Monday, January 4, 2010

On the Importance of Clark Kent, Part Two

Disguised as a mild-mannered reporter

As I said before the prolonged break, Superman was raised as Clark Kent by a kindly human couple. Not as Kal-El. Not as Superman. But as Clark Kent.

Your perceptions of Clark Kent may depend on where you fall on the Crisis scale--Pre-Crisis or Post-Crisis. Before the entire DC universe underwent a complete and total reboot, revamp, rewhatever, Clark Kent was generally portrayed as a schmo to be picked on by the likes of Steve Lombard. This is the Kent that the masses are familiar with thanks to Christopher Reeve’s excellent performance in the Donnerverse films. This Silver Age thru Bronze Age interpretation, favored by the likes of Elliot S! Maggin and Mark Waid, has Clark Kent as nothing more than a mere disguise, a costume put on by Superman so that he can move around undetected.

In other words, Superman was the real person and Clark Kent the fiction.

After the fabric of the DC ‘verse reorientated itself, Clark Kent became the polar opposite of that nerdy, gawky version. Instead of being a disguise for Superboy, and later Superman, this Kent was a high school football star who dated the head cheerleader, Lana Lang.

For his revamp, John Byrne took his cue more from the George Reeves' Kent than from Chris Reeve's. Here Clark Kent was front stage in the Jungian psyche of the ubermensch.

Or, in other words, Clark Kent was the real person and Superman the fiction.

But wasn’t that the case all along.

Next: "Lois and Clark"

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