Clark Kent. Superman. They are American icons, two sides if the same coin. The All-American son and the Man of Steel. Where are you Superman?
I know what you are thinking…Superman is everwhere. From the Man of Steel movie to his appearances in Action Comics, Superman, Justice League and more recently in Superman Unchained and Batman/Superman it seems like he is ever present. But is that really the Superman we all remember or is it just a shade of the hero we knew?
Writers Greg Pak (Batman/Superman) and Scott Snyder (Superman Unchained) seem to have a handle on the whole character of Superman/Clark but that is not always the case. In other books, with other writers this heroic icon is largely hit or miss. Why is it so hard to write a character that has been around for 70-plus years?
Some will blame the New52, DC comics recreating-rebooting of their comics universe, it does get the blame for so many things. Others will say the death of Ma and Pa Kent has changed things. Of course there are those who feel we need to bring back the red-underpants and everything will be right with the world. (Really??!!) While we are at it we could just lay it at the feet of Grant Morrison’s new Irvine for the Man of Steel. I do not think that is where the problem lies, it is much simpler.
Too much Superman, Not enough Clark Kent.
I think it comes down to the issue of Masks. It’s all about secret identities: Batman is the true identity, Bruce Wayne is the mask he hides behind. I’m Superman’s case Clark Kent is the true identity. Superman is not simply a man with incredible powers, he is Clark with those powers. An all-American boy wanting nothing more than to help those in need. We cheers seeing Superman save lives, but even without powers Clark Kent would run into fires to help others. That is simply who he is.
So perhaps we have discovered the problem…How do we fix it? Well DC has set up the perfect set of circumstances to fix this very problem. Forever Evil. Coming out of Forever Evil Superman might easily be feeling guilt for what has happened, that is understandable. So take a lead from the ‘Exile in Space’ storyline along with the crosscountry adventures of Green Arrow and Green Lantern from the 70s…roadtrip baby!! Send Superman on a journey of self-discovery, preferably with Bruce, a trip to rediscover what it means to be a hero. Batman and Superman in a beat up pickup-almost writes itself, while allowing creators to bring Clark/Superman back where he belongs…