||T. James Musler
A Look At the Superheroes Of the DC Universe and How Each One Can Teach Us To Be Heroes In Our Own Lives.
In each one of us resides a hero, a person dedicated to making the world a better place. By examining the lives (real or, in this case, fictional) of heroes, we are able to recognize the traits which can help each of us unleash the hero we are holding deep within. ____________________________ Super Prologue ____________________________ “You can be the world’s greatest hero or its most mild mannered citizen but the only person who can write your story is you.” -Jonathan Kent (Smallville: “Talisman”, Episode #20) Having previously written a success book based upon the Rat Pack entitled How to Succeed With the Rat Pack Lifestyle, I began to really look back at the heroes of my youth. In choosing Sinatra, Martin, and Davis as examples of a successful life, I based my choice upon the fact that they bore a lifestyle like so many crave but those men were, themselves, factual. Superheroes, on the other hand, had “powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men”. Everything these men were capable of seemed impossible. Was I ever going to strap on a cape and soar through the skies like Superman or take out thugs with the help of my Batmobile and a belt full of gadgets? We all know heroes. Men and women who drive to work everyday to a job they hate and support a family through the hardest of times, never leaving or forsaking those they love. There are the people who teach our children in a decreasingly effective school system, a deep earnest love for children being their main motivation. There are the police officers who daily walk into potentially life threatening situations or firefighters battling the hottest of blazes for the possibility of saving our lives and possessions. Who could forget those in the military laying down their lives in distant lands that we may preserve our freedoms? Of course, at times there would be earth shattering events which showed men and women at their strongest such as the way that September 11, 2001 brought forward heroes on an almost unbelievable scale. Truly, these men and women, among others, are our heroes and well they should be. These are heroes who give of themselves despite lacking the ability to shoot beams from their eyes or to have bullets bounce harmlessly off their chest. The superheroes of comics and movies could not compete with that. These superheroes had it easy. How hard would it be to sacrifice one’s time and energy if you knew you had the ability to walk away unscathed in spite of a nuclear blast? But are these heroes more than that? Are they, in spite of great powers, relevant to our own lives? Are they more than a source of escapism in a horrifying world? Are they a great deal more than stories of old mythology set in modern day locale? Are they an inspiration to a hurting planet in desperate need of saving? During the years of 1939-1945, the world was embroiled in a great conflict. It was one of our history’s few wars which we view as truly good versus evil. A great enemy, led by Adolph Hitler, was knocking at the world’s door ready to overtake it. If ever the world could have used Superman, it was then. As if on cue, he arrived, swooping in, not from the skies but on theatre screens and in comics. Superman brought with him a host of heroes like Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, all ready to fight the Nazi’s during this time of crisis. In truth, Superman and others had been around for a few years, mostly coming about toward the end of the Great Depression. Now, rather than fighting social injustices, they were now being looked upon in order to rally support for the troops and the war by encouraging people to buy war bonds and redeem scrap metal. In true superhero fashion they did just that. They provided a sense of inspiration and dedication that no doubt helped us win WWII, but does that same need for superheroes still exist today? Since the 1940’s we have seen the assassination of a president, the resignation of another, wars which many deem irresponsible, killings in our schools, and drugs on our streets. Not to mention, major terrorist assaults which leave many questioning their own principles in the rights men are due under these extreme times. There is no question our world is not so naïve as it once was. Does this new world really need a Superhero? Would the world’s greatest Boy Scout seem out of place, irrelevant, even doomed to failure? I do not believe so. Further, it is my contention that the resurgence of Superhero and comic book movies in our culture today is evidence to the fact that our world still needs to believe in Superheroes that stand for truth and justice more than ever before. To that end, I decided to explore what one single most impressive trait was possessed by each of comic book’s finest (or, in this case, the DC universe comics heroes). Beyond that, I truthfully believe that these traits are inherent in all of mankind and that in displaying these traits we can and will leave a better world in our wake. One caveat: when researching the heroes of the DC universe I quickly found that the number of heroes imagined in these 60 plus years was vastly beyond my realizations; therefore, I have stuck with most of the major characters and some more minor but, obviously, not all would fit into the pages of one book. I also avoided teen or female versions of the same character in most cases (though there are some exceptions). As well, I did not look into younger, other universe, alternate reality or future versions of any given character. Further, I am certain that everyone has one or two favorites who absolutely should have been on the list. I do not claim these to be the best or the most important. In fact, I readily agree with you that your hero could kick my hero’s butt. None the less, I do believe that, in the virtues these heroes exhibit, are some premises on which we as humans can take inspiration and instruction from. “The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by.” -Felix Adler
simplysupermanbatman.com - Simply the World's Finest
Part One: Superman/Clark Kent
By: Kryptonian Detective
Have you ever wondered why you read comic books? Is it simply for fun? Is it the fantasy that draws you in? Maybe you value the art quality? Or could it be something more. Have you ever thought that the moral codes and actions of the characters in the DC universe could set an example of how to live life in the real world? I have, and so has author James Musler. His latest book, Unleashing the Superhero In Us All, deals with this very subject matter and includes chapters on all the heavy hitters in the DC library.
