Veteran’s Day Review/Tribute: Superman Up In the Sky #3 Story-Just A Little Farther

Superman Up In the Sky#3-Just A Little Farther

Writer: Tom King

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Artist: Andy Kubert

I have always enjoyed the stories my Grandma had told me about my Grandad. I never met him but he was a hero who answered the call to enlist in the United States Army during World War II. Grandma also told me that Grandad fought in the Battle of the Bulge which was a huge battle that escalated the end of the War in Europe.

Sometimes, I tell people that Grandad was Captain America. When doing so, people often give me funny expressions and I just smile. I tell them what my Grandma told me: he fought in the war and returned a hero. Maybe my Grandma and her storytelling was why I love stories about heroes or superheroes. Heroes like Superman. Heroes like Captain America. Heroes like my Grandad.

But on this Veteran’s Day, as I think about Superman: Up in the Sky-Just A Little Further, I begin to wonder if Grandad was perhaps, Sgt. Rock? My mom told me a story where he had gotten shot at like any other soldier, seen many of his buddies die, and probably seen a whole lot of narly shit that only could be birthed from war. As Rock narrates his meeting with the guy in the red cape, he explains how “when you’re in the hurt of it, you don’t have time to think.” I am certain that Grandad thought the same thing after seeing the men he likely considered his brothers get hurt.

When I think of Just A Little Further, I think of two generations meeting in a time of uncertainty. I am also reminded of those stories my Grandma and Mom had told me. Now that I think about it, this story is similar to just that but with one of my favorite heroes added in it.

Just A Little Further is the meeting between a hero from the 21 century and a grizzled American soldier in the 20th century. It is a part of the Superman: Up in the Sky issue where Superman goes on a quest to find a young girl name Alice who was kidnapped by an unknown alien.

The very first scene of Further was moving. It showed Sgt. Rock carrying a knocked out Superman while shooting Nazis. A real bad ass drawing and one of my favorites next to Superman taking a green car and smashing it on a boulder in Action Comics #1 or Spider-Man saving a man on the cover of Amazing Fantasy #!5 (Just to name a few).

As Superman comes about, Rock asks who he is and where he is from. Superman response that he does not know who he is but that he is from Kansas. What is so funny in this comic is Rock calling the Man of Steel “Kansas” and gives him an army uniform to hide his costume and “long underwear” plus a pair of glasses.  The sargeant was probably thinking “who the hell says they are from Kansas and dresses like a circus person in a red cape?”  Nonetheless, Clark Kent becomes a memeber of Easy Company and takes part in the Company’s mission to take St. Ruth’s church.

What I enjoyed about this story is that Tom King wrote Sgt. Rock as this man who, despite obviously not having superpowers, is hellbent on completing the mission by going further. Rock even saves Clark’s life of several occassions until Clark becomes Superman again and helps out Sarge whoop some Nazi ass.

Tom King’s Rock narration had a lot of references to comic books and even Action Comics. I also loved how King wrote Rock and Superman being respectful toward each other as men and as heroes. Sarge’s narration of Clark telling him that he had read a lot about the war reminded me of my high school self reading a lot about the U.S. involvement in the war when wanting to learn what it was like for my Grandad. Another cool thing about the narration was when Rock said that he believed in the mantra of Truth, Justice, and the Amercian Way and that he also believed in Superman. The story ends with Rock bidding farwell to the Man of Steel, or Kansas and Superman thanks Sarge for saving the world.

To all the veterans, past and present (Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel and definitely Grandad), men and women, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neices and nephews and also to Tom King (who served in the CIA)…this day is for you. Like Superman, I want to thank all of you for answering the call to fight for our country and for saving the world. You guys have a special place in my heart.

Thank You.

Happy Veteran’s Day

Review: Tales From the Dark Multiverse-The Death of Superman

Tales From the Dark Multiverse-The Death of Superman

Writer: Jeff Loveness

Pencils: Brad Walker

Inks: Drew Hennessy &Norm Rapmund

Colors: John Kalisz

Letters: Clayton Cowles

Cover: Lee Weeks & Brad Anderson

 

Warning Spoilers Ahead:

Could you imagine a love interest of your favorite superhero taking matters in her own hands after the death of the former? And when I mean take matters in her own hands, I am talking obtaining near cosmic powers that can potentially kill someone. Well, a Dark Multiverse version of Lois Lane has done just that in Tales of the Dark Multiverse :The Death of Superman.

There have been several comics or other mediums that depicted Clark Kent’s love interest as a Superwoman, In All-Star Superman, she temporarily had the same powers as Superman and fought crime alongside him. In Earth-3, Lois is an evil version of Superwoman who is the wife of Superman’s evil counterpart Ultraman. In the New-52, she was also Superwoman until Lana Lang took on the role. But in this twisted and dark Earth where the events of The Death of Superman play out, she does become a Superwoman but she takes it up a notch when she becomes the Eradicator after absorbing the powers from the Kryptonian Eradicator entity.

