We'll start with a recommendation: Brewster Rockit, which is always a good source of dumb jokes, is just starting a superhero spoof to layer over the top of the sci-fi spoof it already is.
And the funniest part of today's strip is that there are plenty of people with precise answers to that question, and they can cite the precise issues that cover the point.
The timing for the story arc couldn't be better, though, given the rate at which superhero movies are being released, it would be hard for it to be bad. But some of those movies are ignored and this certainly isn't one of those.
The reaction to "Man of Steel" has been interesting mostly because it's been all over the place, from people who liked it to people who hated it to people who have simply had enough superhero movies.
And how you feel about it matters because, after all, it's Superman.
Poking logical holes in the Superman story has been a sport for nearly as long as I can remember. The problem, if you consider it one, is that, on the one hand, it's a simple story for kids, while, on the other hand, the comic company would like to sell you a few more issues before you outgrow it all, and lure you into some more movies.
Sometimes, there are credible answers to those fan questions.
Ma Kent was able to repurpose little Kal-el's now-invulnerable blanket into Clark's invulnerable costume because it was slightly frayed, so she didn't have to be able to cut it. She could simply unravel the thread and then knit it into the unitard-plus-cape-plus-tighty-reddies outfit.
Problem solved, given that the kids who asked wouldn't know enough about knitting or about the amount of thread in a baby blanket to realize that the result would range between drafty and fishnet.
The issue of why he didn't have invulnerable hair down to his feet and invulnerable fingernails winding out in yards, however, should have been answered with "Get back, kid. You bother me!" or, in the words of MST3K, "You should really just relax."
It's not that it's "just a comic." Art invites criticism. But criticism must take reasonable expectations into account. Let Superman be Superman.
Tom Spurgeon, who includes the best illustrations ever on his web site and that's where I stole this one, linked to a Mother Jones article that says the National Guard paid for some product placement in "Man of Steel," and is also doing some recruiting pieces featuring Superman.
As Tom's illo suggests, this isn't exactly new territory for Superman and I found it pretty unremarkable.
But it did remind me of when I sat a booth at the Washington County Fair a decade or so ago. We were next to the Army and across from Visa. If you signed up with Visa, you could not only get a great 20 percent interest rate but an American flag beach towel, and, for a week, I got to watch the 20-somethings flock to get their patriotic towels.
And then actually veer away to steer a swath around the Army booth so wide you would think the people there were distributing free samples of the ebola virus.
Maybe "flag-waving slacker" was simply a clever secret identity. Or perhaps, on a planet with a red sun and under the influence of blue kryptonite in a parallel universe, they'd back up their own bullshit.
Mr. Fitz, still on his highly educational, standards-based field trip, brought back a memory of a time when I should have exercised a most excellent opportunity to shut up. (Yes, there was one. There have been two or three, in fact.)
We read "Ethan Frome" and then had to write a paper about it, and I pronounced it a "Victorian melodrama." And, by the way, I'll stand behind that opinion today.
Back then, however, I found myself standing smack in front of it as if it were an out-of-control sled barrelling down a snow-covered New England hillside.
Which is to say that, in grading my paper, my teacher did not respond to this frank assessment as cheerfully or graciously as she might have, and I learned from the experience, so that, when we read "To the Lighthouse" a few years later in college, I couched my opinion of the piece in far more diplomatic terms and, to the extent that I used the term "boredom" at all, I only did so in the course of pointing out the narrow margin by which Ms. Woolf had so cleverly and skillfully avoided evoking it.
Which is to say I still hadn't learned to shut up, but I'd at least learned some diplomacy, or, put another way, to be a bit of a weasel.
This is an important law of academics: Professors do not, as a rule, assign works in order to see if you will hate them without having to be told that you ought to.
Some years later, I had a girlfriend who went back to college to finally nail that degree she had so long delayed, and she took a film course that included Eric Rohmer's "Claire's Knee," which, she told me, was the most sexist, creepy film she'd ever seen.
Given both my experiences with Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf, and buttressed by my deep affection for "Chloe in the Afternoon" and "My Night at Maud's," I tried to reason with her that, first of all, Rohmer was probably making an important point and she should look again, and, second, the professor would not assign the film unless he really liked it and she should, perhaps, approach her paper with that in mind.
Which she most certainly did not, but that was one of the things that attracted me to her, though, in this case, I was right about the professor's reaction.
And a few years later, I watched "Claire's Knee" and realized that the great Rohmer had indeed dumped a creepy sexist film in among his otherwise extraordinary series.
And that I probably would have said so, too.
Unless a large meteorite had hit the classroom just as I was raising my hand.