Truth, Justice, And The American WayJon Del Arroz
Last night I came across this pin up of Superman by Steve Ditko, which was done as a bonus for Superman #400 back in the 1980s.
The image stirred me in a way much comic art fails. It presents the hero as exactly how he is — a hero.
Starting with the angle of the piece, we are looking up at Superman as someone larger than life. He’s walking tall, confident, into the shadow of the valley of death, because he fears no evil. He knows right and good will prevail and it’s his duty to solve it.
In his left hand, he holds and is breaking the chains which are attached to tyrants, thieves, moochers, looters, and aggressors. These evil people are colored in dark grey to show further they’ve stepped into darkness and evil, where there’s no light shining upon them. They are the people who would use force to harm their fellow man because they have no ability for rational discourse or action.
Superman has a smile on his face. He knows what he’s headed toward, and he knows he will succeed. A hero is eternally optimistic about his mission because nihilism is a spiral of irrationality in which creates as self-fulfilling prophecy of doom and failure. A Superman would never succumb to such downward spirals.
Notice how the background then drapes the American flag around him. The American dream of pursuit of property of us and our posterity is then amplified as the flag takes us down to what appears to be an all-American family standing at the forefront behind Superman, ready to give him backup and cheer him on into victory.
The father stands at the front, the rational man proudly wearing the letter “A”, a reference to the Law of Identity. He’s also holding a book in his hand, learning and using reason to better himself. A man and father must stand before his family in rationality to lead them and guide them toward what is right. The family will then stand with him.
Behind the family, stands more of society — including a large skyscraper. Civilization hangs in the balance behind the Superman who pushes forward and overcomes darkness, behind the family who maintains rationality and reason.
This is beautiful. It’s inspiring. This is what comics should be. We need heroes, not anti-heroes. We need truth, justice, and the American way.