Jeff Loveness truly made the story that was penned by Dan Jurgens in a twisted dark story. I honestly did not see this twist coming but Loveness makes the reader understand why Lois had her reasons for becoming the Eradicator. He wrote a greiving, vulnerable, and angry Lois Lane hellbent and getting back at the world she felt let the love of her life down. At this point, we begin to see Lois’ gradual transition from the fearless journalist to a woman on edge.

Loveness also wrote Lois’ narration of the events in a poignant manner. In her nattation, Lois points out the hypocrisy of the Justice League when they are present at Superman’s funeral. She also notes that Luthor creating a golden statue of the Man of Steel would disgust Superman. What makes this sadder is that she is talking to Superman as if he were still alive and listening to her. She mentions that despite Superman having loved the world so much, the human race did not “try to be better.” We also see a scene where Lois is looking at Clark’s empty desk. Even more deep is the scene where Lois visits Martha Kent who has already become widowed after losing her husband Jonathan.

When Lois becomes the Eradicator (or EradiLois as I like to call her) she is more enrage and blood thirsty. Loveness writes a Lois who has no boundaries and is willing to protect the world by any means neccessary. Lois feeds the hungry, ends corruption, fights crime in a brutal and lethal manner which is very contrary to Superman’s less brutal method.

I also found the character of Tempus Fuginat very interesting. He is like a watcher of sorts who keeps track of the Mulitverse. His questioning on why the dark is growing and his lamenting of the light being warmth. Perhaps this is the allusion to the growing darkness within Lois as she grieves for Superman’s death. The use of Tempus at the beginning and the end of the comic was a great touch since he is used to question the darkness in the beginning and to justify it as a lesson in the ending.

In addition to Loveness’ writing, Brad Walker’s art also gave the Death of Superman story a dark twist. Lois’ Eradicator is drawn as a grieving and enraged Lois who is wearing Superman’s battle worn cape and symbol as a shroud. The cape and House of El symbol, usually symbols of hope, are now symbols of loss. The Eradicator Lois is a complete 180 from the firebrand journalist we all know and love. The art used to depict Lois’ powers are more darker than the original Eradicator’s. And let not forget the coloring of the darkness metasizing onto the Multiverse as Tempus looks on. The darkness is a black and purple mesh that is enveloping the many Earths in all the Multiverse.

As a huge Superman fan, I enjoyed the story and it makes me want to read the Death of Superman. Reading a comic like Tales from the Dark Multiverse- Death of Superman has made me wonder if other love interest would have done the same exact thing Lois did. Could you imagine Mary Jane Watson going crazier beyond Superior Spider-Man (minus the body swap with Doc Ock) and killing the Green Goblin after Peter Parker dying? Or how about Princess Leia embracing the Dark Side and confronting her son Kylo Ren after Han Solo’s death. Or (for Image Comics fans), if Mark “Invincible” Grayson died and Atom Eve became Invincible and killed Thragg and all the Viltrumites. Or in the Walking Dead, after the death of Rick Grimes, Michonne killing Negan in full view in front of all the communities of Alexandria, Hilltop, and Kingdom looking on in horror?

It’s one thing for a hero to go bad when things get dark but a hero’s love interest going bad? That is a rather new crazy twist and Lois Lane sure pulled it off.

Review: Becoming Superman

When I read the book, J. Michael Straczynski’s book Becoming Superman, I became quickly engrossed by the story of a man who fought and kicked adversity’s butt like Superman did to villains who would repeatedly threaten Earth or those he cared for. This autobiography painted a picture of a man who had to leap every tall building adversity erected in a single bound to become Superman. It was a story that I enjoyed reading because like Straczynski, I aspired (and still do) to be Superman and a writer.

The story starts off with Straczynski’s family background that is laced with a dark secret that involves deception, Nazism, and tragedy. However, as the story progresses, we see a young Straczynski slowly develop a resilience that is fueled by his aspiration to becoming Superman. And that aspiration was birthed when, as a boy, he started reading Superman comic books and science fiction novels. And that aspiration also fueled his love for writing stories.

As Straczynski hones his craft as a writer, he slowly but gradually breaks out of his family’s shadow of misfortune and poverty. To me, Straczynski’s resolve to overcome adversity as shown throughout the book,  is more powerful than a locomotive.

In his youth, Straczynski had to face an alcoholic father who was a Lex Luthor, or perhaps a General Zod, to his Superman. He also had to experience repeated moves to different cities in the country. He also encountered schoolyard bullies and slap-happy Catholic Nuns. He also had to experience his share of financial ups and downs while using his gift as a wrtier. He learned to love himself by following his goal to becoming a writer which eventually gave him several opprtunities like writng for newspapers, writing scripts for cartoons and TV shows, writing and producing Babylon 5, writing comic books like The Amazing Spider-Man and Superman: Year One, and writing the scrpt for The Changeling.  And with that, he created an awesome career as a writer.

