Subway Shorts – Fly Me To The Moon

It’s not always just about punching bad guys and causing destruction. Sometimes, being a superhero means showing some compassion, as the Man of Steel does in the latest issue of Superman.

Superman 39
Written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason 
Art by Barry Kitson, Scott Hanna and Gabe Eltaeb

Superman’s greatest power isn’t flying or X-Ray vision or even his invulnerability. No, the greatest power Superman has is his compassion and his ability to inspire in a way that other heroes absolutely can’t. I can’t see many other heroes feel so natural in a situation like this issue, where the Man of Steel takes kids from the children’s cancer center up to the Justice League headquarters in space to give them a  treat. Maybe it’s something Wonder Woman or Captain America would do, but it is certainly a very small list.

We see one of the patients watching Superman taking on some small-time crooks to open the issue, and then the hero goes to the hospital and gives the kids the thrill of their lives. Once they travel out to space with the help of a Green Lantern construct, courtesy of Hal Jordan, the kids have a scavenger hunt for items around the Watchtower.

A good chunk of the issue is dedicated to the hunt, as the kids find the items on the list. The toughest item, though, is the final one – a picture of Batman smiling. Each kid is given a camera phone and tasked with trying to get the Dark Knight Detective to crack a smile long enough for a camera to catch it. It is not an easy task, especially since Batman looks like he would rather be anywhere else but the Watchtower with these kids. So, you know, just like Batman looks on any other day.

One kid, though, shores up the nerve to go up to the brooding billionaire and whispers a joke in his ear and gets the smile he was looking for, scoring the toughest item on the list.

I really do love that panel.

The entire creative team perfectly captures the child-like awe of being invited to your heroes’ hideout, running around and interacting with them. Superman even suits them all up in space suits and takes them all for a walk on the moon, placing down rocks with their name on them. It’s a super-sweet moment that shows just how much Big Blue means to the children in the DC Universe.

Again, I can’t imagine a story like this being told with any other hero at the helm. It is an unquestionably Superman thing to do, and his fellow Justice League members don’t even bat an eyelash at it. Not even Bats, who’s clearly playing up the image for the kids.

This was such a perfect one-and-done issue to highlight the other aspect of Superman – his heart and compassion – as opposed to the constant barrage of battles of fists and wits. With the twice-monthly schedule, we should get more issues like this.