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.
"Superman to become Superbitch"
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."
"Katie Couric's notebook: Superman"
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."
"On 'Hipster Superman' and other wildly, weirdly successful press releases"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- How Ferguson made conservatives lose faith in the police
- What the 'death of the library' means for the future of books
- Girls on Film: 5 things that need to happen before Hollywood will ever truly change
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- How the West produces jihadi tourists
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Why I give money to homeless people
Subscribe to the Week