Monday, December 6, 2010

Man of Kleenex

Oh hai.

Last week I was on a trip to Miami for a work-related thing. It was an interesting time. I ate at Joe's Stone Crab, saw a bunch of local landmarks you'd recognize if you've ever watched Dexter (which I have not), and watched locals bundle up for 65-degree-Fahrenheit weather, knowing that when I returned to Wisconsin I would have to dig my car out of some snow.

I also got to fly on a plane, which is still an enormous treat for me. (Less exciting: Eat Pray Love as the in-flight movie.) Which brings me to my little anecdote for today.

Somebody asked me on the trip what it's like to have a baby. And my standard answer is that I don't have anything interesting to tell them, because it is just like what everybody else says it is like. You know? "Um...I don't know, man, it's's the greatest thing, although all of a sudden you're more okay with the idea of handling somebody else's poop and it takes you about fifteen extra minutes anytime you need to leave the house." Really, just listen to any stand-up comedian with a baby, and whatever he says probably goes for me as well. I don't usually have much to add.

But I had five hours of plane ride back home on Saturday, and so I decided to watch some Dini/Timm Superman and Batman episodes on my iPod. One of them was the Superman pilot, "The Last Son of Krypton, Part I," which, as you may or may not remember, is all the Krypton part of the Superman origin. And I've seen this episode before. And I've read or seen countless "Jor-El and Lara put baby Kal-El in the rocket and send him to Earth before Krypton explodes" scenes.

But this time I had to turn it off, because I'm sitting on a plane and I feel tears welling up, and I don't want somebody to think I'm crying at Eat Pray Love.

Like, he has to put his baby on that rocket, man. He has to send him away and he'll never know what will become of his son. And that baby...! Kal-El has no clue. He's sleeping when he's put in the rocket; he falls asleep in his parents' arms, he wakes up someplace else and they're gone. Bruce Wayne remembers his parents and that's the whole point, but (barring some sort of super-infant-memory, which I'm sure was probably featured in at least one story over the years, right?) Superman has no memory of anything that happened there.


Man, I did not sign up to choked up about Krypton, you guys.


Justin said...

But just so we are on the same page: I could have ONE THOUSAND CHILDREN, and I will still always hate "Cat's in the Cradle."

Richard Bensam said...

Personally, I get choked up over Superman's life story even without children of my own, so I can only imagine the blubbering wreck I'd be in your shoes! Much respect, sir.

Justin said...

Yeah, who exactly is this Superman who's not as interesting as Batman because he supposedly has no tragedy in his life? That's why I feel Byrne's "Krypton that deserved to blow up" was a huge mistake: the magnificient pre-Crisis-style utopian civilization totally wiped out by hubris is such a terrible waste, and it gives Superman one more important reason to strive for humility. Byrne (as he often does when doing this sort of thing) changes the details in a way that gets the story told all right, but loses all that nice chewy resonance we want from a superhero comic.

That said...I'd never had any immediate EMOTIONAL response to the Krypton stuff (well, I suppose Superman: The Movie takes a stab at it, although one of course wishes Brando were trying a little harder) before Mark Waid's Birthright series. Every other Superman origin has it where Jor-El's pretty positive that Kal-El's gonna make it to Earth). Making it more of an improbable gamble is a little change, and pretty obvious in retrospect (although I'd never seen anyone else use it before), but it makes a big difference. DESPERATION! And I do get misty at the ending of the series because of it.

Man, and the other thing that gets me is the bit where Waid's Jor-El ALMOST loses his nerve about putting him on the rocket. "I...I love him too much." And then Lara has to talk him back into it. Birthright's got its problems, but that bit alone would justify its existence.