Superman: Space Oddity


Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2005
Metro Manila, Philippines
This is more a plot outline for an Elseworlds miniseries than a full-blown "fan fic", but I really couldn't find anywhere else for it on the site. It's sort of a "Superman-as-archetypal-rock-star" narrative. Hope you like it. Feedback most welcome!

Superman: Space Oddity
An ElseWorlds 'Fan-Fic' by Paolo Jose O. Cruz

In this reality, the escape pod from Krypton lands not in the American Midwest, but in Weeborough, a sleepy British mining town in the north of England, in 1949. The infant Kal-El is found by locals Stuart and Mary Clark, who raise him as their own son, Kent. In spite of their well-intended attempts to bring him up as a good, old-fashioned working class lad (think: protagonist from a 50s 'kitchen sink' drama film), his alien nature attracts him to 'finer' interests: the arts, the Beatles, flower child psychedelia, and latent homosexuality (never explicitly mentioned). Meanwhile, Kent remains blissfully unaware of his meta-human abilities; his talents appear to be limited to an exceptional singing voice and a penchant for writing quirky folk music.

Bored ****less with the drudgery of small-town life, Kent sets off for London in the late 60s. He quickly befriends Lana Lang, a hedonistic art-school girl, with various chemical dependencies, and a latent propensity for careerism, if it leads to more drug money. She aggressively pursues gigs for Kent Clark; he gives her part of his earnings, to support her addictions. Pretty soon, Kent has a record deal, and experiences modest success with a track called "Superman" - reportedly inspired by the tale of lost US astronaut Hal Jordan.

However, true fame eludes Kent, leaving him frustrated and dissatisfied, being the (unknowing) extra-terrestrial perfectionist that he is; he wants no less than to change the world with rock n' roll!

Kent finds the necessary inspiration during a trip back home, when his ailing (foster-) father reveals to him his birthright: the ship that crash-landed in a disused mining shaft more than 20 years before. Contact with the spacecraft opens up a virtual hologram of his home-planet, giving him all the stimulation he could possibly need to create a truly out-of-this-world rock epic.

Kent Clark becomes Zoltar Cosmos, a larger-than-life alien refugee persona, clad in garish blue-and-red sci-fi jumpsuits (complete with a perversion of the familiar insignia as a 'Z'), an alter-ego bedecked in mascara and glitter eye-shadow - the living embodiment of glam rock excess. He forms a new touring band, the Krypton Arachnids, and releases an eponymous LP; it's the global success Kent had always dreamed of!

Kent/Zoltar begins to re-shape public opinion about gender, with his androgynous image and crazy onstage shenanigans (e.g. miming fellatio on Arachnids guitarist Jimmy Olsen, while he's playing his solo). But it's not only shock value that earns him recognition -- listeners are genuinely wowed by his evocative lyrics about dying planets and intergalactic loss.

As expected, fame bears its toll on Kent Clark. Spurred on (perhaps) by habitual uppers abuse, he starts to discover his latent powers (flight, xray vision, eye beams, and so forth), but is forced to keep them secret, incorporating them only into his stage performances, where they can easily be dismissed as high-budget special effects. Meanwhile, the excesses of life on the road put a strain on his relationship with Lana.

During an ill-fated tour of America, Kent meets upstart garage rocker Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Brucie Wank, whose band, Brucie & the Jokers, opens for the Krypton Arachnids in Gotham City. Instead of becoming a wrathful caped vigilante, this world's Bruce has pissed away (quite literally) the inheritance from his parents' murder, in a relentless downward spiral of punk rock nihilism. He gleefuly wastes his family's material resources to fund edgy studio recordings, and destructive (Iggy Pop-style) live performances. (This iteration of Bruce Wayne has a self-inflicted mohawk, crudely styled into the familiar bat-ears, as if the two personas were now physically one and the same.) Brucie influences Kent to either abandon the Zoltar persona, or surrender to it completely, turning himself into another rock cliche in the process.

