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Off My Mind: Why Ma & Pa Kent Were So Important to Superman's Heroism

They've lived and died in different interpretations. How much do they influence who Superman becomes?

When it comes to comic book deaths, many feel Jean Grey reigns as the character that has died and come back the most. In some ways, you could actually give that honor to Jonathan and Martha Kent, otherwise known as Ma and Pa Kent.

It was Ma and Pa who found Superman as a baby when he first arrived on Earth. In the different versions from the Golden Age, Silver Age, Modern Age, etc, they have both lived and died at different points in Kal-El's life.

Over the years, we've seen one or the other and sometimes both have a strong influence on shaping the man who would become Superman. With tweaks and changes occurring as part of DC's 'The New 52,' we're seeing yet another interpretation of Superman's life with or without his adoptive parents.

With each version that we've seen, how much of an influence do they have on how great of a hero Superman will be? (There might be some tiny spoilers if you haven't read Action Comics #2).

== TEASER ==

In Action Comics by Grant Morrison, we've been seeing a younger Superman. He's young, but not Superboy-young. He has been seen living on his own in Metropolis. We haven't seen or heard any mention of Ma and Pa in the 'New 52,' except for some information given in the 'extra features' section at the end of the issue.

He's a kid who's been set free from Ma and Pa Kent. Both of them are dead, and suddenly he thinks, 'I'm the most powerful thing on the planet. It's time to start cleaning up!'

With that, Grant Morrison revealed, not in the actual story, the fate of Ma and Pa.

This does explain his behavior in Action Comics. He is a little more reckless. He takes matters into his own hands. He does what he feels is right. We don't know how long he's been on his own or how long Ma and Pa were able to instill a positive outlook on life.

From the past versions of the Kents, it's the way they raised Clark that made him Superman. They taught him how to be compassionate and to always give himself completely in trying to save the lives of others. They taught him to be humble and what being human was all about. He no longer has that tether to Earthlings.

We have to assume they were successful in raising him properly to some extent. He is acting as a hero. In Action Comics #1, he is going after the untouchable bad guy the police are unable to go after. When a train full of passengers goes out of control, he literally throws himself in front of it to try to slow it down. He is a hero. It's just his methods are a little...rougher than what he would've had if he was raised by the Kents longer.

There's been some criticism over his early costume: a Superman t-shirt, jeans, work boots and a small cape. In past versions, it was Martha that made the costume from blankets found in his ship. Based on the jeans and boots, we can come to the conclusion that Martha was unable to make him a proper full length costume.

Not only were the Kents responsible in raising Superman to be a hero, they also were there for other heroes such as Superboy and, to some extent, Supergirl as well. The Kent farm in Smallville was second to Superman's Fortress of Solitude in a place he could go to get away from the responsibilities and drama of being a hero. With the Kents dead and Clark living in Metropolis, the farm is likely to be long gone.

What about the Death of Superman? In Swamp Thing #1, Superman mentions to Alec Holland he knows what it's like to have died. When Superman died battling Doomsday, it was seeing Pa, after he had a heart attack, that gave him the reason to return to the land of the living. If Death of Superman still happened, what was the reason that made him fight his way back from death?

Ma and Pa were more than just the couple that raised Superman. They have been a crucial element in making him a hero rather than a selfish alien with the power to take over the world. They were there for other heroes as well.

We're seeing the early days of Superboy. What's going to happen once he becomes free of current residence? He may be learning what it's like to be a teen in his virtual reality sessions but not having an actual home with people that care about him will leave him cold.

The same can be said for Supergirl. We know Superman will have some part in her life but how much warmth and compassion will he be able to offer? From what we've seen in Superman and Justice League, he's not the friendliest and cheerful guy around.

The worst part is we weren't able to see their deaths. There's bound to be flashback stories coming but each time there was a death, Superman's reaction and the coping of the loss is what showed us he was human.

If we see Superman deal with the deaths in a flashback, it won't be the same. We won't have a chance to get to know this version of Ma and Pa. More importantly, without parents to keep him in line, Superman is going to simply be a socially awkward hero without the heart of the hero that we've seen over the years.

Superman has proven his worth as a superhero to the DC Universe countless times. Let's hope what little time he might've had with Ma and Pa was enough for him to one day become that hero once again.

49 Comments
Edited by Spacetrucking

Great read. Smallville pretty much centered on this very concept for the first few seasons and unsurprisingly, were the most interesting to watch. In the comics, it was always interesting to see Batman and Superman compare and contrast their upbringings and how it shaped them.

