I would like to apologize for my lack on content recently. I was visiting a friend up in northern Ontario for a few days and then we drove back home. It was a long drive, but it was fun. Now, onto the reason why we’re all here…
Since he was first created, Superman has stood as beacon of what the typical Superhero strives to be. He stands as the ultimate good guy and like Captain America, he is good for the sake of being good. He always fights the good fight, protects the innocent, and refuses to compromise his morals in the face of disaster. This has worked very well for both DC and Marvel throughout their publication history. While Superman is probably the more popular of the two, Captain America is seen as more relatable due to his origin and power set. The thing is, why does every single superhero story need to have a “Superman”?
I just finished Amazon’s newest property The Boys, based off the mature comic book by Garth Ennis. It’s a dark and satire filled series about what would happen if superheroes cared more about their public perception than their actual deeds. Not to mention that all superheroes or “Supes”, as they’re called in the series, are licensed and employed by a massive conglomerate called Vought. Their figurehead and leader of their “Justice League/Avengers” analogue is called Homelander. He is for all intents and purposes, their Superman. His origin story, which they changed for the show, was nearly identical to Superman’s. He crashed in an alien spacecraft and was taken in by his family and taught to be the hero he is, or more accurately, the hero the public thinks he is. In the show, they had him born to a normal family as a “Gift From God” as with all the other Supes. I won’t spoil the series for you, but it’s a great show and I highly recommend you watch it. It’s very mature rated and contains a lot of swearing, graphic violence and gore.
Samaritan from Astro City, Omni Man from Image Comics, Apollo from Stormwatch, Homelander from The Boys, Hyperion from Marvel and Supreme from Image Comics are all analogues to the Man of Steel himself. I personally don’t enjoy this type of hero, for a myriad of reasons, but mostly for their ridiculous power set. I’m not above recognizing that sometimes you need a heavy hitter like one of these guys to even the playing field or take on a super powerful villain, but for most of the regular stuff they’re not needed. The Justice League movie did this really well, which is one of the few things it did well… When the League is fighting Steppenwolf, they are getting their butts handed to them. This one guy is better than Batman, Flash, Cyborg, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman all fighting together. Granted Aquaman and Wonder Woman are able to hold their own against him, but even then it seemed like more a nuisance than an actual fight to Steppenwolf. When Superman finally showed up, it was almost comical to watch Steppenwolf try and fight. I have a lot of problems with the movie and how they portray the heroes, but they did that scene very well. Watching as Superman makes short work of the big bad and the jovial quips he throws out, it was very much in the vein of the animated Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons.
Hyperion is probably my favourite character from the analogue Superman tree. He was created in 1969 and first appeared in The Avengers as a supervillain and member of the Squadron Sinister, a supervillain team based loosely on the Justice League. In the Hickman run on Avengers from the MarvelNow! printing, Hyperion was actually a member and powerhouse of the Avengers. They changed his origin slightly, having him been pulled from the space between two universes by AIM scientists, but Thor took him under his wing and taught him about being a hero. I like Hyperion for the fact that he isn’t all good, or hasn’t always been the big blue boy scout like Superman. He’s flawed, he’s not perfect but he has these amazing powers and with the right guidance from another uber powerful being (Thor), he was able to become the hero he wanted to be.
WHY DO WE NEED A SUPERMAN?
