Enough about Action Comics 900 already!
The internet and the Idiocracy that is the TV pundits club (our motto is “Feeding you your uninformed opinions since 1991!”) clearly decided when they heard that Superman was renouncing his U.S. citizenship, that he was un-American. I have seen several diatribes on CNN, FOX et all and so far, none appear to have read the 9 page story yet. Most of them seem to have missed the point of the story entirely. And that is what it is about for knee jerk reactionists. Dont think, just react.
Here are some of those nebulous things called facts that “Real Americans” are either not hearing or don’t care much about…
1. He does not actually do it. He says he is going to, and in all likelihood, it will not happen on panel. Maybe there will be a mention of it down the line, but this is a 9 page backup story in a nearly 100 page comic. There is much more of interest here that a throwaway filler story that will never integrate into the story as a whole. This might as well be a throwback to the Julie Schwartz imaginary stories of days gone by.
2. He is talking about it at all because the most single recognizable figure in pop culture, if not all of literature, has been marginalized and altered in the current continuity into a largely impotent figure. Afraid of his own shadow when anything other that a would be world killer is coming to town. This is all due to the modern comics and the struggle to stay relevant. Let Superman loose in the real world and things get ugly. Writers now are really having a hard time making him current without also making him terrifying. That is why stories like Grounded and Earth One, both by JMS have been so polarizing. It is hard to do “real” without scaring or pushing the audience away. Done right, like in Earth One, it is very interesting and fun. Done poorly, it can just come off as a little naive.
3. They are all trying to rally other idiots with “Truth, Justice and the American way”. Guess what? Not part of the myth until the TV show of the 50’s. It was used during WWII, then discarded. It came back for TV and largely disappeared, then made its lasting comeback with Christopher Reeve in the first Superman movie of his run. The original phrase appeared in the Superman radio series starring Bud Collier. It went like this…
Yes, it’s Superman–strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman–defender of law and order, champion of equal rights, valiant, courageous fighter against the forces of hate and prejudice, who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never-ending battle for truth and justice.
4. He is supposedly going to take this action in response to the fact that the rest of the world hates America and sees him as an instrument of U.S. policy. Superman is not playing himself here. HE IS THE METAPHOR here. He is America and America needs to grow with the rest of the world. Glenn Beck is likely to get mileage from this by ignoring this fact. I imagine that will not be hard for him as the metaphor is a subtle one and Beck couldn’t find subtle with two hands and a flashlight. People like him are not interested in the truth and the outrage they constantly claim to feel about this insult or that is there only to fill the seats with paying customers. Other sponges that have no real thought out opinions of their own and need to be told what they should be angry about. Beck will continue to claim that this approach to a changing world is destroying that which is fundamentally America. Since when is America carved in marble? This country has made change a part of what it is from day one. The change is not always good or bad, it just is. Mr. Beck, I submit to you that if we fail to change, if we fail to realize that we are not the center of the universe, we will be consumed far more rapidly by those outside that seek to supplant what you believe is our God-given place in the world. A place that, in reality, we have never held.
5. He really IS a fictional character. Why are we bothered by this as though this was said by someone who actually has an effect on our lives. A public official did not just kick the country in the nuts, a comic book super hero did. And since even that was the above mentioned metaphor, the country cannot kick itself in the nuts. As a nation, we continue to try, and far too regularly invite other countries to do so, then ask politely that they not accept our aid dollars without first promising to be just like us.
6. The story really isn’t all that special. The really good one in the back of the book is “Life Support”, by Damon Lindelof and Ryan Sook. A very powerful tale of Jor-El and what had to happen behind the scenes to save his son. On a side note, I am not trying to bury or belittle the lead feature by Paul Cornell and Pete Woods, I just have not read it yet. I don’t normally pick up Action Comics, but am getting the story that the lead here is part of in TPB and don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Superman is not being un-American. He is not trying to teach kids to hate America. There is nothing happening here beyond a simple story, told in a naive way. If you are the kind of “patriot” that thinks all opinions are fine as long as you agree with them, then Mr Beck is who you should listen to. I don’t really like the idea behind the story as I don’t think the simple solution offered by this story is worthwhile in the context it is being presented, but I don’t think Superman or the people behind this story (David Goyer, Miguel Sepulveda and the DC editorial staff) are in any way un-American. Being a real patriot starts with questioning the status quo. That is how people left England to come here. That is how the nation ended slavery. That is how women got the vote. That is how the Human race decided to walk on the Moon. Change needs to be embraced by brave people willing to look at it and try to make it the opportunity it can be, not assume that its goal is to destroy what you think important.
If it is good enough for Superman, why not us?