Op-Ed: Is Superman Un-American, Or Are People Thinking A Little Too Much?

The milestone 900th issue of Action Comics came out this past week, and despite that there have been higher numbered issues, this is the only one to get there the old fashioned way. Monthly. But this isn’t my review of that book, a review that would focus primarily on Paul Cornell and Pete Woods main story involved Superman, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, and the rest of the Superman family. Sure, I would pay mention to the brief short stories that other creators put at the end, but they wouldn’t be the focus. They weren’t the focus. After all, how often are these short stories ever actually canon? What are the odds that any of these stories, including the one I’m about to focus on, actually get referenced in the Superman titles again? I’d wager under twenty percent.

Typically when I see a milestone issue like this, and see that other creators have been brought into pen two to eight page mini stories, I think nothing of them. These stories are hit or miss, but rarely are they ever mentioned again. Especially in an issue like this one, where the stories really have no bearing on anything. Damon Lindelof, the creator of Lost, tells a story about Jor-El building the rocket. Geoff Johns gives us four pages with Gary Frank and the Legion of Super Heroes, hell, there’s a story by Paul Dini featuring a magical hippo that makes me wonder what drugs were used in the making of it. But everyone is focusing on a nine page story by David Goyer, famous for writing Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and soon to be known for writing the upcoming Superman movie.

In this story Superman has a discussion with the President’s National Security Advisor, who is pissed off that Superman flew into Tehran and stood there for a day. When I say pissed off, I mean he has snipers with Kryptonite bullets aimed at him. Let’s start there, he’s mad at Superman, so he brings people to put him down. That was an option for him, have snipers kill Superman. Superman, the greatest hero the world has ever seen, who has saved the globe from Doomsday, Lex Luthor, Brainiac, Darkseid, and countless countless more. What was the crime he committed in Tehran to deserve a potential death sentence?

He stood there, between the protesters and the riot squads, for twenty-four hours. He didn’t speak, didn’t act, didn’t choose a side. He stood there. Non-violent resistance. The local forces, those who would have screamed at American interference, said nothing, and did nothing. Demonstrators threw Molotov’s at him, but the people with the guns never fired a bullet in his presence. He proved a point in his own way just by forcing a day of peace with his presence, he never chose a side, he just…made people stop fighting for a day.

Of course, our Government official can only really point out that Superman’s presence didn’t get the regime to declare themselves democratic, and bringing up how Iran is calling it an act of war. This makes sense, after all, the US government wishes they could send Superman at all of their problems, but unfortunately, they can’t.

Superman renounced his United States citizenship, Superman. Not Clark Kent, which I think is lost on quite a few people, but Superman. The WORLD’S greatest hero has renounced his single country citizenship, because in his own words, the world is too small. This is a very valid point to think about, especially in today’s day and age of technology putting us all on the same level. Superman could choose to be America’s greatest hero, or Metropolis’s greatest hero, or even Uncle Sam’s favorite living weapon; but instead he opts to continue being what he has always been.

The Worlds’ Greatest Hero.

He’s not a puppet of a President or a military, he doesn’t represent America when he fights bad guys. There’s a reason, and most non-fans wouldn’t have a clue about this, that in the 31st century of DC Comics, it was the inspiration he created that led to the United Planets. It was Superman’s message of tolerance and equality that united galaxies.

In the 31st Century, Kal El of Krytpon interrupted a transit vehicle moving aliens into camps, because “I’m for everyone”. In the 30th Century, Cosmic Boy says something under his breath rather than spoil the future to a young Clark Kent, “Earth is for everyone….so said Superman.” There is a message, in the canon, that Superman delivered in the 21st Century that will live on for thousands of years. A message of equality, of peace, of acceptance. That everyone is equal, that there shouldn’t be sides to choose from.

Maybe that’s what I see when I read this story, Superman accepting that he has a responsibility to his adopted homeworld, not just his adopted country. That as long as people throw labels at him about where he represents that the message of his actions will never properly be conveyed.

Seeing supposed news analysts talk about how unpatriotic he is, witnessing people go on an assault on message boards…look, I’m not going to draw any political conclusions here, or point my finger at which side of the spectrum is most likely doing it, I’m just going to make one simple statement.

It’s a comic book, one that the vast majority of our rampant complainers have never read in their lives. If you want to hop on a soap box and attack Superman for renouncing his American citizenship, and you’ve not even read the issue, sure, that’s your right. Just like it’s my right to call you ignorant for doing so, and to tell you that….maybe you should watch less cable news, because there are bigger problems in the world than Superman’s citizenship.

Thank you for your time.

-Grey Scherl

Editor in Chief, Comics Nexus.

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