Hope this finds you all in the best of health!
Comics are a wonderful pastime.
They fall in the genre of "light-literature" and keep on adding to the interest and delight of millions and millions of fans the world over.
Humans are peculiar creations for they possess the power of imagination. They can create their own make believe world with the help of it.
In India they have a lot of fantasy-stories ranging from the ancient to the medieval ages.
Europe has had their share in fairy-tales of Hans Anderson,Grimms etc
While Greece have had the legacy of the Aesop's fables.
These fantasies developed during different eras based on the social, political, cultural, economic, historical, religious changes.
Comic-Book culture was incorporated by United States mainly. When the Second World War was going on they published comic books with exxagerated and fictionalised accounts of the areas globally where the war took place.
There are many fans of the War-comic-book series with the "Commando" pocket-sized comics creating a big craze the world over!
A personal favourite of mine is a comic- book character of this War-backdrop. He is the experimental "Super- soldier" project of the Allied powers, Captain America. (publisher, Marvel Comics) I will discuss his story with you all some other time.
Comic book literature at its peak of bussiness had many Superheroes,Heroines, Meta-Humans,Supernatural and weird figures to its long list of publications.
The two big houses which published them were Marvel and D.C. comic book houses.
The first costumed crime-fighter was the Phantom by Lee-Falk.This vigilante and perhaps, the first super-hero resides in the skull-cave of the imaginary Bengalla-Jungle in the African continent with an eternal vow to finish off evil in its many forms i.e. Smugglers, Bandits, Pirates, con-men, boot- leggers etc.
He is and will remain an eternal favourite.
With no offence meant to his creation, one name which stands bright after him is the blue-eyed, muscularly-built and with lots of super-human capacities inside him, who is none other than Superman!
Generations the world over has grown up with this character.
He is the first comic-book character to possess the power of flight, for he defies earth's gravitational pull!
Only Angels in Islamic and Christian literature are said to have the power of flight.
He was created by two teenage boys, Jerry-Siegel and Joe Shuster. They were both 17 years of age that time.The place was the United States.
It developed down the ages. He has a colourful costume to his credit. He wears what are called "long-johns", tight spandex-like material for an attire, it is a deliberate ploy to show off his muscles.
He has a red cape that adds fullness to his outfit.He has special long, just below the knee red-coloured boots.
Unlike other comic book protagonists, he doesn't wear a mask to conceal his identity.As is the case with most of his contemporaries.
Even the Phantom wears a mask but that is to do with his concept-creation.It is the case in most super-hero storylines that they conceal their identities for fear of harm being meted out to persons close to them, who are powerless.
It is interesting to note how Superman fulfills this aspect! It was in his time that the concept of "Alter-Ego" fully embedded itself in comic book characterisations.
Superman is not from the earth.
He belongs to the civilisation of the planet "Krypton." It is depicted as much advanced in its infrastructures and daily process of life compared to Earth.
His father Jor-el was an enlightened citizen. He appealed to the council of elders( who are like administrators of a nation) that their planet will be devastated as the Krypton red-sun is inching closer towards them. It will awaken seismic gases by its tremendous heat and energy and tear the planet into bits and pieces. He was well-versed in Science,hence the observation.
But they did not listen to him and as that fateful day approached, he set off his son, Kal- El in a mini-rocket orbitted to earth.he packed crystal "drives" inside it which would help him to answer his queries regarding his origin, culture,history etc..
His vehicle lands in an open field in the famous Kansas village of California state, to be found by a childless-couple of a farmer and his wife.His wife sympathises with the boy and adopts him.His vehicle is hidden in their store house! They were Mr. Jonathan and Mrs. Martha Kent of Smallville county in Kansas.
Growing up from his childhood to the teenage phase, he slowly started to realise that he was "different" from other boys his age.
While a baby it is shown in the older comics, syringes would bend while being pierced for any baby-stage vaccines his earthly mother wanted him to be injected with! Hence the sobriquet, "Man of Steel !"
But how come he harnessed such incredible strength? In comics, his strength proprtions are measured by these lines: "Faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than a locomotive, able leap buildings in a single bound!"
He gets familiar with his origins when he travels to icy and chillingly-gold destination of South-pole.Finding no answers to his incredible capacities, he flungs one of the crystals given to him by his biologicall father while he was a baby!
