Abandoned By Superman

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37 Responses

  1. Avatar Jonathan says:

    With news of PE #1 (U.S. edition) being killed and PE #1 (Canadian edition) about to be re-elected, thank you, Scott, for tackling the important subjects.

    (P.S. I’m not sure if I’m being sarcastic or not.)Report

  2. Avatar NoItIsntYesItIs says:

    SNL did a great skit a couple of decades ago – “What if Superman landed in Germany?” Ubermann became a tool of the Nazis…Report

  3. Avatar RTod says:

    Hey, when you have to think of a new column to bash Obama every single week, you’re eventually going to have to reach pretty hard. Can’t expect the POTUS to bow to an Asian leader every day.Report

  4. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I met Cal Thomas at the grocery store where I used to work. I walked up and started talking to him because he was wearing a William & Mary tee-shirt. I had no idea who he was until someone told me (and really not much idea after they told me), but it was funny because he looked scared when I approached and started chatting with him. Incidentally, I also helped Lorena Bobbitt find the orange juice once. She was pretty unfriendly too, but this was at the time that she was on the cover of People Magazine, so it made more sense.Report

    • Avatar Jonathan says:

      “Incidentally, I also helped Lorena Bobbitt find the orange juice once.”

      Surely, you’ve put this on your resume, no?Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      What did Jeffery Dahmer say to Lorena Babbitt?

      “Don’t throw that away, I’ll eat it.”Report

      • Avatar Thursday Next says:

        I thought it was, “Don’t throw that away. Don’t you know there are psychopathic cannibals in India who have to go to bed hungry?”Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Superman never denounced his citizenship when Bush was president.Report

  6. Avatar tom van dyke says:

    After reading Cal Thomas’ original, EC, I don’t think you were very fair to him.

    He acknowledged that “the American way” was in the TV show, and that an adult wouldn’t know that Captain Marvel has been a confused and constantly reinvented franchise does his rep as a scholar no harm.

    [So now not only Billy Batson but his sister Mary can turn into Captain Marvel too? What up with that?]

    As for “insulting readers of comics,” well, Superman readers perhaps. I outgrew Supe around age 9, meself. MMMS.

    As for what appears to be yet another triumph for left-wing cultural imperialism, Thomas, a culture warrior himself, shows admirable forebearance:

    But what if Superman’s defection is for real? As Perry White, editor of The Daily Planet, might have reacted, “Great Caesar’s ghost!”
    I’m not buying it. I don’t believe Superman would ever abandon America. That’s not who he is. Besides, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson wouldn’t let him.

    And Thomas concludes with an OK snark on Ted Turner’s enviro-wienie Captain Planet. Not such a bad outing, and far more breezy than “upset,” as the OP puts it. Wistful, at most.Report

    • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

      Oh come one Tom. He didn’t read the comic he bashes. Captain Marvel is not a confused and diluted character. Comics have grown up even if the people who make confused critiques of them haven’t. And who cares what Cal Thomas “believe[s]” about Superman. Whatever he “believe[s],” this recent development is not out of character nor out of the blue.

      And as I said, whatever you feel about it as far as the “culture wars” go, the real problem is Thomas wanting to deride something he couldn’t even take the time to have an intern or assistant research properly first.Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke says:

        Well, EC, you’re taking this more seriously than he did, and I do. It’s comic books fer crissakes.

        Billy Batson’s sister also turns into Captain Marvel and if they both do it at the same time, their powers are cut in half? I mean, we’re not talking graphic novels about the Holocaust here.

        I’m trying to hang withya, but frankly, I’m more worried about what’s to become of Erica Kane. This is her first time being cancelled; they did it to Captain Marvel all the time. He’s used to it.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          The original Captain Marvel was outlawed for copyright violation. Surely we can generate some libertarian outrage about that.Report

        • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

          Yes Tom, and I don’t mean to sound vindictive or taking all this overly serious. I hope the first couple paragraphs get my light-heartedness across.

