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Monday, August 03, 2015 

Superman's Ferguson metaphor insults real life police

The Action Comics issue that villifies police in an allegory for the Ferguson riots has made headlines on Fox:
The latest issue of Action Comics finds Superman battling a foe on the streets of Metropolis, but this time he isn’t taking on his rival Lex Luthor. Instead, he’s battling the police, which has some people outraged.

“There’s some fans that are alienated, a portion of the older fans," said Dimitrios Fragiskatos, the manager of Midtown Comics in New York City. "[But] younger fans seem to be embracing it.”
But who are these younger fans, and how many of them are there? The store owner doesn't even say.
The new issue comes from the minds of Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder, who have imagined a much darker story for arguably the world's most iconic superhero. The comic has been making waves for its controversial theme as the parallels to the riots in Ferguson and St. Louis are impossible to ignore.
Because it's all built on badly informed information. The darker angle also turns me off, because that's practically been the norm for years; no optimism allowed by the editors/publishers, if at all.
Patrick Colligan, president of the NJ State Policemen’s Benevolent Association, told FOX411 the comic is disgraceful.

"They want to sell comics," he said. "Unfortunately it's at the expense of some very great cops out there every day protecting the public.”

Still, seeing a police officer portrayed as a villain didn’t come as a shock to Colligan.

“We are once again painted with the very broad stroke nobody wants to be painted with," he said.
Nobody who believes in justice and honesty, that's for sure. Indeed, a lot of this thinking has been going on for years, and Marvel's Civil War may have precipitated some of this mess.

The store manager, unfortunately, is defending this propaganda:
But Fragiskatos said the move is actually in line with the Superman fans know.

“[He is] standing up for the little guy, which is what he’s always stood up for, [but] the law usually is on the side of civilians," he said.

Fragiskatos added that this issue is far from the first time Superman was inspired by a real-life situation.

“[Some of] the earliest stories involve [Superman] fighting corrupt landlords and businesses and that was to give depression era people something [to relate to]," he said. "When you look back it’s not surprising that he became popular when there was no real world hero to look up to.”
Oh please! Not every Superman story depicted police as corrupt to the core, and millionaires as the sole antagonist. I've read some of the Golden Age Superman tales, and the 4th issue has him working to defeat a crooked football coach mixed up with organized crime who wants to keep his job at all costs. These particular characters were anything but wealthy. Earlier, Supes even taught a lesson to an arms profiteer who was supplying warmongers in south America just so they could blast each other up. Are these early tales perfect? No, but unlike today's embarrassments, the political tones back in the day weren't so overt and forced. In a modern age when the internet should make the best use for research of every perspective to see which is the most accurate, it's hard to understand why Pak and Kuder can't prove they have what it takes to do that.
Fragriskatos defended the creative team’s decision, saying they are not doing anything many other comic book authors have done.

“I think for (Pak and Kuder), having read their works prior, it never seems like a gimmick. It’s very much them wanting to tell a fresh new story. After 5,000 issues, it's hard to keep [stories] fresh,” Fragiskatos said.
Yes, at a time when DC's long turned stale. It's regrettable the store manager's siding with the writers when he doesn't have to, all because he supposedly wants to defend his livelihood. Not everybody will be fooled, and some will guess that it's just like a salesperson to side with the big guys in this whole affair, rather than the consumer, who represents the little guy.
Colligan, however, argued comic books should go back to the basics.

“Comic books are taking on social issues lately and maybe they should get back to taking on superheroes and making people laugh,” he said.
That's one part where the guy from police may be slipping. Comics have always dealt with stuff like social issues. The question is whether the writers are being honest about the presentation and facts, and if they're taking the risk of alienating at least half the audience. It's a matter of whether they should tone down the whole pile of politicized issues they're clogging in. Which they did to some extent in the Silver Age, and that actually helped. But one thing the guy gets right is, comics, specifically superheroes, should get back to offering audiences some tasteful laughs and not be overly serious. Yet that's just what DC's been suffering from, and as a result, who can find all these messes funny? They should also stop imposing mandates that dictate Lois Lane can no longer be paired with Superman, because that's also part and parcel of the problem, and writing that she gives away Clark's secret was also poor taste.

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Michael Brown was not "the little guy." And neither were the thugs who rioted in Ferguson.

Brown robbed a convenience store and roughed up the clerk. Then he attacked a police officer, who was forced to shoot him in self-defense. The only person who could have prevented the shooting was Brown himself.

The media, with their usual accuracy, have portrayed Brown as an innocent victim.

Brown's parents are even suing the cop. They should have been sent to jail for child neglect and contributing to the delinquency of a minor years ago. And the cop should sue them for raising the vicious thug who attacked him.

I was leaning toward dropping Superman after reading Action #41. I wanted to give Truth a shot, even though I thought the premise was dumb. But after seeing the preview pages of Action #42 that were scanned online, I've decided to drop all four Superman titles. Since the relaunch Superman has fought cops and US soldiers more often than Luthor, Parasite, Metallo, Zod, and Doomsday combined!

This new 52/post-Convergence version of the character has been putrid and his sales dictate that. Action #41 only sold 44k - decent for other titles, but embarrassing for a flagship character. And since this was the debut issue of the character's post-Convergence run, trends show the second issues and so on sell less, at least that's been the trend with this version of Superman. I'd be willing to bet that Action won't even reach 40k by the time the "Truth" arc ends. Heck, the Superman #41 only checked in at 53k with Romita's horrid art, so those sales will probably drop too.

I'll wait for Jurgens' Lois & Clark series in October, starring the Pre-Flashpoint versions of both characters. Jurgens may not be the most creative or exciting writer, but at least he's shown he's non-liberal. His brief stint on the new 52 version is still the only time the character lacked angst and showed a sense of humor. I doubt Superman has smiled since! Thanks, Avi, for putting up screenshots of Jurgens' Twitter posts. Gives me hope that not every comic book writer is a knuckle-dragging leftist.

Chuck

The problem with comics is that they're either too serious for their own good or too funny for their own good, nothing in the middle.

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