CV's Roundtable User Discussion 009 - Spotlight: Superman

Hello Comic Vine community! How's it going? Welcome to the ninth Roundtable User Discussion. If you are wondering what this is let me give you the quick rundown. A couple of CV users, like yourself, virtually met up to talk comic books and comic-related topics. That conversation has been posted here for you guys to see, read and enjoy. After you read our conversation be sure to comment below where you can submit your own opinions after reading ours. If you liked this then go back and read our past conversations (Here) and share your thoughts there too. We like comments, so feel free to disagree!

I am Geo, better known as sora_thekey, and I will be moderating this discussion. "Sitting" with me are two Roundtable regulars: haydenclaireheroes and RazzaTazz. Added to these two lovely ladies we have newcomer: Emperor Gonzo Noir! Welcome! :)

Emperor Gonzo Noir:  Hello kids, how's it going? I'm Emp, it's my first time so go easy on me. 

haydenclaireheroes: Hey guys I am haydenclaireheroes and I do videos on Comic Vine called Comic Uno and I am a Spider-Girl super-fan.

RazzaTazz: Hi all, this is Razzatazz (known as Tammy to real life people) coming at you from the city that rocks and and the city that never stops... Oh actually forget that I am from Canada and plus I think that line comes from "We Built This City on Rock & Roll".

So how's life been going? Y'know comic-book-wise? Read anything lately?

 Ultimate Spider-Man
haydenclaireheroes: The last thing I read was Ultimate Spider-Man trade number 1. It was awesome.

RazzaTazz: Still working on my torturous project to review a bunch of Wonder Woman issues. Today I did #10 from the first volume (back in the forties sometime) where earth get invaded by Saturn people and #32 from volume 2, a Wonder Woman issue with no Wonder Woman.

 Ares: God of War
haydenclaireheroes: I know all of your hard work will be worth it RazzaTazz. Your reviews are awesome.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: I just read the Ares: God of War mini which introduced the common Marvel version of Ares. Fantastic book, written by Michael Avon Oeming of Powers fame and art by Travel Foreman. It also introduced the Chaos War villain Mikaboshi.
If you ever want to read a comic where a guy sets himself on fire and gets Fastball Special into a crowd of undead samuari then this is the book for you. I just wish Ares kept his sweet mohawk.

I am poor and have had to stop my weekly comic buys but today I organized all my comic books and found some older issues I plan on re-reading.

Razz is an amazing reviewer. Hayden is pretty much known for her reviews and if you've ever talked to Gonzo in the forums, you know he always has something to say. I am liking this combination since this Roundtable will focus, or spotlight, on a single character.
I am talking about the first super hero, the Man of Steel, the character often confused for a bird and a plane. You guys know who I am talking about right?

Emperor Gonzo Noir: Kal-El? Or is that Kal-L? I can never remember.

haydenclaireheroes: I usually spell it Kal-El.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: I actually think Kal-L is the Earth 2 version, but thats getting picky.

I guess you guys do know your comic books. 

This is going to be the first Roundtable where we spotlight a single character. We will begin to do this once a month and this way we can take our broad spectrum of topics and focus them into more condense and specific theme. Like today's: Superman.

So, since Gonzo is the newbie to this Roundtable I say we should put him on the spot. Emperor, who is Superman?

Emperor Gonzo Noir: He's keen.
I kid, but Superman is one of the most popular and enduring American icons of the 20th century. Almost everyone knows his story of hope and triumph. Coming from a distant world and becoming a powerful force for good on his adopted home world.
Some people don't like him and other out right hate him. But I r\feel they don't really know him, because to know is to love him.
I noticed that some users really don't like Superman or mostly associate him with the site Superdickery.

haydenclaireheroes:   I agree I never really see people anymore say that Superman is there favorite character .

Emperor Gonzo Noir: I think they either see him as too much of a goody goody boy scout or as a power mad jerk.

Well, Gonzo already mentioned he likes the character. Hayden and Razz, do you like Superman? Or what are your opinions about the guy?

haydenclaireheroes: I like Superman but he is far from my favorite superhero.

While growing up I actually hated the character... Since I thought the character was too perfect to be likable. My opinion changed as I grew up.