This is a question I pose to a lot of people when they rave about the Man of Steel. Why do we need him? What does he represent that someone else doesn’t? I always get the same answers: He’s the only one who can beat Doomsday, Darkseid, Mongol, etc; He’s the powerhouse of the League; He keeps everyone else on the right path; He can do everything so the League can never lose.. blah blah blah. Honestly, what’s the point of having a hero that can never lose? No matter what happens Superman can just tank any confrontation and win because he: A. Can’t really be hurt at all, B. Has every power anyone can think of (apparently), and C. Is incorruptible (WRONG). I will admit, he does come in handy in some instances, but the rest of the League can compensate for his ridiculous power levels if they really need to. Not only can the League compensate, but the Avengers have so many more members that if they were missing Thor or Hyperion they would be able to function perfectly well. Take Starbrand for example…
Starbrand was first introduced in 1986 in his self titled series. The Starbrand is a mark that is imbued upon a worthy candidate when the universal energies are in flux or in danger of being destroyed. What this means is that the Starbrand only appears in time of great distress. The Starbrand is most accurately described as a planetary defense system that is limited only by the wielder’s imagination. They have near limitless power and can do anything they can imagine? let’s see Superman stand up to that! Most recently in the Hickman run of Avengers from the MarvelNow! printing, Starbrand joined the Avengers in their battle against the Builders and Thanos. Without Starbrand, Ex Nihilo, Abyss and Nightmask (all new comers in this run) it’s very doubtful that the Avengers would’ve emerged victorious. I don’t want to get bogged down with all these new uber powerful characters, but the point of the matter is that even with Thor and Hyperion ( the Superman analogues) occupied and unable to assist the Avengers, there are other heroes who are able to provide the same level of support without the ridiculous powerset.
I’ve said that term a lot and I know it’s very vague but it’s something that I’ve come to expect when new characters are created. Every time a new character is introduced in either Marvel or DC, they need an insane powerset to be able to contend with the long time mainstays. Let’s look at Blue Marvel.
Adam Brashear/Blue Marvel was created in 2008 by Kevin Grevioux and was introduced in Adam: The Legend of The Blue Marvel before he was included on Luke Cage’s Mighty Avengers Team in the Infinity crossover event. Brashear was gifted his powers in a laboratory accident (imagine that). In an attempt to build a Negative Reactor to bridge the gap between the Negative Zone and the Positive matter universes, which would allow for unlimited clean energy, the experiment when awry. The reactor exploded bathing both Brashear and his colleague Conner Sims in mutagenic radiation from the unstable event horizon. Sims was dissolved whereas Brashear developed a vast powerset that he used to fight crime under the name of Blue Marvel. His powerset is as follows: vast superhuman strength, superhuman speed, superhuman reflexes, superhuman stamina, superhuman senses, Nigh-invulnerability, Flight, energy generation, Molecular manipulation, Transmutation, Light creation, Enhanced mental perception; and he is also a genius level Physicist and Engineer. In summary he’s “OP”. This is a guy who is never going to be beaten and if they do? How are they going to beat a threat that can drop this guy?! Not only is this guy nearly unbeatable, but he only has one known weakness, an element from “Exo-Space” (where he gained his powers) called Neutronium; could this rip off be ANY MORE obvious? I love comics to death, I really do, they provide an escape where good always triumphs and people aren’t horrible to others just for shits. But there comes a point when giving someone a ridiculous powerset like Blue Marvel, Hyperion, Superman, Homelander, etc. just becomes redundant.
It’s no big secret that I like my heroes to be dark in nature and very human. I find that someone like Batman can inspire more than Superman because there’s nothing inherently unachievable with Batman. He’s a man who trained himself to peak human levels and maintains that training. Superman is an alien from another planet who becomes supercharged under the yellow sun. He is the hero he is because of happenstance and not any type of training or work. It can be argued that he is the same person with and without the powers but we all know that if he didn’t have the powers he would be a mild mannered farmer in Smallville Kansas. Someone like Batman, Moon Knight, Daredevil, or Green Arrow used the events that happened to them as a calling card and rallying cry for them to make a change and fight for something they believe in. They don’t really have powers, some do, but most use their minds, skills and resolve to do battle with beings far greater than themselves. To me, that is the mark of a true hero. Not somebody who can win without trying, but somebody who uses their determination to fight someone stronger than themselves for the greater good. Superman has come up against a being greater than himself roughly 6 times since his creation. Most of which have been within the past 30 years. The thing too, is that of the beings more powerful than Superman, 3 are Kryptonian (Doomsday, General Zod, and Superboy Prime) and one is an alternate version of himself (Ultraman).
When over half of your Rogue’s Gallery are people either just like you or literal evil versions of you, it’s time to maybe take a step back with the ridiculous powerset and make yourself more relatable, but that’s just my own opinion.
See you next week!