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Monday, July 5, 2010

the mild mannered reporter

superman's lived a thousand years.  i don't mean this in the sense of kal-el being immortal apart from his one weakness, or the fact that he's still a gold-egg goose and no dc publisher would ever slip him enough kryptonite to end his building-bounding.  i mean that because he is a rarely timeless character, both unique enough to inspire thousands of creative minds and bland enough to insure his personality is never exhausted, superman has gone on (i'm guessing) about ten thousand adventures.

i work at a used bookstore.  one of my duties there is to shelve comic books.  someone at the desk downstairs puts these comics in roughly sorted boxes alphabetically.  one box is marked "A," one's marked "B-C," and so on.  the comics in these boxes are not in any order, just a group, so i still have to alphabetize the contents of each box and then find where each fits on the shelf.  the other day, the "R-S" box was jam-packed with the overflow stacked on top of it.  there were roughly 200 comic books that i had to sort.  being such a daunting task, i started by pulling all superman titles into a separate pile, which came to about a quarter of the "R-S" books for the day.

there were "action comics featuring superman," "the adventures of superman," "superman adventures," "superman: the man of steel," "superman: the man of tomorrow," just plain "superman."  there were hundreds of short superman series: "superman nemesis," "all star superman," "superman returns," "red son."  there's "superboy" and "supergirl," but sadly no superwoman.

my mind wandered down the dusty shelves, over the other thousands of plastic-bagged, already-been-chewed comics that this immigrant from nowhere had been featured in.  there is "world's finest," the batman-superman crossover book that's been on the shelves since my father bought them for a nickel at the drug store on his way home from school.  "the brave and the bold," another DC crossover comic frequently features mr. kent in primary colors.  there is earth-one superman and earth-two superman and both played a roll in "the crisis on infinite earths" and "infinite crisis" and "52" and many other DC event series.  superman is a key member of the justice league, an honorary member of the justice society of america, and a superfriend.

superman's life is also documented in thousands of hours of radio, television and film.  there's the old "adventures of superman" serial (not to be confused with the old superman cereal), superman I, II, III & IV starring christopher reeve, "superman adventures" cartoon show, "lois & clarke: the new adventures of superman" from the 90's, "superman returns" where superman tricks cyclops into raising his baby, ten seasons of "smallville," which put the expansion of the superman mythos on a logarithmic scale by spinning-off into several series of novels, young adult novels and comic book titles of its own.

so, he has lived on paper many many lifetimes of adventures, saving the world once a day on average for the last seventy years.  that's one hell of a life for a man in his thirties.  all the while, he still has time to footsy with lois and continue his award-winning career in journalism at the daily planet.  wow.

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