The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

July 22, 2013

Superman's past, future takes Comic-Con spotlight

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The cape, the curl, the S on the chest.

Superman is among comics' most recognizable characters, and 75 years after Cleveland teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster's Kryptonian made his debut in the pages of Action Comics No. 1, his popularity remains stratospheric.

At Comic-Con International, Superman's presence could be seen everywhere — in the attendees wearing versions of his many costumes and in scenes from the television serials, cartoons and films.

"Superman was the first comic book superhero and the first cross-media sensation. Practically everyone of every generation knows and recognizes the character, so that's a huge asset for his ongoing popularity," said Rob Salkowitz, author of "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture."

"Batman has been more successful in the past couple of decades because he is in some ways more relatable —but also because of the times. Batman speaks to our fears. He's about revenge and darkness," he said. "Superman speaks to our hopes. He's about transcending our limitations. He's about using vast power for public good, not private gain."

Jim Lee, co-publisher at DC Entertainment who, along with writer Scott Snyder, created the new Superman comic book "Superman Unchained," said few characters have been as relevant as Superman for so long.

"Name another character that's been around for 75 years that's still being published and relevant," challenged Lee.

"There are very few that are still relevant to today's culture and to today's audience that are still being published," Lee said, giving as examples that Superman was a social crusader in the 1930s, fought Nazis in the 1940s, was a yuppie in the 1980s "and in the '90s had a mullet!"

His popularity can be measured in not just sales of comics, but in tickets, too. Zack Snyder's "Man of Steel" has made more than $630 million at the box office. And Saturday's announcement of a sequel, of sorts, became the buzz of Comic-Con with news that it would pair Superman with DC's other big name hero, Batman.

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