Many fans enjoy Superman due to his awesome array of powers. Super strength, speed, flight, x-ray/heat vision and super hearing are all ways fans wished they could emulate Superman. However, these abilities are not available to human beings. The one super power can apply to everyday life is neither super nor a power. Rather it is an ability every human can exhibit. In his chapter on Superman, Musler emphasizes Superman’s servitude to others as his greatest virtue.
“So, too Superman was sent to Earth to serve its collective humanity. There is no doubt that he could make a fantastic President or leader”. “...He leads by example and that example is in his servitude toward others”. (Musler, 16)
According to the author, Superman’s servitude to others is the main reason why he is compared to religious figures such as Jesus Christ and Moses. To me, these comparisons are a compliment to the Man of Steel because very few fictional characters can live up to the standards of those two individuals. Our place in the universe is unique and yet another reason we should follow Superman’s example according to Musler;
“One would conclude that the only real purpose we have in this big universe, for the limited time we have, is to serve others, causing a ripple effect, by benefiting many more people than ourselves for a lot longer than the brief moment for which we existed.” (Musler, 18)
I completely agree with James on this point. If everyone around the world practiced the kind of servitude Superman performs for humanity, then the world would be a much more peaceful, pleasant place to inhabit. Even if one person implements service to others in their daily life, it would go along way towards making the world a better place.
Even Superman’s bumbling, shy alter ego Clark Kent instructs us to be better people. Clark Kent is Superman’s connection to humanity. Living among us is how he knows he is needed. It is often his super hearing that leads Superman in the right direction. Therefore, the author implores us to use our ears to hear the cry’s of others.
“Do not underestimate the value of listening and realizing another’s pain. Much of the good we can do for others is to recognize the tragedies that befall them and to listen. Listening can do wonders for those around us.” (Musler, 70)
Essentially, living daily life we are Clark Kent, watching and listening to the people around us. What we do to help those people, and to help better our world, make us Superman.
This past summer I left the theater after watching Superman Returns wondering what I could do to be more like Superman. This book has shown me that if I apply myself and use simple moral principles I and everyone else could be more like Superman. If you like books that put your favorite superheroes in a real life context, this book is a must read. If you want a guide on how to live your life based on the morals and values of the DC Universe heroes, this book is a must read. Or, if you want a book that is intelligent, insightful, informative and entertaining this book is for you.
simplysupermanbatman.com - Simply the World's Finest
Part Two: Batman/Bruce Wayne
By: Steel Knight
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m far from being an adamant book reader. I’m definitely not one of those people that reads a book a week. In fact, if I read a book every 3 months, that’s a lot for me. However, when I was introduced to Unleashing the Superhero In Us All, I was intrigued right away. Being a huge fan of Superman and Batman and all things DC related, I found myself flying through the pages (no pun intended… well, maybe just a little bit).
There were three aspects of the book that really impressed me:
First, was the way Musler managed to humanize the superheroes of the DC universe. While Batman is regarded as superhero, he is one of the few DC characters that does not have any “super’ abilities. Batman is an example of the ordinary doing the extraordinary if they have the drive to become great.
“… Batman is all that a man can achieve, if only he devotes himself fully, both mentally and physically. In fact, many would argue that Batman is at his most compelling when he has to overcome his own human limitations.” (Musler, 19)
Second, were the incredibly inspiring quotes that were embedded through out the book. Musler managed to pull quotes from comics, movies, television, famous people, historical figures and other sources to further his statements. There were two quotes in particular that were truly motivating. The first was used to emphasize why Batman always strived to be perfect both mentally and physically:
“To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”
The other quote was used in reference to Bruce Wayne, the alter ego to the Batman. How money itself is not evil, but the love of money is evil. Musler uses Bruce Wayne to show how money can be used for good in the right hands.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
-1 Timothy: 6:10 (ASV)
Third, was the way I felt after I finished the book. It’s a hard feeling to express but it made me think about parts of my life that I could use some of the things I learned. For example, there is a section in the Batman chapter that inspired me to challenge myself more rather than always taking the easy route, as I usually do. It may not be easy but nothing in life that’s really worth it ever is.
“… The Greeks believed, a strong body without a strong mind is useless; therefore, one should not limit exercise to physical. One must read and challenge himself mentally on a consistent basis.” (Musler, 21)
Overall, I found Musler’s book to be a very unique take on the heroes of the DC universe and superheroes in general. We can learn a lot from such characters as Batman and Bruce Wayne, and Musler has managed to convey that in his great book. I recommend this to both comic book and non-comic book fans because both will learn something about the great heroes of the DC universe as well as themselves.
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