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Man and Superman is one of the best comic book stories of 2019

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Being Superman in the comic book industry hasn’t been easy at all in the last thirty years or so. Despite sharing times of commercial and artistic success in various points, there has been a constant effort to deconstruct Superman, trying to add “depth” to the character and changing elements that made him what he was: the archetype of what a superhero is.

Many writers, Brian Michael Bendis being the last one in a long list, have been trying to deconstruct Superman as if there was something fundamentally wrong with his character–that an individual could have power and influence and could not be a good man at the same time. As criticized as Batman vs. Superman was, that line from Lex Luthor about God being incapable of being both all-powerful and all-good seems quite appropriate when analyzing many takes on the Man of Steel in recent times.

So when DC published this year's the graphic novel Man and Superman, written by legendary writer Marv Wolfman (Crisis On Infinite Earths and the New Teen Titans are some of his biggest writing credits) and drawn by Claudio Castellini (of Silver Surfer, Spider-Man and Captain America fame), not only did they release one of the best comic book stories of 2019 (it’s certainly the best Superman comic written this year), but they also did something that I find wonderful: it brought back the humanity and optimism of Clark Kent.

What is Man and Superman?

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Man and Superman is a Story about Clark Kent’s arrival to Metropolis and him trying to adapt to this new life of his, struggling to get his dream job as a reporter in the Daily Planet and starting his career as a superhero.

He finds himself having to overcome a lot of adversity, such as living in a very small apartment in a dangerous neighborhood, getting a job as a janitor because no newspaper wants to hire him and trying to unmask a terrorist group in Metropolis that is handled by a mysterious figure that turns out to be Lex Luthor.

As things unravel, Clark faces a lot of doubt about being a superhero, making a lot of mistakes along the day, and feeling homesick, missing his parents dearly, while also meeting Lois Lane, who inspired him to keep going and become Superman.

How was it?

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Marv Wolfman cemented his place as one of the best and most influential comic book writers a long time ago, so he doesn’t have anything to prove to anybody at this point of his career–he’s writing for the sheer joy of having the chance to write about Superman, a character he clearly holds dear, and it shows in this story.

A lot of people criticize Superman for not being very relatable, but when you look at Man and Superman, you see a person that has to face many situations that we all have faced throughout the years. We can all relate to the struggle of finding a job, even going as far as having to accept any option just to support ourselves; we can relate to feeling homesick, wanting to go back to the safety of our parents, and we can relate to him feeling overwhelmed by his role as a superhero, often claiming that he just can’t do it.

In the hands of a less seasoned and capable writer, this story would have probably been done in a very cynical and nihilist fashion, which has been very common with Superman in recent times. But Wolfman writes this story in an incredibly heartfelt and uplifting manner, with Clark making friends in his janitor job and going to a baseball match, working hard to get the job he wants as a reporter and striving to be a better hero because it’s in his nature to help others.

There is also the novelty of covering a period of Clark Kent’s life that hasn’t been developed as much as other points of his career and that is much appreciated. Wolfman has fun with the notion that Kal-El may have super strength and is capable of shooting lasers through his eyes, but he can also have problems finding a job or trying to adapt to a new city, which makes Man and Superman very endearing as a concept and as a story.

What about the art?

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Claudio Castellini is not one of the most known comic book artists out there, which is a shame because his work on Man and Superman is absolutely superb, not wasting a single panel and adding a level of grandeur and elegance to every scene. His pages are filled with details and done in a very dynamic way, which fits perfectly with Wolfman’s vision.

A great comic book story is always welcomed, but artists like Castellini can improve any type of story and that’s exactly what he has done here, showcasing many iconic pages that you should really enjoy.

What it represents?

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Marv Wolfman has proven that the best way to write about Superman is simply not changing anything at all and focusing on what he has rather than what he lacks. There is no ego or misguided ambition with Man and Superman: it’s written with the respect and decor of someone who values the icon that he has in front of him. How many modern writers could learn from this!

Man and Superman works as a story because there is a very human and emotional component to it, showing a man that is making his way in the world and, much like you or me, has doubts and fears about it, but keeps going with optimism and trying to do the right thing.

This is, at its core, archetypical Superman and in a postmodernist world that seems to have fallen in love with nihilism, it’s important to remember what Clark Kent stood for as an individual: above all things, just being a good person.

What are your thoughts on Man and Superman? Comment below, and share with others. Shop our collection of Official Superman Merchandise. 

This post first appeared on Pop Culture News, Comic Book, And Anime Reviews - Animated Apparel Co., please read the originial post: here

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Man and Superman is one of the best comic book stories of 2019


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