My favorite part in the book was when Straczynski is at the Cannes Film Festival in Paris. It is here where we see Straczynski envisioning himself unbuttoning his shirt and exposing that familiar red and yellow “S” shield of Superman. In that vision, he flies off to the sunset. This scene symbolizes him coming to grips with his past and his accomplishment of living his dream as an accomplished writer.

This book had taught me that despite our adversity, we need to fight for our dreams regardless. Our circumstances, while understandable, are irrelevant to how we approach our goals in life. Straczynski reminds us that we are not victims and that we can all aspire to be like Superman and do the right thing.

To me, J. Michael Straczynski is Superman. I say this because like Superman, he is brave and never gave up on his dream of becoming a writer despite everything being thrown at him. He could have given up and blame his upbringing or childhood but he let it become a motivator for him to be where he is at today. He inspired me to do the same when I read this quote from him in the book:

“I think that the reason so many unlikely things happened to me is because I never listened to those voices; because I came out of the womb snarling at anyone who told me there was something I couldn’t do; because I learned that to win, I only had to ‘say yes I will’ one more time  than somebody else could say ‘no, you won’t.’ I never walked away from what gave me joy, never surrendered my dreams to those who would profit by eradicating them.”

-J. Michael Straczynski

I often used to blame my problems or shortcomings on other things or people.  Only after the fact, I would feel sadness for doing such. Recently, I had to come to grips with the fact that I have to take ownership for my mistakes or shortcomings. I am beginning to love myself enough to say: “No, this is my fault and I am the problem but you know what? I am also the freakin’ solution, son!” That is what real successful people do. Whenever you come up short, there is a time to be upset but, you have to dust the crap off and keep moving forward. J. Michael Straczynski is a reminder of that.

This book really hit close to home for me because, like J. Michael Straczynski, I wanted to be like Superman. As a kid, I emulated Clark Kent by wearing toy red glasses. I pretended to fly and run around the house with a dish rag for a cape. And Superman became one of the reasons why I wanted to become a writer and tell stories.

I recommend that you read this book. It is not just an autobiography of a writer who broke out of the Phantom Zone of adversity and poverty. It is an autobiography about a man who became Superman.

Smallville: An Awesome Superman Story

I am beyond stoked about news of the bosses behind the CW Network’s Arrowverse revealing yet another surprise for the Crisis on Infinite Earth’s five episode event. As I look up to the sky…

It’s bird….it’s a plane…it’s Tom Welling, reprising his iconic role as Clark Kent/Superman from the CW’s Smallville TV series.

Tom Welling’s portrayal of Clark Kent is one of my favorite incarnations of the Man of Steel  and it made me watch Smallville almost religiously when I was a teenager. As you, constant reader, must know, I am a huge mark for Superman.

Smallville debuted on 2001 and it was a story about a young Clark Kent trying to make sense of his who he is and the man he will grow up to be. The thing I enjoyed about the show was that Welling had showed a more vulnerable and human side to the future Man of Steel. Under the guidance of Martha and Jonathan Kent, Clark had to face what every teenager faced (puberty, high school crushes, drama, etc) while discovering his Kryptonian heritage and developing his abilities. In addition, it took awhile for Clark to learn how to fly due to him being afraid of heights.

In addition to being brave, selfless, and loyal to his parents and friends, Clark was also mild-mannered. I mean, how can he be Clark Kent and not be mild-mannered?

There are several scenes where Clark is a complete goof ball when many women show interest in him while he is oblivious as to what is going on much to the humor of the audience or whoever Clark was with.

Another cool thing about Tom Welling’s portrayal of Clark was that some people saw this it as an analogue to Jesus Christ. One scene showed Clark falling from a building after a brutal fight with General Zod. While falling, Clark had his arms stretched out which made him look as if he was being crucified. There was an episode where Clark discovered that his blood could possible cure a disease.

Like any Superman story, Smallville had an ensemble of  supporting characters including: Ma and Pa Kent, played by Annette O’toole and John Schneider; Pete Ross, played by Sam Jones III; Lana Lang, played by Kristin Kruek; Chloe Sullivan, played by Allison Mack (currently awaiting a trial which will be another story for another time); Jimmy Olsen, played by Aaron Ashmore; and Lois Lane, played by Erica Durance. We also eventually meet other charaters like Kara Zor El, played by Laura Vandervoort; Dr. Emil Hamilton, played by Alessandro Juliani; Tess Mercer, played by Cassidy Freeman; and Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, played by Justin Hartley.

Smallville also had an ensemble of villains that were original. Several notable villains were: Bugboy was a reclusive and creepy teenager who spied on Lana Lang; Desiree Atkins, a attractive and ravishing looking biology teacher that caused Clark’s sexual urges to intensify and his  heat vision to manifest; and Curtis Knox, played by Dean Cain (Who portrayed Superman in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), who was immortal and exchanged blows with Clark. Later on, we meet other villains like Davis Bloome, played by Sam Witer, who eventually becomes Doomsday.

