The Shrubbery
September 1999
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Why I Probably Shouldn't Be Given Superman's Powers

By Jason Morrison



The American Way.

These are the values that motivate Superman, the Man of Steel. The guy who's faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings, and has heat vision.

I've been thinking about this a lot, and I've come to the conclusion that maybe it's a good thing that Clark Kent, of Smallsville, USA ended up the strange visitor from Krypton drawing energy from our yellow sun instead of Jason Morrison from Northfield, Ohio.

First off, let me say that I think I would make a much more effective Superman. If you've ever watched one of his movies, seen one of the cartoons, or read any of the comic books, you've probably noticed by now that Superman is a slacker. Sure, he always saves the day; but look how long it takes him to do it each time. And this is a man with super-speed and flight. So why does he drag everything out?

An illustration: in a not uncommon scene, an alien monster is throwing cars at people outside (invariably) the Daily Planet. Clark Kent sees the carnage from the window with Lois Lane. She says something about the terrible death and suffering below being a great story, and he says something about having to potty. "Potty at a time like this?" Lois fires back, covering her insecurity as a woman in a male-dominated field with her patented charm. But he's already gone.

Right there we have it- super speed. Kent uses his super speed to change clothes quickly into Superman, and is out on the street in no time. The monster throws another car, and Superman uses his super speed to catch it right before it crushes a baby or old lady or whatnot.

So what does he do at this point? Fry the alien's eyes with his heat vision as he flies toward it, a split-second later connecting with an earth-shattering punch? Nope. He puts the car down, faces the monster, and tries the talk to it.

The monster, being a monster, replies with some sort of deadly ray-blast.

We know it is deadly (to us, anyway) because Superman is having a hard time holding it back. He braces against the street, grunting with exertion, taking the laserblast straight in the chest.

Why on earth would he take it straight in the chest? Why not step, I don't know, three feet to the right and thereby not get hit by the laser? Heaven forbid he flies away from it. Idiot.

I submit to you that by this point I would have already thrown the alien into the cold of space or the heart of the sun or something, of if he was on the weak side (as aliens go), just pummeled him to death.

Batman certainly would have. You never see him waiting around for the Joker to retrieve another laughing death gas bomb out of his knapsack- no, Batman just clocks him. Even if he's across the freaking room, Batman is more effective than Superman- and that's without any super powers at all.

Spider-Man, who has super powers, also doesn't dick around like Supes. Superman always wins in the end, because he's stronger. Even if the mutant ape-man gives him a bit of a challenge, Superman eventually just overpowers him in a hand-to-hand grapple. Spider-Man, however, routinely fights and defeats bad guys much stronger than himself. Spidey uses his agility and smarts (which we have to suppose Superman is equal to), but more importantly, keeps on task. If the Juggernaut runs at Spidey, does he take it broadsided and clench his teeth, or try to grapple with him? Of course not! He jumps on top of him, knocking him head first into the pavement.

So the question is not would I make a kick-ass Superman, it's should I make a kick-ass Superman. Let's examine his, and my, value system.

Superman Value Number 1: Truth.

This is probably the value we have the closest sense of. He, being a journalist, and I, being a journalism student, both do not think of truth as, say, The Bible, but instead as verifiable facts and information. This is not to say we deny the possibility of god or anything, we just can't claim to have the answer on that one. But if it's a question of the volume of a solid created by the rotation of the region bounded by the equations y=x^2, y=4 and x=0 or who kidnapped the mayor, we're right on it.

Superman Value Number 2: Justice.

Uh oh. I don't even want to get started on defining justice- Plato took that one on a few thousand years ago, and I'm no Plato. But lets assume Supes thinks of justice in the standard pedestrian way, i.e. legal justice with a sprinkling of good judgement when we're outside the court's jurisdiction (like in other dimensions). Here, I would say my justice value system is a bit closer to irony. Like, if Lex Luthor poisoned the water supply of Metropolis intending to sell back the only antidote, Superman would thwart the poisoning and then attempt to take Luthor to the authorities, only to find out Luthor kept his hands completely clean in the matter and can't be convicted. Me, I would just think of some really nifty punishment, like making him swallow needles under threat of heat vision. Or make him drink sewage- see, he was trying to poison the water of the city, and now the city is poisoning him back- or I fry him with my heat vision.

Superman Value Number 3: The American Way.

Supes and I are both Americans, or raised so, but I'm not sure it follows that we share anything when it comes to this value. Superman, though I doubt he's a registered Republican, has a much more Republican view of what crime is, really. I'd be all for social justice- I'd probably throw KKK members into the Pacific or something- whereas Supes wouldn't lift a finger unless they tried to steal a powerful weather machine from Star Labs. Luthor wouldn't last a second if I were Superman. The minute I could verify that he owned a single sweatshop in Southeast Asia, he'd be there making Nikes for 10 cents an hour as well. I would also publicly endorse candidates, which Supes never does. Though more likely, I would just urge people to vote against certain people, like Governor Bush. That guy's a loser.

Jason Value Number 4: Absurd Comedy.

Superman seems to be a nice enough guy, but his sense of humor is not very...well...interesting. Like if at then end of a day's adventure, Brainiac is hanging from a tree or something, he'd say, "I think Brainiac was barking up the wrong tree," and have a hearty laugh with Aqua Man as Batman rolls his eyes. I, however, would be constantly using my powers to do really off beat things. For instance:

Poke finger-sized holes in rocks and buildings and things with my super strong, invincible finger. It would take people a while to figure out how the hell that was happening.

Pick up someone's house while they sleep, and fly it over to another country. Then stick around to see the reaction as they open up the door to get the morning Daily Planet and see--The Taj Mahal!

Take off the top of a random mountain and plop it into the ocean.

Carve a giant hand with a middle finger sticking up out of the rock and park it just outside the harbor in Boston.

Fly around the world backward to reverse time after the Superbowl, and then make an announcement that I could predict the future. Tell everyone which team is going to win, and then kill the other team.

Build a giant alien mothership out of paper mache, then hide inside it and land it on the Whitehouse lawn. Just as the President tries to communicate with it, bust it open and say, "Just kidding, it's me, Superman!" Then make sure all the younger kids get the candy inside first.

Use my X-ray vision to count all the gold bricks in Fort Knox, and then tell them they've miscounted by 3 bricks. While they're in the middle of recounting all the bricks, ruin the world economy with the introduction of E-cash.

Build a laser gun out of Legos that works when I look through it and use my heat vision on whatever I see. If someone says, "You didn't invent anything, you're using your heat vision," use heat vision on them.

Fly around the world on Christmas Eve, giving moon rocks to all the good scientists and punches to all the bad ones.

Make fun Aqua Man all the time, because his powers suck and all he ever does is get caught in evil seaweed.

Fly into a crowded intersection, smash the nearest pay phone to bits, and when people ask why say, "It was an evil pay phone." If they ask how it was evil, give them a quarter and tell them to call someone who cares.

Go to Blockbuster, rent a bunch of bad movies and then fly back to my Fortress of Solitude to make fun of them.

None of these things are terrible, really, but eventually I'd get bored and start throwing babies into the sun or something. And nobody wants that.

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