Wonder Woman is inspired by Superman
RazzaTazz: I am sort of torn both ways on the character, a lot of his mythos are tied to the USA which I am not sure appeals to people in other parts of the world, though as  a Canadian it is not such a big deal. The aspect of his super powers is also an issue for me as he is basically unbeatable. However as a Wonder Woman fan it would be silly for me to not admit that in many respects she is his feminine counterpart and also pretty much unbeatable. Ironically though one of my favorite and least favourite WW moments of the past few years involve him, the favorite was the Max Lord story, the least favourite was the recent one where Wonder Woman said she was inspired to heroics by him (I think a lot of Wonder Woman fans didn't like this, Babs even wrote an article on it.)

Emperor Gonzo Noir: Even as a passing fan of Wonder Woman I was kind of offended by that.

haydenclaireheroes: I think the place that show the most that Superman is not perfect is the Smallville TV series. I really love Smallville for that becuase it shows a different aspect of Superman. But this can be very controversial since not everyone agrees with me.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: I'm not a fan of Smallville.

Smallville was actually the reason I started liking the Superman character.

haydenclaireheroes: Yeah, Smallville was one of the reasons I loved comics. I was very small when I saw the show. I was in first grade and me and my dad use to watch it. I really grew up with the show and it made me get into comics.


So lets specifically talk about his powers. Razz mentioned that he's pretty much unstoppable. That was one of the reasons I thought this character bored the heck out of me.

RazzaTazz: Well he can pretty much do anything can't he? An alternate version of him (Prime) punched reality until it changed.

haydenclaireheroes: I agree I think the thing that makes him perfect is his powers. Because he has every superpower people dream of. Like Flight and super strength.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: That's actually not true, he's got plenty of weaknesses. Magic, kryptonite, large sources of energy, anyone stronger than him.

RazzaTazz: I guess thats true, but not near as many weaknesses as even another really strong character like say Hal Jordan.

haydenclaireheroes: Even though he has his weaknesses. He is still somehow beats them.

So he's not entirely perfect, but it does get kind of tiering when you use a rock to beat the guy. Over and over and over...

Emperor Gonzo Noir: That's when you use a giant robot. ;)

RazzaTazz: Well magic has been used fairly often as well. The few times WW fought (sorry for dwelling on her) she was capable of hurting him with magical objects.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: Captain Marvel nearly killed Superman in Kingdom Come with a few rounds of magic lightening.

RazzaTazz: Oh yeah they paid homage to that (the magic lightning) in JLU once.

I ignored the fact that magic was used so often. Do you guys like his powers? I mean is it really necessary to have laser beams come out of your eyes when a punch can destroy a building?

haydenclaireheroes: I like his powers. The laser beams do get him out of tight situations. When his hands are not free literally.

RazzaTazz: Well the one that gets me actually is the X-Ray Vision, you would think for a character that has so many other advantages that they might play up his detective abilities?  But no, both X-Ray vision and telescopic vision means he can scan an entire city in seconds for any bad guy he is looking for. Still his powers aren't all that bad, having a heavy around is necessary for quite a few stories, for instance who else would fight Darksied?

haydenclaireheroes: Yeah I think out of all his powers X-Ray vision is the one i wish he did not have. It makes him rely on his powers to much. He should think out of situations more than just use his powers.

 Heat Vision
Emperor Gonzo Noir: Well he has what has become the "default" set of powers, ie. super strength, speed, flight, invulnerability, etc. But even to this day I don't understand laser eyes. I mean super hearing and X-Ray eyes are just exaggerations of regular human functions, hell even the freeze breath kind of makes sense. But why does heat blasts come out of your eye balls?

I like what you mentioned Gonzo! His powers are just exaggerations of the human condition (Except his laser beams). I never thought of it that way. 

haydenclaireheroes: I never thought of it that way either.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: I did find it kind of amusing how on Smallville they used heat vision as a weird metaphor for well .....something else.

haydenclaireheroes: It weirded me out a little also.

C'Mon you got to admit that was hot! XD

Emperor Gonzo Noir: Ah! The pun! It burns!

RazzaTazz: Well not a Smallville fan so I can't say one way or the other, but it seems strange.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: The first time he did it on the show was during a wildlife movie during class. o.O

haydenclaireheroes: I remember that episode I think it was the second episode. I am sure it was called "Heat".

Emperor Gonzo Noir: I can sit here all day pick apart the reason I like and don't like Smallville.

Secret Identity

 Clark Kent
Alright let's talk about Clark Kent. Superman's alter ego. What do we think of the glasses?