Posted by Enzeru
"He's a kid who's been set free from Ma and Pa Kent. Both of them are dead, and suddenly he thinks, 'I'm the most powerful thing on the planet. It's time to start cleaning up!"
 
That's exactly what always bothered me about Superman and the reason why I never could relate to him, even though I'm actually into the all-powerful characters who can nearly save the world all by themself, if they do it correctly. 
Superman's reason to have a good, strong character was just not good enough for me. The entire "My ma and my pa were great teachers, so now I believe in the American Way" - story ... No, it's just not working like that - Even for comic book figures. 
 
He maybe was over 20 years together with them and learned what it means to be a good guy, but after few adventures in the real world with the criminal scum everyone would go insane, stop bothering about morals and be far more aggressive.
That's the reason why I'm starting to like the new cynical Superman. He simply seems to be more real.
 
I would even like him to see killing people.
Imagine when you read in the papers about yet another woman who killed her children, because of nothing and then imagine you could hear the deathscreams and appear right next to them during the act. 
There wouldn't be a simple: "Everything is fine now lady, I'm going to take you to the hospital and we're going to talk it out!" 
 
Same reason why I dislike Batman.
The Joker is killing a full schoolbus of children for no reason. There is the police and no one wants to kill him, Batman appears and tries to defeat him, take him to Arkham Asylum and wait for Joker's next escape. 
Simply crush his white, skinny head, duuuuuuuuuuuude! ò_Ó
Posted by ssejllenrad

I love this article!

Posted by Fantasgasmic
Posted by ssejllenrad

@Killjoi said:

Great read. Smallville pretty much centered on this very concept for the first few seasons and unsurprisingly, were the most interesting to watch. In the comics, it was always interesting to see Batman and Superman compare and contrast their upbringings and how it shaped them.

This post reminded me of the very first issue of Superman/Batman where the two of them sort of narrated at the same time.

Posted by doombot13

@Fantasgasmic said:

Grant Morrison turned Superman into a douche bag. I still don't know how the man who an AMAZING story about Superman going back in time to make say goodbye to his father could turn Superman into an entitled, whiny, dickish, Batman rip-off.

This is Superman at the beginning of his career, before he's learned how to be the great hero he will be in the future. He's not a douchebag, he's just young and naive. You can't expect him to be perfect right off the bat. It's an interesting take that harkens back to his Golden Age roots.

Posted by Fantasgasmic

@doombot13 said:

@Fantasgasmic said:

Grant Morrison turned Superman into a douche bag. I still don't know how the man who an AMAZING story about Superman going back in time to make say goodbye to his father could turn Superman into an entitled, whiny, dickish, Batman rip-off.

This is Superman at the beginning of his career, before he's learned how to be the great hero he will be in the future. He's not a douchebag, he's just young and naive. You can't expect him to be perfect right off the bat. It's an interesting take that harkens back to his Golden Age roots.

Except he's just as arrogant and dickish in Justice League. And while that may be set "5 years ago" or whatever, it's still a while after Action Comics.

Posted by Planewalker

@Enzeru: Superman and Batman are not Apollo and Midnighter but point taken I often wonder that myself why should that go unpunished, however it appears everyone is entitled to a fair trial!

Posted by Sissel

@Enzeru said:

Same reason why I dislike Batman. The Joker is killing a full schoolbus of children for no reason. There is the police and no one wants to kill him, Batman appears and tries to defeat him, take him to Arkham Asylum and wait for Joker's next escape. Simply crush his white, skinny head, duuuuuuuuuuuude! ò_Ó

So, how is he any different from the bad guy if he did that? I know the real world is so fcked up but that doesn't mean you have to do what others do. That is like copying what the cool kids are doing like smoking and taking drugs. But, that's just my belief.

Posted by RedOwl_1
Posted by Enzeru
@Sissel said:

So, how is he any different from the bad guy if he did that? I know the real world is so fcked up but that doesn't mean you have to do what others do. That is like copying what the cool kids are doing like smoking and taking drugs. But, that's just my belief.
This could be now a very harsh example, but still ...
 
A person who does very bad things to children. 
Do you kill that person, or do you let the police deal with it? The person comes maybe after 40 years of prison free and then it seeks for more children.
It doesn't matter how sick and twisted you are. If you're a good and honest person, you have ways to fight against it. You can go to a psychiatrist, or an Asylum and and tell them that you're afraid of yourself and that you fear the safety of children, or people generally who are around you.
 
