Thank god for J. Michael Straczynski. After the New Krypton debacle, I'd just about given up on the main storyline, but Grounded
restores my faith. After spending much time away from Earth trying to get his new planet up and running, Superman returns to a humanity that questions his loyalty, his motives and whether or not they need a super-powered man with a target on his back roaming their cities and coddling their children. To make amends and to ground himself again, Superman takes a walk. But saying Superman takes a walk is like saying Forest Gump went out for a run. Crossing the American heartland, Clark tries to reconnect with the everyday struggles of the average American. His odyssey is as much philosophical as practical and it's in these areas that JMS's writing shines. The reason we love Clark so much is because for the most powerful man in the universe, no task is too small. There is nothing beneath him. Cleaning store rooms, playing basketball with kids in the inner-city, talking a suicidal girl off the edge of a building for twelve hours - it's all as important as saving a galaxy to him.
It's at this point that more practical minds protest, "But you have a responsibility to see the bigger picture!" In fact, Clark's debate with the Grayson Batman is one of the highlights of the unanswerable debate: what makes someone heroic? And more importantly: with finite resources, like time, in Clark's case, what are his priorities. This is no easy question to answer. Saving a galaxy might in the short run save billions of lives. Saving an individual could have the same effect down the road. In the long-run, Superman does the greatest good for the greatest number of people by serving as an inspiration. By taking the time to save a child from an abusive father, he inspires others to do the same and thus affects millions of lives with the acts that are physically the easiest, but morally the most challenging. At every juncture, he must realize that the fate of millions of more lives are at stake, but he chooses anyway, and lives with the consequences. It's an incredibly lonely place to be and JMS captures it all rather perfectly. Too bad in the New 52, this sequence of events never happened.