At the opening of Superman: H'el on Earth, writer Scott Lobdell offers a stirring reminder of Superman very human need to make a home for himself.
There'll be chaos and destruction in the later pages of H'el on Earth, what else could there be with a full-blooded Kryptonian (in the personage of H'el) arriving on Earth? But before the coming mayhem, writer Scott Lobdell makes the far more interesting creative choice of framing the physical coming-to-blows as an external metaphor of Kal-El's internal battle to make a home for himself in Metropolis, and more broadly on Earth. In doing so, Lobdell seems to parallel the conflicts involved in Mozart writing his 38th Symphony, "Prague."
As with many of Mozart's symphonies, there's a beautiful story behind the origins of "Prague." It's written immediately after an incredibly productive period for the composer, but at the same time, a period that sees Mozart teetering on financial ruin. The opera, The Marriage of Figaro, didn't play at all well in Vienna, totaling a mere nine performances in the Austrian capital. And opera and concertos were meant reestablish Mozart and his family financially. But the financial situation wasn't alleviated the way Mozart would have hoped. What he gained instead were the insights that would make his music relevant well into the twentieth century.
In Prague however, Figaro played night after night to a standing ovation. Would it make more sense for Mozart to acknowledge his cultural relevance outside of his home of Vienna? In the winter of 1782/83, Mozart journeys to Prague to see his success for himself. He's written the final movement of what would later become the 38th, and plans on having it performed in concert with his "Paris" Symphony as a way of thanking his fans. But to his unexpected delight, he sees his cultural impact in Bohemia is far greater than he could have imagined. He writes the first and second movements of "Prague" before his scheduled performance, and gifts the city, and the world, his 38th Symphony.
Mozart's struggle is an eternal struggle. Finding a home, making a home, leaving one's home to make a home in a distant place. As modern mythology, the idea of Superman taps powerfully into these pressing human concerns.
Right before anything happens in H'el on Earth Clark Kent wrestles with his version of the interminable Superman problem, of "Must There be a Superman?" For Clark it is a question of must Superman be covered in the media if he's not currently active in the city. More than anything, this dilemma paints a convincing portrait of a man who's struggling to make a home for himself. How much of the private and public lives can be co-mingled and still remain intact?
In just a few short pages, Lobdell makes a convincing argument for the life of Clark Kent being every bit as arresting as the grandiose battles of his brightly-costumed alter-ego.
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