The DC Sibling-matic Universe

I don’t have a complex Superman Thought here, but have you ever noticed that the recent television shows in the Superman Family line have a thing for giving characters siblings that aren’t present in the source material?

In Supergirl, they gave Kara an adoptive sister named Alex. They also gave Kara’s mother a sister named Astra. They gave Jimmy a sister named Kelly. Then, over on Superman and Lois they gave Jon a brother named Jordan. And then (big ol’ spoiler here) Superman is revealed to also have a brother. Heck, even Steel is mentioned to have a sister he doesn’t have in the books, though it remains to be seen if she’s a reworking of his sister-in-law from the books or what.

It varies when this works and when it doesn’t. Some of the sibling characters are fine. But it even when it does work out it raise my hackles for one of the things that I dislike about superheroes as a genre that seems to be beloved by most others: personal stakes. Just say they’re siblings and it is supposed to matter when they are in trouble or one is revealed as a villain or whatever. It’s way easier to just tell us they have a pre-existing relationship than actually show two characters relating on screen and letting the audience see it. It isn’t always lazy, but when it is, it’s Especially Lazy.

Anyway, that’s just crankiness. What really bothers me about the need for personal stakes is that it makes it feel like the world revolves around the superhero. If the writers think that we can only have stories about the hero’s parents dying or their spouse being murdered or their friends turning evil or their headquarters being demolished, it really feels like the only thing the characters actually care about is their own bullshit. And that’s not what I want from my superheroes.

There’s a story in the comics going on these days about Clark finding out that there are some oppressed people who have a connection to Krypton, so he leaves Earth to go help them out. I just want it known that I’d be a lot more invested in a story in which Superman goes on an epic quest to rescue an oppressed people who have nothing to do with him whatsoever. That’s the Superman I like.

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