A unique take on this show that I was a fan of was Clark’s friendship with his future nemesis Lex Luthor, played by Michael Rosenbaum (who also voiced the Flash on the animated Justice League). Their friendship began when Lex accidentally hit Clark with a car and they both fell over a bridge and into a river bank. Clark ended up rescuing Luthor and the took had become good friends. The two were like brothers and often helped each other much to the ire of Jonathan Kent who despised the Luthors.  Clark and Lex’s destined and inevitable rivalry was foreshadowed several times. Notable prophecies were made by an elderly woman who could see into the future and several Native American paintings that were emblazoned on the walls of the caves in the outskirts of Smallville.

Eventually, the animosity between the two intensified when the former a love triangle due to their shared love for Lana Lang. And it was further established when Lex’s once ruthless father Lionel Luthor, played by John Glover, found enlightenment, after being used as a vessel for Jor-El, and began bonding with Clark. Luthor was presumed dead for two seasons but not before finding out that Clark Kent was Kal-El. He returned in the final episode of  Season 10, being put back together by various cloned body parts by the Earth-2 counterpart of Lionel Luthor.

The last meeting between Clark and Lex took place  in a broken Luthor Mansion. At this point, the Earth was experiencing an apocalypse unleashed by Darkseid and the meeting between the former friends showed that their rivalry had come full circle. Clark was shocked that Lex was alive while Lex criticized Clark for not using his powers to their fullest potential. Lex commented that Clark being his enemy was what made him and that they would be great men.

“I will be there to stop you,” Clark promised Lex.

Another thing that was intriguing about Smallville was that it made me question the idea of our destiny. The question that popped into my head was: do we have a destiny or are we allowed to create our own destiny? Clark had made me ask that question whenever he struggled to come to grips with his heritage and his role on Earth. His adopted parents often assured him that he could create his own destiny while Jor El, the entity in the Fortress of Solitude, seemed more rigid or strict.

The show took place in Superman’s hometown of Smallville, Kansas. The town is a rural town that embodies Middle America and has an All-American vibe (though it was filmed in Vancover, Canada). We are also introduced to several notable places including: The Kent Farm, Smallville High School, the Kawache Caves (which lead to the Fortress of Solitude in the Antarctic), the Talon (a coffeeshop operated by Lana), and the Luthor Mansion. As the series progressed and Clark matured, we begin to see more of Metropolis and the iconic Daily Planet. We also see the Ace of Clubs and (the already mentioned) Fortress of Solitude.

Smallville holds a special place in my heart. It is not only a Superman story. It is a story about a young man with special abilities who wanted to live a normal and simple life. But even when that was not possible, that young man took it upon himself to become a hero because his adopted parents instilled values of Truth, Justice, and the American Way. But I think that the young man who would become the Man of Tomorrow did achieve much more than what he dreamed. He made some friends who were understanding and loving toward him, he became admired by the many he saved, and he fell in love with a beautiful and intrepid firebrand journalist name Lois Lane.

And the story wouldn’t end with Season 10. The Smallville saga continued in the form of a comic book which was titled: Smallville: Season 11. The comic introduced us to that universe’s version of Bruce Wayne, Diana Prince, Barbara Gordon, Jay Garrick, John Stewart, and many other familiar characters.

Clark Kent - Smallville
Tom Welling as Clark Kent. Credit: DC Comics

This show and Tom Welling really made Clark Kent more human and relatable to viewers and myself.

As I write this, I am beginning to realize that this show has been telling me to accept and love myself for who I am. It realize that it has been telling me to accept my Aspergers Syndrome and to not push it away. Or perhaps, it was Clark Kent who was telling me to accept that part of myself. After all, ever since I was six years old, I had always wanted to be Superman.

I want to thank Tom Welling and the people behind Smallville for playing a role in my childhood. I also want to thank Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel for creating an awesome superhero who not only teaches us to fight for Truth, Justice, and the American way but to also love and accept ourselves and others. That is what makes Smallville an awesome Superman story.

Krypton’s Cancellation and My Love for the Show

After learning that Krypon would be cancelled yesterday on Aug. 17, I feel that an opportunity to tell and complete a great story was lost. What I loved about Krypton was that it was not just an origin story before the origin story of Superman. With it’s characters and writing, Krypton was a story about struggle, hope, redemption, and revolution that could have went very far before the arrival of baby Kal-El.

Seg-El (played by Cameron Cuffe) may have not been Superman but he did evoke that same spirit of the Man of Steel. Seg was selfless, kind, and resilient like his future grandson. One scene involving Seg that I liked was that of a young Kryptonian man struggling to make ends meet. With the help of his bartender friend Kem, Seg is bare knuckle fighting only to make ends meet for his family that was once noble but now destitute. Another thing I found cool about Seg is that even after his parents were killed by his girlfriend Lyta Zod’s mother, Jayna Zod, he still stuck his neck out for her and the many others he cares for. If that isn’t heroic, then I don’t know what else is.

If you watched the show through out its two seasons and followed Cuffe on Twitter, you could tell that he really put a lot into the Seg-El character and was a student of all things Superman. In some epsidoes, he made several references to the past actors that played Superman: Henry Cavil’s boxing stance from Mission Impossible, the George Reeves wink, and Christopher Reeve’s quote “General, care to step outside?”

