Jerome Siegel

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Mordecai Richler

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[The] real Superman controversy has always centred on his assumed identity of Clark Kent, a decidedly faint-hearted reporter. Kent adores Lois Lane, who has no time for him. Lois is nutty for Superman, who in true 'aw shucks' tradition has no time for any woman…. [The significant factor in this is] the Canadian psyche.

Yes. Superman was conceived by Toronto-born Joe Shuster and originally worked not for the Daily Planet but for a newspaper called The Star, modelled on the Toronto Star. This makes his assumed identity of bland Clark Kent not merely understandable, but artistically inevitable. Kent is the archetypal middle-class Canadian WASP, superficially nice, self-effacing, but within whom there burns a hate-ball, a would-be avenger with superhuman powers, a smasher of bridges, a breaker of skyscrapers, a potential ravager of wonder women. (pp. 302-03)

Mordecai Richler, "The Great Comic Book Heroes" (1974; reprinted by permission of the author), in The Cool Web: The Pattern of Children's Reading, edited by Margaret Meek, Aidan Warlow and Griselda Barton, The Bodley Head, 1977, pp. 299-308.∗

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