Superman, the 74-year-old paragon of masculinity, has undergone a dramatic makeover that's unnerving fans and critics. A new book, Superman: Earth One, portrays the Man of Steel as a lanky, brooding, shaggy-haired 20-year-old, clad in low-cut jeans and a hoodie — more downtown hipster than middle-of-the-road Clark Kent. Publisher DC Comics, says "We wanted to tell a story that's hip, sexy, and moody," and "show a younger Superman at the early stages of his career, struggling with his identity and his place." Is DC blaspheming an icon or offering an intriguing new take? (See more concept sketches here.)
Bad idea — hipsters are inherently un-super: This makes no sense, says Colleen Stufflebeem at Death and Taxes: "Just because American youth have become masochistic goth-nymphs turned on by death, blood, and sparkly vampire penises doesn’t mean writers and artists need to make all of their unsung heros [look like Twilight star] Robert Pattinson." I'd rather see a young Superman who is fat and has back acne, anything but this.
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A skinny hipster might not be able to save the day: "Sure, it's 2010, and maybe it's time to update the character a bit," says Katie Couric at CBS News, but you have to wonder if "you can really trust an angst-ridden hipster to fight for truth, justice, and the American way." He's "less beefy," and it looks like "he might have snorted a little kryptonite."
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We need a little context here: Calm down, everyone, says Glen Weldon at NPR. This hipster Superman is a one-off story whose connection to the ongoing Superman comics is "tenuous," and the uproar is a predictable reaction to a mere press release. Mainstream comic characters don't fundamentally change, and tweaks to Superman "have been going on for decades ... phone booths made way for smart phones. 'Dese-and-dose' gangsters gradually morphed into technological terrorists."
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