Why Superman Never Gets his Deepest Wish

"Man of Steel: The Fate of Krypton" | Art by JPRart. Used with permission.
What would you do in a world where all your dreams came true?

In the 1985 Superman story, “For the Man Who Has Everything,” Alan Moore (legendary author of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, etc.) asks just that. The tale begins at Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, where Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman arrive to celebrate Superman’s birthday.

As they walk through the Fortress’s entrance, Batman comments on how hard it is getting Superman good gifts. He then shows Wonder Woman his present, a one-of-a-kind rose, called the Krypton, that he hired an expert to breed.

“I’m pretty certain no one else will have got him flowers,” Batman jokes.

“Uh, Bruce,” Robin says, looking ahead at something outside the comic book panel. “Maybe it’s not too late to change it for something else.”

Batman and Wonder Woman stop, seeing Superman standing in the next room, still as a statue with eyes wide open. We can’t even tell if he’s breathing. A gift-wrapped box lies open at Superman’s feet and an alien plant is latched onto his chest.

Someone has found a way to neutralize the Man of Steel.

Perhaps the traumatic times in life are more than just moments of pain.

The heroes haven’t spent much time examining Superman before Mongul, a big yellow alien with Bond-villain arrogance, appears. He explains the alien plant is called the Black Mercy and gives victims visions of their deepest desires. Victims can release it, but don’t want to.

It’s tempting to consider what my life would be like without past struggles. My life took a difficult turn when I was 11 years old and my family moved back to America after eight years overseas. Being a socially awkward kid who hated change, I didn’t have an easy time adjusting to the United States. I never watched much TV growing up, so I knew very little about American culture. Everyone seemed to talk about things I couldn’t understand, movies I had never seen and celebrities I had never heard of. I felt very alone.

Due to these struggles, I started having panic attacks and bouts of depression. Counseling and medication took care of the depression, but the panic attacks cooled to a slow-burning anxiety I’ve carried with me ever since.

It’s easy to wish the bad things in life never happened, to imagine a pain-free past, but I wouldn’t change what happened. The more I look back at the last decade or so, the more I see how moving to America ended up being a good thing. I wouldn’t have considered writing a career if I hadn’t met friends and mentors in America. If culture shock hadn’t shredded my sense of security, I wouldn’t have felt the need to rely on something greater; my faith grew into something more than therapy, becoming a genuine connection with God. Any spiritual maturity I have now is because of my struggles moving back to America, along with a host of other experiences and connections I wouldn’t have if I had stayed overseas.

When Superman is subjected to the plant, he dreams of his deepest desire, living with his wife and family on a Krypton that never exploded. Things seem great until Superman visits his father, Jor-El. Since his Dying Krypton theory never came true, everyone’s dismissed Jor-El as crazy and he’s become a bitter old man. Superman discovers his father is involved with political extremists competing with other groups to control Krypton’s society.

It’s tempting to consider what life would be like without the trauma.

More problems follow, and Superman wonders whether the world he’s living in is real. Finally, he lets go of the plant, getting one last glimpse of the son he never had before waking up from his comatose state. Needless to say, he’s not happy with Mongul, and the usual battle and heroic victory follows.

As they rest after fighting, Wonder Woman gives Superman his birthday gift—a duplicate of the City of Kandor, which Superman says is just what he’s always wanted even though he already has one. Then Batman apologetically holds up his present. Someone stepped on the Krypton rose’s package during the battle, and the one-of-a-kind flower is dead. Superman accepts the damaged gift and looks at it. Readers can easily imagine him thinking about his visions of the alternate Krypton, the life he could have had.

“Don’t worry about it, Bruce,” he says. “Perhaps it’s for the best.”

Perhaps the traumatic times in life are more than just moments of pain. Perhaps they can lead to new opportunities, new roles to fulfill. Superman’s planet exploded, but that action sent him to earth where he became a great hero. I lost so much moving to America, but that move sent me to places that molded me into the person I am today. Sometimes struggles lead to new opportunities.

 

G. Connor Salter

G. Connor Salter

Guest Writer at Area of Effect magazine
G. Connor Salter is a freelance writer, currently studying Professional Writing at Taylor University. He writes weekly articles for the Odyssey and has contributed to the Waynesdale News, US Represented, and other publications. In his spare time he feeds his currently untreated addictions to comic books and British comedy.
G. Connor Salter

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