As I had shared before in these posts, different T-shirts have different roles in my life. Though this T-shirt, also from the Death of Superman stories back in 1992, has not always been worn at bed time, this is its role now. It's part of my pajamas.
I am not sure that I ever wore this shirt out of the house. It is a bit garish. Also, in the failing memory department, I am not sure that I remember where I was when Superman died since the Man of Steel's death was a story and not an event playing out in all-day, regularly scheduled TV programming pre-empted news broadcasts. It was a big event in comics, but it was hardly akin to the Challenger space shuttle accident or the attacks on the World Trade Center, events that I watched closely via my television.
Superman. I know I wore mine at least once.
As for this shirt, I like events in which many heroes gather together, especially ones who would not normally encounter one another (unless the comic company produced a team up book). It's kind of like a school reunion of graduates.
Though a bit gaudy, I do like the congress of heroes that has formed in the shirt's image to say goodbye to Superman and lay his body to rest. Silly, really because Superman is an alien. How could we be sure he's dead? Does he have a heart beat? A pulse? I do not recall how his death was determined in those comics, and my collected edition is packed in a box somewhere so it is not easily accessible. The final image just shows Lois Lane sobbing by the side of his broken and bleeding body.
But his "death" should have sent up red flags to the more science-oriented heroes and their helpers. How should a Kryptonian's death be verified? Furthermore, what's the life span of a Kryptonian? Can Superman die in the way we understand death as humans?
|Alternate funeral procession image.|
|This is the image from the T-shirt.|
REDIAL: In my last Superman post here (T-shirt #31), I claimed that Superman's death was the first major superhero death. OBVIOUSLY, I quite forgot about the death of the
second boy to fill the Robin costume, Jason Todd, who was killed off ostensibly by a vote of comic fans in 1989. This was a big deal in comics at the time, and I cannot believe I forgot about it when writing about superhero deaths the other day. Details of the vote and whether the numbers reflect an actual number of fans who wanted Jason Todd dead or a skewed result based on one guy with an auto-redialer can be found here at A Death in the Family.
Back to Superman: Okay, so his death was not the first big death of a major superhero character in comics, but it may still be the first such event that played out on such a grand scale and without fan support. Many fans wanted Jason Todd dead, which is why DC decided to go through with story but base it on a fan vote to determine if Jason was truly as hated as gossip indicated that he was. Superman was a different case entirely. But both deaths share a commonality: both heroes returned. In this way, comics are like soap operas: long, ongoing, episodic, open-ended melodramas in which no characters are truly dead. Comics have an advantage over soap operas in that comic characters are drawings and not played by real actors (though this is not necessarily an issue for many soap opera characters either, many of whom have been played by multiple performers).
It is unlikely that DC will do anything so dramatic as kill Superman as it gears up for the release of the new Superman movie (June) and the much anticipated Justice League movie (2015, maybe?). But the New 52 will need another shot in the arm for a sales spike after the hoopla over the death of Robin (Damian Wayne) runs its course. Superman? Probably not, but DC has not killed Wonder Woman yet...
-chris tower, 1304.24 8:28