I was supposed to this a long time ago, back in 2015. That’s when the video came out, that’s when I put a comment saying I was inspired to do an article, and then for whatever reason since this was before 2016’s nonsense it got lost in the shuffle. In that time it’s sat in the Watch Later instead of the playlist where I put potential quickpost and article videos…and the host went from male to female. So if you haven’t watched her older videos you will be surprised to see him in the pre-op days. A lot happens in seven years. My apologies to the host for whatever needs to be apologized for.

The topic however still stands: another video suggesting getting rid of the Clark Kent identity, as Brian Michael Bendis (allowed by Dan DiDio) did to him in the comics. The host of Philosophy Tube makes the point that Superman could be out saving lives if he stopped being Clark Kent, that he doesn’t actually need the identity. I however believe keeping the identity is not only essential to Superman’s mission but essential to his very existence as Superman. Also check out a cameo by Scott from NerdSync, who is also seven years younger in this video as the discussion goes to what else Superman could do besides saving people. I’ll let the host make the case and then I’ll make my own.

(Yes, I’m avoiding the pronouns because this is when the host was still male before the transition but is now female. I’m old. I don’t really follow all the pronounsense. Language is getting less and less clear. Don’t get me started on they/them/it. Calling someone “it” feels like an insult. So this should be a fun writing exercise for me. Once I get these kids off my lawn.)

Scott nails my biggest point on the head. If he wants to bring up outdated stories that aren’t canon anymore, DC Comics Presents #50 is one of my constant go-tos on the subject, as long time readers know. In the story Clark and Superman are split into two separate beings. While at the start we see the benefits being Superman has had on Clark’s career we do start to see the effects NOT being Clark is having on Superman’s personality. He’s cross with Lois. He doesn’t attend a thank you ceremony because he’s too busy. He doesn’t keep in contact with any of his friends and we can assume this includes the superheroes. Bruce calls Clark to ask for his help because while Clark and Superman don’t remember they were one being the people in on his secret identity don’t know they aren’t anymore.

Without Clark, Superman is trying to save everybody and that’s all he’s doing, and it is slowly robbing him of his humanity. It’s only when Clark reminds Superman about the Kents and how Superman couldn’t save them despite his powers (they died when Superboy took them on a mission and they died from some virus) that Superman is open to his human upbringing and the two form back together. Clark represents Superman’s humanity. It’s what he learned from the Kents, from his years prior to becoming Superman, that he gained his morality, his compassion, everything that makes Superman a super MAN instead of a super GOD. To lose that would be to lose his chance to be among people, learn from them. One of the videos I used in a Saturday Night Showcase of DC fan film shorts featured a runaway girl who talked to Clark Kent in a way that I don’t think she would have with Superman. It’s one of the reasons heroes keep secret identities, because the non-hero identity isn’t a celebrity. We treat celebrities in a different manner than we do an average person. Note the old joke about the unrecognized celebrity where the people will talk to them like a person but go into fanmode once they realize who he or she really is. Practical joke shows even played on that with the celeb in not much make-up. Just a wig and….glasses. Talked about that one recently and often, so let’s move on.

Note that it’s Clark, the human, who remembers all of this first, because the memories both good and bad are most important to him while Superman’s wish in the story is that Superman could save everyone without worrying about Clark.

Plus let’s not forget that even Superman can suffer from fatigue, and as we’re seeing the Batman: Knightfall novelization reviews at present that’s not a good thing. Even Batman admitted in this week’s chapters that it was the girl that save the other girl’s life from Zsasz, not Batman because he was too tired to think straight because he’s running himself ragged. Kal-El needs that downtime as well. He could do it in the Fortress and he could just have the computer monitor news and authority broadcasts to see who needs him. We can do that now with our cell phones. However, he needs that human contact and it’s called the Fortress Of Solitude for a reason. Nobody’s going to visit him up there. Now with his parents still alive (though Jonathan’s living status fluctuates with continuity) he also needs that time with them and it would look strange if Superman showed up at their house and someone noticed. Ask Aunt May what happens if someone finds out your related to a superhero. There isn’t a time in this world that someone isn’t in danger whether it’s nature, bad guys, or their own stupidity. Ask any other rescue worker and first responder.

Someone in the comments also brought up how Clark also saves lives through his reporting. There’s a great story in Superman Adventures #18, the tie-in to the DCAU Superman series, in which Clark does consider giving up on being Clark because Superman’s exploits interfere with his reporting and Superman is considered the more important. However, it’s his research into a particular story that keeps a new monorail from endangering a subway system and killing a lot of people. As Superman he never would have been looking into that event but Clark does. Certain versions of the story shows that Clark does like being a reporter. Most of the DC superheroes also serve in their secret identities, something else I should discuss in the future as it’s one of the reasons I love the DC universe. So Clark also saves lives, also does good, and in a way Superman can’t…by exposing the truth. Clark handles truth, Superman handles justice, and in both identities works for the ideals of the American Way and living up to those ideals even when we don’t.

As far as why Superman doesn’t get involved in social issues, there’s an episode of Justice League Unlimited that addresses this.

There’s a reason I don’t join movements, even those I agree with. You never know when the movement will be exposed as fraudulent, or taken over by people with a more radical perspective. By endorsing one group over another–and no, I won’t give any real world examples as I think I blew my controversy budget on Tuesday–you open up the possibility of your reputation going down the tube along with the group you supported. There are reasons I say we sometimes have to be better than our heroes, to remember why we were drawn to them and to live up to the ideals that drew us in while reassessing the specifics in the light of truth. Yes, in this story Superman is way too angry, which is one of the reasons I don’t like the episode and how Lex manages to manipulate Superman while disappointing Captain Marvel about his heroes. However, he does make a good point. There’s also this:

Only as a tyrant can Superman truly stop all wars by eliminating both good and bad causes. You can’t target a rival government if there is one world government, but there’s a reason you have states or other regional boarders even in a shared country. In the World War II story Scott mentions, at the time the war was not at World status so the Jewish creators could have Hitler stopped early, nobody realizing just how bad real world events would be. In the main comic it was decided not to have the superheroes, and Superman wasn’t as powerful as he is now, get involved because it would be an insult to the soldiers actively fighting the war. When the heroes got more powerful and it made less sense for them to not be involved DC used magic to keep the powered heroes from taking part, thus leaving the “mystery men” masked heroes to do the job, but they weren’t soldiers. They fought crime and no matter what modern Batman writers think there is a difference. And yet there were Famous Studio shorts (after Paramount bought up Fleischer Studios and rebranded) in which Superman fought Nazi spies on US shores, much like other superheroes at the time, and one in which Superman goes to Japan to destroy one of their shipyards. So I guess “it depends” is in play here.

Oh, almost forgot…Superman isn’t the only DC hero. There’s a whole league of people seeking justice. I forget what they’re called but plenty of them are in or near enough to Superman’s level and abilities that they can also save the day. It’s not one hero, depending on the continuity of course.

So that’s why Superman needs to be Clark Kent instead of being Superman 24/7, and why he can’t involve himself in every event. In both cases he would stop being Superman and risk the path becoming a Super Dictator. He doesn’t choose sides, he saves lives. ALL lives, regardless of their paragon levels. He doesn’t play god, he helps others and stands as an example of how to be better not because of his talents but what he does with them. He learned that, and keeps getting reminded of it, by being Clark Kent.

Sorry it took so long to finally get this out there.


About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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