Superman’s Neighbors


MARCH 1957


Superman secretly (and sometimes overtly) takes care of his neighbors’ pressing problems at Clark Kent’s apartment building, but learns that one neighbor, Alexander Ross, is convinced that Kent is a crook posing as a reporter.


This is the first mention of Clark Kent living in 344 Clinton Street, but his apartment is actually 3B (whereas most stories will state it is 3D).

There is something creepy about this story, and it isn’t just the fact that Clark Kent meddles in everybody’s life. He changes the course of events, and not always in a good way.

When he makes the truck break faster than usual to save a puppy, the driver thinks his breaks are working outstandingly well, when he helps a dinner be ready earlier, he makes the cook feel confident about how fast she can prepare dinner. All these things that look like good deeds, are possibly making things worse, and the reason is that we need to make mistakes to learn from them.

In a way, Clark Kent being an alien, it reminds me of the role humans have had with the animal population throughout history. Introducing species to certain environments, changing them forever, and more often than not, leading to the extinction of certain species. This interventionism can be dangerous sometimes, and here we see it with Superman, helping humans that are unaware they need help (and by the end of the story, are still clueless).

If you think about it, this is a very deep concept.

Superman does these things because he can. He sees all these things happening around them, and some kind of OCD makes him correct them. What does this say about an omnipotent god then? A god that also sees these things and even worse things, and yet decides to not intervene? (like, let’s say, the holocaust). Well, you would say the same I said earlier, that intervening would prevent humans from learning anything. But at the same time, what lessons were the victims of the holocaust supposed to learn?

As you can imagine, I do not have the answers. But a small 8-page story fired up all this stuff in my head. In my opinion, a sensible god would be a better choice. Not one of these two extremes. Not Superman, helping those who do not need help, nor the god that lets the holocaust go untouched. Somewhere in between would be good enough.

Philosophy aside, Boring does a very good distinction between Clark and Superman. You can see they look different, which makes his secret identity more believable.

I give the story a score of 8.