Kent opts for the former, as he promptly truncates his world tour in the famed club Doomsday, announcing that he is effectively "killing" Zoltar, before he gets out of control. He is quickly dropped by his outraged record label.

Kent and Brucie relocate to West Berlin. Kent flirts with nostalgic Hitler-philia, and the idea of the Nietzchean 'Superman'. Out of this fascination, begins to create a new image, the 'Thin Blue Marquis', an idealized German autocrat. Needless to say, the resulting album is met with disinterest from a confused listening public.

Enter Lex Luthor, a seemingly open-minded and outwardly sympathetic American media mogul (complete with horrid shag toupee), who views Kent as a profitable star, even without his bombastic Zoltar facade. He pays for Kent's rehabilitation, and consciously isolates him from Brucie Wank.

Kent's next album, Kryptonite Kats, is a certified hit, despite its high concept. Inspired by Nabokov's Bend Sinister, the record tells the story of resistance and cooption inside a fascist police state, the allegorical Bottle City of Kandor. However, music critics begin to accuse Kent of "selling out", remarking the slicker production values and radio-friendly pop hooks.

Supported by Luthor's image-makers (a precision team of market researchers/tastemakers known collectively as "Brainiac"), Kent's comeback is unstoppable. He becomes a veritable commercial juggernaut, releasing two LPs full of very straightforward pop hits, as well as numerous collaborations with mainstream performers, including "Tension", a single recorded with fey rocker Oliver Queen (sorry, I just couldn't resist!)

However, what Kent doesn't realize is that Luthor and Brainiac are manipulating his fans, broadcasting subliminal messages in his releases and during his heavily-sponsored concerts, building up Luthor's growing corporate empire.

By 1985, Kent has relocated to Metropolis. By night, he's an aerobicized, family-approved pop icon. When not on tour, he spends his days holed up in the partial reclusion of his home recording studio, affectionately called the "Fortress of Solitude". Kent becomes the subject of an extensive feature in Planet Rock, a quasi-respected music journal in the vein of NME or Rolling Stone. The reporter assigned to cover Kent's story is, of course, headstrong and cynical veteran Lois Lane, who has sharp radar for bull****, immune to undue hype. A fan of Kent during his Zoltar years, Lois is visibly disappointed with his blatant watering-down in the present day. Finding himself increasingly attracted to the spunky and independent Lois, Kent is unreasonably hurt by her dismissal of him as just another pre-fabricated rock star. Disillusioned, he commits suicide by injecting himself with liquid kryptonite, backstage at the massive Rock Aid festival in Wembley stadium. In the process, he foils Luthor's scheme to brainwash the attendees of the mega-concert, by way of ultrasonic frequencies, triggered by Kent's voice.

However, Kent died while still under contract to Luthor. Accordingly, the Brainiac collective salvages his body, reanimating it with nanotechnology. Kent becomes Tin Machine, the ultimate post-millennial cyborg rock star!

However, Tin Machine eventually develops a sentience that mimics Kent's otherworldly sense of ethics. His superhuman intellect allows him to usurp control over Luthor Corp, 'reengineering' it as a utopian conglomerate, manufacturing artistic little wonders. He revolutionizes the system of distributing music and video, though file-sharing, digital reproduction, and so forth... essentially, he converts the media industry into a more truthful, just, and democratic space.
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I'm speechless. But it looks fun.
Proj took the words out of my mouth.

You are very creative, compound. I'd never think about doing an Elseworlds story about Kal-El being raised as David Bowie (or a David Bowie-esque figure, like here).
That's brilliant :D

Though when you mentioned Brucie's mohawk fashioned into bat ears, you really missed the chance of dropping in Soo Catwoman of the Bromley Contingent (UK 1976 punk social set and trendsetters).


You are awesome, Compound.
We could be heroes/ Just for one day

Thanx x 1 000 000 for all the praise, folks! I'm honestly touched. It's very rewarding, because this idea means a lot to me, personally, and I did put quite a lot of effort into fleshing it out.

