Man and Superman

Whatever Happened to the Archetype?

Story by Stu Perrins art by Ron Gravelle

Whatever Happened to the Archetype?

An alien refugee from a distant planet finds himself imbued with amazing powers on Earth. Donning a colourful costume and a magnificent cape he uses his powers to fight evil. When not on crime fighting duties he hides behind a mild mannered secret identity. A familiar story and a character type that has become commonplace since Siegel and Shuster brought Superman to life in 1938.

The Man of Steel defined so much of the superhero genre. Every popular character that followed stuck fairly closely to this template. Even today new characters will tend to have at least one of these elements about them. It is what makes a superhero. Superman is the archetypal superhero.

Stu Perrins book delves into this idea of the archetypal hero and what would happen should their first contact be with cynical and ruthless governments fighting for their survival. It asks, how can you be an ideal, an archetype, when you live in a harsh world and are as imperfect as the rest of us? 

There have been no small number of Superman tribute heroes in comics. Supreme by Alan Moore is one of my favourites. Red Son by Mark Millar is another which looks at real life politics clashing with the superheroic dream. 

 art by Ron Gravelle
Superheroes trying to attain divinity – art by Ron Gravelle

Please leave your pity at the door, because I don’t want or need that. I’ve lived a good and mostly happy life here on earth…but it’s not home.

The Archetype

Christopher Quin (not the most alien of names) crash lands on Earth on Christmas Day 1944. He is immediately pressed into service by a secret Allied program called R.A.I.D. He quickly finds himself donning a costume and a new identity – as The Archetype. He finds his own Lois Lane in his colleague Stephanie Summers. Naturally The Archetype has enemies. But a clash with a powerful brute called Frenzy hints that things may not be as they seem at R.A.I.D.

Ron Gravelle’s art excels in its portrayal of cityscapes…the architecture of London looks great. I also really liked the character design, Frenzy and Dax are both great looking characters that I could imagine the Justice League clashing with. Whilst Stephanie Summers was a little pneumatic for my taste, I suppose that reflects another comic book cliche.

Art by Ron Gravelle
Art by Ron Gravelle

You really think you can help these people? Believe me Archetype, they will chew you up and spit you out. But not before they have ripped you open to see how you work.

Frenzy

I reviewed a pre-release copy of the book, but there were several typos to be found in the copy. I’m sure these will be fixed in the final version. Unfortunately with small press books this is something I see regularly. Another book I received from a Kickstarter last week was full of errors, including on the back cover. If you can’t get your book professionally sub-edited then just ask a couple of comics pals to cast an eye over it before you decide it is ready for the world. Spell-checkers don’t pick everything up.

Superman is never far from mind within the pages of this book – there is even a tribute to the cover of Action Comics number 1. Another interesting reference is Michelangelo‘s The Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel. That work featuring two index fingers nearly touching is sometimes thought to show that ordinary mortals cannot attain divine perfection, only God. This is the central theme of Whatever Happened to The Archetype? – the conflict between god like powers and frail humanity – both in the form of the heroes themselves and those who manipulate their power.


Whatever Happened to The Archetype? is published by Markosia and is due for release on June 25th.

Stu Perrins can be found on Twitter.

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