If you don't do that, but go out and destroy the lives of others, then you also already made your decision.
Superman or everyone else with superpowers can do that decision too. He could also care less and leave everything be. Or he tries to protect the people around him.
And if he needs to kill monsters for that who made the wrong decision, then yeah - he should do that. At least I would do that. 
 
I always hated comic books for being too neutral in terms of that.
For example Wolverine who killed more then 5 good people and yet he is a great hero in the Marvel universe, everyone likes him and he is in 5 different superhero-teams.
Or Omega Red who is a rapist and a war criminal. He never gets destroyed for real. 
Sabertooth who is also a rapist and a mass-murdered gets even invited to the X-Men one day or another. 
 
I know, it's a comic book. It's impossible to kill of famous characters, but still - I don't like it.
 
The only comic which handled the entire story properly was "Absolution". And that was only possible, because it was a 6 issue book with new characters, so it wasn't important what they were doing.
And the story mainly concentrated about the "Superhero starts killing the criminals". It was a pure blast. One of the better books outthere.
Posted by Norusdog

@Enzeru said:

Same reason why I dislike Batman. The Joker is killing a full schoolbus of children for no reason. There is the police and no one wants to kill him, Batman appears and tries to defeat him, take him to Arkham Asylum and wait for Joker's next escape. Simply crush his white, skinny head, duuuuuuuuuuuude! ò_Ó

uh...because it's against the law? If ANY superhero did such a thing then they'd be breaking the law. murderers. and no better then the people they killed. Seriously..if batman took the law into his own hands and became judge, jury, and executioner for the Joker (for instance) then he's no damn better then the man that killed his parents when he was a kid.

Does someone like the Joker deserve to live? probably not. But it's not batman or anyone but the police, judges, and jury's to decide.

Heroes are called that for a reason. And killing someone who may be a killer..makes you a killer as well. not a hero.

Posted by MutenRoshi

Superman is a craap character, awful, sh!!t. His story is sooo out dated now I don't think its possible for a revamp. but for DC he's one of their brands so they are going to waste millions and millions trying to jump start a dead engine

getting behind Superdooper these days is like beating a dead horse his story is done

DC have far more interesting properties in Hellblazer, Wonder Woman, Wildstorm, Hawkgirl, Preacher etc

They should put more time and money behind these other far more interesting stories

Superman was awful in the 60s but completely jumped the shark in the 80s, he's been on bailout money and life support with craap like Smallville

Looking forward to the day when important comic book people stop chatting and tweeting about one of the most uninteresting and most over rated characters in comics today

Posted by Eyz

Which reminds me why SUPERMAN BIRTHRIGHT was so fun and good!

Posted by Enzeru
@Norusdog said:

Does someone like the Joker deserve to live? probably not. But it's not batman or anyone but the police, judges, and jury's to decide.

Heroes are called that for a reason. And killing someone who may be a killer..makes you a killer as well. not a hero.

That's where the debate starts.  
What's more important? Being a hero, or doing what is necessary to protect the people? 
 
Is Batman a greater hero then Midnighter? Batman will capture the Joker and put him into the Arkham Asylum. But if the Joker escapes, he will kill 100 people and it will also be Batman's fault, because he had the chance to prevent it.
Midnighter is going to kill him. The population (> policemen, judges and jury) will be grateful and know that he did the right thing, because the Joker won't kill the 100 people if he manages to escape from the Asylum. 
You could say that the Joker is a special case, because he is mentally insane and can't be judged for his actions. But in the opposite, you could also say that he doesn't have the right to live in such a community where everyone has to obey the laws, yet he is not doing it and killing people, without being killed himself, just because some kind of a moral code of Batman, or the law. 

I'm sure that the mother whose children have been killed by a maniac won't bother too much about the law and would want to see the murderer dead who has the chance to get free after 40 years.
The mother whose children may be in danger would also rather prefer to see such a person being erased from the existance and not take the risk to leave it into the hands of judges.
 
If I would have Superman's powers I would make sure to do what is neccessary to prevent innocents from being harmed in the future, even if I would have to kill certain people, who already made their decision. The wrong one. 
If I would write a character, he would do the exact same thing and not simply believe in the american way, because the american way has many flaws.
Posted by Sissel

@Enzeru said:

