Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest kid on Earth was an interesting read; full of awkward moments, discomfort, foul language and sadness; not my favorite read. In the opening of the story Superman plays the typical role as the hero and role model, especially to Jimmy. On page one Jimmy, in this childhood moment, is outfitting himself with his own red superhero mask as he prepares himself to meet his idol at the auto-show he attends with his mother.
Superman we see here is actually Super-Man, a middle-aged man in an ill-fitting costume of the wrong color, but he “saves” Jimmy from getting in trouble with his mother, resulting in him joining them for dinner and “nightcap” back at their home. Jimmy’s discomfort is evident in his facial expressions as he goes to bed that night and into the following morning, only for it be dismissed as Super-Man sneaks out the door leaving Jimmy with his mask as a parting gift (Ware, p 1-4). This is where the first theme of abandonment presents itself.
Another instance of abandonment occurs a few short pages later. Ware uses a red bird to transition between the periods of time, first seen on page 4 to move from Jimmy’s childhood memories to his present day life; here he is a 36 year old man-child who is constantly bombarded with his mother’s phone calls and her worry. On page fourteen is where we see Super-Man again, this time in present day on top of a roof across the street from the building Jimmy works in and right outside his cubicle window.
Jimmy doesn’t notice him here until her returns from the vending machine to a note that reads: “I sat across from you for six months and you never once noticed me! Good bye” Jimmy looks up in time for one quick wave and sees his childhood hero plummet to his death—abandoned yet again. Super-Man throughout the novel is a representation of abandonment, flaws and let downs. After these first few pages, the “hero” is tied to awkward and unpleasant events with Jimmy’s estranged father, reminding him of their total lack of connection.
One awkward moment Superman can be tied to can be found on page 127. Beginning on page 104 with our time depicting red bird, Jimmy has just been hit by a mail truck and is sitting in the doctor’s office with a nosebleed waiting to get checked out, while his father makes cumbersome attempts at small talk. He starts by commenting on the sweepstakes on the back of his soda can, which turns quickly into an uncomfortable conversation about his past with women and asking Jimmy if he has a girlfriend/has talked to his girlfriend about their meeting. When
Jimmy’s “Uh I guess” doesn’t hold up, he follows by saying “[She said] I guess just that it was weird that you weren’t ever around when I was…” Mr. Corrigan then fires back with unpleasant comments like “what a load of whiny woman talk show s***” and “you’d think this whole country was a bunch of child abused mental patients” (Ware, 104-112). When the doctor finally comes in during the checkup he makes remarks like “hey hey take it easy Superman, I’m just doin’ my job here…” and “Just don’t do go trying to be more powerful than a locomotive, y’hear? (Ware, 127-128).
While we don’t see the figure or character of Super-Man here, both references are inclusive of the hero. In the ultimate case of abandonment, death, Superman is also present. Jimmy finally meets his sister and step mother wearing a Superman sweater and when his father passes away (Ware). Jimmy Corrigan is the sad story of that explores some of the most depressing moments a person could experience. The novel is well written, well-drawn and intricate down to every last detail.