Analysis / Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
Interpretation of the climax
Superman: I broke my oath. I killed him. Nobody has the right to kill. Not Mxyzptlk... not you... not Superman. Especially not Superman.
The climax of the story is Superman being forced to kill Mr. Mxyzptlk, and since he violated Thou Shall Not Kill
he gives up his powers. This is either his noblest act... or his most selfish.
Mxyzptlk is far beyond Luthor, Braniac or even General Zod
in that he's an Eldritch Abomination
, practically an Evil God
who was going to wreak havoc onto the whole universe
if Superman had not stopped him, and the only way left was to put him down permanently. But Superman's inflexible Black and White Morality
means Thou Shall Not Kill
is absolute, no excuses, not even for an God. Since he broke his vow never to kill, he feels he can't be Superman anymore.
But... how much good might Clark still have done for the universe if he didn't stop being Superman? With great power comes great responsibility
, and it's just irresponsible
of him to give up all his power and abandon the universe after such an extraordinary situation where he saved the universe. Then again, he wasn't the only
superhero out there, and he was basically referring to his own ego.
By this, Alan Moore
was saying how the simplistic morality of the Silver Age
is not enough for a more realistic world, a theme he would explore in Watchmen
(Also, by insisting that "nobody
has the right to kill", Superman is also being more demanding than the Trope Namer
for Thou Shall Not Kill
, because in the original Hebrew,
God's injunction is against murder
, and Superman's actions obviously fall under self-defense... however, he was reflecting on his own beliefs, and God wasn't accounting for a man who could kill people just by looking at them
Jordan's mocking of Superman, saying that he was deluded into thinking the world couldn't get on without him marked an end to Clark being the mask Superman wears, as John Byrne's run through to New 52 had Superman being the mask that Clark wore.