SUPERMAN & BATMAN
In literary history, we very rarely see two characters who contrast and mirror each other as well as Superman and Batman. They are the figureheads of D.C. Comics, and were the only characters keeping the publisher afloat during the 1940’s and 1950’s. It makes sense that these seventy-plus years old characters have amassed gargantuan fan bases. These same fan bases have been known to debate, sometimes heatedly, with one another with claims on who is superior or who is most interesting. Within all of these arguments, it is the origins of the characters, their alter egos, and the style of justice they mete out that have been the touchstones for trying to ascertain who is truly the best hero.
The origin of each character is significant. Let’s start off with the Last Son of Krypton, Superman-- or Clark Kent, if you’d prefer that moniker. Due to the nature of pulp fiction, his story has fallen victim to retroactive continuity, otherwise known as “retcon,” over the decades. Fundamentally, the various retellings of the story all have baby Kal-El (Superman’s name before he came to Earth) rocketed by his scientist father Jor-El from the doomed planet Krypton to the planet Earth; his rocket is found and he is adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent, a caring farm couple from Smallville, Kansas who have been longing for a child, and raised as Clark Kent; after some time, it appears that because of Earth’s lesser gravity and its orbit around a yellow sun-- rather than Krypton’s red one-- Clark gains abilities “far beyond those of mortal men,” such as flight, nigh-invulnerability, superhuman strength, superhuman speed, x-ray vision, heat ray vision, and Arctic breath. (In the 1950’s, Clark develops and uses his powers at a young age as the hero Superboy, but in the 1980’s this version of events was excised in order to have the character develop throughout his pubescent years and only have his full range of abilities as an adult. Do you...