Oh, Sad Providence...
15 years ago this week, Christopher Reeve made his first public appearance since being paralyzed to a standing ovation at the Oscars.
To date, there have been 10 actors who have portrayed the Man of Steel over the years, but none have captured the spirit of the character like Chris Reeve. The character had been mis-portrayed as macho strongman or aloof alien by others, But Reeve almost inherently understood the thing that made Superman great was not his super powers, not some fanciful origin or costume, but the humanity, self-sacrifice and inner strength of character that made him great.
So, what does that have to do with this comic? Read on…
One feature of early Superman comics is that Kal-El, never really knew if he could be loved by one woman for who he was as a person. Lois was interested in Superman, but not Clark Kent.
This story answers that question. Superman, after coming into contact with red kryptonite, loses all his powers and his memories. In addition to no powers, since he has no memories, he cannot even remember his Clark Kent identity, so he has no fame as a star reporter. He has no money. He has nothing but the values that made him as much a Superman as his super strength.
Then he meets Sally Selwyn. A sweet, pretty, girl-next-door type who falls for him for the man he is. She sees that he is generous, kind and courageous. Soon, the two are engaged to be married. Later, when he’s thrown from a horse and paralyzed – bound to a wheelchair for life, she goes on loving him, because she recognizes that it is the man inside that is great.
Although his activism after the injury receives the most attention, Reeve had already spent decades off screen working for a host of good causes around the world, because that’s just the kind of man he was. And that was why he was loved so much by so many. Not the least of which was his wife Dana who, like Sally, stood by his side to the end.
This story has no real happy ending tied up nicely with a bow. The paralyzed man Sally knew as ‘Jim’ appears to die. He went on living, of course, but had no memory of her.
Life is messy that way.