Heroes Never Rust #69 by Sean Ironman
How to Understand That a Man Can Fly
Lana Lang was Clark Kent’s high school sweetheart, and, like most high school sweethearts, she thought that they would get married and spend the rest of their lives together in their hometown. She narrates the last issue of Superman: For All Seasons, a smart choice, given how close she was with Clark before he left for Metropolis. As a child, Lana was a dreamer. The issue opens with her teenage dreams. “I was going to marry him. To be Mrs. Lana Lang Kent. We’d have children. Lost of little rugrats running around, since I was an only child and so was Clark.” That was before Clark lifted her into the air and they flew. She thought he’d propose to her, but instead showed her why he had to leave. That night, up in the air, Clark thought he was connecting with her, showing her his deepest secret. For Lana, that flight shattered her future.
After, she left town. She lost herself in the world, and now she has returned home to Smallville. The same as Clark. After last issue’s loss to Lex Luthor, Clark Kent seeks comfort at home. The two hang out like old times. Pete Ross digs into both of them. “You go out into the big, wide world—the both of you—and you come back here…You can’t even see how wrong that is.” Clark and Lana haven’t come home for any real reason other than they are sad and came running home. Nothing bad happened to Lana, at least she doesn’t share anything with the reader. Lex Luthor lectured to Clark, but he still has his powers. One woman died, but he saved the rest of the city. How many tragedies occur while Superman hides out in Smallville? How much is Lana missing out on because she came running home?
One night, Police Chief Parker comes to the Kent home warning them that the heavy rain has caused the reservoir to overflow. He tells the Kents that people are gathering at the church for safety. Clark sulks after Chief Parker leaves. “I began to think that I could do anything,” he tells Pa Kent. He lays in bed like he did in issue one, when he was back in high school wondering what to do with his life. Pa Kent has bit of advise for his son. “It’s not nearly as hard learning you have limitations as it is learning how to work with them.” Clark was a big fish in a little pond. Then, he went off to Metropolis and discovered life was more complicated than he thought. He imagined going off to the big city and saving people, stopping bad things from happening. When he got there, he found that he didn’t have control over everything. His dreams broke just like Lana’s did that night in the field. She thought she had her whole future laid out, and then Clark brought her into the air.
After his talk with Pa Kent, Clark puts on his Superman uniform and takes flight to help save the town from flooding. Lana finally gets in a kiss, though. She tells him, “You may be able to do things nobody else can do, but that doesn’t make it any less hard to be who you want to be.” Superman, of course, stops the flooding, and saves the day. That’s never in question. As he does so, Lana tells readers that when she was away from Smallville and people would question why Superman would use his powers to help others and not for his own benefit. “No one would give it a second thought how Chief Parker came out on such a horrible night to warn us…any more than when a fireman rushes into a burning house, not so much to rescue someone—but to find out if there is anyone who needs rescuing.” Clark is no different than anybody. Sure, he has the ability to help on a larger scale, but he has the same values as anyone who helps. The yellow sun gives him the ability to fly, makes him physically invulnerable, but the Kents and Lana and Pete Ross and Chief Parker and everyone else in Smallville made him Superman. Clark’s hometown will always be a part of him. He doesn’t have to stay there, though. In the end, he flies back to Metropolis. He doesn’t stop Lex Luthor or some large monster wrecking havoc in the streets. He helps a boy trying to save his cat and introduces himself as Superman before flying back in the skies looking for others in need.
Sean Ironman (Episode 102) earned his MFA at the University of Central Florida. Currently, he teaches creative nonfiction and digital media at the University of Central Arkansas as a visiting professor. His work can be read in The Writer’s Chronicle, Redivider, and Breakers: A Comics Anthology, among others.