WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Man of Steel #6, by Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Fabok, Alex Sinclair and Josh Reed, on sale now.
Brian Bendis giveth and Brian Bendis taketh away…
Well, the comic scribe didn’t exactly give(th) Superman most of the things that were taken away from him by the end of the six issue miniseries The Man of Steel, with the exception of the Krypton-killer, Rogol Zaar. We suppose you could mark that as a small win, though. But Bendis sure did a number on ol’ Kal-El and the Superman franchise as a whole.
Over the course of six issues, Kandor, the last city of Krypton, was destroyed and its people murdered; The Fortress of Solitude was blown sky high; and Jor-El spirited away with Jon Kent and Lois Lane (not necessarily in that order, chronologically). To make matters worse, Kal-El’s cousin Supergirl left to investigate the reasoning for Rogol Zaar’s reign of terror against all things Kryptonian while Zaar cools his heels in the Phantom Zone, essentially leaving Clark Kent the loneliest man in all of Metropolis.
But this might be a good thing. Superman has built a great, traditional, All-American life for himself, which, at the end of the day, is what he wants more than anything. He wants to be part of a people, and marrying a local and having a child with them is as close as an alien can get to that goal. Superman knows there’s no going back home, especially seeing as how home is space dust. Going from being a stranger in a strange land to complete acclimation to his environment is a difficult task for someone who has the power of a god, but it’s still obtainable, as Clark has proven time and time again.
Superman, for all his power, represents the American dream (well, the global dream, really). He is a man, not of this land, falling in love with the virtues of the people around him and becoming not just a member of our ranks, but our greatest champion. Obtaining a sense of normalcy among us often means following through with traditions, and establishing a family is the largest commonality humans share.
But what happens when that family leaves? Even if it is temporary (OR IS IT?!), this separation can have a negative effect one’s psyche. Parents get it when they are on vacation without their kids. No matter how much fun they might be having, there is often a lingering sense of loneliness, a feeling that is just as often reciprocated by these hypothetical kids. That feeling is represented tenfold in The Man of Steel #6, because it goes beyond just simple separation.
Say your loved ones are on vacation. Now, imagine all the photos of long-deceased relatives (you know the ones that were developed before the digital made us all pro photographers) hanging on the walls of your home have been destroyed while you were out and about. That stings, doesn’t it? Okay, just to rub salt in the wound, when you decide you want to call your family to make sure they’re okay and tell them about the photos, some jerk takes your cell phone and throws it in the toilet. If you got all that, you’re in Superman’s headspace at the end of The Man of Steel #6.
And while it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, as the old saying goes, it’s just what Superman needs… well, maybe not Superman as a character within his own narrative, but it’s defiantly a move to generate some drama for readers to enjoy. Bendis has taken it all away from Big Blue. And for that we should thank him. Even though The Man of Steel finale did little to bring any sense of closure to the miniseries, it has opened the door to seeing how Superman deals with a sense of loneliness that he may not have felt since he was a boy discovering the truth of his origin back in Smallville.
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