Something happened over the past four years, and I didn’t even realize it was happening until very recently; Superman became my preferred superhero over Batman.
Growing up the in ’90s, Batman has always been my favorite DC superhero, and it’s not surprising. After all, I grew up in the Dark Knight’s prime of noir and grit with the Tim Burton Batman films, Batman: the Animated Series, and Batman Beyond. It’s only natural that Batman, with brooding demeanor, gruff attitude, and cool gadgets would have special place in my fandom. A love for Wonder Woman came about in later years, but poor Superman has always been my third favorite at best, despite how much I enjoyed the Superman cartoon.
But then Trump happened. In some subconscious desire for escapism, I stopped turning to Batman for adventure and began to turning to Superman instead, beginning with “Rebirth.” Over the past four years, I have utterly devoured Superman content, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it, including Bendis’ entire run on both Superman and Action Comics and Superman: Up in the Sky by Tom King. My appetite for Batman, however, ended after Tom King’s run, and I’ve barely, unknowingly, touched a Bat-title since.
When I stop and think about it, this is only natural. In the Age of Trumpism, I’ve not yearned to see a man born into wealth and privilege doing…well, anything, including fighting crime. In the age of Black Lives Matter and a movement to hold law enforcement accountable, I’ve not had a desire to see a privileged white man take justice into his own hands and beat up those who may be less fortunate and are turning to crime to sustain themselves.
Now, let me just say that I know that Batman is more complicated than that, especially when written well. And most writers lately seem to be focusing on his rogues gallery and having Batman take appropriately left-leaning political stances. But what I’ve needed to see is a man with immense privilege who uses it to help others, and protecting those in need is his primary purpose, rather than apprehending or punishing criminals. I’ve needed a man with the power to be a tyrant but chooses to be kind and compassionate. I’ve needed to see a man who is indestructible and untouchable, but who would sacrifice all, even his life, for any one of us. I’ve needed to see a man who can rise above us all, but chooses to live with us and understand us. I’ve needed to see a man with immense strength but is gentle enough to play with dogs and give warm embraces to those who are struggling.
Superman represents Americans when we’re at our best. He is the opposite of Trumpism, and he represents everything that American can be if we all want it. So, I’ll keep reading Superman comics well into the new administration’s turn and beyond.