules fieffer pointed out in
a book called something like
the world s greatest super heroes
that what made superman
unique besides that he was
the first and the template for
all the others was that he
alone was himself as a
costumed hero and in disguise
when wearing civilian clothes

bruce wayne and peter parker
wear masks when they go
out crimefighting but clark
kent wears a mask when
he goes to work or takes
his girl out

when i started reading comic
books superman was a kryptonian
first and an earthman second he
arrived on earth as a
baby with superpowers in place
and even retained babyhood
memories of krypton clark
kent was an act to him
an important piece of him to
be sure the legacy of the
foster parents he loved and
his means to be just one of the gang
but not his primary identity

this is the character christopher
reeve played in the movies in
the seventies and eighties even
though he was portrayed
as gaining his powers and the
knowledge of his true origins
only as he matured but these
movies seem to have started
or at least anticipated
a trend in that respect

in the superman comic books of
today as in the tv series
lois and clark
the character neither learns of
his origins nor develops
his powers until adulthood
which has a profound effect on
his sense of identity the tv
character once said quote
clark is who i am
superman is what i do

the original and model superhero
who was a cultural icon over
the world for fifty years and
for whom the genre is named has
been replaced by this sensitive
nineties guy whose personal life is
as much or more important
to him as the work he
does in his superman identity
something unique and
therefore precious has been
lost and i for one mourn it


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