Superman: Space Age and Hope In A Hopeless World

What does it mean to have hope?

I’ve been a Superman fan for about two years now. It has been an interesting journey getting to know the character, its history, and the public’s perception throughout time. Especially, it has been exciting to know what it means to me and to discover a love for the hero of a magnitude I have for few others. Superman: Space Age is the start of a new Superman book that I hoped would only strengthen that, and I’m glad to say it did.

Space Age starts in 1985, a date that is well known by any DC Comics fan. For some, far too much. Here, we are presented with the initial premise of the comic: Total apocalypse. The Crisis on Infinite Earths has reached our hero’s universe, and not even he, the greatest hero of all, can stop it. He kneels, holding his family, as they all wait for the inevitable. We then jump to 1963, where most of where the story will take place, with Clark starting to wonder what might be beyond the fields of the Kent farm and the borders of Smallville.

Superman: Space Age by Michael Allred and Mark Russell | DC Comics
Superman: Space Age by Michael Allred and Mark Russell | DC Comics

What is most interesting about this is that while we witness the premise start to unfold, Clark introduces us to his fathers: Jor-El and Pa Kent, and their lines of thinking. Much has been said about the way Superman is influenced by both in his path to becoming the symbol he is. Space Age decides to go deeper than most dare to in its depiction, starting by contextualizing them as a member of a council with the fate of a world in his hands, and a farmer with an aversion to the outside world after the things he had to witness in it. We see the points they have to make about the world and the flaws in those worldviews that, in turn, transfer to Clark. One wants him to save a world that seems doomed to repeat the history of Krypton; the other wants him to remain safe where he can salvage an innocence he could not maintain for himself. 

Superman books often deal with themes of hope, humanity, and such things that have become almost synonyms with the character. Often, so much that they are reduced in their nuance. By choosing to start with a deconstruction of these two key, formative figures for Superman, the team sets the foundations for deeper exploration, not only showing that Superman is a symbol of hope but asking what that hope means in a world like ours, at a time like that. It feels organic, as even beyond the purposes of the plot and themes, it allows us to be with a version of Clark that feels relatable in his search for a path to take, learning how to navigate the larger world and the emotions that come with that process; disillusion, hopelessness, love, hope. The whole human package. 

Superman: Space Age by Michael Allred and Mark Russell | DC Comics
Superman: Space Age by Michael Allred and Mark Russell | DC Comics

Superman: Space Age continues further in time, going through world events such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy, protests from the Freedom Riders, tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, and constant attempts from corporations to make a profit out of all of it. As Kal-El is the protagonist and most everything is seen from his perspective,  going through all of these horrible events, it’s easy to reflect his own journey and emotions of overcoming that struggle onto ours as well, a notion that I think feels near to anyone right now. Sometimes, hope and heroism feel like stupid attempts at fighting unstoppable forces, and maybe that’s all they are, all they need to be.

Superman: Space Age starts with an impressive first issue that feels near and relatable to its readers in ways that can sometimes be hard to examine, dealing with the core recognizable themes of the hero while achieving the level of nuance it deserves all throughout its 80 pages. If you are either an old Superman fan or someone looking to become one, I can only recommend this book to you.

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