Who Should Write Superman? Pt. 3

January 27, 2007

While lpmandrake and dailysalad may have established that their successive reimaginings of the Superman mythos will appear in single installments every Friday, devotees of Yesterday’s Salad will recognize that I neither recognize convention nor post regularly. Thus, I present to thee Superman as he is meant to be… featured in a short-story arc written by Haruki Murakami.

Firstly, Murakami’s contribution would help to redress longstanding issues of discrimination within the community of Superman writers. Although people of Asian descent have been long underrepresented in the comics industry, Murakami’s inclusion would not be on account of some kind of affirmative action program, but instead in response to the truly awful propaganda cartoons of the 1940’s, such as Eleventh Hour. No matter how much folks might have been riled up about Wake Island at the time, anyone who has actually seen these cartoons can testify that they qualify as some sort of wartime atrocity.* Murakami is uniquely suited to this task, given his ability to weave horific atrocities into otherwise peaceable stories.

Secondly, Murakami’s reimagined Man of Steel would surely spend most of his time in Tokyo, Japan. Though some might scoff at the idea of transplanting an idea as quintessentialy American as Superman to a nation which was once antagonistic to our own, Superman was reimagined in Soviet Russia with considerable success. And if the dominance of YouTube by outlandish clips from Japanese TV, or the proliferation of Manga shelves in my local Borders are any sign, American society is infatuated with modern Japanese culture. Furthermore, an American audience will readily identify with whomever Superman’s alter-ego might be, whether he is a disaffected executive or a disaffected layabout.

Thirdly, Murakami’s contribution would remain a short-story arc, even if he never stopped writing for the character. Like Murakami’s novels, his Superman would deal with “something” that is either “strange” or “mysterious,” as he finds himself fundamentally alienated by society, but can’t quite put his finger on why. He would undergo some vague personal growth in response to said outside, quasi-mythological forces. These forces may either be folkoric or contemporary, such as Johnnie Walker and Colonel Sanders in Kafka By The Shore, and we can be sure that they will be accompanied by equally mysterious characters who may or may not be fox spirits. Furthermore, if Superman succeeds in his endeavours, he will continue to feel pangs of unease (not unlike a David Lynch film), and if he fails, he will still have some passing, cryptic hope. As a result, no matter how many installments of the comic Murakami chooses to write, each issue will be totally indistinguishable from one another.

Fourthly, cats. Gobs and gaggles of cats, whether they swarm Tokyo in a clowder, clutter, pounce, dout, nuisance, glorying, or possibly even a destruction. For that matter, they will be intricately involved in the strange set of events that might be responsible for conveying meaning on Superman’s life. Or if we’re really lucky, Superman will spend most of the series looking for a cat only to realize that he is a cat, and kryptonite is simply innocuous-looking catnip.

* This is not to say that propagandistic cartoons are not themselves a legitimate or tasteful form of art, such as The Escapist versus the Razis (1944).

2 Responses to “Who Should Write Superman? Pt. 3”

  1. Transplanting American icons to Asia has not always worked well. May I present: Spider-Man: India

  2. JT Says:

    My nipples harden every time I read the wind-up bird chronicle.

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