Who Should Write Superman? (Pt. 5)
February 14, 2007
In our allegedly regular series, the Saladeers will espouse the virtues of a chosen individual and make the case for why they should be writing a Superman comic. The rules are simple: pick any person–even if they are not currently an author–that would potentially do an exemplary job writing a non-continuity Superman story of indeterminate length. While it is likely that DC Comics would lose money on many of our picks, in the greater interests of forwarding civilization, we feel they should make these happen.
Today’s writer comes to us from the world of television: David Simon, creator and co-writer of HBO’s The Wire. (He’s also a demigod, if we’re to believe wikipedia, which I’m inclined to do)
I generally believe that Superman is at his finest when the story revels in silver age zaniness. Traveling to the 31st century? Awesome. Fighting the Dino-Czar? Sign me up. That being said, I think there is a take on Superman that has really been underutilized. Compared to other successful comics, Superman books have often featured far fewer characters in recent years. Batman has his whole surrogate bat-family, plus all the other supporting characters and extensive rogue’s gallery. Superman, by contrast, has been focused too exclusively on Kal-El, Lois, Lex Luthor, and whatever forgetable (and eminently beatable) villain du jour comes along. When you’re the one of the most powerful men in the universe, it’s understandable the story is going to completely revolve around you.
What Simon could bring to the series is to make it more of an ensemble piece. As he did with Baltimore, he could could really bring Metropolis to life. He should not, by any means, attempt to make Superman as dark as The Wire or turn Clark Kent into Jimmy McNulty, but complexity could be added without making it extremely grim. Simon has a talent for weaving complex epics featuring a wide range of characters and it would be interesting to see Metropolis get that sort of treatment.
Simon could also address one of the glaring weaknesses of the Superman mythology. If Superman is so powerful, why doesn’t he fix all the world’s problems? There is so much suffering in the world, surely he could do more to end world hunger, disease, etc? As seen on The Wire, Simon has a keen grasp on complex social issues and could present the immensity of Metropolis’s everyday problems. Sure, Superman can fight off of a giant interstellar starfish with relative ease, but how fight the problems at the root of modern urban life? In the end, he can make a difference, but some problems are too big, too insidious, and too pervasive for even Superman to cure.
Want more hypothetical Superman goodness? Check out the previous entries of Who Should Write Superman?.