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Monday, May 09, 2011 

Express-Times apologizes for terrible Superman story

Some more mainstream press sources are adding their apologia to the issue of Superman's being forced by David Goyer to give up US citizenship, with the LeHigh Valley Express-Times being one of them. For example, the writer says:
I read comics all the time and have for almost all my life, and I find it strange to see so many people take a comic so seriously.

To see so many people upset by a statement from a fictional character is odd.
But to see someone obscuring that said fictional hero is being forced to utter the views of one or more real life scriptwriters who came up with those statements is downright insulting. Mainly because this was a story that involved real life topics like Iran's dictatorship, and putting aside for a moment the story's not making sense in the light of reality when they're still in power, what was really ridiculous was Superman's not dismantling their weapons, and not even taking away the firearms from the soldiers. If there's anyone who needs to be asked why they take a comic so seriously, it's the scriptwriters themselves.
I have to guess that none of these people have ever read a Superman comic, or it's been years since they have done so.

If they were regular readers, they would know Superman's home, the Fortress of Solitude, is in Antarctica, not the United States. He has no Social Security number, birth certificate or any other form of ID, so I'm not even sure he could be a citizen.

It's not like Superman carries a wallet in his tights.
Oh good grief. This is exactly the point even I've been trying to make, that a guy from another planet who keeps his civilian identity a secret is hardly considered a citizen in a sci-fi setting. And that's why it's ridiculous that he's even considering giving up citizenship, and at the UN assembly, no less, which is just what tells how the story was intended as a political statement. Even though it won't change the minds of any dictatorship like Iran's, and not even of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, which is why the story doesn't make any sense. And Iran and Venezuela are still allowed to keep a seat at the UN assembly too.

The writer then goes on to say:
Clark Kent, Superman's alter ego, however, is a U.S. citizen and a resident of Metropolis. But even Kent's citizenship is in question.

Sent from the planet Krypton as an infant, his planet of origin was kept secret.

He is an illegal alien, sort of the first Kryptonian anchor baby.

Jonathan and Martha Kent lied about his origin to get Clark a birth certificate and citizenship.

Not only should Clark Kent's citizenship be revoked, he should be deported off earth.

That is if you take a comic book story seriously.
Well then why even bring up the whole subject of citizenship to begin with? Besides, his own planet was destroyed, so he could surely claim refugee status, something that Koriand'r/Starfire of the destroyed planet Tamaran might just as well have. If we really had to take comics seriously, that is.

Another problem is that, even if Clark remains a citizen, it could still make him look absurdly hypocritical not unlike some Chomskyites who rail against the USA yet keep their citizenship and exploit the benefits of the country they live in. As a result, it's a pretty tasteless way to depict the Man of Steel even from a civilian perspective, because it makes it look as though Clark Kent's embracing the POV of leftists who blatantly tear down the country.
Read enough comics and you would see that stories where heroes turn away from their patriotic origins are common, but heroes always return to their roots.

The Justice League of America turned into the Justice League International and was later just the Justice League before returning back to its original name.

Even Marvel Comics "Captain America" resigned and went by Nomad but eventually went back to being Captain America. Later, he would resign again only to return again.

All changes in comics are temporary, and Superman's citizenship is the same.

Today, he is no longer an American citizen but a citizen of the world. But sooner or later, he'll be back to being red, white and blue.
Or will he? The sad thing is that even there, a problem may dwell: even if DC's editorial quietly drops the story, as they suggested following the backlash, they might still continue to mute all use of patriotism, and there's little chance they'll even publish a story with Superman taking on even fictionalized terrorists with sci-fi weaponry.

The Los Angeles Times has also written about this, and is pretty weak too, but here's where something very confusing and misleading comes up:
Now is when a really heroic task can be accomplished. President George W. Bush originally invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban refused to give up Bin Laden. So has the moment not come to withdraw all American forces from that country?

I am sure that Superman, along with the United Nations, would be delighted to proffer help in bringing the troops home. It would be wonderful to read of these exploits in the next issues dedicated to the Man of Steel, a story of how Obama and Superman — both with remote origins in Kansas, both despised as the "other" and alien — collaborated to create at least one small oasis of peace in a world that, alas, seems to be lacking truth and justice.

That would be a real homage to the many victims of the murderous Bin Laden.
What they fudge up here is that the US administration raided Afghanistan not just to smash bin Laden, but also in order to smash the Taliban and al Qaeda. It's not just Osama alone who's the menace, it's also his whole terror network, plus Islamofascism and jihad, the main code they go by. And by suggesting that Superman work together with Obama, isn't that politicizing the whole issue still some more?

And only one has origins in Kansas, the other grew up in Hawaii. Get your facts straight please.

The Tampa Tribune also wrote about this, and said:
As expected, fans went nuts after Superman made this decision, and their criticism grew even more vocal, seeing as it came just days after patriotism ratcheted up after the U.S. military's successful dispatching of Osama Bin Laden.

The timing of this whole thing stinks, especially when the nation is waving flags and a new spirit of patriotism is sweeping the land.

We have Americans pulling together and here's good old Superman trying to distance himself from the U.S.
As I figured before, yes, the timing makes it all the more awful.

But then they say:
My guess is that DC is trying to breathe life into a character who has been bland for quite awhile.

In case you didn't know, Superman comics have been in the doldrums lately, thanks to a much-maligned storyline that has the Man of Steel walking across the country and pretty much doing nothing but – as they used to say in the '60s – "finding himself."
Correction, the writing has been bland, right down to J. Michael Stracynski's own non-efforts; it's the stories that have been nothing. It increasingly irritates me whenever they fail to cite the writers/artists/editors, the real reason for any of these bad results, in effect letting them off the hook, which just goes to show how they're not as qualified as they may think they are for commenting on the subject if they won't give some in depth focus to what's wrong with JMS' writing, for example.

That this was written as a short story and then shoehorned in among several others in Action Comics 900 just shows how more cowardly the publishers are: if they couldn't market it as its own story, then they've only suggested they were trying to foist it shamelessly upon an audience they thought would be unsuspecting. As it stands now, the story sticks out like a sore thumb, and either most people won't want to buy the book based on its presence alone, or it won't have much retail value in the future as it's considered an embarrassment. And even if they don't follow up on the story as they originally hinted they would, damage has been done.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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