Val-El (played by Ian McElhinney) symbolized the indomitable hope that everyone, characters and viewers alike, had for Seg’s eventually return and Krypton’s freedom from the tyranical General Dru Zod (Lyta and Seg’s future son), played by Colin Salmon.

Both Lyta Zod (played by Georgina Camobell) and Jayna Zod (played by Ann Ogbomo) represented redemption from their upbringings and actions which were evoked by the events that were caused by Brainiac’s (played by Blake Ritson) arrival and General Zod’s accesion as ruler of Krypton. Nyssa Vex (played by Wallis Day) also had a redemption arc which was evoked by her maturity from a manipulative and opportunistic politician like her father Darron Vex (played by Elliot Cowan) to a loving and supportive character. The theory that she is Superman’s and Supergirl’s grandmother was further solidifed when her and Seg’s son Cor Vex was renammed Jor-El which was one of my favorite scenes of Season Two.

Adam Strange (played by Shaun Sipos) became one of my favoritee characters on the show. He was seen as a down-on-his-luck hero who he felt was a failure despite being sent by Superman to warn of Brainaic arriving on Krypton. He is the one that tells Seg that his future grandson will become Superman and give him a crystal that would open the Fortress of Solitude on Kryton. Seg is initally distrustful of Adam and doesn’t like him. Over the course of Season One, we see a man struggling to become a hero in his own right but despite his failures, he remains persevered. Adam finally becomes more heroic after saving Seg and Kem from an bomb rigged and Brainaic controlled Ona. This earns Seg’s respect and eventually, the two become close comrades when Adam zeta beams to the Collu to help bring Seg back to Krypon to stop Zod while hilariously being chase by Lobo (played by Emmett J Scanlan).

I would say that Dev Em (played by Aaron Pierre) and Kem (played by Rasmus Hardiker) also went through some changes. Dev went from a loyal and patriotic Sagatari to a man who was a voice of wisdom to Jayna Zod, Seg, and the rest of Team El. Kem went from a bartender who evoked comedic relief to a hardened soldier that retained his sense of humor even in the face of Doomsday before dying heroically.

The show had a lot of influences that evoked revolutionary and political undertones. While the Voice of Rao was seen as a theocratic figurehead, General Dru Zod was seen as a fascist and a conquer who wanted to take over alien planets. The Voice of Rao ruled Krypton with a velvet glove whereas Zod ruled with an iron fist while using the El manta of a better tommorrow as a political slogan. Black Zero led by Jax Ur  (played by Hannah Waddingham) and the Kryptonian resistance led by Val El  were obviously seen as the outcasts, idealists, and freedom fighters. In addition to this, we also saw that even a cause to overthrow tyranny had its own division due to Jax Ur’s extreme militarism versus Val El’s arahaic sense of justice that is similar to that of his future great grandson’s.

Krypton also introduced us to a society that is not too different from our own. When under the rule of the Voice of Rao, Kandor City was a fragmented society that had several elite guilds and a group call the rankless. The guilds lived in luxury while the rankless had lived in poverty. When Zod came to power, the fragmentation was dissolved due to Zod putting the rankless into military service.

As I write this, watching Krypton made me feel once more like that six year old kid who grew up believing that a man could fly. I was a scrawny kid who was barely gaining weight and not struggling with eating but it was Superman who got me through all that. After watching Krypton, it was as if I was reminded that I should never give up on my goals or myself for that matter. After watching the show, whenever someone asks me how I am doing, I always tell them: “I am doing well and working for a better tomorrow.” And I have everyone who worked on Krypton to thank for that. And of course, the special thanks go to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for creating an awesome story that made all of this possible.

I hope that Warner Bros. vouches to get Krypton back on the air. As I have written in the beginning, I feel that an opportunity to tell and complete a great story was lost. But it doesn’t have to be. I hope that someone picks this show up and continues to tell it because it is a great story about a young man struggling to fight for his family’s honor while fighting to save his home.  And it is a story of those who will help shape that man who will become the grandfather of the greatest superhero who believes in a better tomorrow and who inspires us to do the same.

I believe that Krypton will be picked up again. I believe that the show has more great stories to tell. And, I believe that if we tell the world to #savekrypton, the show will have a better tomorrow.

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My Review of “The Car” and how the Action Comics#1000 Story Appealed to Me

Almost any comic book junkie or Superman fan would know about the famous cover to the 1938 Action Comics #1. The cover shows Superman holding a green car over his shoulders and crashing it into a boulder while three guys are looking on and freaking out. And one of those guys is the center of the short story, “The Car.”

“The Car” was written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner and illustrated by Oliver Coipel. Johns is known for his run on the Green Lantern series as well as Blackest Night and Brightest Day. Richard Donner is known for directing the Christopher Reeve Superman movies. When I purchased the comic, I had read several cool stories but this particular story had a profound effect on me.

