Are you guilty of saving your favourite comics, piles of them collecting dust in the back of your wardrobe or in a box in the attic?
Just me then… well not really, but every now and again I come across a few comics that are mixed up with some books or magazines. Great memories of reading them when I was a kid and the jokes are still as funny!
There is a good reason for keeping a select few of them, just recently the LA Times reported that a copy of a comic book featuring the debut of Superman in 1938 was sold for $1.5M thats about £1M at todays rates. Do you have one hidden away somewhere (maybe your dad does?).
I’m not sure that the Beano or Dandy will sell for as much, but it just goes to show that those collecters of comics are prepared to pay big money for those special first editions.
Check out those boxes in the attic, I’m off to check mine now!
As one of the original comic book heroes which opened up a market for the likes of Spiderman and Batman, Superman is deserving of its status as ‘legendary’. The comic books span the ages of American modern cultural history, starting back when it was first created in the 1930s by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Schuster.
Superman is a character whose life and influence has spilled out of the comic book genre and into films, TV shows, books and cartoons. There have been five movies about the Man of Steel, the most celebrated portrayal of him being Christopher Reeve (playing Superman four times out of the five), followed in ‘Superman Returns’ by Brandon Routh in 2006. But to understand why the movies have been such a success over the years, we need to go back to its origins. What kind of a man this superhero is, his family, his relationships, and his morals…
Superman – Clark Kent
Superman was created alongside an alter ego, Clark Kent. Being Clark Kent during the day, and ridding the city of its evils at night as Superman, does not necessarily mean that Superman has two very differing personalities. Clark Kent is much like Superman; he is moral, just, and protective of those he loves. How did a boy growing up with such powers and abilities not be tempted into using them for his own gain? For this, we look to Martha and Jonathan Kent of Smallville. It was they who found the smouldering wreckage of the rocket which bore him to earth, and brought him up as their own.
Superman – Daily Planet
With a good upbringing behind him, and a feeling of responsibilities for his powers, Clark moves to Metropolis to work as a journalist for The Daily Planet. This is where he meets, and falls for, Lois Lane, a tough investigative journalist. Where would a good superhero be without a sweetheart? And of course, this isn’t a straightforward relationship. Clark Kent might be wearing the Superman outfit under his work clothes, but she can only see Clark; a guy who’s a little awkward, sweet enough, wears glasses. She has her eyes on Superman himself, but is unable to see that behind the glasses and the altered mannerisms, Superman is Clark Kent after all. Of course, this doesn’t last for long, and Lois Lane spends much of her time in the 1950s and 60s comics trying to prove that Clark and Superman are one and the same. The rough beginnings to their relationship eventually lead – in the modern DC comics – to their marriage. The glasses are off, and she knows of his Superman identity.
Superman and Lois Lane
The love of Superman spread into the movies in the 70s and into cartoons since the 60s, and now with this more accessible media, new fans arrive at the story of the Man of Steel regularly. After nearly eighty years of storylines and the building of the superhero’s history, the story never quite feels complete. And it’s a good thing too. As powerful and as noble as he was at the start, he still invites those with an inquisitive mind to ponder over him.
And it leaves us with the underlying question of how many everyday superheroes there are out there, with their outfits underneath their work clothes, hidden behind their glasses…
‘One of the great comic book heroes’ is how most people have described the legendary Superman. But beyond his comic book origins, the Superman franchise has delivered to the world a number of Superman movies which build on this infamous man. It inspired a new market for superheroes, leading to the creation of others such as Batman and Spiderman to name but a few.
One of the most refreshing things about the Superman stories is Superman himself. Clark Kent is mild-mannered and very un-superhero like in his day to day life as a reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper. Originally from the planet Krypton, he landed on earth as a small boy and was adopted and raised by Martha and Jonathan Kent. Raised in rural Kansas by the couple, Clark is brought up to learn humility along with his powers, and how to hide these abilities from the rest of the world. Relationships outside of his adoptive parents include friends and relationships with women such as Lois Lane.
Christopher Reeve was the first to take on the role of Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent in 1978. With the build, jaw and sculpted hair of a superhero, Christopher Reeve fitted the part almost as well as his blue and red Superman spandex outfit did. The movie – ‘Superman’ – set a precedent for the others which followed, and a tough one at that. Also starring Marlon Brando as Jor-El and Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, the movie fleshed out the characters with solid performances by the actors. Superman breaks the rules to rescue Lois Lane, saves the world and delivers Lex Luthor to jail for a fair trial; the morality makes you smile. “I fight for truth, and justice, and the American way.” And all with his structured hair and cowlick impeccably in place.
Christopher Reeve followed up with four more movies (Superman II, Superman III and Superman IV).
With Superman II mostly being filmed at the same time as the first one, the sequel followed a similar vein plot-wise, although the change in style (due to a sudden change in director) caused outrage amongst the fans. Some claim Superman became a little more ‘camp’ after this, with the new director Richard Lester’s leanings towards comedy sacrificing the core seriousness of the Superman character. Regardless, the film was a success.
The third and fourth Superman films went a little haywire compared with their solid prequels, and the fourth bombed in the box office and in the face of their critics.
It was in 2006 when Superman returned to the movies, the cowlick now affixed to the dark hair of young Brandon Routh. Routh stepped into Christopher Reeve’s pants-over-tights outfit to bring Superman back to the fore, with a more serious adaptation of the comic book Man Of Steel. Bringing Superman into the modern age with the old character still intact worked well for director Bryan Singer, and the movie grossed $391 million worldwide.
Superman has been dealt with differently in these movies; admittedly some better than others. The movie industry did however breath a whole new element of life to the comic book hero; a new way in which the Man of Steel can shine.