I'm not a big reader of comic books, but I do own a few of those paperback compilations you see occasionally in Barnes and Noble. I've always preferred the DC comics to the Marvel books. I'm a particular fan of Superman.
People make fun of Superman, because on a logical front the whole concept is laughable. An alien who happens to look exactly like a human, who somehow uses solar power to fly without wings. He can shoot heat beams out of his eyes. His style sense leaves much to be desired. And somehow, when he dons a pair of glasses, he looks like an entirely different person.
But you know what I like about Superman? He's the man of tomorrow. Superman is about hope, about the possibility of what mankind could become. He doesn't kill, he doesn't even injure when he can avoid it. He'd willingly die to save innocent lives, and has done so. The entire DC universe is like that; there's a core faith in humanity, a deep-down belief that good will triumph over evil simply because that's the order of things.
Contrast this to the Marvel comics universe. Things are dark. Really dark. Heroes are hated and feared. Racism is rampant. The Marvel universe is about fear. I recently read a crossover where the Marvel and DC universes intersected (creatively titled JLA / Avengers), and it's interesting to see how each team responds to the other world; the Marvel Avengers are overwhelmed by the DC world, refusing to believe such a paradise could arise from anything but fascism, while the DC Justice League members quickly come to the conclusion that the heroes of the Marvel universe simply aren't trying hard enough.
What does this have to do with anything? The ever-informative Sareth, in a comment to my previous post, pointed me to an interesting post on a site whose archives I really ought to peruse. Go read it now, or the next paragraph won't make much sense.
I agree with Red. Completely. And I'll geekily extend his argument by saying that the first America, Schwarzennegger's America, his America, my America, our America is all about Superman. About the belief in truth, justice, and the American way. About believing that a man can fly.