Guijllons said:
Though when you mentioned Brucie's mohawk fashioned into bat ears, you really missed the chance of dropping in Soo Catwoman of the Bromley Contingent (UK 1976 punk social set and trendsetters).
Whoa! :shock: Honestly, I didn't think about including her. I knew of her by face, but had no idea that was her name. (Truthfully? I always thought it was the singer from Bow Wow Wow.) Great suggestion though. Still leaves room for a cameo, I guess.

Actually, if I were to do this as a legit comic (or even prose story), there would be *loads* of annotation-worthy nods to both rock history and the DCU mythos -- as well as a meta-critique of the prevailing social mood that gave rise to the changes in both. These come in the form of the various supporters and hangers-on, who Kent encounters over the years. I chose not to elaborate on their micro-scale sub-plots, because of space constraints, but here's a sampling of other possible appearances:

* Wally West is a fast-talking speed dealer (naturally). He's an inveterate moocher who flashes into people's lives during fair-weather times.

* Ralph and Sue Dibny are a pair of married adult entertainers -- the "Ozzie and Harriet of the porn industry". Despite being the alleged "world's longest man", Ralph is self-effacing and modest. The loving, supportive relationship that the couple shared in the mainstream DCU carries over into this reality, despite their carnal profession. They have a Boogie Nights-esque character arc, unfolding in the background, starting out as hard-partying buddies of Kent and Brucie, during the height of the skin movie industry in the 70s, before ending up broke and struggling, following the advent of video-format porn in the 80s. By this point, Brucie is a burned-out junkie, and Kent has sanitized and watered-down his image, as per Luthor and Brainiac's manipulation. So the Dibnys up being forced to get entrepreneurial, in classic American can-do fashion.

* After Kent abandons his Zoltar Cosmos persona, his old record label, Cadmus Music, attempts to promote an outlandish performer dubbed "Bizarro", with a similar gimmick as Zoltar. This "imperfect replica" is quickly met with general disinterest, and the stress of following Kent's lead reduces the fragile young artist to incoherent babbling. This also serves as a nod to also-ran glam musicians like Jobraith, who are now largely regarded as second-rate Bowie wanna-bes, deservedly or not.

* Rival recording company Star Creative Labs -- under the leadership of Ted Knight, a shrewd, Phil Spector-esque talent guru -- meets with considerably more success, by signing Diana Prince. Diana is an art-damaged punk chanteuse of Greek descent -- equal parts Patti Smith and Nico of the Velvet Underground. Her lustrious jet-black hair and commanding presence allow people to overlook the fact that she's a bossy trust-fund baby (most of the time, anyway). Somehow, in spite of this, she manages to become a feminist rock icon. Knight, believing there's never too much of a good thing, manufactures a pre-fab group of teenage rockers called the Power Girls, complete with ham-fisted faux-sister monickers (Mia Power, Kara Power and Donna Power) and matching stage gear. Understandbly insulted by her label's crass opportunism, Diana turns Hare Krishna and becomes a recluse, using her royalties to found a womyn-only commune dubbed "Paradise Island", in a remote Mediterranean islet. Diana only emerges from her self-imposed exile when Tin Machine begins to exert his hegemony over the global media, and she feels duty-bound to be a guiding light to the next generation of young women.

* In order to show the full extent of Kent's tepid, antiseptic music in the mid-80s, his back-up performers are depicted as analogs of Wendy and Marvin from the early seasons of the Superfriends cartoon. By way of an MTV-style news report, they are compared with up-and-coming enfant terrible Lobo, who is depicted as a cross between a leather-clad, Lemmy-esque Brit-metal god and the kind of hard-living sleazebag represented by the 80s L.A. hair-rock scene.
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This.... is awesome....

You're missing a Lou Reed character though.

And Ollie Queen really should mix Black Canary and the sidekick into his act.
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Good job Compound, this is neat stuff... that's really the best way I can describe it. Love the whole Brucie Wank thing especially since I'm a big Iggy and the Stooges fan. Overall, it's a great idea and I think it would make an awesome pitch. This is the kind of existential thing that gets noticed really quick.

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