Chapter by Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
I’ve had loved ones passed away. None of them were fighting monsters at the time but I do know the process of arranging things is a long one. Now imagine that the deceased has no relatives (that you know of and the ones you don’t know need to stay in secret and not even acknowledge their loved one died just yet) and it falls to the city that housed you. Especially if you’re a celebrity with no known ties to anyone in particular. I have to imagine this is harder on Lois, Lana, and the Kents. Even Supergirl, who knows Superman also ran around as Clark Kent really only knows him as Superman, so she can openly grieve. Our quartet has to act like it’s not yet certain their loved one is among the dead and only Lois was ever close enough to “Superman” to be able to show the loss of someone she cared about. Everyone else has to fake like it’s only as bad as the rest of the world that Superman is lost. I’m not sure I’d wish that on anybody.
But when you love someone in a dangerous line of work, especially if that involves helping others–police officer, soldier, firefighter, rescue worker–it’s the risk you take. Family has no choice, but friends, boy/girlfriends, fiances, and spouses have that choice and yet all have to make their own sacrifice, worrying every time their beloved walks out the door, will he/she come back again? Those who can handle the pressure and not get a divorce or break up with that person may well be even braver than the heroes who get the medals for falling in the line of duty. I don’t think they get honored enough. This storyline acknowledges them through the four people who didn’t just know the super but also knew and loved the man. These are the people who make Superman “relatable” and these are the people who should know Superman is not a god, just a man with powers beyond normal men.
Funeral For A Friend part 3
We open with Lex arranging for the funeral, which at the end of this section he notes that if he couldn’t kill Superman he’d at least bury him. That’s our Lex. He get to bury Superman and still look good. However, that’s the only thing we see from Lex’s perspective. While I imagine (and please tell me if I’m wrong) the scene in the comic just played out like normal here we get the perspective of one of the aides responsible, in this case taking care of the statue. We learn Lex found out some budding sculptors were already working on a large Superman statue when he was alive and decided to work that into the tomb. That’s actually very resourceful and lucky given the time they have. Supergirl offers to bring the statue in, which takes care of the problem of getting it there with all the rescue and rebuilding efforts.
The majority of the chapter is the titular funeral and if you want to know why Superman works, read this section whether it’s this novelization or the comic (assuming the adaptation is accurate). Batman stops a terrorist bombing against a visiting dignitary with a less harsh punishment than he normally would because this is still Superman’s city. Bibbo gets mad at a guy selling Superman merchandise on the streets until he hears the man is unemployed and offers him work at his bar. Some of the most powerful heroes overhear the citizens talking about more of Superman’s great deeds. The President and First Lady (probably drawn as Bill and Hillary Clinton) give a speech as does a pastor from the Hob’s Bay Mission. And this part especially showcases why Superman fans are Superman fans. This part from pastor is especially noteworthy in today’s society.
He did not care about our religious beliefs or our politics. He did not care about our nationalities or our gender or the color of our skins. He cared about people. He cared about us. We are, all of us, richer for having known him, and poorer for having lost him.
That part I emphasized right there–if this is the part about Superman you find “unrelatable”, something is wrong with you, and considering the state of “discussion” out there right now there are far too many of you. Dr. King said that he dreamed of the day where his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”, a world where in Alabama (which was high on racism at the time) “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers”. Superman lived those words, and really shouldn’t we all? This is what you can’t relate to? I feel so sorry for you.
Superman isn’t supposed to be admired because of his great power but, to borrow from another superhero, the great responsibility he shows with it. I’ve shown plenty of examples in the past.
And that’s just the examples in my library. This is what Superman is to me, not some “god” with amazing powers. That’s just what makes his stories fun to read. It’s his compassion, his ability to help others…the MAN part of Superman that makes him relatable and why all these people showed up at his funeral.
And the story doesn’t forget those people that the Man left behind. We see Jon and Martha’s pain at not being able to be there for the funeral. Meanwhile, throughout the chapter Lois is trying to find the words to say to them but the phone feels like a threat more than her connection. Then something the First Lady says, the only one who acknowledges that he might have had loved ones, friends who knew him not only as Superman but as a person, may also be hurting and that they should send their thoughts and prayers to them as well. Hearing this finally allows Lois the strength to call the Kents just as their having their own funeral at Kal-El’s ship, not realizing Lois is trying to call them…for ten minutes. Relieved their okay she does something she has been unable to really do. She had a good cry but now she was able to tell someone else the special pain she was going through, because she wasn’t going through it alone. Now the Kents are heading to Metropolis and I kind of hope Lana finds a way there two. These four people didn’t just know Kal-El of Krypton, didn’t just know Superman, they knew the Man he really was. Someone can mourn for Clark Kent, and that’s when this chapter brings tears to my eyes. Too many writers are so obsessed with the emotion that they forget to put something behind it to make that emotion real to the audience. Granted, Stern has years of history and fan love to work from but this is how you do it. Guys like David Cage need to figure that out. Make good characters and the emotions from what happens to them comes naturally. Emotions from fiction come the same way they come in real life…naturally.
Well, I was all over the place on this one. This chapter unlocked a lot, and that’s why this story works better than all the comic deaths and resurrections that came after it. We’ll see more of that hopefully next time.
Next Time: Funeral Of A Friend part 4