"Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts" -- Paul Simon
Superman has been given a complete makeover by DC Comics, in hopes he and all his partners in crime fighting will make it to the Top of the Pops again.
The guy formerly known as The Man of Steel is now being billed as Superman: Man of the Future. One site describes him as being "younger, brasher and more brooding." He's lost his leotards. He and Lois are no longer an item.
This isn't the first time Superman has undergone a generational re-do. A lack of sufficient relevance resulted in an earlier tune-up more in tune with the times. Here are the facts surrounding his previous reincarnation, as reported by The New York Times, circa 1986:"Superman, who has appeared in comic book form since 1938, is about to be sent on a three-month vacation. When he returns, it will be in a revised form that DC Comics describes as “updated” and “more vulnerable.” Clark Kent will be “more open about his feelings” in his more genteel assignment as a columnist for The Daily Planet."
Next, Kent's first foray into gentility, his inaugural column as it appeared in The Daily Planet, years before the paper went the way of the planet Krypton:
by Clark Kent
GREETINGS – Kent’s the name, column-writing’s my new game. Hope you’ll bear with me as I get used to my new home here in The Planet’s Lifestyle Section. After a lifetime of hard-news reporting for this once-great metropolitan newspaper, the column-writing racket takes some getting used to, believe me.
SALUTE TO A CHIEF – Some of you old-timers may remember PERRY WHITE, the dictator who used to run The Planet’s city desk. He never shouted when he could scream, and he was never happier than when he was doing both, stomping around, puffing on those rotten stogies that finally killed him last week.
The Chief, as he loved to be called, was the kind of editor you learned to appreciate, after about 20 years of trying. He could an edit an end-of-the-world story like there was no tomorrow. And he taught me everything I know about writing the all-but-forgotten art of the evil-genius story. I miss the old coot already. They don’t make editors like him any more, let me tell you. Hey, only kidding MISS LANE. I mean MS. LANE. I mean CHIEF.
WHICH REMINDS ME – Anybody out there remember evil geniuses? This town used to be crawling with them. Take BRAINIAC – please. (Hey, just kiddin’ Brain, if you’re reading this.). And how about my favorite egghead, LEX LUTHOR? Loyal Planet readers will be glad to know that Lex has changed his evil ways and started work as director of the new Metropolis Hair Club for Men. He credits Prozac and the lovely LANA LANG with showing him the error of his ways. The pair plan spring nuptials in their native Smallville next year. Metropolis’s loss is Smallville’s gain. Good luck, you two. Message to Lex: I guess the best man won.
A FINAL NOTE – A reporter (pardon me, a columnist) likes to think of himself as a know-it-all. He’s not. A reporter’s only as good as his sources, the tip-off artists whose names you never see in print. That’s why I want to end this inaugural column with a really big hello to my old pal and favorite source, the one and only SUPERMAN, aka THE MAN OF STEEL, or just plain SUPE to his many friends across the universe.
Supe’s been feeling down in the dumps lately. He's got some issues, as they say. Some kind of mid-life crisis.
I caught him on the fly the other day, at his place up north. It's not enough, he told me, not enough to be the most powerful man in the universe anymore, not to mention the most indecently underpaid superhero in history. Nope. It's not enough you saved this lousy city -- sometimes the entire planet! -- hundreds of times over. No. You work your super-butt off. But you're still an illegal alien in their eyes. They take you for granted. There's an asteroid headed this way? No sweat. Let the guy in the leotards take care of it.That's what he does.
You like to think you're just as good as they are, only – get this – only one day you realize you’re not like them. You finally see what they've seen from the beginning: You're different. You're invulnerable. That's not cool.
And that's what hurts.
If you’re going to make it in this world, tough as nails doesn’t cut it anymore. Machine gun bullets bouncing off your pecs like so much popcorn? Big deal. You want to make it on this planet, you've got to be sensitive. A softie.
Well -- and this is what I told Supe -- I say it stinks. But what do I know? I’m just an ink-stained wretch trying to make a living in an age that could care less about the important things in life, things like Truth, Justice and what we used to call The American Way.
So Supe, if you’re reading this, hang in there, buddy. Don’t let ‘em get you down. Give me a call when you get back. We’ll steal Luthor’s Prozac and have ourselves a time again.