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Superior Man, True Man: the Extraordinary Study of the Kent Orphan

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Based on characters owned by Scott Rudin Productions and DC Comics.

What follows is an excerpt from the diary of Cristof Siegel.

 

October 5th, 1926

The experiment has taken an extraordinary turn. I can barely type this entry. I can only believe that the psychology of the experiment has brought out something new in the subject. Either that or the subject was always destined for amazing things from the time when I adopted him at the age of about two years.

Ten years have passed since he was selected from the line up. We must find out more about his past. The papers affirming his adoption referenced him only as “Kent Orphan”. It was we who inducted him into the Superior Man psychological experiment and named him Truman Kansas.

I hestitate to describe the extrordinary sights I have seen. For my misspellings, I beg forgivenness from the future students of science who will study these pages. My clumsy fingers are as stunned as I am.

How does one begin?!

Even now I hear the knocking of my assistants, surely bringing more nwes.

[End October 5th, 1926, entry i]

 

October 5th, 1926, entry ii

Keroway has told me that they’ve sent an inquiry to Smallville, the town where the subject first entered into orphanry. Meanwhile, the boy will not come down from the ceiling.

He’s sitting upon the ceiling!

Not the rafters, mind. Nor the roof.

He has been climbing onto those since he was four years old, like any normal child raised on a farm in middle America. His handlers followed protocol the first time he did, telling him he had amazed them, and that they themselves could not possibly have ever done such a thing as climb a tree.

This was all a part of my cleverly designed scientific protocol, to make the ordinary boy believe he was something extraordinary, that we might see how far positive reinforcement is able to carry the human spirit, and through that spirit the body.

And look what hath the mind-over-matter philosophy produced. A boy who can stand upon a dining room ceiling the way I might one day stand upon the Nobel prize stage. Defying the very chains of gravity itself!

I have no idea what to tell the art boys to submit for the next run in the comic pages of America’s Sunday newspapers.

[End October 5th, 1926, entry ii]

 

October 8th, 1926

My frustrations grow and I have not added an entry to this log for three days. The explanation is simple, the boy has done nothing extraordinary.

After he was coaxed down from the dining room ceiling, where he sat perched above his simple country supper of roast chicken and corn, he was put to bed pleasantly by his matronly handler Mrs. Landry. Her instructions, as always, are to make no suggestions of what the boy should try next, and she followed protocol to the letter.

Though at the time of his contra-gravitational jaunt she showered him with praise for the stunt -- this time understating her amazement (a power she must have gained through practice, for a lesser actress would never have been able to contain the titanic proportions of her astonishment), whereas ordinarily she overstates her amazement at such mortal feats as successfully jumping from one tree stump to another nearby -- the following day she treated him as a normal boy with chores and free time, as per protocol.

Evidently, he saw no reason to repeat his saunter up the walls and onto the ceiling. The covert monitoring he undergoes at all hours uncovered no extraordinary behavior at all. Neither the spies in the false trees nor the hidden microphones disguised as electrical lights betrayed any evidence of him behaving out of the ordinary.

Perhaps most dismaying, word has returned from Smallville, Kansas that the Kents have both passed away, giving us no clue as to the origins of this boy. Mrs. Martha Kent née Clark was twelve years ago too advanced in age to have possibly been the progenitor of this boy. He must have some other mother, though his father could be the man Jonathan Kent.

And so, the possibility that the boy was born through extraordinary means or extraordinary genes cannot be ruled out. They must be ruled out! Or the experiment cannot be proven a success.

Meanwhile, I find I am not so dedicated as I once was to the idea of publishing the progress of a scientific experiment via newspaper comics. The new development the other day was too amazing to release immediately. I need more time to think on it. To see how it develops further.

[End October 8th, 1926]

 

October 11th, 1926

He has done it again! This time a frightful sight.

From the first day, the protocol called for understatement of the natural strength of the boy’s faux parents and the other adults with whom he has been sequestered on this farm for his entire life.