This could be now a very harsh example, but still ... A person who does very bad things to children. Do you kill that person, or do you let the police deal with it? The person comes maybe after 40 years of prison free and then it seeks for more children. It doesn't matter how sick and twisted you are. If you're a good and honest person, you have ways to fight against it. You can go to a psychiatrist, or an Asylum and and tell them that you're afraid of yourself and that you fear the safety of children, or people generally who are around you. If you don't do that, but go out and destroy the lives of others, then you also already made your decision. Superman or everyone else with superpowers can do that decision too. He could also care less and leave everything be. Or he tries to protect the people around him. And if he needs to kill monsters for that who made the wrong decision, then yeah - he should do that. At least I would do that. I always hated comic books for being too neutral in terms of that. For example Wolverine who killed more then 5 good people and yet he is a great hero in the Marvel universe, everyone likes him and he is in 5 different superhero-teams. Or Omega Red who is a rapist and a war criminal. He never gets destroyed for real. Sabertooth who is also a rapist and a mass-murdered gets even invited to the X-Men one day or another. I know, it's a comic book. It's impossible to kill of famous characters, but still - I don't like it. The only comic which handled the entire story properly was "Absolution". And that was only possible, because it was a 6 issue book with new characters, so it wasn't important what they were doing. And the story mainly concentrated about the "Superhero starts killing the criminals". It was a pure blast. One of the better books outthere.

If that is how we solved problems, we might as well kill people because they kill people? So, what's difference from the heroes and bad guys? Shouldn't the heroes be the one who enforces law, peace and order? Because if what you are saying is the case, the heroes are being hypocrites for telling people not to kill yet they are allowed to. As they say, "A good leader is a good follower." which must be the standard to all heroes. It is the same as the XMen Schism debate question. No matter what, the end doesn't justify the means. Killing is still killing. And Killing is morally wrong. The only civil and morally right way to handle these situations is let them live humanely where they won't be harming society.

Posted by jointron33

@MutenRoshi: of course you would be a dragon ball fanboy

Posted by rudorudo

@Enzeru: Perhaps in the case of a character like Joker maybe it isn't so hard to deem him punishable by death but howabout in other instances where the crime isn't so mindless or anarchic. Take for instance the many conflicts between nations found today, how would you judge them - based on your personal political views? is one soldier just as bad as another - one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter is he not?

Eventhough arguably a hero's task is to keep the world safe and uphold justice - i believe they also serve as symbols of the morals they each possess. No one person should truly be above the law especially when it comes to things like killing. It's one of those deep philosophical questions entrenched deep in the concept of heroism though - it's also what separates the classical notion of a "hero" and a "vigilante".

Posted by MisterParker

To me, Ma and Pa have always been Superman's guiding light. In his darkest hours, when he just doesn't know what to do, when his ideals and feelings conflict with everything he is, it is Jonathan and Martha Kent who give him their eternally wise advice. They remind him what is most important, what must be done and they remind him of the man he was brought up to become. Had he been left alone to fend for himself in this unforgiving world, who knows? He might have ended even worse than Superboy Prime. Clark Kent should thank his lucky stars he was able to receive such benevolent parents, he might have ended up a supervillain otheriwse: more maniacal than the Joker, as strong as or possibly stronger than even Black Adam.

Posted by kg1507

This is one of the main reasons why I worry about this reboot. The Kents were his tie to humanity and he has had so much less time with them to learn right from wrong. I worry about the choices he is going to make in the future...

Posted by Enzeru
@rudorudo said:

Take for instance the many conflicts between nations found today, how would you judge them - based on your personal political views? is one soldier just as bad as another - one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter is he not?
 
I can't deny that I dislike certain religions or kinds of people, but I would still not turn into a political weapon. Or let my characters become political weapons and take orders from the USA or EU or whatsoever and invade other countries who have different religions, but ...

There is no logical greater goal in a man who takes a ton of C4 and runs with it into a mass of people and kills them all, to send a message.
That man made his decision when he agreed to do something like that. He made the decision to kill himself and a bunch of other people - I don't see heroes being forced to lock him up, just to see him potentially try it again in 10 years when he gets out of the jail.
But a tornado destroying everything in its path ... that's a force of nature and needs to be stopped to protect the people. You can still be a symbol - you just don't have to play after the rules.
And no one would do it who would have godlike Superman / Sentry like powers and see all the bad things in the world. Everyone would turn out his morals after a while get rid of the scum on the earth.

No one person should truly be above the law especially when it comes to things like killing. It's one of those deep philosophical questions entrenched deep in the concept of heroism though - it's also what separates the classical notion of a "hero" and a "vigilante".
 
That's where you are wrong.

A human who murders people is instantly stepping above the law, since he is playing God and deciding who is allowed to live and who not.  
That goes for ordinary thugs who turn into muderers and of course the "superheroes" who decide to kill their enemies, BUT ... The difference is:

Ordinary villains are doing it for personal benefit, while a vigilant hero would do it to protect the future victims of the villain and that is the only right decision, to take out monsters.
Of course right now I'm talking about sheer scum. If someone tries to rob his victim, it's okay without a doubt. Putting that person into the jail is cool.
But if you come across a rapist, or a serial killer ... :-7 Comeeeeee ooooooooooon!

