Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis City. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His next project War Machine 2 is slated to be released June 5th and followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For The Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe
Every week in I'm Just A Rapper, Tef discusses modern life, hip-hop, and the deep connection between them.
Batman versus Superman is the epic superhero battle of the ages. My inner nerd has pondered for many moons what would actually take place if these two men squared off in a celebrity death match. Batman: The world's greatest psycho turned super-vigilante. And Superman: The cartoon, metaphorical version of a god. I stand on the side of the fence that says Batman is insane enough to kill the one and only Superman.
My belief in Batman comes from my faith in human willpower. You add a billion dollar budget and genius mind to that willpower and suddenly anything is possible. Superman is not human, so my loyalty to him is limited. Batman is solely driven by his human desire to win in this match up. If Batman loses, then we have no other choice but to acknowledge the prime weaknesses of the human race.
I dig Batman as a superhero because of the reality behind the concept of him as a dark hero. He is simply a guy who hates evil so much he has allowed it to turn him into a menace against it. The Batman's real name is Bruce Wayne and he is a genius, bachelor and billionaire with a psychotic split personality. Dealing with depression as a child has made it easy for me to relate his story. I emerged from the dark to rise above my personal demons and taunt my foes. I can relate to the darkness that seems to follow him. Though he is actually an agent of light. For some reason, I think I hold a similar position in the hip-hop universe. The guy Superman is a little too shiny and squeaky clean for me to fully embrace as my superhero of preference. I prefer for my heroes to have a little bit of dirt under their nails. Batman has skeletons in his closet, and at any moment he could easily snap and take things too far. The smallest dose of morality still remains buried deep inside his soul somewhere. This keeps him from dropping some evil creep over a bridge and into a river.
As a fan of Batman I do believe he will kill if he is eventually pushed to the brink of murder. He has the intellect of a mad scientist and the maniacal wit of Norman Bates. Superman is somewhat too true to the principles of old fashioned justice for me. If I were a villain, I imagine Batman would turn me into a murder victim while Superman on the other hand would just arrest me. Logically, I assume Batman is a man of morality so he would never take it this far. Even if Batman refuses to spill blood the bad guys are somewhat fearful he will possibly go too far into the dark side. Superman, on the other hand, is mild tempered. He believes in shaking hands and kissing babies. If a woman is having a horrible day, Superman has no problem with hand picking her a fresh batch of flowers and delivering them to her doorstep. He has the greatest unnatural power and superhuman ability ever known to mankind. At his core he believes in giving everyone a fair chance, and this just doesn't work well with super villains. The goal of a true super villain is to destroy everything and kill everyone. The greatest villains of our time do not play fair. Lex Luger Superman's greatest rival has made it his life mission to prove this theory to Superman. Lex is a creep extortionist and high-end criminal with nothing but scandalous intentions.
I am often annoyed by Superman's desire to plea bargain with this guy, as if he's some type of boy scout. Sometimes he's just too good of a guy for the superhero business. I've seen him arrest Luger and fly him to jail while holding a enormous smile on his face. He dips into the prison and leaves the super criminals with some sort of poetical proverb about justice before he floats back into the clouds. Everything about Superman annoys me for some reason.
However I do hold respect for the background story of true blue. The alien child of a super race from a distant planet sent to Earth in a last minute attempt to save his life. He was adopted and raised by a group of regular folks in a regular town yet he lived an irregular life. He grew older and became our planet's greatest super powered hero. One day as a child I realized I disliked Superman because his fight scenes often give villains the illusion of hope. I sat in my bedroom on a boring Saturday morning watching Superman get the life beat out of him and I just couldn't take it anymore. I was infuriated. It was at this very moment I decided I could no longer take the suspense of watching the strongest man in the world get thrown around like a balloon.
Superman fight scenes should be over with at the drop of a dime. He has every super power in the universe. Any form of a slugfest should be a no brainer. Superman freezes the bastard and throws him into the sun for the win. The problem is, when dealing with Superman things are never this simple. He's been on the brink of death multiple times and has even died once before. Every epic superhero seriously flirts with death at least once in order for the writers to drain your pockets and play mind games with our emotional attachment to them. A prime example of such a notion is the death of Captain America. It happened so unexpectedly I was thrown off and didn't see it coming. The comic book world sobbed because Cap was always such a stand-up guy. The writers decided to resurrect him when Barack Obama was elected into office. George Bush gave them the perfect opportunity to kill Cap and Obama gave them the marketing engine they needed to cash in on his resurrection. We loved it, and it worked like a charm. This emotional attachment is the reason we dig deep and believe these men will walk through the fire at all costs.
Batman has died several times but according to expert comic book artists like my friend Ben Sawyer, "there is not a universal belief about the death of Batman." He's faked his death several times, and in certain stories they have even revealed that he died of old age. There are stories involving death sequences for Batman, but none are totally embraced as the concrete manner in which he died. If I ask Ben, or any other comic fan of his magnitude about the death of Superman the answer remains the same. Doomsday came to Earth and murdered Superman. This is not debatable. We all have a different version of Batman's demise stored in the depths of our minds.
Superman's story never changes, so his death is embraced as an actual occurrence, while Batman's is more urban legend. I treat the stories of Batman's death as if they are fables about the superhero dying passed down from village orators.
When Superman died the world stopped for a brief moment in time. CNN actually covered this story on the news as if it was real. We were all shocked. This proved that he was indeed vulnerable and finally his nice guy persona caught up to him. There are stories centered around Batman's death but the difference is Bruce Wayne is 100% human. Humans are supposed to die, so we expect this to happen to him at some point. Superman was murked by a chump from another planet named Doomsday.
