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Superman Turns 75


Superman is turning the big 75 this week. It was on this date back in 1938 that Jerry Siegel and Joel Shuster’s caped superhero first appeared in Action Comics #1. The Man of Steel has had many faces over the years, from George Reeves to Henry Cavill, but the basic image of a black-haired Boy Scout in blue tights has essentially remained the same. I always felt a special draw to Superman, even as a little kid. Perhaps it’s that I wished that I could fly or maybe it is his ability to see into girl’s locker rooms with his x-ray vision. What I later realized is that part of Superman’s attraction to us Latinos is that we share a common bond: he’s an immigrant too.

Not only is he an immigrant, he’s an undocumented immigrant. Jor-El didn’t obtain a visa or passport for little Kal-El before he launched him off in a rocket. He just sent him to Earth and hoped for the best, (a Kryptonian “Anchor Baby”, if you will). It makes me think of my compays in Cuba sailing off on rafts made of old Soviet inner tubes and hoping for the best. How many Mexicans wish that they had the ability to leap tall border fences in a single bound to get a piece of Superman’s American Way, guey? Instead of Key West or Laredo, Superman landed in Kansas, a state that today is pretty hostile to “Illegal Aliens” like him. If Superman were to land today would Martha and Jonathan Kent have had him deported to the Phantom Zone, or worse, Arizona?

It’s been said before that Superman’s story parallels Siegel and Shuster’s own family journey from Eastern Europe as Jewish immigrants. Maybe that’s why Superman still appeals to us all of these years later. Because like him, (unless you are a Native American), we are all immigrants. I just wish the superpowers I inherited from my immigrant parents were super strength and not high cholesterol.

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