The short comic book story takes place at a 1930’s era auto body shop right after the events of the Action Comics #1 cover. The green car is a total wreck from the front and the first page shows two mechanics examining it. One of them asks what happened to the car and the other mechanic replies that he would have to ask the owner.

It is in this scene where we are introduced to the main character of the story and one of the guys on the cover of Action Comics #1. The man’s name is Butch. The mechanic asks Butch if an elephant hit his car and there is a flashback scene of Butch and his cronies in the car with a kidnapped Lois Lane running into Superman. Butch replies:

“A man wearing red underwear.”

He then also tells the mechanic that the man in the red underwear hung him on a telephone pole. With its art, the story does a great job at showing how he mechanic is in disbelief at Butch’s claim. The mechanic smirks and implies that Butch has had too much to drink and advises him that he will have the repairs to his car quoted. He also advised that if it were up to him and given the state that the car is in, he would junk the car. Butch asks for a ride home but the mechanic rhetorically asks him if his place looks like a taxi service.

In the next scene, the comic panel shows Butch walking alone in the middle the junkyard outside the shop. This scene is a homage to the quote: “look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!” When Butch looks up, at first thinks he sees a bird and then a plane only to see Superman ascending above him.

“It’s you,” he responds.

Superman calls the man by his name and chastises that he is a criminal who “gets away with just about everything” and “pushes the little guy around” and “dancing with whichever girl he picks out in a crowd.” Superman also notes to Butch that some people would that he “deserved to be back on that telephone pole. Or something higher.”

But Superman also informs Butch that he did some research on him and tells him that he knows that his father had died in World War I and that he had to look after his ailing mother. Superman also informs Butch that he knows that he became an orphan after his mother passed away. It is this scene that makes this story get interesting.

It is her that we see that Superman, being an orphan himself after his parents died on the doomed planet of Krypton, could relate to Butch.

Butch tells Superman that he was 13-years old when his mother died and whenever it got hot, he and the orphans had always wanted to go swimming but couldn’t due to having no pool.

The Man of Steel advises Butch to be a better person and advises that despite having “had your fair share of knocks” and “knocking the world back like you’ve done” he could make a decision. Superman encourages Butch to “be that person who wasn’t there for you for someone else.” And in poetic fashion, Superman gives Butch one piece of sage advise:

“It’s your life Butch, you can fix it…or you can junk it.”

Superman flies away from Butch and tells him that he would see him around.  After Superman flies away, we see Butch letting Superman’s wisdom marinate in his head. In the very last panel, we see a smiling and peaceful Butch, next to the newly repaired green car, opening up a fire hydrant for children who want to go swimming but can’t due to having no pool.

To me, Butch’s life was just like the green car that Superman crashed onto the boulder after rescuing Lois from the criminal and his cronies. The car was heavily damaged to the point where the mechanic advised to junk it since repairs on it would be expensive.

I talked to my sister about this scene and the year it took place and she noted that Butch must have had it tough getting by especially since he was living around the time of the Great Depression which had affected the lives of many Americans, especially those living in the Midwest.

Superman could have let Butch hang on the telephone pole but the Man of Steel knew Butch had a choice to change his life for the better or…like the car, he could just junk it since the cost would be too heavy. But the former criminal turned his life around and it can be assumed that after his encounter with Superman, he devoted his life to helping orphaned children and maybe even adopted one himself.  After all, Superman did advise Butch to “be that person who wasn’t there for you”, presumably a father or father-like figure, “for someone else.” Mind you, this probably didn’t happen overnight.

This story really appealed to me because Johns and Donner do an awesome job at writing how we are all like Butch. We feel that to get by in life, our adversity gives us the permission to act, or not act, and we ultimately pay the price. We have a Superman who would grab our cars and crash them into boulders and we are left with the choice to make our lives for the better or for the worse. I would be lying to you if I said that I did not have moments where I was Butch.

One notable Butch moment came when I was going through one of the hardest years at the University of California, Riverside. It was in a Journalism classes during the winter and spring quarters and I was struggling.  I felt that the 2008-09 school year  was plagued  with personal issues and with criticism of my writing when people were actually trying to help me. The not-so-sweet cherry on top was when a girl I had a crush on was dating another guy and even worse, she invited me to hang out with him, his cousin and her at the 2009 UCR Heat Block Party.

During Spring Semester, I was at my lowest and I spoke to my journalism professor who put me on blast for not doing my readings and that I often raised my hand too much instead of just listening to the lecture. My heart sank when she implied that she knew I was slacking off because she commented earlier that I was a smart guy and my writing had been improving the previous quarter. Like Superman, she grabbed my green car and rammed it into a boulder. And like Butch, I had a choice to either do better or continue to do worse.

I told my professor what I had been going through and she sat across from me and listened. I told her about my personal issues that were gnawing at me and about the girl I had a crush on. My professor smiled and advised me that to let the girl go and that she was not worth my time. She also advised me to listen more and to seek counselling. I think she also implied that she wanted me to be the writer I wanted to be instead of being the dude trying to prove to the world that he was a smart guy by raising his hand all the time. As a result, I rebounded and did good in the class which in turn helped me with my writing and adopt a more descriptive writing style.

