The Rust Belt Goes Nerd: Superman Saves Cleveland

June 16, 2017

Never underestimate the influence of the Rust Belt when it comes to pop culture.

 

I live in Cleveland, a city that is far from the status of a social and world epicenter like New York or Los Angeles.  Even to the average person the word "Cleveland" may simply mean LeBron James, or food, but underneath the headlines lies a history that is both vast and significant to our society.  Most of the press the area of the country known as the Rust Belt usually gets, focuses on sports, or economics but underneath the headlines lies a history that is both vast and significant to our society.  The more you look, you discover all types of athletes, writers, performers, and even aliens, used to call this rusty place home.

 

That's right, you are reading that correctly, I said aliens.

 

Perhaps one of the most famous aliens and recognizable comic book faces of all time is from my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.  Well technically he is from Krypton, but the character of Superman was created in the Glenville neighborhood of the city and throughout the summer of 2017 the Downtown Branch of the Cleveland Public Library will host a special exhibit detailing the past, present, and future of Krypton's favorite son.

 

I'll start off by saying the exhibit is split between one main room on the first floor, which houses all of the larger pieces of the collection, and the hallways of the remaining three floors whose display cases are packed full with various collector's items from Arkansas Superman Superfan Mike Curtis.

 

 

When you first walk in the doors you are met with a life size statue dressed in the costume worn by Brandon Routh in the 2006 chapter of the saga Superman Returns. 

 

 

Now keep in mind there will be future generations who will identify Routh as the original Superman, correct them when necessary.

 

As you make your way through the room there are many things worth checking out...

 

In one corner a display case contains a copy of Action Comics #1, what many consider to be the Holy Grail of comics.  Jerry Seigel and Joe Schuster created the character in 1933 and five years later sold the rights for $130.00 so Superman could make his on paper debut.

 

 

Of course you can't touch the comic but the glass of the case comes equipped with a Minority Report style technology that lets you glance at digital pages as you admire this element of literary history.

 

No homage to Superman would be complete with out his regular changing room.

 

 

Yes, the phone booth, where Clark Kent would enter as a normal guy, and come out a hero.  The booth made it's first appearance in the 1941 animated film, The Mechanical Monster where Superman fights an evil scientist and his army of robots.

 

They have the poster for Superman And The Mole Men, the first full length feature starring George Reeves.

 

 

You can find a replica of his costume from the movie too.

 

 

One of my favorite aspects of the exhibit is the design for the Seigel Schuster Tribute Plaza which is set to feature a large statue of Superman looking like he is in mid-flight.  The exact location and unveiling date have yet to be determined but a smaller scale sample of what may come stands in the center of the room.

 

 

Let's just hope nobody is inspired to spray paint "False God" on the chest.

 

Whether you are a fan or comics, Cleveland, or a kid who used to hold a towel around your neck and pretend to save the world, this Superman exhibit is worth the time.  It's not something you can spend the whole day doing, but for what the Cleveland Public Library had to work with, I couldn't be happier with the final product.

 

The Superman Exhibit is located at 325 Superior Ave, Cleveland Ohio and will run through the summer.

 

Have you vistied the Superman exhibit in Cleveland? What pop culture museum do we need to review? Let Nerdbot know in the comments!

 

 

 

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