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Superman, Citizen of the World. Right’s Head Explodes?


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I’m good when it comes to fighting apocalyptic threats.  But the everyday degradations that humans suffer? Dying of thirst? Hunger? People being denied their basic human rights? I’ve never been very effective at stopping things like that. And I want to be.

- Superman

I intend to speak before the United Nations tomorrow and inform them that I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship. I’m tired of having my actions construed as instruments of U.S. policy.

- Superman

Action Comics #900

Action Comics #900 made news this week, not because of it’s the nine hundredth issue of the series, instead it was one of the numerous stories contained within.  It wasn’t the story featuring Superman taking on God that was the problem, instead writer David Goyer’s (Batman Begins) The Incident was the one that got the right’s panties in a bunch.

The story has Superman talking to the President’s National Security Advisor about his flying to Tehran to protest with the Iranian people.  The story is impressive in that it throws out the usual fake countries and leaders DC comics sticks to, but instead names the country and leader.  It also reflects the very real unrest occurring throughout the Middle East.  This action causes an international incident as Iran sees Superman’s stance as an action by the United States.  This causes Superman to think globally and decide to renounce his US citizenship.  He’s decided there’s an entire world for him to protect.  And only DC knows how far they’ll take this pretty comic universe shaking event.

Superman Renouncing Citizenship

But, this has sent ripples through the news and internet with the right denouncing the action.  The American Spectator joked he won’t be voting in 2012 and one of his creators was Canadian.  While the comics industry took it with humor, the right were a bit more serious.  Geek Week for instance looked at what they thought were some of the better highlights.

Most comic books have been on the far left fringe for decades now. There is no surprise or shock value in it anymore when they promote extreme left wing causes like socialism/communism, nor when they attack America or western values.

But, what’s interesting is Superman isn’t actually giving up the “American way” he’s been fighting for.  If anything, he’s becoming an even bigger instrument to bring those values to the world.  Is standing up for democracy in Tehran not American?  It seems that part has been lost on people and for once it’s not Fox News which had decent and even coverage.  The blog The Mary Sue actually had to make things up (with humor) over Fox’s non-story.  Even the conservative New York Post was pretty level with their coverage.  Instead, they used their article to present the facts and took a dig at Donald Trump and birthers.  The Examiner looks at the “growing call for a boycott.”  Having read a lot of articles and comments, I don’t see it and think the Examiner is attempting to turn a match into a raging fire.  Entertainment Weekly just overlooks the controversy and focuses on the main story, which was less than stellar.  This article by the Daily Caller (and linked to by Big Hollywood) I think is an attempt at humor, claiming Superman’s action under a black President is racist.  Um, ok.

Level headiness wasn’t the case for Fox’s commentators which involved the usual lunacy.  But, in fairness that wasn’t limited to just their site.  Canada’s National Post had this one comment by Batman2010:

Screw you Superman, fly off and find freedom and integrity in some other country, try China or Syria!

The usually predictable conservative website Big Hollywood has only taken a shot with the title of their coverage “Left’s Crusade to Destroy Our Heroes Marches On: Superman Renounces God, American Citizenship.”  That article just links and copies Wired‘s article about the subject.

On NewsBusters (and reposted at numerous other websites), writer and managing editor Ken Shepard labeled it “leftist crap.”  Further into what is mostly a recap of the story he writes:

…simply saying that “truth, justice and the American way [is] not enough anymore” is a pretty startling statement from the one man who has always represented those values the most.

But, Superman isn’t saying the “American way” isn’t enough.  If folks actually read the story, he feels he’s not acting globally enough.  He’s not against the “American way,” he actually plans on spreading it globally by helping on an international level, not just being confined to Metropolis.  To do so as an American citizen has global implications.  It would look to be an extension of American foreign policy and cause further international uproar.  Instead, by acting as a non-citizen he can spread the American ideal without further implications on America’s stance and relationships.

As I pointed out in an earlier post, the right should have utter disdain for Superman to begin with.  While some bloggers and commentators touched upon it, Superman is a literal alien, not born in the United States.  He couldn’t have ever been a citizen to begin with, so there’s nothing to renounce.

John Hawkins at Right Wing News has issues with the actual plot and it’s implications, more so than the statement it makes.

Let me go full nerd on you and point this out: It would be impossible for someone like Superman to get involved in geopolitics and remain a good guy long term. There are dozens of governments across the planet abusing and murdering their people on a daily basis. If Superman is going to start getting involved when it happens, then he’s setting himself up as global judge, jury, and inevitably, an executioner — because that’s what it would take to stop some of these governments from raping, robbing, and butchering their populaces. Then, when Superman couldn’t be everywhere at once, the next step would either be giving up or building his own army to overthrow governments and enforce his moral code on other nations. By that point, every government in the world would be nervous enough to try to develop weapons powerful enough to kill Superman for their own defense.

Many predicted the “rage” including Nerdage, The Portland Mercury, Bleeding Cool and Comics Alliance.  Not all the coverage was bad, in fact the reaction was very subdued from what I expected it to be.  The Associated Press, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Herald Sun, News and Sentinel and many more covered the event without opinion.  I’m sure that coverage has spurred sales for the anniversary issue of which I expect numerous printings.

In the end though, it doesn’t matter as Superman is already a citizen of the world.  In 1974 a Superman comic depicted just that.  He’s always been global, he’s now just acting upon it.

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Author:Brett Schenker

Brett is a political consultant who resides in Arlington, VA. He grew up in Cleveland, OH and Buffalo, NY and attended the University at Buffalo, majoring in Political Science. Since then Brett has made his mark on politics working in various positions such as a Legislative Staffer for the Erie County Legislature, Special Assistant for Senator John Kerry, as the Database Administrator for Forward Together PAC, Deputy Internet Director for Chris Dodd for President, and Internet/Database Director for Virginians for Brian Moran, and Email Deliverability Czar for Salsa Labs. In 2007 Brett formed 5B Consulting providing his expertise on database solutions, new media and email strategy. He's a long time geek, reading comics since he was a child and learning to spell his name on an Atari 800. When he's not working, he's reading comics, playing video games and relaxing with a nice cup of tea. You can follow him on Twitter @bhschenker

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