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Who would have guessed the road to Metropolis veers through Fayetteville?
Well it does. It travels straight through the imagination, pencil and brush of local freelance artist Aaron Kuder.
Kuder, a native of Ithaca, N.Y. who has lived off and on in Northwest Arkansas since childhood, helps put Superman through his paces on a monthly basis by co-plotting and drawing the Man of Steel’s exploits for the venerable DC Comics title Action Comics.
Action Comics is the mother ship of super heroes, introducing the concept with Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s watershed creation Superman in its first issue, cover-dated June 1938. A cornucopia of caped, cowled and spandex-tighted crusaders followed as the United States inched its way out of the Great Depression and onto the brink of World War II, but Superman was the first, the icon, and that fact is not lost on the 38-year-old artist, who has been working on the character since the fall of 2013 with writer Greg Pak.
“If you were born in a certain generation, you either wanted to be Batman or a Spider-Man,” Kuder said in a phone interview from his home studio in Fayetteville. “I was a Spider-Man kid. But before you are old enough to even consider if you like Spider-Man or Batman, every kid has put a towel around his neck and pretended to be Superman. He’s the image that comes to mind when you think of a super hero.”
Kuder believes the character’s ability to fly and his super strength plays into the primal fantasies of the young.
“Who doesn’t dream about flying or want to be strong?” Kuder said.
It’s an interesting observation, considering the character’s powers have been greatly diminished in a recent storyline entitled “Truth,” which began running in Action Comics Vol. 2, issue No. 41 and other Superman comics in June. While Superman remains stronger and more durable than regular men, he no longer flies or even leaps tall buildings in a single bound. For the time being, it might take two leaps for Superman to sail over the top of the Daily Planet building. Gone are the red cape and the spit curl that have become synonymous with the character. The Last Son of Krypton now wears jeans and a T-shirt. His hair is shorter and spiked in the front.
I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the reviewer was really positive, but he couldn’t get over the haircut,” Kuder said.
Not only that, Lois Lane exposed Superman’s secret identity to the world in a story unspooling in Superman Comics, which also debuted in June.
“We’re taking a risk of alienating longtime fans,” Kuder said. “We hope they stay with us. We think it will be worth it.”
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