One random night I was talking with a friend about the dynamics of super heroes and villains. I myself am a comic book junkie.
Everyone has a favorite comic book character. Heroes have long held the spotlight in the eyes of the readers, who could blame them. They are strong, resilient, fearless and stand for truth and justice.
However, for me it is no surprise I am a villain fan. Now, don’t worry. I am not about to take over city hall, rob a bank or kidnap the commissioner’s daughter. However, it was a villain which helped me and hopefully other comic book fans realize the harsh truth.
For the longest time the Joker was my favorite villain and he is still one of the top five. He is the quintessential villain. All that he does seems out of madness, yet is executed with precise and masterful orchestration, a keen attention to detail and understanding of his foe, Batman.
For years the Joker held the top spot for me until one day DC Comics decided to shake up the world of comic books forever.
I remember like it was yesterday, the year was 1992. The DC Universe was held captive by the arrival of this giant green monster bounded by steel restraints. This creature slowly started moving through the country side, destroying all it came in contact with, uttering the words “Doom. Doomsday.”
The Justice League of America meets this new terror head on and is defeated with little effort by the monster. Their greatest attacks against this unknown foe destroyed the surrounding area, yet when the dust settles, the beast emerges without a scratch.
Superman enters the scene and this new foe punches him and Superman takes the blow with ease. Overconfident, Superman lets his guard down, only to be floored by a roundhouse kick from Doomsday.
At this point I was a little impressed as it’s not just anyone who knocks Superman down. As the comic develops throughout four comic book series, Doomsday is still going despite the efforts of the combined Justice League and Superman. Eventually the battle comes down to Superman and Doomsday.
Doomsday not only makes the man of steel bleed, he basically bests him at every turn. Doomsday kills and destroys with no regard while Superman does his best to preserve life in his efforts to stop the monster.
The climax of the comic is when Superman and Doomsday, knowing this stalemate can last only so long, concentrate all of their might into two blows. Each of them lands their hit. The force of the hits creates a crater and busts out all the windows remaining in Metropolis.
Their bodies fall to the floor. Doomsday is face down motionless. Superman is in the arms of Louis Lane. He asks, “Doomsday … is he … is he?” Louis Lane replies, “You stopped him! You saved us all. Now relax until…” Though it is too late as Superman dies.
Now here is that truth I spoke of earlier. Superman, an icon of truth and justice, the hero who had never failed, faced a foe who was his exact opposite. No one expected Superman to lose, let alone die. He is Superman after all, but even with all of his power and knowing the possible outcome resulting in his death, he continued.
To do the right thing despite the fear of dying, he pressed on to eventually stop Doomsday at the cost of his own life. I felt Doomsday had finally brought the missing component to Superman. He made him human. Like the people he protected and loved, he himself now had to deal with the choice many brave men and women face everyday serving in the military, police and fire departments across America. To serve, protect and ensure the freedoms and liberties of all with no prejudice at the risk of one’s own life.
Doomsday may have killed Superman, though in doing so he made Superman an even greater hero.