It creates great turbulence in the ice there and automatically a structure similar to that of his Planet, krypton emerges from the bowels of the region.
Right there at the centre of this huge structure he finds to his surprise, a console where he would insert the crystals with him in the empty slots and lo! Apparitions or pre-stored data in visual format spoken either by his father or any eminent Kryptonian would appear in front of him and his questions answered.
Superman named the structure, "Fortress of Solititude". In the future he would store different rock-samoles,elements from various planets there which would be collected by him in his space travels.
Our sun's rays are the source of his poweres. The logic given is each planet has a different Sun to serve its purpose and he would have been powerless, had he been still in Krypton!
He has heat- vision generated from his eyes harnessed from the Sun's fiery tendency. Among his many powers, he has X-ray vision, helping him to probe anything concealed, with the metal Lead-being an obstruction!
Despite all these, He becomes powerless when exposed to the pieces of Krypton, which were scattered in space when his planet exploded. It does not help him if someone has it near him, malfunctioning his entire constitution and even proving lethal to his life if exosed to it for long.
Among the supporting characters in his storyline, he has Lois-Lane a high flying reporter in the American daily, Daily planet. Jimmy Olsen, the photographer working in the paper. Last but not the least, his Editor-in-chief, Mr.Perry White.
He has another secret, did i say the term, Alter-Ego!
He has employed himself with his swift typing abilities as a reporter in the daily. He disguises himself underneath a pair of studious-looking spectactles, with a faked and meek voice, clumsy and bumbling, geeky- behaviour and body-language and with his hair tightly combed!
He has another secret, he loves Lois-Lane!He was carried away by her charm and dynamic element prevalent in her professionalism.But the problem is that he fears to confess her!
This is because of her strong attraction towards the personality of the man of Steel whom she has managed to interview for quite some time.
Clark Kent, Superman's alter ego fears that his adversaries would take advantage of this situation as he has to divulge the truth that Clark himself is the Man of Steel!
His adversaries are many. Among the most famoust nemesises of his Lex-Luthor stands tall. He is a cunning Bussinessman.He measures lif in terms of money. Has schemes of buying the entire world.Has links with the Mafia, is a womaniser. But most disturbing of all , capitalises on Superman's powerlessness against Kryptonite which he finds in the desert of Adiss-Ababa and splurges a considerable monetary amount to procure.
Lex Luthor often goes out of the way to eliminate Superman.
Supereman made his television debut in the George Reeves starred series. I remember coming across one of the episodes in a comic book. It was titled, "Superman and the haunted Lighthouse!"
Superman made his big-screen in the film, Superman-the movie. It was made under the Warner brothers banner and a lot of creative producers threw their weight behind it. It was directed by Richard Donner.It was released in 1978. The screenplay was by Mario Puzo of Godfather fame.
It had an interesting starcast.
To start with the debutante, Christopher Reeves in the title role. Margot Kidder as Lois Lane. Marlon Brando as Jor-El and Gene Hackman as the super hero's nemesis, Lex-Luthor.
Christopher Reeves, an Englishmen by origin and unknown when cast, was selected among 200 aspirants for the role. He was described by a film magazine has having a square jaw-line like the super hero and razor-sharp chisseled facial features!
The movie was a smash hit and still continues to be a favourite with generations who were familiar or even unfamiliar with the concept.
Christopher Reeves recieved rave reviews for his portrayal of the bumbling Journalist, Clark Kent and the suave, Man of Steel. This was an obvious achievement of the movie along with convincing special-effects.
The latest production was "Superman Returns", directed by Bryan-Singer of the X-Men franchise. It starred newcomer, Brandon Routh in the title role and Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane.
All said and done, this is a comic-book hero entertaining the masses by fighting for Truth and Justice. People see a hope in his creation. Though such capacities are not real.Yet a deep moral lies in his creation that of a new beginning in this world, a world full of radiance, positivity, goodness, peace.
One man asserting himself against all odds for protecting the interest of the world is indeed a noble and selfless thought and inspires each of us to be a Superman in his/hers own right.
The Saints of the world, the prophets of Christianity, Islam and Zionism are living examples of selfless individuals which makes them undoubtedly, " Super ."
Last year Superman's creation turned 60 years. It is symbolic. It represents positive people. People who can stand for Truth, justice and Liberty.
Let us applaud and salute the 60 years of Superman.
Up, Up and Away!
Thank you all,