Emperor Gonzo Noir: He should consider frame-less.

haydenclaireheroes: When I was little I thought how can anyone not know that Clark Kent is Superman all just because of his glasses. But then my friend got glasses and we all got use to it and he took them off one day and I really did not recognize him. So, my point is that maybe for some people it works.

I started to wear glasses a couple of weeks ago and some people overlooked me because of the glasses. Yet, spending so much time with Superman and Clark Kent it would be kind of hard to miss the resemblance.

haydenclaireheroes: True.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: I know from experience that glasses can change your appearance enough that you can avoid detection. But after a while the effect goes away. I remember one explanation that it was special lenses that confused people or something to that effect. Like a perception filter on Dr. Who. You see it but you don't want to. 
But really it's more than just the glasses, his Clark Kent persona is as much an act as his Superman one. There's his public self , his civilian and his private self, a lot like Batman.

RazzaTazz: I think in terms of what he represents as a character this aspect of him is kind of ridiculous. Just like Bruce Wayne is whats faked for Batman, the same holds true for Superman, he really is Superman. So for a guy who has dedicated his life to fighting injustice he wastes a lot of time at the Daily Planet writing up stories on local councilman or what have you. Basically for every moment he spends on his secret identity he could be saving thousands of lives. I can understand the aspect of the Lois Lane angle, the sort of "will they or wont they?" throughout much of the publication history, but he is Superman that is who Lois should fall in love with, not his lame alter ego.

Lois And Supes
Wasn't that angle explored. Lois was in love with Superman before she was in love with Clark.

RazzaTazz: Well thats the thing, but he wanted her to fall in love with Clark for who he was underneath.

haydenclaireheroes: True.

RazzaTazz: Though that is kind of silly as well, because he really is Superman, not some sheepish reporter.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: She did fall in the love with Clark before she actually knew.

haydenclaireheroes:  I guess she was happy that Clark was the same person.

Right, so Clark is the disguise rather than Superman?

RazzaTazz: Yes I think so, but why does he need a disguise?

haydenclaireheroes: Well like every hero he needs a identity to protect his family and friends from his villains.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: Clark Kent is no more Superman's critique on the human race, than Bruce Wayne is Batman's critique on the wealthy.

WW with Supes
Now that this has become to Lois oriented. Clark's love interest haven't been touched upon other than Lois and Lana right?

Emperor Gonzo Noir: He's had a few other loves like Lori Lemaris.

RazzaTazz: I am the wrong person to ask, still sore that at any time in DC history that WW is regarded as a potential love interest for Superman.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: I understand the logic of pairing Wondy and Supes together. But in character it doesn't really work.

I liked when Wonder Woman was Batman's love interest in the Justice League Animated Series, but now I am realizing that we are gearing away from Supes. Lets get back on topic. 

Past vs Present

Superman: Earth One
I like Smallville's modern take of Superman, I loved Secret Origin and Earth One but I was bored by Superman: The Animated Series. What do you guys think? Past or present?

haydenclaireheroes: I love Smallville. I never read Secret Origin but always wanted to. Earth One I loved the art it was great take on another Universe. I have not seen Superman in a while but when i was kid i use to like it. I loved Supergirl costume.

RazzaTazz: I have not read any of those, but I think what I have seen of Smallville that it deviated a bit too much from his regular story for my liking, though of course part of that is up to the network.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: I really liked Superman: TAS, but it was never my favorite DCAU show. I was surprised by how much I liked Earth One, the negative fan reaction to the preview pages did steer me away at first. I loved Secret Origin, especially Parasite origin (toxic waste donut, embarrassing. Guess the ten second rule doesn't always apply.) and as I said before I'm not a fan of Smallville.

So does this mean that you guys favor the past incarnation of Superman over the present?

haydenclaireheroes: I like the past better than the present.

RazzaTazz: I would say so yes, he has one of the most iconic origin stories of any hero. I bet people that haven't heard of Wonder Woman still know what Krypton is (I know it's also a chemical element).

John Byrne's Superman
Emperor Gonzo Noir: I like the John Byrne Superman, he was at a good power level, was likable and he made tough decisions. (Such as executing Pocket Universe versions of General Zod , Non and Ursa for genocide. But no one likes to talk about that.)

RazzaTazz: I liked the Byrne on Superman.

haydenclaireheroes: I never read his Superman.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: I had to read back issues, they probably won't reprint the story where Superman killed some villains.

