This is a letter that I have been meaning to write for a long time. Now that Superman has died, this is a letter that will never see print. That makes me a little sad; I would have loved to get a letter in a Superman letter column. You’ll receive hundreds—maybe thousands—of letters like mine, but I had to write. Superman is dead, and I’m going to miss him.
I discovered Superman in the early 1970s when I began watching TV’s “Adventures of Superman” starring George Reeves. I was instantly hooked. Reeve’s Superman was a man of action, yet he was also a likable father figure and friend. Every day after school, I was glued to the TV to see my hero in action.
My Dad helped me make a Superman costume for me to wear; He carefully traced the insignia from the TV show’s end credits and carefully painted it on a sweatshirt, and bought red dye to color one of our towels red for my cape. Much to my mother’s embarrassment, I began running around the house and the neighborhood, pretending to fly. I still have that tiny costume; it’s one of the most precious things my late father gave me.
In 1974, I discovered that Superman was in a comic book, and I bought Lois Lane #134, “Stolen, 10 Million Lives!” I didn’t know what a bottle city of Kandor was, or why Superman wasn’t working for the Daily Planet, but it was great to see him in print.
I started collecting the Superman titles, and discovered other comics as well. Over the years, my hero went through some changes, and I enjoyed seeing his adventures every month. As time went by, I sold off my collection of comics—except Superman. Today, with just a few gaps here and there, I have most Superman & Action titles printed since the late 1960s. Superman became corny and somewhat predictable, but he was always fun. And even as the responsibilities of life turned me into an adult, I always tried to find time to pick up Superman—if even for a little while, I could enjoy a Superman story and forget about the real world.
The first Superman movie was a dream come true, and the second was even better. The special effects and top-notch acting gave us a very human man of steel and a likable cast. 10 years later, those movies hold up very well. Superman III & IV were huge disappointments, and I don’t keep them in my video library.
In 1986, DC gave Superman a major revamping—Superman grew up. John Byrne gave us a human, believable Superman, free from the silly nonsense that weighed him down. Gone were the superdogs, supermice, supercats, super-ventriloquism and a superman who could remember his entire infant life on Krypton. Gone was a rainbow of Kryptonite. Gone was the corny way Superman used to talk (“Choke! Chuckle! Sigh! Great Moons of Krypton!”) Gone was Superboy and the unbelievable Superbaby (“Me be good boy, Mommy”).
Instead, we got a young man with a remarkable origin, who grows up on Earth under the care of two wonderful people (Keeping them alive was brilliant). He’s no angel, but he’s a good kid and grows up with sound values. He doesn’t have to pretend to be a coward and a wimp, because he doesn’t know he’s different, and he’s not “Superboy.” He becomes a football star. He falls in love with the girl next door. He deals with real life issues. When he discovers his powers, he dedicates his life to helping others.
Clark Kent is a successful writer, wears more than one blue suit all the time, is respected and well-liked, and is not afraid to get his hands dirty to get a story. He works out. He dates women (and they pursue him). He faces danger like a man, but has a loving heart and cares for his fellow people. He actively pursues Lois Lane, and later proposes to her.
The “new” Superman gave us a believable hero, and a believable person. Superman was no longer a “comic” book, but a gripping story of a man we could identify with. Sure, the reader couldn’t fly, but most of us understood his helplessness dealing with the domestic violence next door, and we understood his need to kill the “phantom zone” criminals. He was a thinking man who pondered the ramifications of his actions. He had many adventures through time and space, yet Earth was his home and he thought of himself as an Earthman.
This made Superman believable. The developing relationship with Lois, and the way they dealt with life’s hurdles, made Superman seem almost real. The thought and detail that the DC writers and artists put into the new Superman made someone we could all identify with.
I don’t understand why DC chose to kill off the first and greatest super-hero. I don’t believe it was done to revamp the character, because your new Superman IS a hero and man of the 90s. I do hope that in the months ahead, you will choose to bring him back. It would be wonderful to see how Metropolis (and the world) would deal with having Superman come back.
Well, my lengthy letter has come to an end. If you ever resurrect Kal-El, maybe I might see this letter in print. But that doesn’t matter. I wanted to thank DC for giving my first and most lasting hero. Thank you for revamping him with care and love in 1986 into someone we could all respect. Thank you for letting Superman grow up, and thank you for the dedication and love you have invested in the character. Thank you for the unwavering quality you have created over the last seven years.
Now bring him back!