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The Death of Daytime’s Superman: R.I.P. John Black

“Do you want to fly with me, Lois?”

“I’m your girl, Clark.”

Last week, when John and Marlena traded those lines in Friday’s show, I must admit I thought it was a little cheesy.

But watching this week’s shows and especially the funeral episode with John's casket draped in the American flag and everyone talking about everything John had done in his life and thinking about all of the adventures this character had over the years, something occurred to me as I tried to make sense of why this was all affecting me so deeply and personally as the pile of wadded up Kleenexes mounted higher and higher in my wastebasket as the week wore on.

What I realized is that John Black truly was daytime’s Superman. Never did he stop fighting for truth, justice and the Salem way of life. Because he was Superman.

He came to “Days of our Lives” from a strange place with a mysterious past and survived by assuming more than one identity, but became more human through the redemptive love of women, especially Marlena. He battled the diabolical Stefano DiMera and other foes throughout the years and even with the close calls with disaster including the guillotine, the death chamber and a stare down with Satan himself, there was never any doubt John would prevail. Because he was Superman.

Even when familiar faces came and went and came back (and sometimes went and came back again) John Black was the steadying force on this show for the last two decades. Unlike Marlena and Hope and Steve and Isabella and Stefano and Tony and Maggie and Alice and Roman and Doug and Victor and all of the rest, he would not die. He could not be killed. Because he was Superman.

I remember when I first read the spoilers that said that John would be killed in a hit-and-run accident rather than him falling gallantly in battle with the DiMeras, I was outraged. John Black is a hero, I thought, and should die a hero’s death. Because he was Superman.

But now I realize that had he died in any other way, I really don’t think it would have affected me as much. Because it’s not just the character or Drake Hogestyn’s eyebrow I mourn. It’s the death of the idea that John Black is Superman that gets me – the realization that he is not invincible, as Sami pointed out at the funeral.

And it was seeing the characters on the show also mourn the loss of their Superman just as much as the loss of the man, John Black, which moved me the most.

As difficult as this week has been, I have to say I’m very curious to see how this storyline moves forward and especially how John’s death will affect Stefano and Marlena.

What happens to Salem’s version of Lex Luthor when his fiercest foe is vanquished by fate rather than falling at his sword? Will being evil become a lot less exciting for Stefano without John around to try to stop him from doing it?

It seems we’re already starting to see glimpses of what Salem’s Lois Lane will be like without the superhero half of her supercouple and it’s truly compelling and heart wrenching stuff. Never have I wanted to be able to climb through my T.V. set and hug someone more than when I saw that tiny women in her black suit rocking in her chair with grief over her lost husband. The loneliness of Dr. Marlena Evans was just so heartbreaking and so real. Not that different from Florida Evans when she dropped that punch bowl following the death of James on “Good Times,” I thought.

I guess there’s no way of getting around it. Salem’s Superman is dead.

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Damn! Damn! Damn!


Performers of the week – Drake Hogestyn (John), Deidre Hall (Marlena), Martha Madison (Belle) … Everyone in the cast kicked it up a notch this week but these three had me crying buckets whenever they were on screen. I expected Deidre to bring the heat and hoped Drake would, but I have to admit I am someone who was never that enamored of Martha Madison before, but she gained a fan of me this week for her portrayal of Belle’s grief. These three made me care much more than I’ve cared about this soap in quite a while and I can't believe it, but I'm sort of a Marlena and Belle fan now/again. Who knew?

Episode of the week – Thursday … If not for the darn Lucas and Sami ending to the Wednesday show that could have edged this one out, but because of that sour note to an otherwise flawless show I have to go with the funeral episode instead because of the way it assembled all the people of Salem to mourn John, the pleasant uses of flashbacks and history, the amazing performances by all of the eulogists, the drama of Victor and Stefano’s entrances and simply for the fact that the name of the great Vivian Alamain was spoken for the first time in years. Could have done without the EJamicas drama of the sucker punch and Sami telling us that this episode shouldn’t be about them. I already knew that without you telling me, Sami!

Scene of the week – Marlena coming home to her bedroom alone. So moving. So simple. So perfect. So Emmy-worthy.

Couple of the week – John and Marlena … “I’ll see you in forever.” Oh so heartbreaking folks. You don’t see a supercouple die before your eyes everyday.

Salem stooge of the week – E.J. … Sure he may have Sami finally agreeing to marry him, but it appears unlikely he’ll ever win her heart, Kate is mocking him, apparently his father is keeping secrets about Sami’s twins from him and to top it all off he tries to be nice and gets sucker punched by Lucas once again. Why the boring as hell “redeemed” version of Sami Brady is worth all this trouble, I have no idea.

Scene-stealer of the week – Morgan (Kristen Renton) … Just edging out Kristian Alfonso, who rocked Hope’s grief majorly, I have to give the nod to her. What a great casting choice and I really like this character so far. I love this girl’s accent and am very pleased that at least so far they’ve really kept the mean girls stereotypes to a minimum and allowed this love rival of Stephanie’s to show some heart and personality.

Line of the week – Stefano (Wednesday) … “I hear Chelsea is hell on wheels.”

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