Thursday, March 25, 2010

Reading In The Cave Of Cool

Our Hero Superman On Earth - Tom De Haven

The first thing I liked about this book was the shlubby picture of the author on the inside back cover. He didn't care what anyone thought of him while writing a book about the cultural significance of Superman. He looks like every person I ever saw in a comic book store so I was prepped and ready for his take on the 'man of steel'. His three day beard growth just sang 'authority'.

The book is full of meditations on the importance and sheer invincibility of the 'Superman mystique'. It made me look at my own life and possessions and it was remarkable to see how much that one icon and his symbols have meant to my life. One of my most prized possessions is a silver Superman ring my father bought me many birthdays ago.

Everyone knows the origin and everyone can tell you something about the character. That is remarkable. What also is remarkable is how little he has changed in the 70 years of his existence. Sure he gets a reboot now and then but the essential goodness of Superman, what he stands for, is still as strong as when he was at the height of his popularity.

Why has he remained so popular in our disposable culture? I have my own theory on that. He is popular because he doesn't let us down. In fact, the world today seems to be letting him down by abandoning the values he stands for. He is almost too good for us. We don't deserve a hero like him because we scoff at him for his 'old fashioned' ways.

The truth is he is EXACTLY the hero we all need more than ever these days. In a world were everyone acts in his own selfish interests (like his nemesis Lex Luthor) we have no one to say there is another way, a better way and that is a shame.

I appreciate that this book made me appreciate Superman just a little more. My only complaint with this easy to digest book is that there aren't enough pictures. That is my own personal complaint about everything so don't let that keep you from this cool little tome.


Sam G said...

Calvin - That ring is awesome. I'm not a jewelry wearer myself...but if I had a ring like that I'd wear it everyday.
Yes. We do need Superman.

TS Hendrik said...

Normally I might make a crack because you wanted more pictures in a book, but when dealing with a comic book character, I think the critique is appropriate.

Bubbashelby said...

Have you read De Haven's "It's Superman?" Excellent novel and unique look at the man of steel.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

That is next on my list.

Nomad said...

He's an alien he's meant to be a little different. What makes this place suck less is Superman. Oh wait there aren't any superheroes saving people, no aliens ariving to help us in need. Only good people being put down. Where's are Kar-El? He's really just a new age (1930's) Jebus.