Have you seen the quiz that’s going around the interwebs? The one where you answer 10 questions and presto, the literary character your answers best line up with is produced?
I usually avoid these sorts of things, but a friend of mine took it and posted his results on his Facebook wall (Samwise Gamgee), and then another friend did (Sherlock Holmes), and another (Romeo), and so on (Hermione), and so on (Achilles).
So I took the plunge, figuring what’s the worst that could happen? I’m Peter Pan? I mean with the answers my friends were giving, they were getting matched up with some pretty interesting literary characters. So I answered the questions to the best of my ability, and if nothing quite fit, see, I gave the answer that was closest to what I would do if I could, all things considered.
And so it was with some shock, and a heaping amount of chagrin, when the answer that came up for me was,
Figures. I’m an alien, from another planet, when all I wanted to be was Captain Aubrey.
Sigh. Superman is a literary character?
And I’m a character who has a Valhalla complex the size of Metropolis, too. Why couldn’t I just be a hobbit?
OK, I am NOT Superman. But if I was, I would pray an awful lot. Why? Because it would be impossible to stand up for the down-trodden and fight evil with all my strength, and be able to do so everywhere, at the same time, all the time, successfully. I don’t care how powerful Superman may appear, he’s going to simply come up short. Often.
I mean look at the news. First off, having immense superpowers does not give you an edge on protecting innocents from the carnage of a suicide bomber in Pakistan, because last time I checked, Clark Kent may have his finger on the pulse of the news, but he wasn’t a seer. Today alone he would have been tugged in a dozen different directions between violence in Kenya, war in Syria, and shootings in the South Side of Chicago. And I haven’t even mentioned stepping in to prevent airplane, train, and automobile crashes, rescuing sinking ships, and sundry other needs for Superhero services.
And then Lois Lane is always walking into some kind of trap too. Luckily for me, I’m married to Juliet, so Lois is off my radar.
Do folks even consider Superman as a literary character? Well, as it turns out, lots of folks do. Need I say ComicCon? Snooping around on Google, I even discovered that in a current series titled Superman Unchained, the native of Krypton actually does pray.
However, getting back to Superman’s power, there was one scene pertaining to that which I thought was rather interesting. Despite all of his power, despite being practically a god himself, there’s a moment in Superman Unchained where we see that Superman relies on a higher power. In a desperate attempt to save others, he tries something he isn’t sure will work and, get this, prays that it will. When it does, he then takes a moment to say “Thank you up there.” Granted, there are no specifics about who the “you” in question might be, but it’s an interesting thing for Superman to say. After all, if there’s anyone who should be able to rely on his own power, it’s Superman, right? Yet even he acknowledges that he can’t totally rely on himself, even he needs a little “help from above.” Now, if Superman can admit that, why can’t we?
The third issue in the series is titled Answered Prayers. Here’s a snippet of the review over at WHATCULTURE!,
God. Jesus. Saviour. Superman.
I think we can all agree that Superman has had religious themes in a number of his stories, or at least in the movies. In the last two Superman films, he’s basically been portrayed as a pulpy incarnation of the Judeo-Christian Christ figure with 2006′s Superman Returns all but making Superman the second coming – Space Jesus!
And it seems Scott Snyder can’t avoid the association either as Superman Unchained #3 shows. The title of the issue – Answered Prayers – is taken from a famous quote by 16th century saint, Teresa of Avila, the full quote being: “there are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers”. An ominous message especially when the origins of the scary-looking chap on the cover – Wraith – are revealed.
Interesting, huh? Who knew St. Teresa of Avila would be inspiring storylines in a Superman comic?
Ok, confession time. I’ve decided to embrace this call to be Superman in the only way that I’m sure I can. I’m going to pray just like him. Because I can’t effect much on my own, see? I can’t fly faster than a speeding bullet or leap tall buildings in a single bound. But my prayers can do all of those things, and more.
I can pray for the souls of all of those who are killed by senseless violence; and for the comfort of those who have survived their tragic deaths. I can pray for healing miracles for those who are infirm, and I can pray that the naked are clothed and the hungry are fed. In short, I can pray for justice and for peace, for strength and for tranquility, anytime, anywhere. I don’t even need a phone booth. Plus, the way the news cycle goes these days, a casual glance at the Daily Planet will provide ample opportunities to wield the power of prayer for matters of import as well as for giving simple thanks and praise.
So there you have it. Just like the Iron Giant, I can be like Superman afterall. Grab some tissues…
Superman. If that is my cross to bear, than so be it. Plus, I’ve got a pretty fetching theme song, so I can’t really complain.
I just have to be careful about the hazards of a cape. And Kryptonite, of course.