He believes they are incapable of lifting anything heavier than a Webster’s Dictionary. And that they require complicated pulley systems even to erect a simple shed or outhouse.

And so since the age of six he has believed himself capable of lifting weights of greater mass than those which his parents can carry. Per the protocol, they always treated every new ordinary feat as extraordinary.

And this psychological reinforcement has paid off, for today the boy has lifted a farm-worker’s tractor, an incredible feat of a degree -- if not a kind -- with his earlier one. Surely this is the most eventful week in the history of mankind.

But what heights will the boy soon reach?

I have decided that this more “down to earth” achievement will be the subject of the next comic strip in The Daily Planet, The Gotham Times, and the rest. The other story, of his walk upon the ceiling, will have to wait.

The comic has been running throughout the experiment, since 1916, under the heading “Superior Man, True Man”. As I’ve written before, I would have liked Superior Boy, but the comic writers said it did not lend the import that is due to this endeavor.

The idea of raising an ordinary boy as if he is extraordinary has been chronicled within that weekly medium since then, accessible even to laymen. It serves as an inspiration of how extraordinary we all are, with our powers of Perception, our Depth, our Sanctity of Being, and all those elements with which God and Nature have endowed us. The powers Man takes for granted.

And so the three- to six-panel medium of newspaper comics has seen Truman Kansas raised up from one barely able to walk, through the discovery of his ordinary talents, to his budding years as a near-man. Always these stories were true, gathered through our observations of him via electrical microphone and spies.

Always the boy has been cut off from the world that may distract him or, worse yet, relieve him of the illusions of mankind’s inferiority that make him feel superior. The very belief that spurs him to greatness.

But is the world ready to see the tremendous fruit of this study? I believe they must. They will call us charlatans and liars. They’ll say that it was fiction all along. That there is no Truman Kansas. Let them talk. I’ve heard that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

[End October 11th, 1926]

 

October 15th, 1926

I am deeply troubled. The boy has had an outburst common to youth of his age.

Though trained from infancy to treat his parents with respect, he released some petty anger upon a screen door, which was afterwards found among the trees whence it was launched by the enormous force of his slamming it open.

The youth then leapt skyward and remained there, as if sat upon a low cloud. If not for the binoculars which our spies ordinarily use to surveil him, it is possible we would not have seen him at all, such was his height.

He could not be at all heard by our microphones while he remained aloft, but it is safe to assume he said nothing, as he was not in the company of anyone.

When the boy came down for the noon meal, he was not communicative, and his parents did not press the matter -- the protocol is to ignore outbursts, because spankings and other punishments would show the boy that he was not superior. The only punishments permitted are the withholding of items of favor and affection. This they did by depriving him of pie.

Still, if he can leap into the sky, and there remain, what’s to stop him from leaping deep into the forest? It’s only a matter of pushing off the earth at a well-calculated angle. Will he ever be so brave?

I do not know what to do about this experiment. Safety may be at stake, but just as important is the Future of Mankind; secrets that course through the veins of this farm boy.

The response in the papers to last week’s six-panel comic was as I predicted. The reporter at The Daily Planet coined a term “Comic Science”, meant to undermine both the honesty of our findings but also the professionality of the study itself. Imagine what they’ll say when we show him sat upon the ceiling above his dinner plate.

Despite that, no newspaper has threatened to discontinue the running of our comic, even the Daily Planet. And a flood of letters has come into our Metropolis office from all over the country and even as far away as Munich.

They see what I see. Man is meant to be more than this. Nature brought us to such heights as we take for granted, but the future is up to us.

[End October 15th, 1926]

 

October 21st, 1926

There has been a breach of security in the experiment.

Firstly I should record here that the subject has been spending much time “in the sky” in quiet contemplation. It is ever more apparent that I was right to initiate the experiment in a secluded section of Tennessee woodland.