Ask yourself what people would think about the "superhero" who kills his enemies, if they took it too far. If they raped, tortured and murdered peole.
The comic book "Absolution" by Avatar comics answered it pretty well.

Posted by jepizzel

One thing that always bothers me about discussions about killing in comic books is this: that killing is always equated to murder. Killing does not equal murder; murder is an unjust killing. Of course what 'unjust' means is a matter of considerable debate, but there is conceptual space between the two ideas. For instance, if I kill someone in self-defense when they present a legitimate threat to my person (say they are pointing a gun at me or shooting at me after having broken in my home to rob me), while I have killed this person, I have NOT murdered them. This also does not make me a killer at least in the sense that I have seen used frequently in these discussions, which is 'watch out for this person, they've killed before so they're likely to kill again'. The person that kills strictly in self-defense has only killed (presumably) due to the severe risk to her life and the violation of her rights and probably will still feel terrible about what they (justifiably) have done. The sense of killer which I just mentioned seems to be more in line with someone who aims to kill others before they encounter them. She is looking to kill, as opposed to being forced to kill in defense of her life. This kind of person could probably be aptly described as a murderer as will, but again more details would be need to make that assessment. Moreover, justified killing can also occur in OTHER-defense, which of course is in defense of others. Think parents protecting their children as well as police. Police can use their discretion to kill when the situation requires it for defense of themselves and others. Of course, they cannot usually show up INTENDING to kill their targets; they must try to exhaust alternative means in order to capture criminals. However, they can kill, have killed, and when just, the fact that they have killed does not make them a murderer. Or a killer in the problematic sense which I mentioned above. I tend to see Idie in this light. The psychological aspects of her killing are definitely serious and it was very unfortunate that she was put in that position in the first place, but it is not at all clear that she has done something wrong. The people she killed were threatening both her and the lives of innocents and it appeared that she had no alternatives to save herself or others from a legitimate threat, unless she could have used her powers in non-lethal ways.

Now, one distinction that makes this discussion trickier is the contention that police are legally (as opposed to simply morally) authorized to use lethal force against criminals and THAT'S why their killing is sometimes justified, but that of superheroes is not. Police have special authority as a result of this. The first response to this is that law does not always perfectly track morality; laws about killing in self-defense have arisen from the moral permission to kill others in self-defense. But our legal system always provides a check on the actions of our officers; we can review any situation in which they have killed to see if in fact it was justified or not. However, we can not do this or do not usually for superheores. They kill without sanction or penalty, which makes their killing wrongful or unjust as opposed to that of a police officer in the same situation. This point definitely has some resonance, though I don't think it would be sufficient reason make it impermissible for superheores to kill when they are genuinely in situations of self or other defense. How do we make those determinations without a regular reviewing mechanism? That's obviously a crucial question that needs to be answered.

Sorry about the long post, but this has been bothering me for a while in these discussions. I don't think Batman would become just like the villains he fights just by virtue of him killing one of them, unless he is completely psychologically unstable like they are, which would mean in general he would be less admirable than he seems to be. If he killed in self or other defense (again after exhausting other alternatives), he would have the insight and discipline to both recognize these rare situations and not kill again unless in a VERY similar exact position again. He would not change into the Punisher, aiming to kill all criminals. He would be like a police officer who is forced to kill in the most dire situations, who laments that he had to kill even though he was justified, and who resolves not to kill again IF he can help it. And finally, I wonder that if after capturing, for instance, the Joker multiple times, only to have him escape and MURDER rampantly, these prior captures would count as 'exhausting alternatives' so that the next time Batman encounters the Joker, although he could just capture him again and lock him up, he would now be morally permitted to kill him?

Posted by Kairan1979

Pa and Ma Kent are very important.
Just look at Plutonian. He was raised by different foster families that feared his abilities. He started a superhero career, but was more and more angry for the people's lack of gratitude - and as a result he cracked under pressure and turned into a villain.
The other example is Mark Milton aka Hyperion (Supreme Power/Squadron Supreme). He was raised by the government, the family chosen for him was afraid of him, he never had real friends - and look how it turned out.

Edited by waruikumo
We won't have a chance to get to know thisversion of Ma and Pa. More importantly, without parents to keep him in line, Superman is going to simply be a socially awkward hero without the heart of the hero that we've seen over the years.

