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Wednesday, July 09, 2014 

DC doesn't want Superman associated with child abuse, but is okay associating him with a story featuring a rape?

A story came up about DC execs balking at a Canadian sculptor making a statue as a tribute to a victim of child abuse with the Superman emblem on it, dedicated to the boy's love of the Man of Steel. Their reasons for opposing this? Because:
“Basically they didn’t want to have the character of Superman associated with child abuse. They weren’t comfortable with that.”
Now isn't that odd. 10 years ago, this same company's managers published Identity Crisis, a story offensive to rape victims because of its trivial view of the issue, and Superman did have a presence in it. How does it make sense that he can appear in a story that's offensive to women, yet his logo cannot appear on the statue dedicated to a youngster who was tragically victimized by child abuse? I fail to comprehend the logic. There have been a couple stories in mainstream alluding to issues like child abuse as far back as the mid-80s. For example, when Louise Simonson created Power Pack at the time, there was one story there where they focused on the subject. When Jerry Ordway wrote Power of Shazam in the late 90s, that too had at least one story where Capt. Marvel came to the aid of a child abuse victim. And, when I looked at CBR's posting about this latest subject, I discovered that the Man of Steel's very own titles had at least one story about this topic, though this must surely be one of the weakest focuses of all, since it was written by none other than J. Michael Stracynski at the time he'd written "Grounded". According to this commentor:
DC doesn’t want it’s character associated with child abuse? Has anyone at DC ever READ a superman comic? One of the most, in my opinion, powerful and memorable stories in the final years of the pre-new 52 superman occured during the “grounded” storyline where superman encountered a young boy who was a victim of abuse and was also a huge fan of the Metropolis Marvel. In the story, superman acknowledged that there was nothing he could do legally and in fact would never even have been aware of the situation if the child, who was locked in the basement, hadn’t called out to him as he was walking past the house. The man of steel did however verbally tear into the boys father and warned that from now on he would always be checking in and that there would be dire consequences if the boy was hurt. He then gave the child a cell phone with Clark Kent’s number and told him that if he ever felt threatened, Clark could get a message to superman who would respond immediately. This story acknowledges that can’t save, or even be aware of, everyone’s struggles but you still do what you can to make the world a brighter place. Putting the “s” shield on this boys memorial is absolutely the thing superman would do. In fact, he would most likely burn it there himself with his heat vision.
Unfortunately, if this description is accurate, the story must be even more slapdash than the tale where Supes just burned up a drug dealer's stash without even making sure they'd get arrested. If the boy was being abused, all Supes had to do was contact the local authorities and demand action by having the abusive father arrested and finding the youngster a better custodian. Plus, what if the father managed to destroy the cellphone while Superman wasn't looking, or did worse to his son? In most of the better written stories with the Man of Steel, he'd usually make sure the crooks were incapacitated so the police could pick them up. Since when wasn't it possible for Superman to do something "legally"? I suppose Daredevil couldn't do anything legally either, in or out of costume? Man, I'm glad Stracynski left the series sooner than thought.

Since the first news on this current subject, DC's reversed course and has given their approval for putting a Superman logo on the statue:
DC Entertainment on Wednesday reversed its initial refusal to allow the iconic ‘S’ shield to be used on a statue currently being designed of the 5-year-old Toronto murder victim dressed as the superhero. The comic book publisher’s change of heart came after media reports and public backlash. [...]

That decision led to uproar on social media, with dozens of people tweeting at DC, urging it to change its mind and threatening to boycott the company.

On Wednesday morning, Genkins called Boyce to inform him that DC would reverse its decision, and referred to the negative feedback the publisher was getting from fans.
While I'm glad they listened, I still feel some disappointment this kind of public backlash didn't take place back in 2004, because Identity Crisis was a horrific insult to women, and the worst part is that the mainstream press backed it full force, either by fawning or through a wall of silence. For heaven's sake, if the current management is going to tolerate the kind of filth Identity Crisis represented, that's why they should boycott the company even now, since DC editorial - much of the same staff now as then - is still upholding the kind of discrimination IC represented, including repellent bloodletting. Just because some of the biggest victims in that miniseries were some of the lesser known characters doesn't make it kosher. Everyone who likes comics-based entertainment has to consider that, when such a monstrosity is published, it has to be frowned upon, and the editors/publishers can't be allowed to get away with it.

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I wonder why there's so little word about misogyny in crime novels considering that Brad Meltzer wrote crime novels himself and a number of crime novels feature women getting killed as a plot device.

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