That  day with my professor is one of the days that I cherish because, it taught me how to be more committed to my goals and less prideful and it also garnered an admiration for my professor. And when it came to the girl I had a crush on, I had finally accepted the fact that she was not interested in me and let her go after trying to work it out.

I know that the day is going to come where I run into a Butch who is only trying to get by in this world. And like my journalism professor and Superman, I am going to have grab that Butch’s green car and smash it into a boulder and advise him or her that he or she had a choice to make life for better or for worse. We all experience those moments whether from the point-of-view of a Butch or a Superman.

If there is anything that “The Car” taught me, it is that when it comes to our lives, we always have a choice to “fix it…or you can junk it.”

My First Time Back In Journalism: A Journey Towards Getting Back on Track

It has been four years since I wrote an article for a publication but, as of September of this year, I finally decided to return to my long-lost love: journalism.

When I attended college a decade ago, I decided to pursue journalism and writing. I’ll admit, it was Clark Kent who inspired me to become a journalist and a steward of the truth. I believed in the freedom of the press and its power to hold governments and others accountable for their actions. I was writing for the school newspaper and getting constant feedback from peers. However, when 2008 came, the economy took a dump and that was when things started to change.

After graduating in June 2011, I could not land a journalism job.  I tried to knock on doors to get employment at the local newspaper near my university. Nothing happened.

Like so many millennials, I had to settle for a job that was unrelated to what I studied for. I will admit that back then, I should have thought outside the box and started a blog or kept in touch with my professors and friends from my creative writing classes. But I was too caught up with the crap economy that I ended up taking a job as an substitute instructional assistant for a school district.

It was here when my love for journalism, or writing in general, began to fade. I accepted the jaded fact that I wasn’t going to become a journalist or write ever again due to the dwindling opportunities.  The jadedness (obviously, not a real word) got more worse when someone who I considered close told me that I would suffer if I decided to pursue journalism further. I gave up.

However, there was a little sliver of my inner writer left inside of me.

That small part of me still championed writing clear, crisp, and shorted sentences. That part of me still motivated me to consult Strunk and White’s Elements of Style whenever I was on the verge of writing a long and wordy sentence like this: I was always in a bind, never thinking before doing something that could possibly be beneficial to one person yet potentially detrimental to my state of being. See what I did there? Yeah, I guess I tried to hard. Anyway, that part of me still loved reading books and the news. As I write this, I believe that my inner writer had to be dormant for a while. And with that, I had the opportunity explore other avenues.

For awhile, I tried to medical field but long story short, I flunked a community college physics class. This was not my first go at the medical field. During my first year in college, I tried so damn hard to pass chemistry but I got a “F” for my efforts. As for that position as an instructional assistant? I decided to quit since it was not for me and moved back home to my family to continue my journey. Next, I tried to go for computer programming; it got boring staring at a computer screen and putting my fingers through hell trying to compose code when I should have been composing an article. However, I did some short internship stints at two local community newspapers where my inner writer was reignited but burned out after they ended. Then I gave accounting a shot and thought that I would become a CPA. I confess that I failed my first accounting class but unlike my failed medical endeavor or my quest to become a journalist, I was not going to give up. I took the class again and passed and then passed the second class as well. I felt like I was on a roll and even got a job as an accounting clerk at a local state office but, a year after getting that job, I was let go.

After three months of questioning why I got let go from my job, some people in my family reminded me of what my true purpose was. When my older brother came by to visit me and my family, we just started talking about the news again. My interest slowly evoked. But I had to ask myself: Is this what I really wanted to do?

That was when I decided to go to a journalism networking event and after that event, I am happy to say that I am once again, back to doing journalism. Right now, I am a freelance writing and I am doing my first assignment in four years. I know in my heart that this is something I want to do and no matter what anyone says, I know that I will do it.

The current assignment is a fun one and it involves a lot of investigation and research. I am not going to go through too much detail about it but let’s just say that I am looking forward to talking to people from different walks of life. I am looking forward to telling their stories and sharing them with the audience like I did back in my creative writing classes in college.

My internships back in Los Angeles were also helpful in giving me the experience I needed to continue pursuing journalism; this was something I should have done as soon as my internship stints ended. This reminded me of what Walter Mosley, the author of the book Devil in the Blue Dress, said: “If you want to be a writer, you have to write every day. The consistency, the monotomy, the certainty, all vagaries and passions are covered by this daily reoccurrence.”

I have to water the plant of writing everyday or it would whither and die. I have to be committed and I have to stay committed. I have to eat, breath, and sleep writing.

A non-fiction creative writing profossor ingrained this into my head when he wrote candidly about my writing performance. I would forever value his advice because it was true.

As I start on my first assignment in four years, I am going to expect a lot of challenges. I am going to see some victories and some losses. There will be no gains without any pains. I know that I can succeed and I will.

