Sunday, 18 October 2009

Superman's Secret Revealed!

So I've just started wearing glasses for the first time ever. Having been offered a free eye test via work I figured, what the hell, there's nothing wrong with my eyes, but at least it's a free hour out of the day. When I mentioned the headaches I'd been getting for the last six months, however, I was reliably informed by my optician that : "That's 'cos you should be wearing glasses, you bonehead" (I know, an optician that talks like Nick Fury, what're the odds?)
All of which spectacle shenanigans puts me in mind of Superman 330, one of the dumbest comics ever done, and a great example of what Mark Evanier calls Krypto-Revisionism. It's a comic that annoyed me intensely as a child, but as an adult I think it's an endless well of comedy.
This epic, written by Al Schroeder & Marty Pasko, and illustrated (obviously) by the great Curt Swan, attempts to answer once and for all the musical question that even non-comic fans always ask, ie: Howcum nobody ever realises that Clark Kent is just Superman wearing glasses?
Well, after some obligatory nonsense with that issue's third-division villain The Spellbinder, Kal-El starts asking himself that very question.

Love those stylish PJ's, Supes! Anyway, after asking The Daily Planet's staff artist to do a couple of sketches of Clark and The Man Of Steel, our hero is a step nearer to the answer.

Until finally, all is revealed...

Yep, that's right. Superman has, for his entire career, been hypnotizing the entire world (and presumably any other planet's he happens to go to) into seeing Clark as the frail, needy nerd he pretends to be. Not only does this work for anybody looking directly at Clark, but it also works if you see Clark on TV, or even in a photo. And if you want to get all post-modern about it, it also works for us, the reader! Supes has been doing this for years without realising it, by the way. You have to give 'em credit, this strip tries to cover any nitpick anybody could possibly come up with, like that "I guess I was never powerless long enough for the trance to fade." bit. These guys are backpedalling so frantically, they've left Metropolis and are halfway to Gotham already.
I can vividly remember flinging this comic across the room the first time I read it, with a cry of "That's ridiculous!" And it is. That's what I mean by Krypto-Revisionism. It's the super power we all have to just refuse to accept something the writers push at us. I don't mean not liking a particular plot line, I'm talking about when a writer does something so blatantly ludicrous (or in this case desperate) that the reader just can't bring themselves to accept it.
That Nick Fury story, for instance from a couple of days ago, where it's explained why The Colonel never seems to get any older. In the fantasy world we're dealing with, that's plausible, I can go with that. But this story, now as then, is just stupid.
And if remember rightly, everybody in fandom agreed with my reaction, exercised the power of Krypto-Revisionism, and as one, went:"Nope!"
Having not read many new Superman books in the last few years, I'm not sure if DC ever used this idea ever again, or if they just quietly forgot about it. I suspect the former. These days, EVERYTHING has to be explained, and tied in, and retconned to within an inch of it's life to make sense. With the result of course, that almost none of it makes sense.
And I think it all started here...


  1. I didn't buy another Superman comic for a loooooooong time after getting this one! As bad as it was back then, it would have been so much worse now. Can you imagine this as a "mega-event"? Yeesh!

  2. Oh god yeah, you're right, Groovy. They'd spin it out for a year.

  3. Since I love Clark Kent as a nerd-hunk (particularly as drawn by Curt Swan), I choose to disregard the explanation that he hypotises everyone into thinking he’s ugly.

    It probably got Krypto-Revised out of existence after Crisis, anyway.

  4. As we have seen proven by Chris Reeve, it works even without involving super-arsepull.

  5. The older explanaton seems the best to me. It used to be that as Clark Kent, Superman would just stoop a bit and comb his hair the other way. Oh yeah, and change his voice...and wear the same blue suit....and let Lois emasculate him daily.....Yeah....that works...