Wednesday, October 31, 2012

So, Superman's a Blogger Now?

'Clark Kent glasses' photo (c) 2008, Andrew - license: be perfectly honest, I stopped reading Superman comics when they rebooted the continuity last year. In fact, the only DC Comics title I've followed at all since then (and that in fits and starts) has been Firestorm, and that has far more to do with long-standing loyalty to that character than with the "New 52" take on the concept (which, frankly, has been awful, and I can't tell you how happy I am about the "back to basics" take starting with Firestorm #13). So I can perhaps be forgiven for having missed the news that came out last week about Clark Kent quitting his job at the Daily Planet, purportedly to begin his own blog.

Indeed, after having found out about the change while listening to this past weekend's episode of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me (and even that, I only caught yesterday morning), my reaction was essentially as one of the "millions of people issuing a simultaneous 'meh'" that was described over at Geekosystem. Frankly, I'll believe that the move is permanent when I see it still in place a decade from now.

While the Daily Planet has been a fixture of Superman's history almost since the character's conception (the paper Kent worked for in his actual first appearance was called the Daily Star, with the Planet name apparently being created to avoid conflict with real-life newspapers when Superman became a daily newspaper comic strip), the folks at DC Comics have shown signs of trying to figure out how to move out of the outdated newspaper business for over 40 years, when Kent became the news anchor for a television news broadcast in the early 70s. Actually, that particular change itself lasted more than a decade, but by the John Byrne reboot of the Superman concept after Crisis on Infinite Earths, Clark Kent was working for the "great metropolitan newspaper" once again. Since then, the Daily Planet has seen its iconic building destroyed (several times) and the paper itself has been sold and shut down, only to have the "status quo" eventually restored a fairly short time later.

That said, whether its this time, or some time in the future, the end of the Daily Planet will someday be final. The folks at DC Comics aren't wrong to try to update Superman's day job to something that makes more sense in the modern era. Back when Superman was introduced the to public in 1938, newspapers were incredibly powerful, and were indeed a logical place for Clark Kent to want to set up so that he might have early warning of when a disaster might be taking place for Superman to rush off and provide help. And it even makes sense why the attempted "fix" of the 1970's (Clark Kent on television) didn't survive the Byrne revamp, the fact of television largely having supplanted newspapers notwithstanding. While a newspaper reporter can spend unusual hours away from the office depending on what story has just broken, a television news anchor pretty much has to be there at his desk in front of the camera when it comes time for the broadcast to begin. This would obviously have been a severe liability to Superman. What if Lex Luthor was trying to destroy Metropolis right at 6:00 pm? Clark Kent can't very well do his job telling the citizens of Metropolis to evacuate their homes if Superman is on the scene trying to make it so that they don't have to....

In this vein, perhaps blogging makes sense. Although it's still very much the case that few bloggers can make meaningful money at it, blogging is definitely the kind of the job that would allow Kent to rush off and perform his super-heroic duty whenever and wherever Superman is needed, and as long as he can find access to a computer connected to the Internet, he can still write about it for his audience afterward. Although I can't say this move will do much to get me back into reading the comics as they come out, I will nonetheless be curious to see if Clark Kent can make a go of blogging as a career.

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