I'm cool with that, Superman has been by and large super lame, for at least a decade. The character doesn't some socially awkward, by nature, and if so so be it. Most comic book readers are slightly socially awkward.

The addition of more bravado, and righteousness to the character is welcome. He's not some mindless, straight laced boy scout bot any more. He's a critical thinking, assertive, otherworldly force of nature that answers to a higher call, than mere laws and social constructs. I'd say he had pretty good parents if he's willing to be an individual in this day and age.

Posted by Or35ti

It's true he's no longer the ideal gentlemen we knew before, but his new personality is arguably more effective. He has all this power, and for once he is not afraid to use it. Of course that can make him a bit dull and uninteresting at times, like in the new Superman book.

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

I really hope the new movie will be like them, with a relatable story like this.

Posted by kennybaese

I feel that Superman struggling to figure out how to deal with things makes him more human, not less. The idea that Superman has these very altruistic traits, but his education in these ideal from his parents is incomplete because his they've died, it good. They gave him the ideas, just not instructions as to how to live by them, so he's what he feels is right in the way that makes the most sense to him.

I think the line from Action #1 that @G-Man posted above ("Treat people right or expect a visit from me.") feels very Superman to me. He knows what is right and wrong and he's going to stop wrongdoers. It's a very old school approach to heroism, but it makes sense for this new Superman character.

Also, his parents being gone could lead to him struggling with his humanity, which I also think could be interesting.

All in all, it's always kind of annoyed me that Superman has had all of this power and only ever uses it to punch giant aliens and when dealing with larger issues with his adoptive planet, he's immediately hands off and preachy. Seeing a Superman who's hands on and knows he can change things, so he's going to go make the world a better place is a breath of fresh air, very compelling, and very human, I think.

Posted by Shamelesslysupportinaznballers

I like the Ma & Pa influence. The pre 52 Superman represents what the ideal hero should be. Sure it may not work in the real world but it's something at least we should strive for. I agree with many of the examples of killing someone who kills 100 people instead of putting that person in jail only to see him escape/release to kill 100 more. But this is a comic and there are enough "heroes" who will shoot first and ask questions later. If we can't strive for the ideal hero in a comic book then society just got a little worst in my opinion.

The preview for JL #2 with him putting Batman in a choke hold when he knows he's just a regular human who poses no threat just made me shake my head. Sure it looks awesome, but that's not what Superman represented to me. Now he's just a douchebag that does things for the cool factor with no restraint. He's just a bully now.

Posted by Chibi-Iroh

Jonathan and Martha are so important because they taught Clark to put the Man before the Super.

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Now this was a good article. In the end this new slant to Superman's upbringing determines the new 'darker, edgier' look to the Man of Steel and in a way goes back to his Golden Age roots without having as much influence from Earthling parentage. In a way this is good because it definitely allows for a more modern interpretation without having Big Blue be the boy scout he once was. On the other hand one has to be glad that Clark's powers are not Silver Age level in Grant Morrison's Action, for now there is very, very little keeping him back from cutting loose fully and causing major destruction since it can be assumed he doesn't have Ma and Pa Kent's immediate influence. I like the new interpretation, but God forbid the Man of Steel grows uber-powerful once again. He might be inclined to sneeze, if you all get the reference!

Posted by Maki_P

I hate, I hate that Ma and Pa Kent are dead. They were amazing people and they created the World's Greatest Hero. I get the feeling that they had to go just to make Superman more brooding and dark. Superman is not brooding, there are other ways to make him more interesting and adult.

Posted by LoganRogue24

my only gripe with the smallville show is they did barely anything with the Clark Kara relationship i mean she is his family to not just the Kents. heck if you really get down to it she is his true family really.

Posted by PhoenixoftheTides

@Enzeru: I agree with your points mainly because I have always been troubled by Batman and Superman, and their relation to the DC universe. It always seemed to me that those two were the closest to villains of all the heroes - without meaning to, they end up being in a position similar to Dr. Manhattan, where their ties to humanity is broken by the very fact that they are not willing to come to a final decision as to how they should act even if it were detrimental to humanity at large. It casts Superman in the role of benevolent villain to not permanently defeat some enemies that have killed thousands just because he doesn't want blood on his hands, and Batman seems like a navel-gazing psychopath when he engages in brutality to bring villains in with the knowledge that the villains will escape and are in fact being empowered by his presence. DC is a very strange universe because it seems that their most powerful heroes are not willing to accept the possibility that they are needed to permanently take out certain threats because certain villains have actually moved past the bounds of humanity. They keep comparing normal humans to psychopaths and affording them the same privileges and considerations, which is kind of odd given how badly they'd beaten down these villains whereas they would never condone doing that to a regular person.

