Schools Of Thought On Superman, Part 1: Human Vs. Alien
by Benjamin Hall
[*Spoilers in the form of a quote from DC Nation #0 (2018) and comic panels below!]
There are different schools of thought for every character that exists in comics. However, this series of articles will only be covering Clark Kent/Superman. In three parts, I will cover two schools of thought for the following subjects: Which is stronger–human or Kryptonian heritage; single life versus married life; whether Kent’s secret of being Superman is kept due to idiocy or mastery of disguise. Each part will have a conclusion stating which school of thought is arguably smarter.
The two primary schools of thought when telling a story about Superman are whether he is more human or more alien.
When one writes Superman as more human, he is not saying things like “Rao” (ex. Action Comics #484 ) or thinking to himself “Humans are amazing!” (DC Nation #0 2018). Instead he relies more on the beliefs and thinking he would have grown up with under his adoptive parents. (Much like what I presume happens for those adopted into healthy and stable homes.) Examples of this way of storytelling can be found in the television show Lois and Clark: The New Adventures Of Superman (1993-1997)and many stories, including Superman: The Wedding Album (1996).
When one portrays Superman as more respectful of, or longing for, his alien heritage, he seems more like a person connecting with a story they have heard. In other words, he comes off like a distant descendant of an immigrant who idolizes their heritage, but doesn’t have true knowledge of it. This is not to say that it is wrong for writers to have Superman appreciate the culture he came from. However, appreciation should stop around the point where he is beginning to think of himself as a complete outsider. By that I mean, he might feel emotionally like an outsider due to his powers and alien origin, but one should still write him with a human perspective.
In conclusion, going overboard and writing him as a stranger (alien) in a strange land (Earth) is not the way to go. Instead Superman should be thought of as Clark Kent first and Kal-El afterwards.