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Why I want to retire to Smallville

The comic-book version of Superman’s earnest, accepting hometown sounds like just the place.

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If someone ever invents a machine that can fling me into an alternate universe, I'm heading for the little community where Superman grew up.

Punch me a ticket to Smallville, and I don't mean the modern teen-angst-filled TV version. I want the simple, easygoing town I read about in the early 1960s during my youthful obsession with DC Comics' heroes.

The two words that characterize the entire DC universe of that era are "earnest" and "unquestioning." Fantastic occurrences were accepted with calm, well-intentioned responses that usually led to positive outcomes.

Take, for example, the events that led to Superman's departure from his original home. His father, Jor-El, discovered that atomic pressure building deep inside Krypton was soon going to blow up the entire planet.

In the world of here and now, a lot of people might react to this news with wild panic and random acts of irresponsible behavior. Jor-El had a different response: He built a small rocketship and told his wife, Lara, that it would carry their baby safely away from the blast.

Lara didn't ask any pointed questions like "If you're such a great scientist, how come you can't make the rocket a little bigger so all of us will fit inside?" She was OK with the plan to launch baby Kal-El into the great unknown all by himself, and off he went.

Improbable though it may seem, the little rocket eventually crossed paths with Earth and made a soft landing beside a small country road where it was soon found by two passing motorists, Mr. and Mrs. Kent.


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