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Different interpretations aren’t a problem for Batman, who’s taken on everything from Adam West and Bat-Mite to Frank Miller and Kelley Jones. Same goes for Wonder Woman (the original Marston/Peter crusader, Gail Simone’s steely warrior, and the current Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang monster-killer) and Aquaman (Ramona Fradon, Jim Aparo, Peter David). Likewise, each new Robin, Flash and Green Lantern puts a different spin on the core concept.
And yet, among all the elasticity of DC’s superhero line, Superman stands out as somewhat inflexible. More and more I am becoming convinced that there can be only one valid interpretation of Superman. That interpretation might work for a variety of storytelling styles, but the character at its core must fundamentally be the same.
For starters, let’s run down the list of everything the main-line Superman — the character, not necessarily the stories in which he appears — is not. Superman is not arrogant, manipulative, cruel, boastful … well, you get the idea. I’m not rewording 1 Corinthians 13 here, but that’s not a bad place to start when thinking about Superman’s motivations. “Love never fails,” begins the New International Version translation of verse 8, and that’s pretty much the idealist at the heart of Superman, isn’t it? Superman never fails, not because of invulnerability or super-strength or heat vision, but because his indomitable faith in the goodness of humanity keeps him going.
At Comic Twart, the 16-person art blog that tackles a different character or subject each week, Thor: The Mighty Avenger artist Chris Samnee took the Superman theme and ran with it, interpreting Superman: The Movie in just six panels.
“A while back someone on Twitter (so sorry I don’t remember who) was talking about doing a movie as a six panel comic,” Samnee writes. “When I heard the idea, I knew I wanted to do one for my favorite movie, Superman: The Movie. I never got around to it, but figured that Mitch’s pick of Superman this (last) week could be a great time to give it a go!”
Check out all six panels at Comic Twart.