The baby in the cradle

The connections between Superman and the Bible have been made. In fact it’s assumed that Superman is based on Moses as both of them were born at a time of crisis, sent away to a safer place and then fighting against enemies. A stretch but Moses did fight some Egyptians. Supergirl is Superman’s younger cousin but subsequent writers grew aware of this connection that she’d inevitably be Miriam. (As in sent to look after them.)

I suspect a celestial, if almost divine association between Kryptonians and angels (many of the angels’ names end in el) or Biblical figures is almost somewhat as unconscious as it’s intuitively logical. Both of them fly and come from outer space, though some feel compelled to compare him to Jesus (whose mother’s also named Miriam*). Funny enough at some point Supergirl was made into an angel and redeemed a young girl through fusion.

Said girl went onto do heroic things. (Even stranger still, Gail Simone considered turning another superheroine into a practising Christian but that didn’t go through.) But it seems the Hebrew influence on Superman is here to stay.

*It’s also oddly logical that both of them wear blue.

She’s a tribute act to her cousin

I suspect the thing with derivative superheroes is that even if they may put their own spin on what’s essentially and practically the same or similar concept they may not always be regarded as the same as the original. They could be better than the original but they could never be the original. Though not always the case, the copy may often be overshadowed by the original.

At other times, the similarities are convincing enough to be almost interchangeable. It’s practically the thing with Wally West and Barry Allen in the comics where both of them ended up with brunettes and twin children. Wally was even given the same job as Barry. Parsimoniously, Marc Martel sounds like Freddie Mercury enough to do Queen tribute acts more convincingly.

It would be all the more horrifying if a rock biopic even has actor-musicians who closely resmeble the people they impersonate, both vocally and phyiscally. Bear in mind, similar things have happened in superhero comics and the like. Supergirl is Superman’s cousin and there’ve been cases where she even stands in for him and at some point have the same origin.

(Though I could go on arguing that both Supergirl and Superboy are cut from the same cloth, clones of people, cousins of Superman at some point, either made psychic or into angry Red Lanterns.)

As for Superboy, he was initially and originally a young Superman. Although he did become his own character, there are stories where he becomes another Superman. But then again Clark Kent and Superman will forever be connected. Supergirl and Superboy could be better than him in some regards.

Sometimes the similarities are convincing enough to warrant any degree of replacement. But even then the original version often wins out as the most authentic version to the public. Not that tribute bands and musicians are terrible, some are good replacements and some are even better.

But the original will often be regarded as the real version to the public.

No country for hicks

Not that there aren’t any superheroes who reside in the countryside for a long time and still do but those characters are fairly rare. So far the only examples that I can think of are Superman and The Phantom, the former from a farm and the latter lives in a jungle. As for the latter, I suspect this is what made him seem way too out of the water by superhero standards even though that also makes him considerably more timeless and more appealing to international readers elsewhere (according to an article I read).

That’s not to say there can’t be a rural superhero but I suspect in the case with The Phantom, in order to make a rural superhero actually work they have to be more of a properly folkloric character. That too isn’t always the case but it does make sense for them to be properly folksy. Admittedly I also have a hard time thinking of superheroes that actually live in the suburbs. Either that I haven’t read enough superhero comics or the odd fact that superheroism doesn’t always lend itself easily to suburban and rural settings.

(I guess in order for that to work, it’d have to not involve most superhero cliches even if that’s not always the case.)

I suspect that superheroes and cities go hand in hand way too well in the sense of cities easily lending themselves to sleazy undertones that can’t be easily found in suburban and rural settings. Again that’s not always the case but it does make sense why when it comes to cities, dangers are bound to lurk in every street and building. It’s possible to do similar things in a suburban or rural setting though the subtle difference’s that those villains needn’t to be outlandishly attired.

Or at least rely on a weird persona much. Again not always the case but settings wise, it does make sense why superheroes tend to defend specific cities and confront ridiculous criminals. Not that Star Wars is any less outlandish (or any other franchise) other than that Star Wars initially took place in a desert world (and still does to some extent) involving highly trained warriors against cruel rulers.

(Its own predecessor Dune does something similar.)

This isn’t always the case but there’s something so urban about superheroes that can’t easily be transposed to rural or generally less urbanised settings, be it the suburbs, forests or whatever.

Kind of makes sense really

I suspect when it comes to possibly redundant characters, either you change one of them or you replace them altogether. I recall a thread on CBR.com where somebody suggested that one Marvel character (Rachel Summers) should’ve been the only Summers and Grey child, thus entirely replacing her brother Cable. When you think about it, that makes her a lot less redundant.

If she was the only Summers-Grey child then it makes sense that this gives much less competition and much more room to focus on developing her. It’s as if whoever suggested this was well-aware of her portrayal in canon. That’s also being practical when it comes to minimising possible redundancy. Similar things can be and has been said about Supergirl.

It’s like with Superboy where whenever he shows up at all, it complicates things further that should he grow up he’s going to be Superman. At least with Supergirl, this wouldn’t happen much and over at Mighty God King, she would’ve been ideal to replace him entirely in his stint with the Legion of Super-Heroes. I think that happened before, especially with the threeboot.