The handlers are puzzled, but I instructed them that nothing needs to be done. A youth such as he needs time to himself, unencumbered by adults. Especially inferior adults, as we now know that we truly are.

And this time of self-regard has improved his mood. When he comes down and resumes his chores, a seventy-pound hay bale slung over each arm, he hums or whistles a soft melody, which we hear upon the electrical microphones we have secreted within the barn.

It was not until after three days of this that we realized the trouble it represented.

Since toddlerhood the boy has been exposed to a restricted library of literature and music. Despite the moral quality of the Greek myths, he cannot be permitted to know of the feats of such mortals as Odysseus, even in fiction, for if he understood that the true limits of Man are greater than he believes, he may come to understand the ruse we have played upon him in pursuit of science. No, he must only reach his achievements through behaviorist psychology, or else all would be spoiled.

Being so disillusioned, he may even lose the progress he has made!

However, lest the reader think us monsters, we include much reading material that is safely within protocol. I recall that a short work of Hercules’ adventures was included on the book shelves of the farm house -- after careful inspection -- because that mighty figure is not a man but a demigod and may serve as inspiration to our subject.

Still, the only musical reproduction he has ever heard has been via the Victrola machine, and the records there upon played have been strictly musical and not lyrical in nature.

The only lyrical music which the boy has ever heard takes the form of lullabyes and carefully selected hymns, which he sings with his falsely-so-called mother and father at the simple Sunday proceedings they conduct at the stand up piano in the living room.

Knowing this, imagine my astonishment when my assistants informed me that the subject was humming and whistling nothing other than a tawdry Al Jolson melody!

Indubitably, this tune was ferried to the farm in the throat of one of the boy’s ersatz uncles or aunts, after a respite trip to Gotham or Metropolis. The culprit, whoever he is, must have picked it up from a radio broadcast and hummed it idly when he returned to the farm.

This loosening of security protocols was inevitable for a study that has been conducted over ten years. I see that now. But it cannot be accepted. We have come so far and we cannot let the project be destroyed at this stage, when we have had our first taste of victory. Imagine the heights the boy can reach.

I must put the fear of God into these men and women.

Meanwhile, the interest of the public has grown by leaps and bounds through our publications in the comic pages of the country’s newspapers. They now run in every major paper in every state in the Union. Even on weekdays! I have had to hire on more cartoonists.

I haven’t seen this kind of excitement for scientific endeavor in my countrymen since the Wright brothers’ famous journey. If they only knew what I have achieved with the boy, it would set Wilbur to spinning in his grave with such velocity that he might provide power to an aerial machine through his motion. I chuckle at the thought.

I only lament that the entire affair must be conducted in clandestine secrecy as if shameful. Earnestly I would like to enjoy some of the adulation that the Wright brothers received on the event of their first powered flight, not through letters but through direct meetings with my admirers.

[End October 21st, 1926]

 

October 22nd, 1926

A stroke of good luck has come out of Smallville, Kansas, the birthplace of the subject as best we can estimate. We have discovered that the Kansas courts have completed probate on the Kent farm and found no next of kin. The farm will be auctioned by the state next week.

I immediately dispatched Keroway to Smallville where he will secure the property on behalf of the project. Until now, it has not been within our rights to investigate the property for clues to the true circumstances of the boy’s birth.

It must be done whatever the cost, that we may put to rest any suspicion that the boy came to us with his fate as a Superior Man already written. I intend to prove that he has achieved his superiority through the power of positive thinking and positive reinforcement. If anything else were the case, our study would come to naught.

Here I should mention that I have relieved Lane Olson of his duties on the farm. As he was the boy’s favorite uncle, I deduced that he is likely the one to introduce him to modern music. The man denies it, but I had to make an example of him.

[End October 22nd, 1926]

 

October 30th, 1926

I am going away to lead Keroway’s inspection of the Kent farm, which he was able to purchase at a somewhat inflated price. He assures me that what he found is too baffling for him to evaluate and too impossible to describe over the telephone. Additionally, it is too large to bring back to the experiment site without the subject taking notice. I fear that it does not bode well for this experiment.

