My apologies if things come out muddy and feel free to ask for a clarification. Allergy season is fuzzing my brain today. I assure you that I was fine when this news broke. You’ve all heard of this by now.
Once again comics are in the political news, and while Marvel tends to dominate that spotlight, DC must be feeling left out. In a back up story for Action Comics #900, a milestone issue that also sees Lex Luthor give up godhood because he can’t kill Superman with it, the Man of Steel speaks out on Iranian policies. Iran’s government has a cow and says it must be on Obama’s authority or some such and Superman has the above leap of logic.
Conservative are taking issue, liberals are calling any blog that is against the story “rightwingers” (I swear that’s shown up in every Bleeding Cool article I’ve read on the matter) and by voicing my own opposition I’m sure to be lumped in, even though I usually avoid politics. (Full disclaimer: I’ve never hidden my conservative perspectives.) However, I do know that my fellows can overreact at times, so is that happening here? Are they right, are they wrong, a little of both?
First let’s get this out of the way: Clark Kent will still be considered a US citizen. He was adopted as a baby by an Earth family in Kansas and depending on which telling you go by he was even born on Earth. (This was a plot point in an annual that was part of the Armageddon 2001 crossover event, but Superboy-Prime punching reality means Johns and friends can re-write events to have happened however they want.) He’s an American, regardless of where he came from and his adoption papers make him an American. It’s only his Superman identity who will be cutting ties with America. Except for living in Metropolis and doing most of his crimefighting there.
Here’s my biggest problem. While defenders of the story point out that the line didn’t become popular until the famous opening in Adventures of Superman (although it was first used in the radio dramas of the 1940s which you can hear at the Internet Archive). However, Superman spent so many years fighting the enemies of America as much as interstellar and criminal threats (and the occasional monster) that he’s recognized as an American icon just as much as Captain America. (Although, characters like Uncle Sam and General Glory would be DC’s actual counterparts to Captain America.)
Conservatives may also be put off by Superman’s statement that “it’s not enough anymore”. What isn’t enough? And why would Superman be upset that Iran thinks he speaks for America? Well, that part I can imagine. Remember that the guy currently in charge (and even if my brain wasn’t under allergy assault I wouldn’t be able to spell it) is more than willing to continue Iran’s tradition of listing America as “the Great Satan” while also trying to sow chaos because he’s tired of waiting for his version of the Messiah to show up. He’ll take any chance he can to make that claim, especially if they speak out against Iran.
However, by going in front of the UN and declaring himself a citizen of the world or whatever he’s planning Superman is denouncing patriotism, at least in some reader’s eyes (and possibly many other people within the DC Universe). This appears to be what the story was crafted to do, and you have to wonder why? Is writer David Goyer trying to promote globalism, or as some defenders have claimed that Superman should be tied to one country (“apparently the country that raised him and gave him his values isn’t good enough” some would counter) because he’s too powerful? Or perhaps Goyer is doing this in the hopes that the movie he’s writing would be better received globally is Superman wasn’t an American icon but a global one. You know, unlike all the other Superman movies, TV shows, and comic over the years. Yes, that’s sarcasm.
Thus we get back to my problem with all this: why change this? What’s the point? What is wrong with Superman loving America and speaking as an American citizen? What’s going to happen if Clark Kent becomes a celebrity and starts speaking out on issues? Will Kal-El have no connection to the USA at all? But it all comes back to why bother changing this after so many years? Evolution of the character has been tossed in, but the story exists for the express purpose of…what? I just haven’t heard a good reason for this change, but I see plenty of reasons why it shouldn’t happen.
Maybe I’ll have a stronger take once the allergies clear. Stupid flowers. For now I’ll just put it on the list of further problems of trying to set this so close to the real world. I’m also with Beau Smith on this. (Scroll down through other creators’ reactions.) This is just another excuse to get into the papers rather than tell a story that will stand the test of time. Maybe it just all comes down to the “love me or hate me, just show me attention” that comics creators at DC and at Marvel have been having lately.