Friday, August 26, 2011

Great Moments in Comics: Lois & Clark!

As I've mentioned, these last few weeks of DC Comics have managed to be both sad and anticlimactic. Beginning next week, the company effects a complete overhaul of its flagship titles and all its characters, radically changing the origins, powers, relationships, and back-stories of all its best-known (and lesser-known) heroes. DC is pouring all its energies into this "new 52" revamp, and that's had the predictable effect of throwing all of its ongoing monthly titles into the shade. Readers - even loyal fans - have wondered what the point is of buying their favorite titles when everything about those titles is going to change completely in only a few weeks. And there's been a side-effect as well: all the writers of these various ongoing titles at some point realized that they were every bit as big a part of comics history as the new writers and artists who'll be mucking around with greatness in September: each one of these current creators is shutting down some comics, and many of those comics have been around for most of the last century. In its own sad way, that's some epic stuff - take Paul Cornell, for instance. His name is unknown to me, but this week he's the guy who's writing the last issue of "Action Comics" as we know it. That's a weirdly abrupt kind of responsibility.

He wraps up the ongoing storyline in which Superman and his allies defeat a group of marauding Doomsday clones, and then he gives Superman fans a Great Moment very much like what they've been looking for all these last weeks. Lois and Clark are enjoying a quiet dinner together, and Clark is confessing his worry to her that his friends and allies look up to him for all the wrong reasons, that they're willing to sacrifice themselves for him and maybe shouldn't be. And Lois tells him:
People know the most important thing about your identity ... that, whoever they are, you're like them. A human being. Hitler said he'd made "the superman," Stalin was called "the man of steel" ... but no, one look at you, and no, never, you blow that out of the water ... because people know who the real Superman is. It's this decent guy with the silly smile who's sometimes a little old-fashioned, who lives a whole human life. Who fell in love and got married.

Clark, coming from Krypton didn't make you Superman. Martha and Jonathan did. And thanks to your doubts and your fears and your absolute refusal to be above anyone ... you do them proud every day.

No fanfare, no massive action sequence ... nothing to match the bleak grandeur of "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" - but still: I can't help but feel a little edge in that "people know who the real Superman is."


1 comment:

Mike said...

Paul Cornell has his own Wikipedia entry! He's a longtime sf/fantasy/comics writer from the UK, who's mainly known over here as a Doctor Who novelist. He wrote a novel for Sylvester McCoy's doctor called "Human Nature" that became a terrifying and moving two-parter for David Tennant's Doctor, "Human Nature" and "Family of Blood." He appears to not only have a fertile imagination but an admirable work ethic!