The Verdict

This is the most iconic character in comic books but it seems like people like the character just because he's iconic. What do you guys think? What's the verdict?

haydenclaireheroes: I think non comic readers like Superman the most because he is iconic. Superman symbols America.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: A character can't stay popular on reputation alone, there has to be a reason why Superman has stayed so popular. It's about who he is, and what he represents.
He may be an alien, but he's more human than some of the people born here. He's a regular guy, from the midwest who just happens to be able to fly at Mach 10 and chuck a bus into orbit.

RazzaTazz: In the movie Nixon there is a scene where Nixon looks at the portrait of JFK and says something along the lines of "When they look at you they see who they ant to be, when they look at me, they see who they are."  I think this is an excellent way to describe the iconic image of Superman (compared here against Batman).  Superman represents the world we all dream of where men hold doors open for women, everyone is nice to each other and we all work together.  Batman represents who we are, a constant struggle against the injustices of this world.  So I think part of the iconic status of Superman is his idealism and the fact he is American.  Superman for me is one of those words or phrases like "apple pie" which stirs up thoughts of wholesome America.

haydenclaireheroes: I never thought of it that way.

RazzaTazz: Well I don't recommend watching Nixon to research it :P

Emperor Gonzo Noir: That is an amazing way to put it, but now I keep seeing Nixon dressed as Batman. Amusing , yet frightening.

Well, my perspective on Superman has changed after this. I think his iconic nature has more to him than meets the ground -level perspective. I think that is all we can say about our favorite immigrant. Comment below to tell us what you think about this super man (yes the space set there on purpose). I think it's time to say good bye! 

haydenclaireheroes: All right bye guys. I have taken Superman in a different perspective now.

RazzaTazz: This is RazzaTazz (Tammy) signing out from the city that rocks and the city ... oh ... uh... forget it, that didnt work before did it?  Thanks for reading everyone and thanks to Hayden and Emp.  Always a pleasure to work with Hayden and hopefully we see Emp back.

haydenclaireheroes: Like i said it was really fun to talk to you guys can't wait to do it again.

Emperor Gonzo Noir: Had a lot of fun here hope I can do this again. This is Emp Gonzo, signing off.

Thank you for joining me Tammy, Hayden and Gon-- I mean Emp! 
This is Geo/sora_thekey signing off! Bye.

-- Geo (sora_thekey) 24/7 geek! -- Follow me on Twitter: @sora_thekey   
Posted by EdwardWindsor

Some good point brought up here especially the expanded human condition one,  in my case the only versions of superman i can stomach are the Smallville and alternative universe Ultraman

Edited by SC

i really want to post big on this later! I am in desperate need of sleep. Just wanted to say woo for Oeming's Ares series and EMP! lol Its awesome. Why are more people not reading this and yes, I use to like Daken, but since he had a Mo-Hawk Ares had to shave his (thats not the real reason but) and best dad in comics! So Daken *fist shake*

On to the secondary subject of Superman... powers, Superman is unstoppable! Not because of his powers. I mean, that plays a part. Superman is like Hulk plus powers with Spider-man plus popularity. He has weaknesses and he gets beat a lot and used as a measuring stick, but he also has the power of the plot. He is sort of like Hulk Hogan. Other characters trade of Superman so creatively they can be threatening and all that for a while, but you know, when Superman stops holding back and his cause is worthy... I think lots of characters are both liked and disliked for this aspect. The more extreme, the more polarization. So I assert that he is unstoppable. Relatively the most in comics really. The only way he wouldn't be as much if some other creative, story, plot angle was immediately more profitable, and lots of stories require drama, and tension and a bit of loss, and a threat and so many other things that slow characters down. Characters whose popularity don't tie into their aura of invincibility will be effected in other relative ways. Just depends on their selling points. Thing? Generally as far as story plots and character plots, its more about how tough and big his heart is... compare to Hulk and its about how angry he gets to get stronger... 