Posted by azza04

Ma and Pa Kent raised Clark with ideals that are fine in a small farming town, but in the real world those ideals would be useless. The only reason Clark was able to carry on those values was because of his powers, any normal man with those values in the real world would have been walked over and pushed around so often he would have probably committed suicide.

Posted by Enzeru
@PhoenixoftheTides said:

@Enzeru: I agree with your points mainly because I have always been troubled by Batman and Superman, and their relation to the DC universe. It always seemed to me that those two were the closest to villains of all the heroes - without meaning to, they end up being in a position similar to Dr. Manhattan, where their ties to humanity is broken by the very fact that they are not willing to come to a final decision as to how they should act even if it were detrimental to humanity at large. It casts Superman in the role of benevolent villain to not permanently defeat some enemies that have killed thousands just because he doesn't want blood on his hands, and Batman seems like a navel-gazing psychopath when he engages in brutality to bring villains in with the knowledge that the villains will escape and are in fact being empowered by his presence. DC is a very strange universe because it seems that their most powerful heroes are not willing to accept the possibility that they are needed to permanently take out certain threats because certain villains have actually moved past the bounds of humanity. They keep comparing normal humans to psychopaths and affording them the same privileges and considerations, which is kind of odd given how badly they'd beaten down these villains whereas they would never condone doing that to a regular person.

Very well put.

That's the main reason for me to be a Marvel guy, because they're simply trying to be more realistic, and they're also able to pull it off.
I also prefer Indie comics.
You should really check out "Absolution" from Avatar Press if you didn't do it already. It clears the question, what would happen if a superhero would start playing judge and kill his opponents for the sake of the greater good and have to deal with the law in the process. 
I also liked "Supergod", but that was probably a little bit more out of context, since it was on a larger sociopathical scale.
Posted by Shamelesslysupportinaznballers

@azza04 said:

Ma and Pa Kent raised Clark with ideals that are fine in a small farming town, but in the real world those ideals would be useless. The only reason Clark was able to carry on those values was because of his powers, any normal man with those values in the real world would have been walked over and pushed around so often he would have probably committed suicide.

Since he has those powers, shouldn't he be better and act better? That's why he was so great, he has the power and instead of abusing it, he showed us a better way. That's what made Superman the best hero of all in the past, not because he can take a bullet but because of the values that Ma & Pa Kent instilled in him.

Posted by Jekylhyde14

Honestly, if you know the history, you know that Ma and Pa were only important to Superman's adult life Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths. They were dead before he hit Metropolis in the Golden Age and the Silver/Bronze Ages. It was only after Man of Steel that they became regular fixtures in his adult life, and, as much as I adore them, it turned into the same scene over and over again. Clark would have some moral dilemma, he'd discuss it with Pa over some menial chore or a piece of Ma's pie, his dilemma would be solved by some cliche' Americana anecdote, and he'd hit the main plot again with some new resolve. Endearing in a Norman Rockwell sort of way: Yes. Exciting or interesting to read over the course of two decades: Not really. I always liked them better in the Silver Age Superboy stories where they struggled with trying to raise the only Super-child on the planet. That always felt like a more effective way to dish out Pa's wisdom because you got to watch the scenarios that brought on that wisdom in Superman's childhood rather than just having the same advice scene over and over again. And, if you think about it, Ma and Pa didn't do that great a job coaching Post-Crisis Superman on morality. He did kill, after all. I feel like it'll be nice to have Superman stories without the Ma and Pa distractions for awhile. Let's see the Man of Steel making his own decisions for a change. Don't you think there could be some great character development in that?

As for this whole "Superman's a bully now" melodrama, Superman was ALWAYS a bully. In Action Comics #2 he bullies the CEO of a munitions company who tried to start a war to drive sales into enlisting in an army at war to show him just how horrific battle is and what his products actually do. He makes the man do all this under the threat of violence like any bully, but it brings about positive results. The CEO learns the error of his ways and returns to the states dedicated to the cause of peace. Primmaster64 gives more examples of Golden Age Superman's benevolent bullying in his blog. The Silver Age Superman was a bully as well. In the story "The Ugly Superman," Silver Age Supes humiliates a brutish wrestler forcing his affections onto Lois Lane by doing things like throwing him head-first into a basketball hoop. In "The Jolly Jailhouse" he secretly plays super-tricks to undermine the authority of power hungry, South American Colonel. For a majority of his career, Superman has been a bully. It's only been since 1987 that he seriously took on the whole, ultra-humble, boyscout schtick and it's BORING. Those of you who say "he's not acting like Superman" are dead wrong. He's probably acting more like Superman now than he has in the last twenty years. The real Superman understands that sometimes you need to be a jerk to deal with jerks and that it makes for a more interesting story. Don't worry, he's always bullying with the best intentions.