(In hindsight, that would’ve been even better than ageing Jon Kent up only to marginalise him eventually.)

Though I think the real problem with both Supergirl and Superboy’s that they often risk marginalisation in one way or another. Not that they suck or whatever but that either one of them could make each other redundant whether if writers like it or not. I also think that’s the real problem with bringing Wally West back.

If you have Barry Allen back as the Flash and yet you have Bart Allen as the young speedster, that leaves Wally West with practically little else to do and stand out. So he either gets racebent or kept white but made evil. The most realistic/practical solution if one were to keep all three’s to have them actually age with Barry in Jay’s role.

By then, Bart Allen would be an adult man and Wally West a retired middle-aged man though to make either one of them even less redundant you’d change Bart’s powers a lot and give him something else to do like become a detective. (That’s oddly logical since Barry himself’s a forensic scientist.) Though again that involves hard decisions.

So sometimes the most useful solution’s not always the most likable one.

More effort in differentiation

Like I said about differentiating otherwise similar looking characters is that there needs more effort put into telling them apart. It would like giving Barry Allen a hooked nose and Oliver Queen a straight nose. At least they won’t be mistaken for each other but to the point where one might inevitably invest a lot more in differentiating them especially when off-duty.

Same thing would happen if Stephanie Brown turns out to be a Goth whilst Cassie Sandsmark’s a geeky girly girl. This can arguably be supported by canonical evidence to some extent really. If Stephanie’s shown to prefer dressing in outfits that obscure herself and when combined with her distrusting her father and disobeying Batman should indicate that she’s low on agreeableness.

Not that Supergirl’s any better but if she’s seldom seen with a mask and sometimes shown trying to live up to Superman as well as complying with her own family in looking after Superman as well as others like Lex Luthor that even when misguided (as well as her learning from her mistakes and doing tasks easily) should indicate greater conscientiousness.

Maybe not always the case but that’s at least what I recall. But the fact that she often wears a Superman costume and is shown to sometimes assist/accompany him as well as standing in for him at one point and learning from her shortcomings should indicate conscientious tendencies. Even when she’s at her worst, she still has to comply.

Much like Superman, she’s also shown to make herself inconspicuous (often wearing a dark wig or turning herself into a brunette) does indicate guarded tendencies even if they tend to be team players in one way or another. I even half expect both of them to be at least moderate in extroversion. But that’s still telling of their tendencies as it’s supported by canon to some extent.

What to do with them?

I think some people already made a good point about Supergirl becoming a fulltime member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. That even makes more sense as she risks being made redundant by other characters, especially two other Superboys. It seemed ever since the New 52 and Rebirth came, there were two Superboys that writers didn’t really know what to do with.

Either they should’ve just stuck to Jon Kent or Conner. But they really can’t have both because objectively speaking either one of them has to go away even without dying. It’s like what we got with the first version of Jon Kent, Chris Kent and Superboy Prime. Either Conner or one of them have to go way. They really can’t have both.

Not to mention Supergirl also risks being made redundant by Wonder Woman and Starfire or her own doppelganger Power Girl. Making her a Legionnaire does help lessen things a lot but as somebody said, that seems too vainglorious. Especially if/when in the future she wouldn’t have much competition from other flybrick women.

The Legion of Super-Heroes already had problems with Superboy and Superboy-surrogates. The time when the original Superboy turned out to be fake or something when he died had Legion writers trying to seek substitutes whatever they can do about it. You’ve got Kent Shakespeare and even longtime member Mon-El being made to fill the gap.

(Same with Andromeda phoning in for Supergirl even when she actually encountered and ended up join the Legion again.)

It’s like if Superboy was supposed to be a young Superman, him having to constantly visit the futuristic Legion of Super-Heroes is going to cause a lot of continuity headaches. But trying to replace him with a surrogate’s going to be just as complicated. Not that having Supergirl join the Legion for good’s any better or worse but it’s much more practical this way.

I even think there’s always going to be trouble making Supergirl (and Superboy) stand out that they end up paralleling each other. Both of them were revealed to be clones of other people at some point or another, especially if/when editors were so strict in making Superman the only Kryptonian around. Both of them have joined the Legion and eventually Teen Titans.

Both of them had telekinesis. Both of them became Red Lanterns. Almost as if writers have little else to do with them. Another problem with Superboy’s that if he were to grow up, he’s going to be Superman. Supergirl should become Superwoman but at least she could become her own character more easily if Power Girl’s any indication.

There shouldn’t be any issues with her joining Legion for good. Similar things should also be said about other characters as well. Given the issues with making Wally West evil and nobody wanting Bart Allen to become Bar Torr, the only other solution and the hardest one’s to not only make both Barry, Wally and Bart actually age realistically (as possible) but also allow Bart to become his own man.

He could’ve gone on to become a detective or salesman really. I mean even if Barry Allen himself’s involved in forensics, Bart Allen becoming a detective’s a logical step and a better compromise really. (Part of the real reason why you don’t see Barry in the lab often’s because it’s going to be boring especially to people who never had experience in labs.)