Oh, and I like Superman, I should say. I don't like his... place? I shall elaborate later. I am not a fan of any single character being touted as the most anything. I always hear how Superman is the first and the most inspirational, more than any other. I don't think you should ever limit inspiration. It sort of creates this pyramid thinking, where Superman is at the top and characters sequence after. To me its the equivalent of putting the most famous celebrity on top and having firemen and doctors at the bottom. Or alternatively telling a kid, look at Superman, now go out and be the best, better than everyone. As opposed to being the best you can be. Which is a bit ironic. To me Superman is about just being the best you can be. Of course in comics everything needs to be stated and repeated over and over. Still, I long for the day when a bunch of characters are played off each other as being as equally/subjectively equal in inspiration and wholesome goodness (in interesting dynamic, creative ways). I don't mind goody good characters, I like them really. I just hate the notion of one character being the most goody goody. Plus, using real life as an example, usually the guy being touted as the nicest man on the planet just has a good PR team, and he be banging mistresses after golf game... uhm.. lol of course fiction is a lot different, narrative and all that. Superman gets to be incredibly good, inspirational and humble. And recognized. Which I guess ties in to his appeal of us the reader being recognized and awarded for being good? Buying the idea that one day we will be recognized and awarded for our super aspects we hide with the facade of Clark to fit in... Still, it brings in the idea of celebrated hero vs unsung hero. Being good when you know you will be rewarded, when you know you have friends that adore you, parents that care and love you, and Erica Durance and Kristen Kreuk interested in you romantically and you actually have the power to do good and have fun whilst doing good... VS being treated like rubbish, hated, feeding a blind, mute, deaf, armless street orphan in the uh dark... to go home to a place... that has no people and rats that eat your... toes... while... you sleep... on a bed with only one thin mattress... type... superhero... (D-Man?) 

Consequently I tend to prefer Superman stories where he does good things that no one notices, and where he is ultra polite, because I get the impression he knows he is super lucky and fortunate, and not really that judgmental either because he figures life must be hard for others. Also why I am quite fond of say many X-Men. 

Oh and the first thing? I mean, Superman was born from the ideas of other characters. he was just different enough to create a new marketable word, term, that spurned a genre. It is what it is. I feel much of what happens to him creatively as it relates to other characters draws on that unfairly. Sort of like if the person who posted first in each thread (first etc) got power over the thread suddenly. Justified for no reason other than being first poster. 

So I appreciate him, what the character has done, still, as far as what that means when using him in a shared universe? Not such a fan there. 

Okay uhm.. thats my mini part I wanted to add before coming back later for the actual reply... 
Moderator Online
Posted by SC

Oh haha, and great RT guys! Was good first one EMP, plus just yeah, nice points made all round! Sora, Hayden, Tazzy! *tips hat* 

Moderator Online
Posted by Primmaster64
@sora_thekey: Should have asked Primmaster :P
Posted by A_O_N

Well I really enjoy Clark and think he is necessary. It makes Superman feel relatable. I also like to think that Superman was inspired by Lois to become a reporter; it makes sense and the reason why Superman becomes one is never addressed as far as I know. He could easily have been a great scientist and followed in his parent's footsteps. Well, or you could call him a stalker xD But, Superman without Clark just wouldn't be Superman.

Posted by haydenclaireheroes

As always love doing the Roundtable 

Posted by Billy Batson

good one. Can't wait for the next one ;)

Posted by ssejllenrad
@Primmaster64 said:
" @sora_thekey: Should have asked Primmaster :P "
True that!
Posted by sora_thekey
@Primmaster64 said:
" @sora_thekey: Should have asked Primmaster :P "
You could always join future discussions like these.

@A_O_N said:
" Well I really enjoy Clark and think he is necessary. It makes Superman feel relatable. I also like to think that Superman was inspired by Lois to become a reporter; it makes sense and the reason why Superman becomes one is never addressed as far as I know. He could easily have been a great scientist and followed in his parent's footsteps. Well, or you could call him a stalker xD But, Superman without Clark just wouldn't be Superman. "
Yeah, this is all explored in Superman: Earth One. He had his options but decided to ground himself to be Clark
Posted by SC

Personally, i think there are less time consuming ways he could have grounded himself. Just a logistics thing with how many more lives he could be saving short term and long term. Then again, this would not make for a very easy to write as exciting character. 

Moderator Online
Posted by Deranged Midget

Good stuff. Interesting to see a take on Superman from readers who aren't fans of the character.

Posted by RazzaTazz
Edited by Deranged Midget

@razzatazz: Oh my!

Someone host a roundtable for Man of Steel! :D

Posted by RazzaTazz

@deranged_midget: The movie? That would require a group review, and it has been a while since anyone did one. though from the sounds of it ... was that just you volunteering?

Edited by Deranged Midget