writer: J. Michael
artists: Eddy Barrows and J.P. Mayer
years ago, Superman made his first public appearance, the
creation of two kids from Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe
Shuster. As originally envisioned, the Man of Tomorrow fought
bullies and stood up for that most mythical of creatures,
the common man.
later, a Cleveland V.A. Hospital clerk named Harvey Pekar
would decide that the common man needs to fight for himself
in comics, launching the autobiographical series American
Splendor. We may want to believe a man can fly, but
Pekar believed that the real heroes are those regular joes
that get up every day and just try to make it without doing
it's fitting, if a little bittersweet, that on the week
that Pekar passed away in Cleveland, one of the city's other
most famous -- if fictional - sons returns to his roots
as a man looking at the injustices of daily living instead
of fighting earth-shattering menaces.
Superman #701, new series writer J. Michael Straczynski
begins "Grounded," a year-long arc in which the Man of Steel
chooses to play Forrest Gump, walking instead of jogging
across America. And yes, JMS uses his story to remind us
that even in the DC Universe, just getting through life
can be a valiant struggle.
everyone's going to like it. While it's funny when Superman
uses his x-ray vision to help some guys repair their car,
there's also just a tinge of smugness to him. A little unavoidable,
perhaps, when you can change the course of mighty rivers
with your bare hands, and yet that, too, hearkens back to
the character from 1938.
also takes a shot at reporters dogging Superman's trail,
and their portrayal, aided by artists Eddy Barrows and J.P.
Mayer, seems mean-spirited. They're not mainstream media;
Superman has a confrontation with someone clearly meant
to be a blogger. In short, one of us.
impulse is understandable; nobody likes to be criticized
for doing their job and yes, the internet gets shrill at
times. But we don't all look like we need to put
down the donut and go for a run, do we?
knows that Superman is supposed to care about us. Even in
the movies, that's been a defining trait to the point of
occasional overplaying. But JMS looks to be getting to the
heart of what that means, and a dawning realization that
it's easy to inspire looking up in the sky, but to paraphrase
Oscar Wilde, we're doing it from down in the gutters. It's
makes more of an impression when your inspiration gets down
you're unsure of where JMS is going, just look to the last
couple of pages as Superman quotes Thoreau. However, I think
it might be more incisive for this to suggest that Superman
is remembering to live by something Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. wrote
in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, "there's only one
rule that I know of, babies - god damn it, you've got to
so Superman #701 didn't just please me. I found myself
moved by a Superman story, which admittedly has happened
on occasion. If this first chapter is any indication, "Grounded"
will have a place in my heart with three Superman masterpieces
- "For the Man Who Has Everything" by Alan Moore and Dave
Gibbons, Birthright by Mark Waid and Leinil Yu, and
All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.
These are the works that remind me why I love Superman,
and JMS reminds me that while that's okay, we all have our
own never-ending battles to fight.
note: Because it also made me think of Brad Meltzer's foundation,
which raised money to save the childhood home of Jerry Siegel
in which Superman was created,
I want to include a link here again.There's always more
work to be done changing the world for the better. More
on Brad a little later, because he's got a cool panel at