Comic Book Space Rhetoric

Reading Comprehension Exercise

Click here for a related STEM exercise.


From earliest childhood to old age, the comics have influenced reading.  Whether the  Sunday comic strips or editions of  Disney’s works, comic book art and narratives have been a reading catalyst.   Indeed, they have played a huge role in entertaining people of all ages.  However, their vocabulary, sentence structure, and overall appropriateness as a reading resource is often in doubt.  Though at times too  graphic” for youth or too “childish” for adults,  their use as an educational resource has merit.  Such is the case with the following application, COMIC BOOK SPACE SCIENCE as a rhetoric tool. 


Among the most popular of comic book heroes is Superman.  His origin and super-human feats have thrilled comic book readers, theater goers, and television watchers for decades.   Read the following account from the World of Krypton, then draft your answers in English prose  devoid of spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.




Most Tragic Story Told


(Note: The story is written in children’s prose. The answers should be composed in adult rhetoric.  Grading will be based on the adaptation of reading level to adult prose.)

Have you ever read a story called a fairy tale? Examples of some fairy tale stories are HANSEL AND GRETEL, LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD, and CINDERELLA. What do fairy tales have in common? The answer is they are all make believe stories. None of them are actually true. Another thing is true about fairy tales. Each of them teaches us about living our lives. This is called the "moral" of the story. SUPERMAN is a type of science fiction fairy tale. His story is not really true, but it teaches something about our lives on Earth. It also tells us what life might be like if we fail to live rightly as a society.

If the story of Superman were told as a fairy tale, it would read something like this:

Once upon a time, on a far away planet called Krypton, lived a family of three, a mother and father and a baby less than a year of age. The planet Krypton was in danger of exploding. The explosion would cause everyone on Krypton to die.

The father of the family of three was the greatest scientist and smartest man on the planet Krypton. He was Superman's father. All the people on Krypton except for Superman's father did not believe that the planet would explode, so they did nothing to try to save themselves.

Earlier, an evil man from Krypton had conducted rocket tests which caused many people to die. Because of his evil use of science, all future rocket tests and launches were forbidden. Unfortunately, Superman's father knew rockets would be needed to save Krypton's people from the explosion of the planet. As a result he had no choice but to secretly develop a rocket to save his family.

The story is very much similar to the story of Noah in the Bible. Noah knew the world would be flooded. Without boats, people would drown.  No one believed Noah, but Noah built a boat anyway to save his family.  When the flood came, only Noah's family escaped drowning.

When Krypton exploded, only Superman's rocket escaped. Because the rocket's power was limited, there was room only for baby Superman and his Superman's mother. Even though Superman's father insisted she board the rocket, Superman's mother choose to stay with her husband. At the instant of Krypton's explosion, the rocket launched baby Superman into space on a journey to Earth.

The rocket landed on Earth and was found by a good couple named the Kents. They became Superman's adopted Earth parents. They soon discovered that the baby they found in the rocket had super powers of strength, intelligence, and vision. The planet Krypton's environment required all of its people to have much more strength, smarter minds, and keener eyesight than Earth's people.

Super Baby grew to be Superman. His Earth name was Clark Kent. Only his parents knew of his super powers. Superman only used his powers for doing good. He chose to keep them secret and did not take of advantage of them to profit or draw attention to himself. Not only did he have a super body but also he had unseen gifts of kindness, mercy, justice, and encouragement of others. In all ways, he was a super person, not only physically but also socially and morally. Because his parents sacrificed their lives for their baby son, all people on Earth benefited from their gift to the world. As the story ends, all on Earth lived happily ever after.


Below you are asked to answer some questions that apply to America’s space program and Earth's future based on the above story.

1.Why is this story called the "Most Tragic Story Ever?"  In what ways does this story have a happy ending?



2.  Do you think it was a good idea for Krypton's people to forbid rocket flights and   space travel?



3. Why did they make such a law?



4. How might the rulers of Krypton have handled the problems of rocket tests rather than making them illegal?



5. What does the "Most Tragic Story Ever" teach us, or what is the moral of the story?

Click here to return to STARSHIP home base.