This saddens me because it seems as if he has all the physical strength in the world but zero heart to back it up. I firmly believe Batman would've figured out some genius method to kill Doomsday. The Superman versus Batman argument is not a closed book. However, I do believe the villain responsible for Superman's death would not be so successful against Batman. Bruce Wayne would've created a gadget from scratch specially made for the occasion. The Batman would've used his brain power and money in the bank to get the job done. Batman is a filthy rich maniacal human, and this allows him to have more freedom of thought than most of his counterparts. If he sensed death was near in this situation he'd rethink the scenario. Bruce is a mastermind that doesn't care if he has to go back to the drawing board. Superman let Doomsday put him in a body bag and call it a day. I just can't say he has what it takes to pull the trigger on the Dark Knight. I have been told several times that I have placed Batman on some type of pedestal.
He's a billionaire womanizer with a dark tormented heart. He desires to make every criminal alive suffer for the loss of his parents. He is mentally off his rocker, and the Batman character was created as an outlet for his pain. Batman often refers to Superman by his real name -- Clark Kent -- as a sign of disrespect. He has created a contingency plan to fight and defeat every member of the Justice League. I have often pondered what type of guy creates a plan to kill members of his own crew. He is one of the most unconventional superhero's in the universe of super people.
Sometimes I like to compare him to Adam Walsh of America's Most Wanted. They both started searching for vengeance after they suffered terrible losses at the hands of crime. One negative incident changed both of their lives forever. How many criminals would Adam Walsh and Batman collectively capture if they joined forces? Adam and Batman both use their anguish to fuel the fire. In some form or fashion they are simply out for revenge. I can tell you revenge doesn't really have parameters and guidelines. There is not a point of no return when vengeance of any form is involved. The Batman is not a good guy by nature, he often walks the thin line between villain and hero. He is simply searching for self gratification through crime fighting. Superman has more of a natural obligation to protect us. I am told the shining light of this argument that I tend to ignore is the fact that Superman is Superman.
I honestly believe Batman would play on the vulnerability of Superman's heart if this fight occurred. Superman more than likely does not have a plan in place to destroy the life essence of Batman. Honestly, I can't say that Superman ever appears to have a true plan of attack for any challenge. He sort of just goes flying into action and figures it out as he goes along. The fact that he doesn't have a sidekick kind of displays his arrogance. He actually has a fairly complicated life even outside of the Superman suit. The life of the world's greatest alien visitor is not an easy path to walk. His real parents are dead. His home planet has been completely destroyed. He is forced to live in a world where there is no one like him in existence. When you are born to be Superman, who is there for you to trust? His life is often lonely, empty and centered around the desires of others. Sometimes he can not sleep at night because his ears ring with the voices of people who are constantly crying for help. I'm almost certain he has thought about committing suicide at some point. The highs and lows of his life are far from each other.
Clark Kent is a super human but he is also a alien orphan with a set of deceased parents. Superman is extremely cool while Clark Kent is the nerdiest man ever. Nerds of the world love to compare themselves to Clark Kent because it makes us feel as if we have a chance to achieve similar forms of greatness. I can be socially awkward all I want, but at the end of the day I'll get the cute girl and save the world effortlessly. I am Superman flying high in the sky waving my middle finger at all the low life haters.
In a death match I know Superman is going to win on paper. He can use his powers to do things we can't even imagine him doing. He can fly around the Earth backwards and reverse the time and space continuum. He can use his breath to freeze all of the world's oceans. I could go on about how awesome his powers are for the duration of this argument. On paper, in a side-by-side comparison, unfortunately the man of the shadows just doesn't measure up to big blue. The odds are not in his favor because he doesn't have any special powers whatsoever.
But Batman's saving grace resides in the fact that in any fight, the underdog almost always has the mental advantage.
Superman comes into the ring squaring off against Batman with the expectation that he can kill him instantly. True Blue uses his laser vision to melt the outer layer of Bruce's armorized chestplate and fries his heart until it stops beating. Superman could also just freeze my guy to death and then drop him in the mouth of an erupting volcano. In theory a number of things should unleash in Superman's favor and it's game over. However I can not allow myself to underestimate the brilliance of a deranged human who believes he is actually a bat.
Batman pulls out a dart gun loaded with red kryptonite bullets and shoots Superman in the eye socket for the win. I know you're going to instantly say Superman has too much speed and agility for this to happen so easily. I say no problem: Batman pushes a button, Robin comes flying by with the bat plane, picks up Bruce and drops a kryptonite atom bomb on the city of Metropolis.
Mankind is too weak to overcome the Superman while some bogus alien named Doomsday came to Earth and made him bite the dust. The Joker is arguably the greatest villain of all time. Batman combats him on the regular and comes back from the brawl looking like new money. This is a battle of human wit and technology versus nonhuman super powers.
Earth isn't even this guy's rightful home. He wasn't born here, and he's not one of us. He's got all of the fancy borderline Biblical prophet type of powers, but he's not human. The human experience would give Batman an unseen advantage. Batman comes to the table with heart, mind, body and soul, and from those he has the basic principles of human endurance and desire to win. We may not want to admit it, but humans are all crazy as hell. I identify with Batman's plight, because when we're all alone at night in the darkest room in our house everyone turns into this character. We are human, and we have the ability to determine our very own destiny. The final decision between life and death resides in the palms of our hands. We are humans so the plan to defeat Superman in a death match is simple:
Go into this thing with our thrusters on full insanity mode, bring some money to table so we can buy our weapons and deactivate our hearts. This is the basic human solution for dealing with every other type of problem we've encountered, so why change now?
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