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Monday, June 26, 2006


Their Superman and ours

It won't surprise me if there isn't a single Left I reader who, like me, has been a regular viewer of The Adventures of Superman (with George Reeves, broadcast from 1952-1959), Lois and Clark (with Teri Hatcher and Dean Kean, 1993-1997), and Smallville (with Tom Welling, 2001-date). But even I didn't know the history which preceded all that:
Instead of super-villains, [the original Superman of Action Comics in 1938] fought slumlords, greedy corporate executives, corrupt politicians and common thugs.

"At that point in history," said comic book writer Mark Waid in the recent documentary, "Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman," "we are a nation on the verge of war, we are a nation new to this whole concept of urbanization and urban crime, and Superman was originally created as a social crusader."

At the end of World War II, something finally stepped on Superman's cape: the changing times. The period after the war and into the 1950s was "a very conservative era, very respectful of authority," Waid said. "And Superman went from being a crusader of social causes to being a symbol of the social order."

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