Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Man of Steel Homage Panel

I know I read into this stuff too much. But when I read The Man of Steel #6, I was struck by the panel on the right. Here, a forlorn Clark sits slumped in Jon's room, contemplating how alone he is.

When I looked at that image, I couldn't help but remember the image on the left, the last panel of part one of Alan Moore's famous 'Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?' story. They are too similar in composition for coincidence.

But if this is an homage, it’s begging to be compared and contrasted. Because enough is different to make me wonder if writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Jason Fabok were intending on making look at the pictures and the reality they are expressing.

And that need to differentiate them starts with the simple decision to have one be Superman and one be Clark and having them face opposite directions. Now doubt they are similar, close enough for the second to evoke the first. But they are very, very different.

So let's start with the 'Whatever Happened to..' pic. This is the imaginary story that ties up the 'pre-Crisis' continuity. Superman is holed up in his fortress. His enemies have surrounded him. He thinks he is about to die.

Here he is, Kal, a man of Krypton, in his Fortress, surrounded by the trophies of his adventures. These are items of the bizarre and fantastic, bent girders, dinosaurs, monsters.

He is faced with his own mortality and he is crying.

Then you compare this to Clark.

He is just as sad. But this is the human, not the Kryptonian. He is in his home, not his Fortress. He is surrounded not by alien or superhuman relics but of the mundane things of Earth. There are toys and a baseball bat, and laundry.

He is grieving the loss of his family.

I love when DC leans into its history or does homages in an unobtrusive way.

If you haven't read that story from over 30 years ago, you might not see the homage but it doesn't matter. The art tells you what you need to know.

If you did read it, you appreciate the homage. But the deconstruction, the differences, make it stick out that much more.


Martin Gray said...

Oh, good spot and great commentary, I missed that!

Anonymous said...

Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 irks me to this day, but "Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow" is for me, Classic Kara's True Final Farewell, at least she left with a smile on her face even if the entire Legion and Superman were all fighting back tears. Alan Moore later demonstrated that he knew well how to write for "Legacy Females" like Kara during his run on "Supreme"...."Suprema" (the hero's half sister) is a sort of earnest witty Love Letter to The Silver Age Supergirl, one wishes he'd a had a longer run with the "Supreme Family" so to speak.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Love 'Whatever Happened' and the Supergirl moment. Always a gut punch.

Anonymous said...

"He is faced with his own mortality and he is crying."

Huh? I thought he was crying because he'd just seen his deceased cousin again.

"one wishes he'd a had a longer run with the "Supreme Family" so to speak."

If I'm not mistaken, Moore lost his desire to write Superman stories after -or due to- the reboot. I guess I can understand it. DC ditched the character's long comic-book history and replaced it with a very different version. A Superman who wasn't the first and mightiest hero, was considerably weaker, never was Superboy or a Legionnaire or a JL fouding member, constantly visited his still-living parents, didn't give a damn about Krypton, had no surviving family or legacy, behaved like a bold, determined person in his civilian identity, his nemesis was a tycoon... Moore would feel like that Superman was a stranger.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comment.

Yes, the Supergirl scene precedes this. But I think that he realizes this is his last adventure and seeing Supergirl reminds him of their mortality.

That was my take.