Lets just get this out of the way, yes, Superman renounces his U.S. citizenship in Action Comics #900. It has been all over the media for the past several days, but it sure would be nice if it wasn’t quite so obvious that the majority of those writing this up as news had so obviously not read the story.
Since this past week’s comic books hit shops, the media has been running the below panel over and over with no surrounding context. They have written about how this is indicative of the left infiltrating the media, how it is another example of trying to advance the United Nations agenda and on and on and on.
Unlike other blogs about this one panel, lets actually tell you what happens in the story. Superman is summoned to Camp David and speaks with the presidents National Security Advisor who wants to know what Superman was thinking. Superman quickly notes the snipers in the woods with Kryptonite bullets in their guns and is less than pleased that they think he might cause trouble to the point that such a measure is needed.
Despite the threat from the woods, Superman tells the story of how he headed to a protest in Iran and hovered in Azadi Square for 24 hours, not speaking, not doing anything, just hovering. Some people throw things at him, others throw things at his feet in a sign of respect. At the end of the 24 hours he leaves as silently as he arrived. The ranks of the protesters had grwon from 120,000 to 1,000,000 while he was there, but he still felt it did no good as Iran’s president made no moves to change anything. At that point the damage is done and international incident has begun because Iran believes he came there at the behest of the United States President.
The national Security Advisor asks if it was a wise move, and Superman says it wasn’t but that he now sees … cue the above panel. He goes on to say the world is too small, too connected now. ”I’m an alien, Mr. Wright. Born on another world. I can’t help but see the bigger picture. I’ve been thinking too small. I realize that now.” As he leaves he tells Wright about seeing a policeman in Iran point a rifle at a protester and how the citizen reacted by handing him a flower, and how that was incredibly brave.
It’s a short story clocking in at a mere nine pages. It’s written by David S. Goyer who has written such movies as Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, so it’s written by someone who knows the type of story to create. There is no guarantee that this decision will have any lasting impact on the character, and may just be a one-shot, “what if …” type of tale, we’ll have to see.
Beyond the obvious fact that next to no one that wrote this event up actually read the story, I was shocked by at least one author thinking it was appropriate to take a shot at the intellect of the readers. Cal Thomas at Fox News said, “Construed? Would comic book readers have heard of such a word?” Yes sir, we have heard of “construed”, have you heard of “incompetent reporting”? Since you failed to contextualize the statement Superman made, I’m guessing you’re quite familiar with it.
Want another example of how people writing about this story had no clue what they were talking about? I give you Hollie McKay, also of Fox News:
… he says in a cell in the issue.
Cell … okay, first off, could you have possibly meant “cel”, as in an animation cel? Or, you could have, I don’t know, called it a “panel” as the boxes on a comic book page are called that. Yes, according to Dictionary.com, cell can be defined as “any of various small compartments or bounded areas forming part of a whole,” however, there is a term in the industry for it, you could have at least taken a moment to look it up.
BoingBoing may have been the worst for putting this story into context as they only posted the one panel and, “Superman announced today in Action Comics #900 that he is renouncing his US citizenship.” There was a hyperlink to the ComicAlliance story on the event, but really, you post just the one panel? Nah, that’s not just going to inflame some people.
Context, folks. Context.
What really gets me is how everyone seems to be hung up on his mentioning he was going to the United Nations to renounce his citizenship. Posts and comments alike were talking about how he would now be a “U.N. Stooge.” Call me crazy if you must, but if you were a hero recognized as an American and you wanted to tell all of the countries of the world at once that your actions should never be “construed” as the policy of said country, wouldn’t that be the most convenient place to do so? Yes, I realize a lot of people have a mistrust of the U.N., and that’s all fine and well, but again, you want to get the most bang for your buck in a situation such as this, that is where you go. Superman never said, “I’m going to now take orders from the General Assembly of the United Nations.”
What saddened me even more than the poor journalism was a lot of the comments I saw flying. The stereotype of comic book readers as maladjusted loners who live in dank basements still seems to be alive and well.
- Grown men and women don’t need “graphic novels”. If “we” stop reading them, they go away, as I said, because kids generally don’t read them at all any longer. Grow up men, stop acting like teens, let this monstrosity die a nice natural death. – The Blaze
- You must waste a lot your time in your mothers basement reading them … - The Blaze
- I think you are probably a little too old for this and should get out of your mother’s basement once in a while. – Fox News
Oh yes, the good old “basement” insult. Pepper it with some maturity comments and you’ve got a classic. Sure you don’t want to throw in some pimple and weight barbs while you’re at it?
I think what surprised me the most about this whole thing is … when did Superman gain U.S. citizenship? Yes, his alter ego of Clark Kent has it, but when did “Superman” receive it? He is an alien that crash landed in Kansas, the persona of Superman is by definition an illegal alien … literally. The world inside the comics knows he is from Krypton, I am not aware that Superman has ever taken the citizenship test. Perhaps I missed the thrill packed issue “Superman Takes His Citizenship Test”, and it’s just panel after panel of him waiting for his number to be called.
Lastly, I have to wonder why this was even a story. Isn’t there enough going on in the world that the actions of a comic book character shouldn’t even register on our radars at this point? You know, I heard a rumor recently that Shaggy and Scooby may have actually been high all these years, anyone want to run a story on that?
Earthquakes, floods, unsafe nuclear reactors, massive tornado outbreaks and a host of other issues, and the media spends this week focused on a fictional character renouncing citizenship he never had and two people getting married in another country.
I love the media.