being Clark Kent, investigative blogger

As I’m beginning to write this blog post, I see breaking news that the ‘New 52’ version of Clark Kent is quitting his job at the Daily Planet. I haven’t been following the development of this particular incarnation of the Man of Steel, but this turn of events feels right given the slowly ongoing agonizing death of print journalism.

As it turns out, I’ve been thinking about the dual identify of Clark Kent/Superman for the past few days.

Everyone wants to be Superman, myself included at one point or another. Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to act like Superman: capable of doing anything and everything. Oftentimes all at once. Reality check, I can’t.

But perhaps, neither can Superman..

A much explored theme in the DC multiverse: What’s it like to be Superman? He is essentially a beneficent demigod. He hears EVERYTHING and carries the weight of the world on his shoulders.. sometimes literally.

As Clark Kent, he has a completely different set of powers. He is a journalist. Whereas Superman is the focus of attention wherever he goes, Clark Kent has the power to direct attention. Superman is the stuff of legend, but Clark Kent is a storyteller who can actually write legend.

It just occurred to me that the lines of power between Clark Kent and Superman are beginning to blur in one key aspect: Clark Kent also hears everything. No, not because of his superpowered hearing, but because of Hootsuite.

Of COURSE Clark Kent uses Hootsuite! He’s a 21st century journalist and as of the latest comic book issue, he just up and quit the Daily Planet! Here comes Clark Kent, investigative blogger!

Clark Kent’s social network is more important than ever to not only grant him access to important happenings and secure his dual-identity cover, but also to maximize his unique brand of heroic impact. Social media is a valuable source of near-realtime information that would totally complement Superman’s super-powered hearing. Hootsuite is how Clark Kent would engage this power.

Superman may be as all powerful as he usually is, but Clark Kent continues to become more powerful as information technology continues to advance.

Clark Kent is becoming more powerful because we all are. Superman can hear everything and increasingly, so can we. Can we bear the same mantle of responsibility these abilities represent?

Social media represents an explosion of potential opportunities to do good, and even great things to make the world a better place. But how do you sort through it? How do you choose who and where to help when there is only one of you and a whole world in need? How do you decide where to most effectively focus your personal power? This is the same terrible issue Superman constantly has to wrestle with. No wonder he needs a Fortress of Solitude.

I’ve often found myself paralyzed by this very question. In fact, I’ve spent the past few months trying to get out of a personal rut that stems from not knowing how to answer this question for myself. Now that I’ve decided that writing will be my primary focus for the near future, the evolving character of Clark Kent is very much on my mind.

Ultimately what makes Superman who he is, aren’t his superpowers but the strength of his character. This is what makes Clark Kent especially interesting to me right now. He’s not only a journalist, he’s now a free agent at large! His powers are constantly growing with the strength of his social network and technological innovation continues to augment that network.

If ever Superman lost his powers, investigative blogger Clark Kent would still be the heart and moral compass of the Justice League. And yet he’d still face the same fundamental dilemma: How do you decide where your help is needed most?

I still don’t have a personal answer to this question, but I do know that no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’ll always be ready to do my part when it’s time to form an organization like the Justice League. All of us are stronger than one of us …even if you’re Superman. And especially if you’re Clark Kent.

3 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
2 Comment authors
Captain Lyre CalliopeAndrew FilipeKyle Sykes Recent comment authors
newest oldest
Notify of
Kyle Sykes

Read it. I really enjoyed it.

Captain Lyre Calliope

More coverage on the ‘New 52’ comic book happenings:

An excerpt:

“Rather than Clark be this clownish suit that Superman puts on, we’re going to really see Clark come into his own in the next few years as far as being a guy who takes to the Internet and to the airwaves and starts speaking an unvarnished truth.”
Entertainment reporter Cat Grant also quits the Planet with him, and Lobdell says she’ll be bringing “a whole other set of skills” to their next venture. It probably won’t be at another media outlet in Metropolis, though.
“I don’t think he’s going to be filling out an application anywhere,” the writer says. “He is more likely to start the next Huffington Post or the next Drudge Report than he is to go find someone else to get assignments or draw a paycheck from.”

Exciting! 😀

Andrew Filipe
Andrew Filipe

This was an extraordinary piece, and you obviously understand the character of Clark Kent/Superman. I’m particularly impressed with how you were able to view the evolution of journalism and social media through the lens of Superman’s evolving mythology. Your blog post was also personal and offers a great message of strength through unity. I really enjoyed it.

Captain Lyre Calliope

Thanks! I’ve been watching lots of DC Animated Universe flicks this past year, and I’m a little obsessed with the idea of stories involving normal people within superhero universes.

But superheroes are more than icons, they have personal lives too. (Batman aside.) An episode of the Justice League series stands out where Clark invites the Martian Manhunter to spend Christmas with his family. Actually, here’s a five minute clip:

Believe it or not, I think this clip more than anything is what ultimately inspired this post. It’s what made me clue in to the idea that Superman’s greatest strength is his humanity. And by golly, we’ve got tons of that!