It took a while for me to come to it, but I’ve decided that I’m allowed to be bitchy about this whole Superman thing.
When I grew up, Superman had just been revamped by John Byrne. He was the Last Son of Krypton, which was not only a clever nickname but also a somewhat accurate description of who he actually was, most of the time. Kryptonians didn’t just saunter in once a week for a haircut, a copy of “Big Alien Juggs” and a conversation about how great it was back when Kandor was attached to something. Supergirl was a shapeshifter from another dimension and Superboy was a clone of Superman and Cadmus Director Westfield. It was the “norm” for me, and I quite enjoyed it. When I looked back at the Silver Age stories where so many people survived the destruction of Krypton, I remember thinking that not only were they preposterous, but they kind of took a lot of the power away from Superman’s origin story.
Of course, the fans of those books bitched nonstop.
They were unhappy with Superman’s power levels; they were unhappy with the loss of Legion plotlines; they were unhappy with the loss of the “real” Supergirl; they were unhappy with the fact that he had lost some of his wonder when he became more grounded in reality and science. And on principle, I couldn’t disagree with them—except in the sense that the stories I grew up reading were just (to me, at least), better-crafted, more thoughtful and thought-provoking. Ultimately, their Superman is like a circus act while mine is more like a Larry Niven book. Neither is inherently better or worse, but they are quite different animals and the chances of someone being a fan of both isn’t great. Those odds diminish even more when, in order for one to survive, the other must vanish completely.
So now that Superman isn’t the Last Son of Krypton anymore (for those of you following at home, there’s something like 100,000 of them, including Supergirl, her family, her whole hometown and Clark’s goddamn dog), and there’s a major, companywide event (War of the Supermen by James Robinson) coming up based on the notion that the planet of Kryptonians that Superman’s been living on while his comics (Superman and Action Comics) have been populated by also-rans and imitators, has declared war on Earth for some reason…well, I’m allowed to throw up my hands and say “That’s it.” I haven’t read Superman since Infinite Crisis, and haven’t read it consistently since they unceremoniously dumped Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson and company in favor of the “young, cool guys” in 1999 who managed to drop the ball completely within a couple of years.
But I love Superman; he was the first character I followed for YEARS through thick and thing. I want to love the books; I want to buy the books and read them. I tend to go back, once a year or so, and give them a try. But since the whole New Krypton thing started I’ve just given up and I think this War of the Supermen thing may be the death knell for me. It’s too much—too silly, too over-the-top. I’m not thrilled by the Rainbow Brite Corps, as one creator referred to the multicolored ring-bearers who represent the emotional spectrum in Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern stories, but he’s told so many good stories with them that he’s earned my trust and the sillier elements of the books get a pass. Not so with Johns and Robinson’s Superman, which to me has been so thoroughly unappealing as to be defined by “a bunch of Kryptonians running around in space acting like morons while Superman’s book and position on the Justice League are usurped by some random schmuck.”
And to those of you who say, “Well, this is the new status quo; live with it,” I get that. To those of you older fans who suggest that maybe fans like me are just getting a taste of our own medicine because we dared to enjoy Byrne and Jurgens’s Superman, and maybe even a few issues of the Hal-less Green Lantern books, you may be right.
But you guys bitched the whole damned time, and now it’s my turn.