The Man of Rust Belt Steel

By Hollie Gibbs

I am from Cleveland. Nothing will ever change that, regardless of where I go. Sometimes while traveling this makes me feel like a strange visitor from another planet, but it’s a feeling with which one of our other native sons is all too familiar. I am proud of who we are as Clevelanders; it’s the same lineage as the man of tomorrow.

Faster than a speeding bullet! More popular than any other comic book character in existence! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! One of the few characters known the world over! As relevant today as the day his first issue flew off shelves! Referenced by authors, musicians, and political figures alike! Born of the passion and inspiration of local sons of immigrants during the Great Depression with a birth story to rival Kal-L’s on Krypton!

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! And after that plane lands and its passengers disembark and gather their bags…It’s Superman! Since October, the man of flight himself has welcomed people to his city as they leave Cleveland Hopkins Airport’s baggage area. Fans raised $45,000 through the Siegel and Shuster Society for the display, consisting of a proud, muscular statue; a telephone booth for the mild-mannered reporter to change; and an old fashioned television looping classic clips. It also depicts our beloved skyline with trivia on its relevance to the Metropolis Marvel.

In true Superman style, a few years ago, comic book writers, authors, celebrities, and fans fought the odds, battled the obstacles, and banded together to save from certain destruction the Glenville home where a young Jerry Siegel created the icon. Now Kimberly Avenue is Jerry Siegel Lane, and the once dilapidated home is restored (although still a private residence). A new fence and steel plaque were erected, and somehow the red S emblazoned on that yellow shield spells Cleveland.

Up, up and away from Lois Lane (a wink to local girl Jolan [Joanne] Kovacs who modeled for the drawing of the love interest then later went on to marry Siegel) to Joe Shuster Lane where a grant allowed 3×4 panels of Action Comic’s first issue to be erected around the property where original illustrator Joe Shuster lived. (His family’s house was not saved; a new one sits on the property.)

This looks like a job for Superman!

DC’s “Action Comics” No. 1, which introduced the rest of the world to Superman, turns 75 in 2013. With the diamond anniversary comes talk of a Superman license plate, various events, and of course the summer blockbuster The Man of Steel. But where is the Superman museum?  Currently, the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage houses some of the artifacts from the creators of the phenomenon, but the museum exists to tell a much greater story.

Sure, there has been talk about a comic book museum located in Cleveland, but it has seen little action. Cleveland has also produced Harvey Pekar, Marc Andreyko, Brian Azzarello, Brian Michael Bendis, Marc Sumerak, William Ritt, Gary Dumm and Joe Zabel, making it the prime location for such a facility.

The Last Son of Krypton is our son. This is our heritage. We’re the loving middle class family of A Christmas Story. We’re the visionaries who knew Rock ‘n Roll was here to stay. And we are the dreamers who aspire to something greater than ourselves — truth, justice, and the American way!


Hollie Gibbs has a BS in journalism from Kent State University and studied photography at School of the Visual Arts in Manhattan. Her articles and photographs have appeared in numerous local and national publications. She can also be found playing guitar with various bands and building life-size monster props.

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