Superman is the guardian of earth and defender of humanity around the world. Fulfilling that duty day in, day out makes him an icon and role model, but what about humanity? What are the people around Superman like, and what do their stories say about people? The Superman stories below have a lot to say beyond accomplishing super feats while wearing a giant S. Click on the titles or cover images for instant reading access to them via Hoopla.
We build bridges and protect the people on both sides from anyone who would tear us down. Superman’s alien origins would understandably make him feel like a stranger among any of us. However, there are many forms of alienation, some skin deep and others ideological. Super-strength and x-ray vision can save the day in an emergency, but Superman’s attention to character and heart make him a superhero. Oddly enough, that’s what makes us his hero in return. As famous Superman actor Christopher Reeve put it:
I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. They are the real heroes, and so are the families and friends who have stood by them.
We have a lot of dirt to sweep out of the halls of power. If sunlight is the best disinfectant, why do people take so many potshots at journalists? Reporter Lois Lane doesn’t sweat the haters. She’s too busy keeping up with shady sources and getting an article draft to her editor before deadline. Lois's diligence and cunning make her a great journalist, and her commitment to the truth sets an example that mild-mannered Clark Kent always tries to emulate.
We are easily distracted but fun to hang around. Jimmy Olsen, photographer for The Daily Planet, has a tendency to get into increasingly insane amounts of trouble. It’s one thing for Superman to keep an eye on crime and stop falling asteroids, it’s a whole ‘nother thing to control his best friend who has turned into a massive turtle while falling from space, or landed in the crosshairs of an assassin, or started a prank war with Batman. Sometimes inventiveness isn’t good or bad, just… fun. Troublesome, chaotic fun.
We are incredibly driven, both to our salvation and demise. Lex Luthor is a wicked entrepreneur of many hats - scientist, businessman, even President for a time. His talent and expertise is limitless, yet he commits himself to tearing down a symbol of hope out of sheer ego. People who make a habit out of harming others ultimately harm themselves, and Superman struggles to help his “villains” realize this and change their ways.
We could use a friend. Superman’s earliest adventures were created in 1938 by a pair of young Jewish boys, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The man of steel takes on crooked landlords, wifebeaters, corrupt government officials - people who abuse their power. The original superhero fantasy was not to clobber giant robots or defeat a society of evil - it was to help people who were struggling in society, period. Can you imagine anything more pure than a friend who offers you a hand when you need it most? As acclaimed comics writer Grant Morrison put it in his book Supergods:
Before it was a Bomb, the Bomb was an Idea. Superman, however, was a Faster, Stronger, Better Idea.