Why I want to retire to Smallville

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

Steve Jahnke/The Southern/AP/File
Painted bronze statue of Superman watches over Metropolis, Ill.

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.

Did the discovery of a baby inside a small spacecraft frighten or alarm the elderly couple? Not at all. Instead of calling police or the FBI, they simply took the tiny occupant to an orphanage. A short time later they returned and asked to adopt the child. No hurries, no worries.

If any of the Kents' neighbors wondered about the background of the infant prior to his brief stay at the orphanage they never said so publicly. Smallville was a very accepting place.

Clark Kent managed to navigate kindergarten through 12th grade without any kids, teachers, or school administrators becoming aware of his true identity. Only his best friend, Pete Ross, stumbled onto the fact that he was also Superboy (it happened by accident one night on a camping trip – you just never know what's going to happen in the great outdoors). And Pete, being the embodiment of solid Main Street values, never revealed the totally awesome, incredible secret to anyone.

As I get older, the idea of retiring to Smallville seems more and more appealing. They didn't have talk radio or slash-and-burn political campaigns. Nobody was worried about global conspiracies. Que sera sera. A teenager with superpowers zooming over the rooftops? Just another day at the office.

I want that easygoing, earnest lifestyle. It shouldn't be too hard to find a job, maybe something part time helping out at the local soda fountain. I won't stare like a rube if the kid in the blue tights and red cape flies past the front window. Nobody will care where I came from, or why. They might not even notice I'm there.

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