Super heroes, as the name implies are known for power and greatness. With a Superhero usually comes the assurance of protection, guidance and security. However in Jimmy Corrigan Chris Ware plays with the idea that the greatest superhero of all time, is actually not a character of security or safety, but rather a figure who represents to Jimmy: failure, disappointment and eventually a prediction of the letdowns to come in his future search for a worthy male role model. By using a young frail-like character such as Jimmy and repeatedly tarnishing Jimmy’s impression or definition of a father figure which he idealizes as Superman, Chris Ware is able to adequately argue for the anti-hero that most people are not familiar with. On numerous occasions throughout this comic book superman is seen, and time and time again, his presence is usually a sign of something impending doom. We are faced with unexpected panels of Superman in a reverse role of disappointment instead of admiration. By using one of Jimmy’s greatest weaknesses, which is his lack of a male role model, Chris Ware is able to toy with the ideas of the anti-superhero, i.e. that sometimes the ideal image of Superman as a father figure or omnipotent hero is not always true.
From the beginning of the book, Chris Ware’s intentions for Superman’s character is completely visible, at least to any reader that isn't as obsessed with Superman as Jimmy is. He does this by presenting a superman character being played by an impostor actor, this sets the tone for the reader that Superman, is first of all not real, and he is unlike the expected truthful, and well-thought of man, that we instinctively think he is. We see Superman cozy up to a Young Jimmy just to get close to his mother, these opening panels are set up entirely for the reader to understand the reality of what type of Superman we will be dealing with in this comic book. Although Jimmy misses Superman’s evil intentions, this is of no surprise because he looks up to him like a God. Here we are given a preview of the disappointment that Jimmy is eventually to face as he continues to hold Superman to high esteem. We all have a prehistoric depiction of what Superman stands for in our head. Every child has their ideal image and qualities of what makes their favorite Superhero, and this is no different than Jimmy (III). We start off the book with this image of superman, and from the beginning it is very evident the admiration and love that Jimmy has for Superman. However the truth about this superman is very transparent to the reader while Jimmy’s views on him are blurred. The morning after Superman spends the night with his mother he gives Jimmy his Mask before leaving, this mask stands as a metaphor for blinds on Jimmy’s perception on superman, although he can see, his view is being tainted by his bias towards Superman. It is no surprise that Chris Ware makes sure to break down this perception that Jimmy has, he once again shows the readers and this time Jimmy the true colors of his hero. Chris Ware strips superman of his heroic form in the eyes of Jimmy by bringing him down in the lowest form through suicide. In most literary works, the downfall of a character is usually seen when they act in ways that those looking up to them don’t find favorable. Suicide is one of those actions, it is the end of a life, not only yours, but a loss for those who care for you or in Jimmy’s case those who look up to you. As is done numerous times over unusual and in-ordinary the course of this comic book, Ware fast-forwards to Jimmy as a grown man, eating breakfast while reading a Superman comic book. His childhood obsession has carried on into his bad adulthood.
But Ware quickly begins to strip this idea from Jimmy with a scene where he watches his idolized hero jump off a building to his death. In this picture we have his bright costume of colors blue, yellow and red set among
Jimmy’s anxiety to meet his father is seen through his imaginations in which he sees Superman in human form whenever several bad situations occur. However it is not only Jimmy who has struggled with identifying a quality male model in his life. His father and grandfather all struggle in their life’s trying to define the love of a true role model or father figure. Following Jimmy’s fathers own journey on his search for a father figure we are introduced to Jimmy (I) who is an old, angry and unhappy man with a terrible attitude towards his son. In this scene we have father and son sleeping in bed, but the father is dressed as Superman. This is another way in which Chris Ware taints the image of Superman. By portraying him as everything that a male role model is not. He shows the generational disappointment of the Jimmy’s in their actual fathers, or ideas of a father figure. This can also be seen as a history lesson in Superman’s character as a false hero even as far back in the days of Jimmy (I). This means that even for Jimmy (II) Superman was a character that he admired, but seeing his father dressed as him, shattered this admiration, his perception of Superman is changed from this experience, because now he sees Superman as similar to his father, someone who is not a god role model. This situation foreshadows for Jimmy (I) that his expectation in Superman will also be shattered because even back in his fathers times, Superman has not been the Super-hero that was expected.
The lack of a father figure leaves Jimmy constantly searching for someone to fill that void. But the absence of a father figure has been an issue in his family for generations back. This makes the issue at hand even more complicated because he is not only caring his burden but the burdens translated to him from his ancestors. It is because of this burden that Jimmy seeks out Superman to serve as his father figure. But Superman’s character in this comic book is questionable and lacking of the qualities of a father figure. He is unlike any super hero we are used to because he is constantly disappointing Jimmy, just as his absent father disappointed him. This idea of a father compared to Superman is shutdown several times in this comic book, and Ware achieves this by his tactful use of graphics to depict these ideas. With these different imageries, the theme of the generational search for a father figure is addressed, and with Ware’s skillful artistic abilities, this theme is brought to life and made easier to understand, just by deciphering the images and symbols