Edited by azza04

@Shamelesslysupportinaznballers said:

@azza04 said:

Ma and Pa Kent raised Clark with ideals that are fine in a small farming town, but in the real world those ideals would be useless. The only reason Clark was able to carry on those values was because of his powers, any normal man with those values in the real world would have been walked over and pushed around so often he would have probably committed suicide.

Since he has those powers, shouldn't he be better and act better? That's why he was so great, he has the power and instead of abusing it, he showed us a better way. That's what made Superman the best hero of all in the past, not because he can take a bullet but because of the values that Ma & Pa Kent instilled in him.

He shows us a way that only works if you have Superhuman powers, Superman wasn't violent towards others because no matter what they did they couldn't harm him. The same isn't true for us. His logic, or his code that he lives by is useless to the human race of this day and age.

Posted by The Impersonator

Super article!

Edited by rudorudo

@Enzeru: I agree with certain points that you make but the only flaw I recognize with the idea of heroes killing is where do they draw the line, yes you've pointed out some examples such as the murderer and the rapist - those are however criminals that i guess can be considered "inherently evil". I wouldn't assume too many people would sympathize for such criminals and therefore it would be far simpler in such cases for people to deem them punishable by death . I'm more intrigued on how such heroes would deal with crimes that are more morally ambiguous - for example a businessman who profits from child labour. Is that man really less of a criminal than the murderer or the rapist? and if so and the "said hero" doesn't kill him - how is that hero just? All I'm saying it becomes very difficult when you have to nit-pick on who gets killed or not - making it easier to go all in, or none at all.

Posted by SuperXAsh

Well they obviously play a big role in his development. We've seen versions of Supes in alternate worlds where he was raised by others and turned out very differently. Your parents play a huge role in your development over the years, for better or worse, and obviously having Ma & Pa around played a big role in shaping Superman.

So without them, he apparently becomes a douche.

Edited by THEBlaqueBasterd

@Jekylhyde14: I also get the feeling with this move... Morrisons tryin to "Batman" him.. give him more edge.. but edge with meaning, resonance.. think about it, losing the only two ppl on the planet who know what &who he is &the "best ppl hes ever known" &theyre gone..&all he has left is his parents dying wish that he be a gift to the world... &for all his powers he hasnt a clue how to do it.. Hes got no heritage or means to access it...(a slow discovery/meeting Kara?)

I think this &the JL Supes r gonna be pretty interestin coz he really... Hasnt got a CLUE what hes doin ..Hes just playing it by ear.. goin off instinct..which he USED to do as his M.O. in the old BoyScout days all the time, but for the first time EVER..it actually makes sense.. I ideally would wanted Ma Kent around..but this is ten times more interestin &I look forward to where its goin

Edited by Shamelesslysupportinaznballers

@azza04 said:

His logic, or his code that he lives by is useless to the human race of this day and age.

True, people in this world don't have super powers but it doesn't prevent them from acting super. We have people that are unable to care for themselves, we have good samaritans everyday looking out for their fellow man and I can go on and on. We would be a society of murderers and thieves without people acting "super". Superman is suppose to represent that because of the qualities and morals that his parents instilled in him. Without it he's just another Wolverine.

Posted by ArtisticNeedham

I don't want them dead. I like him being able to go home and talk with them. Originally in the comics they were dead... I think there was even something about him being in a Foster Home instead of parents. But I liked him having a support system at home. But I think his parent's deaths might have lead to his anger.

Posted by Primmaster64

Dudes...this is how the original Superman was...Hell the original Superman actually killed criminals.

Posted by SicKid

@Enzeru: Why is that in order to be a "cool" superhero nowadays you need to be a cynical, dark, and gritty asshole?

Posted by Enzeru
@SicKid said:

@Enzeru: Why is that in order to be a "cool" superhero nowadays you need to be a cynical, dark, and gritty asshole?

It's not about being cool.
It's about doing what has to be done. 
Posted by SpidermanWins

Superb article. Great points. So true. I think that Superman may yet find some guidance in Mr. and Mrs. Kent- type figures that will set him on the right track in the new 52

Posted by kfhrfdu_89_76k

If we talk about A universe, I think that resurrection man has come back the most.