Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Incoherent Musings about the Kents

Well, I missed making a special Mother's Day post, but I did take my mom out to dinner, so I think that balances that out a little. (My poor dad paid his own way, but I'll make up for that on Father's Day, promise!)

The subject of mothers though does get me thinking about, of all things, Superman. I have this strange mixed reaction toward Superman in general. I love him in the comics and in "Lois and Clark", where I'm fond of, but not nearly as attached toward the Superman of the George Reeves television show or the movies. Mostly, I'm a bigger fan of "Clark Kent" than I ever will be for Superman. (I don't watch Smallville, so I can't really judge there. I'm far more interested in Clark as Superman, rather than as proto-Superman)

There is really, as far as I'm concerned, one major difference between the portrayals. One that ultimately bleeds through to influence every aspect of the character: the Death of Jonathan Kent.

The George Reeves and the movie Supermen are really defined, I think, by their fathers. Jonathan's death occurs just before they move off to Metropolis, cutting off their ties to Smallville, making for a sharp delineation between boy and man. The Clark who ends up in Metropolis drifts, gets a job at the paper, but really starts to define himself by his alienness.

Clark Kent is more the mask Superman functions under.

The only 'current' parental relationship that seems to matter is Jor-El, in the movies. Martha's role always seems very limited.

The Clark I enjoy is much more tied with the human race. He thinks of himself as Clark, fighting crime in a silly costume so as not to be recognized, but still primarily Clark. He respects Jor-El's legacy, but he's very much more Martha Kent's boy.

It's funny, really, that when Jonathan Kent is alive, it's MARTHA who is the more overt and prominent influence on her son. She's the one who inspires his morals and values, she's the one who lectures him when he transgresses. She's not just the woman who gave birth to Superman, through the creation of the costume, she's Clark Kent's mother.

This Clark keeps his ties to Smallville, considers himself a part of the Earth, rather than a guardian watching above. He's not a Christ figure, but a living breathing, flawed and interesting human being. Who just happens to have the power of a Kryptonian.

It's interesting to think about the relationship in terms of names. Kal-El recieves the name "Clark", from Martha Clark Kent, and she really is the person who created him as Clark. Jonathan is the source of the name "Kent", the family name, the connection between Clark and his parents and by extension, Clark and the human race. Jonathan's death ultimately disconnects Kal-El from his mother, being "Clark" and humanity.

Or something like that.

A twisted part of me wonders what would happen if Martha were the one to die first though. And who Clark would be, if that were to happen. The rest of me is more than happy not finding out.

All I really know is that when it comes down to it, I like Clark better than I do Superman, and I like Martha and Jonathan far more than I do Jor-El. So no one be killing the Kents any time soon, okay? Thanks!

10 Comments:

  • At May 14, 2007 2:07 AM, Anonymous Katie said…

    The idea that he might have been different if Martha had been the one to die first (in those incarnations where Jonathan died) is really interesting. I'd actually love to see a really good writer explore that idea, as long as it wasn't part of the core DCU's Superman as we know him (maybe an elseworld sort of thing, only less dramatic than those usually are). My thought, though, is that it would be hard to find someone who could really deal with it well. The idea that men are more fundamentally affected when their fathers die is deeply rooted in our fiction (and culture), but I agree with you that Martha always seemed more important in Clark's background, and so might have been a more interesting loss to have explored. On the other hand, Clark is historically terrible at dealing with losses, so maybe he just couldn't have handled it and the writers knew it. Who knows?

     
  • At May 14, 2007 5:20 AM, Blogger Diamondrock said…

    I agree wholeheartedly. And it's interesting because in Smallville, Jonathan Kent dies, but Clark is still LIVING in Smallville, he's not Superman yet, and his mother continues to have a HUGE influence on him.

    I think that that may be the only case where Jonathan dies and the death doesn't from then on out define Clark Kent...

     
  • At May 14, 2007 9:53 AM, Anonymous KIm said…

    I like your blog, it’s always fun to come back and check what you have to tell us today.

     
  • At May 14, 2007 10:56 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    Martha seems to be hugely important to Clark...she's really the one who seems to keep him grounded and human.

    Lois may be fun and exciting, but she's just not the same as good old mum.

     
  • At May 14, 2007 11:42 AM, Blogger canary said…

    Your blog is very interesting.
    Please, send me the photos of your pc tables.
    We'll publish them all!
    ciccidi@gmail.com

     
  • At May 14, 2007 4:44 PM, Blogger Ragtime said…

    A twisted part of me wonders what would happen if Martha were the one to die first though. And who Clark would be, if that were to happen.

    Don't give that story to me to write! My mind is already racing with the possibilities with Clark, Jonathan, and Zor-El, with no Martha.

    My working title is "Kal-El Has Two Dads"!

     
  • At May 14, 2007 8:57 PM, Blogger Ununnilium said…

    Articles like this is why this site is magnificently awesome.

     
  • At May 15, 2007 12:06 AM, Blogger R.Nav said…

    I love the Kents. I used to watch Smallville BECAUSE of the Kents, that's how much I love them!

     
  • At May 15, 2007 4:12 AM, Blogger Jesse said…

    Leaving Clark's parents alive, and by extension making "Clark Kent" more than a disguise, made it possible for me to connect to Superman as a reader- it humanized him, both textually and metatextually. I have a lot more affection for those aspects of Superman than I do for the classic Silver Age stuff the current creators seem to dig on.

     
  • At May 16, 2007 8:30 PM, Blogger Ian said…

    Have you tried 1940's cartoon Superman?

    As a place to start...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se-umSCOhRk

     

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