          Of course, 99% of stuff that goes on in comics (at least the traditional superhero ones) is whacky and nonsensical. But here is an example of something that is timely and political, and that is certainly making a statement. Superman renouncing his citizenship is pretty meta and a farcry from the absurd rules governing the magical powers of a boy who yells “Shazaam!” to unleash them.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill says:

        I don’t know, to the uninitiated, Captain Marvel’s history is atypically convoluted and confused. I agree that Thomas should have done more legwork, but I’m more understanding of confusion here than with headliners who have had a more constant presence in comic books.Report

  7. Avatar Trumwill says:

    Your criticisms of Thomas are (mostly) on the mark, but there is a fair amount to criticize about this move. Externally, internally, and creatively, it’s problematic. I’m not sure how you become a free agent without becoming The Authority (if too active), Phantom Stranger (if too passive), or the United States military (if completely inconsistent). There have been at the times when he has taken a more globalist tact, but he’s run into the same problem: he can’t change the world without politics, and Superman involving himself in politics is potentially dangerous. He’s been walking a line on that, avoiding being too political (domestically or abroad), working with the government when it’s right, but not acting as an agent thereof the way that Captain Atom often did.

    And so instead of being of all nations, he is essentially of no nation. Anything he does anywhere will be as an outsider. Either ineffectual or intrusive, unaccountable either way. Except, perhaps to the UN itself, which is subject to the perspective of nations like Iran that he would seek to change and has little common perspective with which to act and it’s a bit dubious to say that allegiance to the UN is superior to allegiance to the US. This all seems to assume that Superman will be more effective nationless than he will be allied with our nation, which I consider suspect.

    Beyond that, for Superman’s actions to have the desired effect (decoupling himself with American Imperialism* in the eyes of nations hostile to ours), he not only has to renounce his citizenship, but has to sever all ties to the US government and the nation in general. He can’t not only be one of us, but can’t be seen as being close to us. Otherwise, he’s a puppet. And some of his effectiveness is actually tied to his relationship with our government. True of a lot of superheroes, but Superman in particular.

    And all of this for what? He is and has been a world protector in the past. Meteorites and all that. If I’m a foreigner, that’s probably all I want from him. And unless he were immigrating to my country, I wouldn’t even want him to really get involved in crimefighting (without oversight), much less internal politics. Whether he renounced his citizenship or not. A Rocket Red would lack standing here (though a Katar Hol, immigrating here, is something of a different story).

    Okay, a confession: I haven’t read the story in question. I stopped collecting several years ago. But I do have a fair amount more invested in comics (and in the DCU in particular) than Cal Thomas. And, of course, it’s possible that he won’t actually follow through. In which case, my criticism follows an entirely different path. If my understanding of what Superman is up to is wrong, feel free to correct me.

    Jonathan Last has a good piece on this in the Weekly Standard. Anyone interested can google “Trumwill HitCoffee Superman” (no quotes) for further thoughts.

    * – I recognize that he’s not doing this in protest of imperialism, but rather he fears his actions are misconstrued as such. It’s hard to make the distinction in the above sentence.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP says:

      I’m a Vertigo / Dark Horse man, myself. Try as I might, I just couldn’t get into the DC universe.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill says:

        I was as much a Batman guy as anything, though as I started getting more money I expanded, mostly to the Charlton characters for whatever reason, and Giffen-era Justice Leaguers. Superman had an everything-to-everybody sort of quality that I found uninteresting. But though I never collected his comics, I always appreciated his presence. He was the ultimate guest-star. I view Wonder Woman similarly. Even with Batman, I think I often enjoyed the cast (Huntress, Tim Drake, Jean Paul Valley) more than the character himself.

        I have some Vertigo, but it often struck me as being more for teenagers who like to wear black than for “mature audiences.” It is really hit-and-miss.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          Batman is unique: the only compelling storyline in that genre. I bought an awful lot of Batman trade paper for my son. I’m drawn to collect specific artists, Frank Miller especially. Writers include Alan Moore and the constellation of talent around him.Report

          • Avatar Trumwill says:

            Alan Moore is just an amazing talent. Though he’s best known (in DC circles, at any rate) for the darker stuff, the fact that he can switch gears to do things like America’s Best is just amazing. Miller is more hit-and-miss.

            Any solid Vertigo recommendations? I’ve been circling 100 Bullets for a while, but haven’t pounced yet.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

              100 Bullets, Preacher, Sandman, Moore’s Swamp Thing run, and more recently, DMZ and Northlanders from Brian Wood.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP says:

                Unfortunately , Sandman fits Trumwill’s previous observation about being more for teenagers who like to wear black. Having raised three, count ’em 3 goth kiddoes, Sandman was a great favorite in our House o’ Horrors.