I want everyone reading this to realize that there is no shame in following your goals. Whether it is in a good or bad economy, whether a close friend, loved one, or whoever encourages you or discourages you, or…whatever. You are in control of your future. Not the outside influences. What matters is that a bad economy, fears, someone, or whatever someone says cannot dictate how we live our dreams and how we pursue them.

Clark Kent the journalist and the superhero known as Superman can attest to that.

 

 

 

 

The Story of How I Chose to Become A Writer

When I was little, I always enjoyed writing. I can remember creating a newspaper that centered around the crayfishes in my fourth-grade classroom. Obviously, there was only one paper in syndication because only I wrote it and only I read it. A couple years later, my love for essay writing is developed well into the closing days of my eighth grade year in middle school. However, this craze was later suppressed due my focus on pursuing the sciences in high school and aspiring (not really because I only wanted to to do it for the money) to work in the medical field. This suppression would only last for almost my entire high school career until I became fixated on improving on my writing in my 12th-grade AP British literature class. It was there that my love of writing underwent a resurgence. My love of writing even became more obvious when I took an college English course at University and wrote several essays including one related to Kafka’s work the Metamorphosis (A book I highly recommend to anyone). And it was the year after that I decided to pursue writing.

Now many people have supported me on my mission to become a writer while I have also had my share of detractors or doubters. But I guess that is the beauty of pursuing your dreams isn’t it?

In his book, “No Is a Four Letter Word,” pro-wrestler Chris Jericho narrates that as a kid growing up in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada, he wanted to be a pro-wrestler and a rock star. Like anyone else pursuing a goal, he had his supporters and he had his detractors. And for this detractors, he had this brilliant quote that I am now trying to live by:

“You see, I NEVER thought I was too small or not talented enough to do what I wanted to do, and I didn’t appreciate anybody who felt differently. The way I saw it, you were either with me or against me in my quest for fire, and if you were against me, well, you were a muttonhead and I really didn’t have any use for you anyway.”

-Chris Jericho

Jericho mentions that many people doubted that he would be successful as a pro-wrestler due to his short height and average stature. However, about two decades later, the man becomes the first ever undisputed WWE World Heavyweight champion and from there on, has a stellar career in pro-wrestling. In addition, he also cultivated a stellar career as a rock n’ roll musician. How many people could say that? Apparently, Chris Jericho can and it was because he believed in himself. The dude followed his goals.

I feel that is where I am at in the beginning of the third decade in my life. My twenties were a decade of exploring the different avenues I could go into but would very likely have some to no success. Although deep down, I knew that I wanted to be a writer, I have tried my hand at several careers at the urging of others.

Medical field? As I have mentioned before, I have heard that the money was good but, due to my somewhat lack of patience…the poor patient would have a sense of bad bedside manner and report me to the medical board. Goodbye medical license; it was nice knowing ya. School teacher? Going back to the lack of patience…the kids in my class would be so thrilled to have a substitute teacher. I like kids but…not in the classroom.  Accountancy? Well…I’m okay with crunching some numbers but who wants to be counting money all day? Besides, I did have a civil service finance job that only lasted a year when I thought it could have lasted me more than two. Yeaaaaaah. Let’s just leave it at that, shall we? Computer program? Boring. Though coding seems to be integrating in most fields. So, I guess it could be useful. But as a career? I couldn’t handle spending hours on end staring at a computer screen doing nothing but endlessly putting in code after code. ‘(No shade on computer programmers of course.)

I want to go into writing because I feel that it is what I can do. It is a gift. It is a hobby. It is a way of escape. It is my superpower.

After going through several careers (or learning about them) during my twenties, I ultimately decided to settle on being a writer. If I did not have a desire for those things  have mentioned then, there was no way I was going to have a desire for those things now.

Now, if you were to ask me the billion dollar question , “why become a writer?” I would tell you: “that’s a good question…”

Well along with the things I have mentioned in the first paragraph, I was inspired to become a writer after watching the Christopher Reeve Superman movies as a kid. Sure I wanted to be Superman but, I also wanted to be Clark Kent. As a kid, I desired a pair of glasses and wore some toy red rimmed glasses emulating the mild mannered reporter. I pictured having my name on a byline and in the second year at college, it eventually it happened at my college newspaper. It was a huge accomplishment. However, I had hit some rough patches during the year 2008 which I would prefer not to mention. All I can say is that it affected my aspirations as a writer and that was when more detractors came. As I heard their voices, the seeds of doubt grew into my nogin and that was when I began to go aimlessly from career to career after college graduation. It wasn’t until post civil service finance job that I really did want to pursue writing. Why else was I not thriving in those other careers?

I need to believe in myself that I can pursue this ancient yet awesome and adventurous field. I may not be in the ranks of Hunter S. Thompson, Mark Twain, Erest Hemingway, Maya Angelou, James Baldwin or F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I know that if I at least dream about my goals as a writer and pursuing them, I know that I will succeed. And I know that I can go to sleep knowing that I made the decision to pursue my dream as a writer.