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Off My Mind: The Difficulties of Making Superman Cool

Superman is such an iconic character yet so many people don't think of him as a great comic book character.

Superman seems to be a tough character to work on. Even with the amazing teaser trailer released for Man of Steel, there are those that say they do not like the character. Superhero comics owe a lot to his existence. There may have been other comic book action heroes but it was Superman that started the spandex revolution. He was the one that rose above the other pulp characters and became an icon.

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Unfortunately for Superman, he's rarely chosen as being someone's favorite character. He has a strong place in comics and is part of DC's trinity of heroes along with Batman and Wonder Woman. He is an important character and does deserve to be at the top of the list of great characters. This just isn't the case. The question is, how come people don't like Superman?

== TEASER ==

Superman is too good

Superman is always rescuing kitties...
Superman is always rescuing kitties...

Superman is often seen as the ultimate boy scout. A lot of readers these days prefer the dark and gritty characters. In terms of popularity, Batman blows Superman away. Superman plays by the rules and as Clark Kent, his innocence oozes off the comic pages.

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we all tend to have our flaws. None of us is perfect. Superman tends to do no wrong. His idealistic way might just be too far out there for readers to grasp. Superman is a 'goody-goody.' That's great when it comes to the world needing to be saved but too much good can get boring.

Superman is too powerful

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Superman should be the strongest character on Earth. He has an arsenal of superpowers and abilities. In the old days, he could even move planets. This is where the challenge comes for writers. They need to come up with stories to occupy Superman and villains that can provide a challenge. With all his superhuman abilities, it can become ridiculous when he struggles to defeat a two-bit villain.

Often Kryptonite needed to be brought in to provide a challenge. There was a time when practically all the bad guys could get a hold of some. Even Lex Luthor, Superman's most formidable opponent, needed to resort to using his one greatest weakness. But even that isn't enough to stop him. With his super-speed and supposed super-intelligence, Superman should be able to easily defeat anyone that comes his way.

Superman needs better villains

Who's this new villain? Who cares?
Who's this new villain? Who cares?

This is the tricky part. You can't just throw a bunch of villains that can compete with his strength. He is meant to be the strongest there is. Lex Luthor provided a challenge due to his intelligence and ability to come up with elaborate schemes. Besides Lex, what other great villains does Superman have? Brainiac should be used sparingly. The same applies to Darkseid and Doomsday. Besides them, who do we have? Toyman? Metallo? Mr. Mxyzptlk?

A hero's vilains define how great the stories can be. Batman and Spider-Man have a good set of villains. Even Flash has the Rogues. They, individually, can be seen as laughable but have always been portrayed with more depth than other villains. When Helspont appeared in SUPERMAN #6-8, we had the opportunity for another nemesis to be added to his rogues gallery. We'll have to wait and see if anything further on this pairing develops.

Superman needs better stories

Superman fighting an invisible alien...zzzzzz.
Superman fighting an invisible alien...zzzzzz.

Looking at the current series, there hasn't been one "great" issue of SUPERMAN since the New 52. We've seen him fight nameless aliens and other "new" villains. None of them have made an impact on readers. If we don't care who he's fighting, why would we care to read the comic? Looking back to pre-New 52, you could probably count the great Superman stories on one hand.

ACTION COMICS has been better only by giving us a slightly different look at Superman. Seeing a younger and more brash version of Superman has been interesting. But even Grant Morrison has struggled an issue or two in keeping the series at the top of the charts. At least it did give us something slightly new. That was one of the reasons of the New 52, right?

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We'll soon be seeing some creative changes on both SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS. There is a lot of pressure on them, at least there is from me. Superman is a great character and should have great epic stories. Superman should have a personality both when in costume and as Clark Kent. No one really wants to seem him depicted as a cold robotic hero. Superman deserves better and so do Superman fans.

Tony Guerrero is the Editor-in-Chief of Comic Vine. You can follow him on Twitter @GManFromHeck. He strongly believes that Superman comics should have super-stories.