                Swamp Thing is a classic of its type. Preacher and Sandman are excellent. 100 Bullets is extraordinary.Report

      • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

        Image comics is doing a lot of interesting stuff right now, and Vertigo/Darkhorse always have some solid stuff.

        Boom! actually has “Irredeemable,” which is suppose to be a “what if?” scenario in which its version of Superman (the Plutonian) has a pyshological breakdown and starts mass murdering innocents, killing other superheros, etc. By Mark Waid, very good.Report

        • Avatar Trumwill says:

          I’ve been pondering Irredeemable. Despite my off-and-on allegiance to DC, sometimes it’s the off-titles that can really produce the most interesting stuff. Characters like Superman are hamstrung, to an extent, in a way that knock-offs aren’t. I’ve got Savior 28 (I think that’s what it’s called?) sitting on my end-table as soon as I finish the book I’m reading.Report

    • Avatar E.C. Gach says:

      All very intersting Trumwill. I’m hoping Snyder explores this in the upcoming Man of Steel reboot (though I’m not expecting him to).

      It would be interesting to really pose the tough questions like, whose moral code should Superman follow? Why does he keep protecting humanity even while having to clean up allt heir messes. Jaybird brought up Red Son, which is basically what you describe but for the USSR (i.e. Superman is a Soviet protector and puppet). It makes you wonder how Superman is able to act but not act, save lives but not affect policy.

      Clearly, though he has renounced his citizenship, his ideals and principles are still American ones, even if they are dettached from nationalism/tribalism. Would Superman respect another nation’s soveriegnty (say in Libya) or would he get involved?

      And of course part of this is made easier by the fact that he is indestructable (for the most part), though he still can’t be in every place at every time. If he saves one person he’s letting another die.Report

      • Avatar Trumwill says:

        Apropos nothing, while reading The Watchmen, I wondered how many people the Soviets killed trying to produce a Dr. Moscow. Or did they decide not to, fearing the loyalty of anyone that powerful?

        Had Kal-El landed in the USSR, I have no doubt that he would have adopted their value system to some extent or another. Certainly not ours.

        Why does he protect humanity? I think, in part, because he is among us. This is, to me, why secret (or at least civilian) identities can be so important. Over the years, it’s been downplayed with more superheroes living “superhero lives” (living on a space station, spending all of their time with other heroes, etc.) and I wonder, from the perspective of a citizen of DCUSA, how comfortable I would be with that.

        Having a Superman or Martian Manhunter that you (erroneously) believe has no civilian identity, but that’s somewhat mitigated by the fact that they’re surrounded by people that do. One of the more unexplored aspects of The Authority is how the whole coup came about because of how displaced the heroes became. Superman’s decision to globalize bothers me a little on that level.

        Not that I think the writers will have him do what The Authority did, but that it opens up the question… why not? The answer, to some extent, lies in Clark Kent. And the fact that he will likely retain his American values, if not his citizenship. Which turns the question around to… why should foreign leaders (or their citizenry, for that matter) respect someone with values antithetical to their own? The only real answer – for the citizenry – is that American values are universal. In practice, that perspective has proven to be… problematic. Unavoidably imperial.

        To really explore these issues, you’d almost have to do it with someone other than Superman. As mentioned above, they’re kind of hamstrung with the big boys.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          “Had Kal-El landed in the USSR, I have no doubt that he would have adopted their value system to some extent or another. Certainly not ours. ”

          Check out “Red Sun”, which explores exactly that idea.Report

  8. Forgive me for perhaps a stupid question, but when did Superman get his citizenship that he’s now renouncing?Report

    • Avatar Trumwill says:

      I had the same question. I never asked it because I assumed that a Superman fan would be able to point to some issue or another where he had citizenship granted.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Action Comics Annual #3 is elseworldy and demonstrates that Superman is considered “American Born” by the Supreme Court (9-0) due to the fact that his birthing matrix did not open until in Kansas.Report

        • Avatar Trumwill says:

          Yeah, but Elseworlds. I assume that there is a citizenship (even if not natural born) in real-DCU that he is renouncing.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            In a search, I found this statement made with no supporting evidence whatsoever:

            “Superman was given honorary US citizenship during the Death of Superman story.”

            I don’t remember this, myself… I’ll dig some more. (There’s a lot of people focusing on Clark Kent’s citizenship which, of course, never came into question and which will not be renounced, I’m sure).Report

  9. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    Not a stupid question, and I’m not sure. As far as I can tell, it was an honorary citizenship.Report