Almost no other speedster became a detective for good. It would be just as vainglorious if because by becoming a detective, Bart Allen prefers to fight evil on his own terms instead of becoming the next Flash (as it happened before, it didn’t go well). Had he became the Flash, he’d just be another Flash. As a detective, he’s his own man (if only DC allowed him to actually mature).

Though I think the other problem’s that by then Bart Allen’s the character Tim Drake’s supposed to be even if it’s much more believable if it weren’t for the fact that children learn from their relatives’ behaviour by example. If Bart Allen’s especially close to Barry, it shouldn’t be a stretch for Bart to mimic and internalise that behaviour.

He’d even exceed Tim in detection really, much moreso had he been homeschooled. But then again another problem with superhero comics, though not unique to them to an extent, is that nobody wants the more iconic version usurped by a successor. Let alone allow the old ones to grow old. DC had no issue having Jay Garrick growing old. There shouldn’t be any issue with Barry Allen growing old too.

This should make Flash continuity much less iffy this way. Rather than retelling the same story all over again, why not have stories where Barry Allen does grow old and mentor Bart Allen around? JJBA’s sometimes not any better but it had no issue having Joseph and eventually Jotaro maturing and mentoring subsequent relatives.

Though that also necessitates having to genuinely make way for a new protagonist (JJBA’s arguably not any better either to some extent, especially with the current Josuke though he acts differently enough to be his own man). This is something that the Flash stories eventually did but that too got undone.

I’m not saying Barry Allen should remain dead as much as he probably has to become the new Jay Garrick should Bart Allen become an adult man. Joseph Joestar may’ve passed away by the time Jotaro started mentoring Giorno. Logically, Jay Garrick’s dead when Barry began mentoring the adult Bart. (Again I’m not saying Barry should die again.)

But it seems when it comes to intergenerational change, if Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures is any indication if you’re going to focus on the next generation they should still be made to stand out one way or another. Jolyne got wrongly imprisoned, Giorno was a gangster. Josuke got bullied, Jotaro was a delinquent. Johnny persisted in the race despite certain setbacks, Josuke II became a sailor.

This was already the case in the Flash stories where Barry was a forensic scientist and Wally became a mechanic. Bart Allen should’ve become a detective really. But then again that would mean doing something truly radical or at least distinctive enough to that character. The second Josuke became a sailor just as the second Yoshikage Kira was something of a good guy.

Not that Bart should become evil but there’s always a better way of making them grow up or change if superhero writers bothered with new influences.

Sacred Speed

I have a suspicion that in light of Caitlin becoming a wolf sorceress on the Flash telly along with turning Bart Allen into a sorcerer and sending magic characters like Zatanna and Dr Fate to Hell (both of them are beloved by readers) and turning Barry Allen into a proxy for Dante Alighieri would make for a rather almost fundamentalist take on things. Especially if/when these happen along with Barry’s newfound religiosity makes it sometimes too unbearable for certain readers.

Ironically, DC never really shied away from religious references in Superman. Superman being quite obviously based on Moses with his cousin Supergirl standing in for Miriam especially in more recent stories. At some point when Supergirl herself got changed into somebody else, she ended up fusing with a lost young girl who seemed to be into dubious things. Afterwards the two became one and she ended up doing a lot of good.

For all its flaws, Peter Allan David’s take on Supergirl seemed very close to the Christian idea of salvation wherein the hapless human gets bonded to a supernatural character and starts life all over again. Even the atheist Gail Simone considered pitching a series where Cassandra Cain became a born again Christian. This is a character who wanted to undo her parents’ bad influence and her becoming Christian would’ve fit into it.

(As if Simone actually got it.)

The Flash becoming the place to recreate the Divine Comedy with seems like a far too logical conclusion to be ignored as well as properly updating it. It even makes sense as most superhero stories tend to take place in a world closely resembling the ones readers are used to and still are. This would make Barry’s newfound religiosity as well as Zatanna going to hell seem far too damning and too alarming. Even if these bear resemblance to Christian testimonies and mystical visions.

(The Divine Comedy’s sometimes considered one.)

Perhaps even more alarmingly, the Flash might even become a more religiously explicit version of Narnia. Especially when it comes to magicians, queers (Pied Piper, even Darryl Frye) and dog owners (the evil Caitlin Snow) being equally as suspect as actual criminals are and why even superheroes like Zatanna go to hell anyways. Which’s very in line with the Bible.

It’s not that Narnia’s not Christian but when it comes to Barry’s newfound religiosity and the like with Central City obviously resembling an actual city, it makes the Flash way too close to home by then for atheists. Nobody wants to see their favourite characters going to hell. Nobody wants to read up on Barry’s conversion to Christianity or his own grandson Bart dabbling in magic with Caitlin.

All of these are shocking, even moreso than Narnia. Not that Narnia’s bad but that the Flash’s brand of Christianity’s so explicit as to be naked. (You know, sorcerers and dogs being as unwanted as queers and criminals are even if dogs are relatively more ambiguous by being more useful.) It’s not that Narnia will be forgotten but that the Flash might become the foremost Christian speculative work ever produced and even moreso as it uses familiar characters.

Which makes its shock value about as credible as saying Princess Diana’s in hell.