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  •   forum   •   THIS WEEK'S CHAPTER: "SMALLVILLE!" •   fortress   •  
The following letter by the renowned T.M. Maple appeared in the letter column of Superman #416, February, 1986:

Dear Editor (and Bob! and I guess Laurie! and maybe this time, Chuckie! Did I ignore any possibilities?),

Though the plot was a little weak in the technical feasibility department, #412 presented a compelling portrait of a Superman gripped by the horrific possibility that he could be manipulated into becoming a devastating instrument of destruction against mankind.

However, I would like to focus on the fact that the illusion that drove this home to Superman was one in which he was made to believe that he had actually killed Lex Luthor, his greatest enemy. This was an excellent choice by writer Cary Bates, since it reaffirms one of the greatest virtues of Superman, his belief in the sanctity of human life.

In years that are probably farther in the past than I'd like to admit, Superman was my favorite comic book character. Indeed, as a character, he still is and most likely will always remain so. He is the first, the most powerful, the greatest super-hero of them all, and he had a tragic origin, too. That in everyday life he was the wimpish Clark Kent only added to his appeal. But what placed him in a class by himself was his strict moral code, especially his oaths never to tell a lie and never to take a human life. He had the power to do whatever he darn well pleased and yet imposed on upon himself a code stricter than many people would feel is reasonable. He felt he had to be an example to others, but he also felt that his great powers imposed upon him the need for absolute correctness. Sure, people would say, some situations require the taking of a life, or a lie is acceptable at certain times. But Superman chose to take a difficult path. Over the years, these oaths, while technically still in force (I assume), were bent, winked at, and generally ignored. Now perhaps Cary's scenario in #412 could help bring them to the fore once again.

In your search to revive the old-time appeal of Superman, these oaths should not be forgotten. Indeed, they should be emphasized. All too often in popular fiction, good wins out simply because it is stronger. There is often little to differentiate the tactics of the good guys from the bad guys. In fact, any hesitations that the good guy has about "fighting dirty" are often portrayed as preventing him from fighting effectively. But an emphasis on Superman's two principal oaths would show that there is a clear difference between good and evil and good must operate differently. Of course there would be great difficulty in remaining true to these standards in the violent modern world, but it is worth the struggle.

Superman is not just some big guy with a lot of powers. He should be a shining example of all that is worthwhile in humanity. His morals should be "super" too.

- T.M. Maple, Superman #416, 1986

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