It is safe for me to leave the site at this time, because no developments have occurred with the boy. Indeed, he has lately spent his free time staring into mirrors. I fear we are approaching that most difficult of times in the growth of a young man.

Meanwhile, such is the national fervor over the boy, that I have contracted the telephone company to install a new copper wire to our farm, which will be dedicated to sending a constant flow of audio signals to radio stations all over the country. We intend to announce the boy’s every movement to the country as it happens, often accompanied by his own voice as captured by our discreet microphone system.

[End October 30th, 1926]

 

November 10th, 1926

The investigations at the Kent farm turned up nothing of interest. But for safety, I ordered Keroway to accompany the materials to our offices in Metropolis where he will store them in the usual manner, in a space suitable for something so large.

With that all locked up, I believe it is safe to say that the boy was not always destined for greatness, but that it is I who have thrust greatness upon him.

As such, I have given the art boys the go ahead to reveal in the newspaper comics his ability to leap to great heights and remain there stood upon nothing. That should create a crescendo of interest in the population of the country. This wave of excitement will surely carry them to their radio receivers to raptly hear the first sound waves of our Superior Man broadcast.

While I was gone -- and as I suspected -- the boy continued displaying mood swings consistent with the coming changes in his body. Upon my return I learned that he had stopped staring into the mirror and took to brooding in his bedroom for several days with the window shades drawn.

[End November 10th, 1926]

 

November 13th, 1926

I fear we have lost control. The cause of my error is as mysterious to me as its enormity. I do not know what I have released upon the world.

When three days had passed, I sent Mrs. Landry to the boy’s room to attempt to rouse him from his doldrums.

But when she knocked upon his door, he responded by hurling a chair, which then carried ono, crashing through the wall and nearly colliding with the woman as she stood in the hall. If it had done so, it surely would have killed her instantly.

Experience has shown that the boy does not miss his targets. I can only conclude that he knew exactly where to throw the chair in order to miss the woman but to frighten the wits completely out of her. This although a door and a wall stood between them. How he perceived her, I do not know.

This could not have come at a worse time, as our broadcasting facilities have begun their work just this day. I can only imagine what America thinks about what followed.

Mrs. Landry refused to speak to him again. When his father approached the opening created by the boy’s previous tantrum, we all heard a tremendous sound, like a train or a tornado, then outside, what sounded like the volley of a Vickers machine gun.

Hurrying outside to see what was the matter, we discovered the sound was that of hundreds of wood splinters lodging themselves into the yard. Truman had destroyed his bedroom wall as he burst through it at unimaginable speed.

The trail of debris formed a path, like an arrow pointing the way to a section of forest which had bent and broken as the boy passed through. A new road through old-growth forest.

For several minutes afterwards we could hear the splintering of trees as the boy laid waste. We have no hope of catching up to him.

[End November 13th, 1926]

 

This marks the end of the journal of Cristof Siegel.

 

The following is a transcript of the final minutes of the Superior Man broadcast.

 

November 14th, 1926

ANNOUNCER: ... which happened when he was just four years old. He believed that he was the only-- What’s that?

ANNOUNCER: Folks, there is a tremendous noise coming from outside the studio.

[A background voice is audible.]

ANNOUNCER: Yes, I can confirm this is the same noise in the forest we heard when Truman Kansas left the small farm in Tennessee where we’re broadcasting to you, leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. It seems he is returning.

ANNOUNCER: Folks, I do not believe his mood has improved.

[A rumbling is heard.]

ANNOUNCER: (Whispering.) Keep it together. Stay professional, men. (Unintelligible.)

ANNOUNCER: Folks, we promised you when we started transmitting just 24 hours ago that this would be an honest show. You’ve read about Truman in the papers these last ten years. We’ve never kept anything from you. We owe it to you to see it through even the worst times. Let’s go to our hidden microphones to hear what’s happening on the lawn.

