Saturday, 4 July 2015

Superman In Public Consciousness And Popular Culture

Regular readers might remember that recently I have:

reread Rick Veitch's (sequel to Alan Moore's) Swamp Thing;

been reading for the first time SM Stirling's Conquistador;

been enjoying these texts while also spotting any connections with the works of Poul Anderson.

Our theme for today is references to Superman. In a work of fiction, any reference to Supes implies either that he is a real guy out there somewhere or that the fictional characters share with their readers a popular culture in which this now mythical figure has become a permanent fixture. Veitch gives us the first; the others the second.

Swampy goes to Metropolis to kill Lex Luthor who is protected both by his own security system and by Superman. Veitch, like Moore and Gaiman, applies a new insight to an over-familiar character.

Lois Lane: Clark?...Why is it when I'm talking to you, you always seem to be listening to something else?

Lois Lane: There you go again! I start talking and you stare off into space!

Clark Kent: Huh? Oh, uh...Just enjoying the view, Lois. You can see the whole city from up here.

Lois Lane: Yoo hoo! Earth to Clark. Come in, Clark!

-Rick Veitch, Swamp Thing: Infernal Triangles (New York, 2006), pp. 56, 58, 61.

See here.

"'Brother, with the amount of money RM and M had to throw around, you could bribe Superman'...'Ten million dollars,' the Man says. 'No, no, I am Superman!' Then it's thirty million. 'No, no, I stand for Truth, Justice and the American Way!' So then it's fifty million, and Superman comes back: 'I'll kill anyone you want!...'"
-SM Stirling, Conquistador (New York, 2004), p. 298.

Of course, the real (?) Superman is incorruptible. (In one version, Luthor, formerly the most powerful man in Metropolis, tries but fails to buy Supes as soon as the latter comes on the scene.) But Stirling's character is making a point. Rolfe Mining and Minerals is one of many front organizations for the Commonwealth of New Virginia which has been secretly exploiting another Earth for decades. By any ordinary standards, their funds are unlimited and "Rich enough to bribe even Superman" is a powerful way to say this.

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