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The Mandatory “Truth, Justice, & Huh?” Post

As the resident “Comic Book Geek” of the Cheddarsphere – a title I honestly quit caring about years ago – I guess it is my place to speak about DC Comics recent decision in “Action Comics #900” to have Superman ‘renounce’ his American citizenship.

The move is made after Supes goes to Iran, participates in a nonviolent protest by acting as a protective guard between students and the Iranian military which irks both the Iranians and the American administration — which said or did nothing about the protests (That sounds familiar…) — who either complain or worry his actions are construed as “Official American Action” and the Last Son of Krypton is read the riot act by the American President’s National Security Adviser for going there in the first place.

After that, Supes says he’s only trying to do what’s right by the code he was raised with by Ma and Pa Kent (I personally in Supes place would have taken out the Iranian leadership with one of his many powers, and tossed them in the nearest international war crimes court, not do a Ghandi impersonation.  But that’s me.) and that if the world is going to see him as an “American Puppet,” he’d rather renounce his citizenship of his adopted country on his adopted world, a move which would allow him to swoop into any country he pleases and save the day without the diplomatic headaches or public relations hits.

Plus, he’ll be doing it all by deadline at the Daily Planet or dinner with Lois.  (Don’t forget, “Faster than a speeding bullet.”)

Is the over-reaction by some warranted? Not really.  For starters, it’s “Action Comics #900,” an anniversary issue so the idea that it’s canon is unlikely.  This might have just been a short ten-page story some writer wanted to get put down on paper.  It’s up to DC Comics to make it official or not.  (Their official blog doesn’t even acknowledge this as “The Big Event” of the issue.) Secondly, it’s comics, nothing ever stays forever as the returns of both Bucky and Barry Allen in recent years has shown us.

Finally, it’s comics, WHO CARES?!?!?

That’s not to say it’s not needed.

Am I happy that political correctness has hit the pages of Superman?  No.  Superman is the archetype for what a superhero should be.  That the fight for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” are indeed ideals worth fighting for and should be protected by the writers which DC Comics has on board keeping that image intact.  The problem most Superman writers have today isn’t one of action, it’s one of making the story actually enjoyable on the dramatic level for the reader.

Jonathan Last explains this best at the Weekly Standard.

From the dramatic perspective, Superman is a problematic character because he’s just too powerful. Faster than the Flash, stronger than Wonder Woman, able to fly, x-ray vision, the heat-beam eyes, super breath—not to mention total and complete invulnerability to everything. (Except the kryptonite, of course.) If you’re writing a Superman story, it’s virtually impossible to put him in any real jeopardy, to build any dramatic tension concerning his adventures.

There are only two ways to write dramatically satisfying Superman stories. The first is to put the people around him in peril. (Though you he can only save Jimmy and Lois so many times before tedium sets in.) The second is to explore Superman’s moral limits—and their consequences.

And in the end, the only truly interesting aspect of Superman’s character is his complete devotion to America. Because it’s this devotion—of which his citizenship is the anchor—that establishes all of his moral limits. Why does this demi-god not rule the earth according to his own will? The only satisfying answer is that he declines to do so because he believes in America and has chosen to be an American citizen first and a super man second.

(Last then goes into how Dan DiDio is killing many of DC’s legendary iconic characters since he came on board in 2002.  I concur completely there.)

Superman’s love for America is best related in iconic moments in the first two Richard Donner Superman movies.  In them, we see Superman offers his services to the President in the first, and later apologizes to the President at the end of the second for abandoning the country (for some lovin’ with Lois) while General Zod and his acolytes take it over the world.  Maybe those were movies made in much more simpler times, but it was reassuring and cool knowing “The Big, Blue Boy Scout” was on our side.

What this move is, is a slap at the intelligence of Superman fans by DC Comics and writer of the story, David S. Goyer (who has also penned all of the Christopher Nolan Batman films).  Superman fans have known for decades he represents the moral compass of the DC Universe, the rallying point for superheroes everywhere, and to say he’s ever been a “government agent” is dumb and beneath the character’s core.

Superman stands for doing what’s right, and having the morals to do just that with the immense might he possesses.  That is what he was doing before the bureaucrat got in his grill, standing up for what was right.

In a final thought if you want to play politics with this, I send you to an email the Daily Caller’s Jim Treacher sent to InstaPundit’s Glenn Reynolds on the subject.

UPDATE: Jim Treacher emails: “I can’t believe they’re making Superman a racist!  It would be one thing if he renounced his U.S. citizenship under The Evil George Bush.  But he waits until a black man is in charge?  Way to join the Kryptonian Klux Klan, Kal-El.”

(heh)

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