[A microphone switch is heard.]

TRUMAN: Cristof! [Static noise.]

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, I can see him now. I have come out into the yard. The boy has burst out of the forest, laying another scene of destruction as he did. Splintered tree trunks now litter the lawn like so many toothpicks spilled on a table.

[A roar is heard. Screams.]

ANNOUNCER: [Shouting.] A beam of light like fire has erupted from the boy, from his eyes! Striking the farm house. Several sections of it have been destroyed, and the rest is beginning to light aflame.

[More screams are heard.]

ANNOUNCER: The men and women who were in the house are running out now, coughing through the smoke. If I’m seeing it correctly, it appears that everyone is accounted for. Some of the forms are running for the distant forest. Others are standing unmoving, transfixed by the sight of the boy.

ANNOUNCER: Now the boy has lifted his arms...

[A thunder clap is heard. Confused shouts.]

ANNOUNCER: I’m struggling to regain my footing, folks. An earthquake! The boy has struck the ground with such force that a wave of earth moved under our feet. I see that most of the figures have fallen down, as if prostrate before the Superior Man.

ANNOUNCER: As I look around, I see the farm house, still ablaze, has shattered to timbers, it too, kneeling before the mighty boy.

[Shouting.]

ANNOUNCER: (Muffled.) No, I’m seeing this through.

ANNOUNCER: The boy is approaching Dr. Cristof Siegel, head of the Superior Man experiment.

TRUMAN: Cristof! You betrayed me.

CRISTOF: What have you done to your home, boy?

TRUMAN: That’s not my home. It’s a prison! And all these people are pawns in your sick game.

ANNOUNCER: The boy has just gestured to the crowd around Crisof, many of whom still lie upon the ground.

[A rush of wind.]

ANNOUNCER: The boy has just sprinted at Cristof, faster than any locomotive I’ve ever seen. But he stopped short of tackling him. Still, the wind that trailed the boy impacted the doctor with such force that he has fallen once again to the ground.

TRUMAN: Don’t bother with your lies. I’ve read your journal. I know about your dreams of a superior race of men. Do you like what you [garbled static noise]?

ANNOUNCER: The force with which the boy speaks is like that of an enormous lion. I only trust that this broadcasting equipment has not been damaged by the sheer noise of it. Dr. Siegel himself seems unable to speak, though his lips move.

TRUMAN: How did I read it? I see everything! I hear everything! I even hear your feeble heart and the blood that it pushes through your worthless body. I see and hear through you to your core. As clearly as I hear the radio in the Luthorsville pharmacy repeating my own words back to me. You made me this!

CRISTOF: No! I didn’t! There’s a… It’s a… What can I say? It’s a space-faring vessel. We found it on the Kent farm. The farm where you were found in Kansas. You must be from--

[Dead air, 5 seconds.]

ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry, I am simply stunned by what I see. The Superior Man tossed Dr. Siegel into the sky. Tossed him like a baseball. Then he -- playing himself catcher as well as pitcher -- he leaped skywards as you have all heard that he can do, to meet the man before what would have surely been a fatal fall.

ANNOUNCER: There they remain, ladies and gentlemen. This must be what it was like to see Jacob wrestling with angels. I can’t hear them now. Let’s see if our instruments are strong enough…

TRUMAN: (Unintelligible), BUGS! You monstrous (unintelligible).

[A sound like a teapot is heard.]

ANNOUNCER: The young man seems to be glowing. Glowing like the su--

[The sound of an explosion is heard briefly before the transmission ends.]

[End November 14th, 1926]

This is the end of the transcript of the Superior Man broadcast.

 

The explosion on November 14th, 1926 damaged 15 buildings and 189 windows in nearby Luthorsville, Tennessee.

Five buildings composed the site of the Superior Man experiment. No trace of them was ever found.

The 17 souls known to be present at the time of the broadcast, including Truman Kansas the Superior Man, are presumed dead.