Superman premiered this day 83 years ago–the cover date says June but it was published April 18, 1938. One could argue that no character has had an impact on culture and popular culture as much as Superman has. In the first issue, he appeared, Superman was portrayed as a fighter for social justice and a warrior for common good, and he hasn’t changed much since then.
Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who were both children of Jewish immigrants who fled to the United States to flee persecution. The character of “The Super-Man” was originally a bald telepathic supervillain but would be revamped and remodeled by Siegel and Shuster into the character we all know and love.
Superman has a lot in common with Siegel and Shuster, he is an immigrant himself, sent by his parents Jor-El and Lara to our planet to save him from the destruction of Krypton. Here Superman, aka Clark Kent, leads a double life as a godlike alien and a mild-mannered reporter. As Superman, Clark Kent, inspires humanity to be their best and gives them hope for a better tomorrow. The best portrayals of Superman don’t focus on his alienness but rather on his unique humanity. Superman is an inspiration in and out of comic books. He gives humanity an ideal to strive for and hopes that things can be better.
For me, personally, I look at Superman as that ideal. He doesn’t aim to destroy or damage humanity, he uses his heroism to inspire people and lead them into a new age of generosity and kindness. Superman may toss around and fight supervillains such as Lex Luthor and Zod, but his greatest strength isn’t his fist of steel but his kind heart. As a child watching Christopher Reeve fly around helping people inspired me to treat everyone I come across with kindness. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster used their remarkable creativity to inspire generations to be creative and good. Since this is the Spring of Sci-Fi, I thought it would be an excellent time to highlight an icon of Science Fiction and the two creators who helped inspire the world. I want to end this post with one of my favorite Superman moments. It comes from Grant Morrison’s iconic and essential All-Star Superman and to me demonstrates who Superman is and why he is important.