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Wednesday, May 04, 2011 

A case of bad timing

Following the great news of the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan after a decade of searching, Newsarama has asked if Superman's renouncing USA citizenship is a case of bad timing. An excellent question indeed. It is ironic that, following the execution of a mass murder mastermind, Superman would be depicted doing something contrary to America's celebration of a victory over evil. And why do I get the feeling that neither Marvel nor DC will follow up on this with a fictionalized story where superheroes join celebrations of triumphing over terrorism?

They also asked several writers for their take on the issue, and B. Clay Moore's reply, if any, is really insulting:
B. Clay Moore: I've always thought it was a little silly that Superman would adhere to "the American way" in a modern context, so his status as a citizen of the world makes perfect sense. That's not a knock on the United States, I just think it's just a more logical, inclusive perspective.

And I'm not sure I understand the implication in the second part of the question. Does the killing of bin Laden somehow make the United States superior to the rest of the world? I would hope bin Laden's death doesn't translate into new waves of jingoism and xenophobia. Job well done, yes. But there's a global perspective at play here, too.
Ecch, does that stink. It doesn't make the USA superior to the rest of the world, it makes them superior to terrorists who would do harm to America. It sends a message to evildoers that if they strike, they will pay through the nose. And that's something many other democracies around the globe should try and emulate as well if they want to help make this a safer world. And attacking patriots by calling them jingoists and xenophobes, is he? The shame.

Chuck Dixon's reply is better:
Chuck Dixon: The expression of personal politics has no place in mainstream superhero comic books.
I guess not. Certainly not if they're going to be that blatant.

Brian Reed's reply is pretty good too:
Brian Reed: I admit I haven't yet read the story, but I don't see how Superman ever had an American citizenship anyway. Secret identity, public acknowledgement he's from another planet -- did he take the citizenship test and I missed it? I'm not huge on my DC continuity. Now, Clark Kent, sure, but unless Supes is outing himself, it all seems pretty much beside the point which country he considers himself a member of. Unless he's looking to get hit for back taxes.
Which just proves how pointless this whole story was to begin with. If he's not considered a citizen in his Superman guise, he doesn't even have anything to renounce. It only reinforces what a farce this story really is.

Update: Screen Rant wrote about this too, and if there's anything else in this story that's absurd and trivializing, it's the following picture:
Now does anyone really think this would pass muster in real life? Not only is it a moral equation, it trivializes the seriousness of the issue, and insults the protestors; why would they want to award a gift to a jihad-supporting robot who'd be more likely to gun them down? To give a rose would surely be giving one to Ahmedinejad too by extension, since that's whom the riot soldiers are working for. And if Supes was bragging about this, it seems rather poor for his characterization to do so (as far as I know, in Japan, they consider bragging a foolish thing to do). The writer does make a good argument with the following:
After reading this story, my primary thought is this: Comic books creators just need to stop shoehorning real events into their comic books in an effort to make them more “important” like the “real world.” It’s rarely, if ever, done in any interesting or satisfying way and it almost always trivializes the events themselves. I’m reminded of the time Doctor Doom shed tears at Ground Zero after 9/11
Well said. They also need to stop writing tasteless metaphors for real life events, like Identity Crisis, which are just as insulting as the story in Action Comics is.

Update 2: the New York Post had some good news to deliver while talking about this: the cartoon based on the 99 comic from Kuwait that was going to air on the Hub will apparently not:
...a TV cartoon of "The 99" -- whose mission was "to instill old-fashioned Islamic values in Christian, Jewish and atheist children," wrote a Times of London columnist -- was scheduled to appear on The Hub (formerly Discovery Kids) last October. After I wrote about it, the show was pushed back to January.

Now "no decision's been made about airing the show," a Hub spokesman told me. "It won't be this year."

Score one for justice.
We must certainly hope they won't ever think about wasting anyone's time airing that cartoon again. What this tells is that concerned parents can make a difference. Americans, as I've known for awhile, don't like being lectured about what to think or believe, and if this comic/cartoon comes within even miles of lecturing, and especially painting a dishonest and superficial portrait of Islam itself, then parents have every right to object to the possibility that their children could be subject to such propaganda. Thank goodness justice has prevailed on this particular case, for now.

Update 3: another fortunate bit of news is that DC's canceled a story in Superman that may have featured potentially anti-American bias, guest starring a character named "Sharif" who may have appeared in Superman's stories back in 1990 under a different name, but in the newer story that almost saw print, they really exploited him for propaganda that could've been offensive to Americans. Instead of that story, they chose to print a previously unpublished tale featuring Krypto the Superdog.

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